Guest Blogger: Ryan Curran, M.S., BCBA
In many Organizational Behavior Management (OBM) circles, you often hear people say things like “Training isn’t always the answer,” or “Is it a CAN’T-Do or a WON’T-DO problem?” These comments are intended to ensure that the root causes of performance issues are being addressed and that an intervention package takes a fully encompassing approach. So, when training IS the answer, or at least an essential component of the intervention package, it is important to be certain that it is done in a manner that focuses on the needs of the organization and is likely to result in sustainable outcomes. As this is often the case, many career paths help contribute to this endeavor.
So, the question is, “Are you the right fit?” These types of positions typically involve collaborating with other people, evaluating an organization’s training needs, developing curriculum, delivering training through different modalities, tracking trainee progress, observing trainee performance, observing the dissemination of training curriculum, determining the training’s effect on performance, and maintaining records of training and development activities. So, what does this mean for a candidate? Educational requirements, work experience, and additional certifications aside, what are likely characteristics of potential candidates that set them apart from other candidates? At a minimum, an employer will be looking for someone who is creative, communicates well with others, is comfortable presenting to and instructing other individuals, and is skilled at taking and analyzing data. For higher-level positions, they may also want someone who demonstrates a refined ability to collaborate with others, has a solid business acumen, displays an ability to look at data as well as the behaviors of others, makes complex decisions, and also demonstrates the ability to motivate and lead others to work together for a multifaceted and often distant objective.
It’s important to remember that having a thorough understanding of the principles of learning is surely a good place to start when seeking a position in training and development; however, that’s just it—it’s the START. In addition to having a bachelor’s degree and/or master’s degree, many prospective employers prefer candidates with experience in their field. Basically, if you are looking for a position in the training department of an auto manufacturing organization, it would certainly help if you knew something about the assembly of automobiles. The same is true for people looking for a position as a trainer in an organization that provides Applied Behavior Analysis services. If you don’t have any experience applying the principles of Behavior Analysis in a clinical capacity, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a job training other people on what to do. No need to get discouraged though; a lack of extensive experience may not necessarily be a deal-breaker, but it would definitely help set you apart from other applicants.
So, at this point, you may be thinking, “I’m fresh out of school. How do I get a job?” Well, the good news is that you have options. In lieu of experience, oftentimes education AND certifications can help make you look more favorable in the eyes of a potential employer. If you are looking for additional training and certifications beyond your current education, you may want to look into the International Society for Performance Improvement, the Society for Human Resource Management, the Association for Talent Development, or the American Society for Quality. The good news is that plenty of opportunities are available for dedicated professionals to expand their skillsets. The better news is that positions in training and development are on the rise and expected to continue in this fashion over the next 10 years, at least according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
If you’re looking for positions related to the training and development sector of OBM, don’t bother looking for “OBM Trainer” positions, because you aren’t likely to find anything. Here is a list of job titles that you might find helpful in your search:
- Training and Development Specialist
- Training and Development Manager
- Learning and Evaluation Specialist
- Talent Development Specialist
- Instructional Designer
- eLearning Development Specialist
- Professional Development Specialist