One of the most potentially lucrative fields in the realm of human resources is that of corporate trainer or training specialist. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, corporate training and development specialists earn a median wage of $59,000 while training and development managers can expect median earnings of more than $100,000 with the top tier earning almost $185,000. Depending on the job role, corporate training-related positions are expected to grow between 10 and 11 percent between 2016 and 2026, which is higher than the national average.
Corporate trainers assess organizational learning and training requirements, create training materials and solutions designed to fulfill those needs, and then deliver the training. In addition, corporate trainers evaluate training effectiveness and may perform administrative tasks, including class scheduling and enrollment management, along with monitoring the costs of training. At the managerial level, corporate trainers ensure training programs align with organizational goals, review training and related materials, select the delivery format, and conduct train-the-trainer sessions. Managerial trainers frequently oversee a staff of corporate trainers and may have advanced administrative duties.
Professionals working in corporate training and development environments need a variety of skills ranging from instructional design to change management to organizational leadership. Excellent communication and presentation skills are a plus along with related soft skills and a knowledge of HR environments.
Top 5 certifications, by the numbers
In researching training and development certifications, we found that most employers look for a combination of human resource (HR) and training-based certifications. The following table lists the top five certifications most commonly requested by employers for training and development job roles. The numbers are a snapshot in time and reflect the number of open positions found on the specific day the job search was conducted.
Job Site Search Results
ATD Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP)
HRCI Professional in Human Resources (PHR)
HRCI Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR)
SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP)
SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP)
ATD: Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP)
The ATD Certification Institute (ATD CI) is the credentialing arm of the Association for Talent Development (ATD). Its premier talent development and training credential is the Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP). The CPLP validates a candidate's skill across six foundational competencies (personal, interpersonal and business skills, technology literacy, global mindsets and industry knowledge) along with 10 additional areas of expertise, or AOEs. AOEs include knowledge management, managing learning programs, learning impact evaluation, learning technologies, training delivery, instructional design, performance improvement, change management, coaching and integrated talent management.
To earn the CPLP, candidates must pass both a knowledge-based and skills exam. Exam fees are $900 for members and $1,250 for nonmembers (fee includes both exams). In addition, candidates must possess either five years of full-time experience working in talent development or four-years' talent development experience plus an additional year of college in a talent development related field or four years' experience plus completion of an ATD Master Series program.
HRCI: Professional in Human Resources (PHR)
The most requested certification in the job board numbers was the Professional in Human Resources (PHR) from the HR Certification Institute (HRCI). PHR professionals are implementers. It's the PHR team member who understands the logistics involved to turn plans into reality and implement organization programs (or training) and solutions. PHR responsibilities may be localized to a departmental level rather than the entire corporate organization.
To earn the credential, candidates must pass a single exam plus meet one of the following education and experience requirements:
- A high school diploma plus four years of professional HR experience
- A bachelor's degree plus two years of professional HR experience; or
- A Master's degree plus one year of professional HR experience.
The exam fee is $395 with an additional $100 application fee. Some 60 recertification credits are required during a three-year period to maintain the credential.
HRCI: Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR)
Coming in at the number two slot is HRCI's Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR). The SPHR targets senior practitioners who are well versed in all facets of HR. SPHR credential holders are typically engaged in planning, designing, and creating policies, goals, and programs at the organizational level.
To earn the SPHR, candidates must pass a single exam plus meet the prerequisite education and experience requirements. The exam fee is $495, and there's an additional $100 application fee. To fulfill the prerequisite requirements, candidates must possess a:
- Master's degree plus four years of HR experience; or
- Bachelor's degree plus five years of HR experience; or
- High school diploma plus seven years of HR experience
As with the PHR, 60 recertification credits are required during a three-year period to maintain certification.
SHRM: Certified Professional (SHRM-CP)
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is a global leader in HR competencies. It currently offers two credentials: the SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP), which is geared to entry-level professionals, and the SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP), which targets senior practitioners. Both credentials are well recognized by employers and made the top five list. SHRM validates skills against eight competencies in three target areas:
- Leadership – including ethical practices and leadership and navigation
- Interpersonal – targeting communication skills, managing relationships and effectiveness in working with global cultures
- Business – targeting critical evaluations, business acumen and consultative skills
To earn the SHRM-CP credential, candidates must pass a single exam plus meet the prerequisite experience requirements. The exam fee is $300 for SHSRM members and $400 for nonmembers. This includes a $50 non-refundable application fee. Experience requirements are tied to three factors: the amount of education a candidate possesses, the amount of direct HR-related experience possessed and if the degree was in an HR-related field.
- No degree: Candidates who do not possess either a bachelor's or Master's degree but who have been a part of an HR-related program need three years' experience in an HR role. Candidates who have not studied in an HR program must possess four years' HR experience.
- Bachelor's degree: Candidates with a bachelor's degree in an HR-related field need one year of HR experience, but those with non-HR degrees must have a minimum of two years in an HR-related role.
- Master's degree or higher: Candidates with a graduate level degree in an HR-related field are only required to be currently employed in an HR-role to gain the credential while those who possess graduate degrees in non-HR fields must possess at least one-year of HR experience.
Sixty professional development units (PDUs) during a three-year cycle are required to maintain the credential.
SHRM: Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP)
Also making an appearance in the top five list is SHRM's Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP). This credential targets senior-level HR professionals who exemplify leadership and can influence and implement organization goals.
As with the SHRM-CP credential, the SHRM-SCP requires candidates to pass a single exam and possess the required prerequisite education and skills. Exam fees are $300 for members and $400 for nonmembers. Because this is a senior-level credential, the experience requirements are more stringent than are required for the SHRM-SCP.
- No degree: Six years of experience is required if the candidate has participated in an HR-related program while seven years of experience is required for those who have not been involved in an HR-related program.
- Bachelor's degree: Candidates with a bachelor's degree in an HR-related field take four years of experience while those with a non-HR related degree need five years.
- Master's degree: Candidates who possess a graduate degree in an HR-related field need a minimum of three years' experience in an HR role while those with a graduate degree in another field must possess at least four years' experience.
As with the SHRM-CP, 60 PDUs are required every three years to maintain credential currency.
While they didn't make the top five list, we found other interesting related certifications. The International Society for Performance Improvement's (ISPI) offers the Certified Performance Technologist (CPT) for professionals interested specifically in performance improvement. For professionals who don't meet the requirements for the CPLP, ATD offers an Associate Professional Talent Development (APTD) credential along with a Master Trainer Program credential that allows professional to focus on a particular area of interest.
Several universities offer professional development courses in executive coaching and corporate training. Some of the examples we found included an Executive Certificate in Leadership Coaching from the Georgetown University School of Continuing Studies and leadership coaching courses from the Harvard University Extension School of Professional Development. Dale Carnegie Training also offers a Corporate Training Certificate program.