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Start a Career in Learning & Development

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3. Learning and Development Competencies

What competencies do you need to work in L&D?

The word 'competency' is a collective term that describes both skills and knowledge required to do any job. Each role in Learning & Development comes with some specific and transferable competencies. 

Here, 'specific' refers to skills and knowledge required for the particular role, and 'transferable' means skills you'd need in any position.  

Below you will find some suggested transferrable and specific competencies required for the different roles in L&D. Note which ones do you currently have. Rate your current competency level on a scale of 1 to 5 or 1 to 10. We suggest using these four proficiency levels:

  • Level 1 - Novice: Limited application of the competency.

  • Level 2 - Intermediate: Practical application of the competency.

  • Level 3 - Proficient: Advanced application of the competency.

  • Level 4 - Expert: Advises, coaches, or trains on the application of the competency.

PRO TIP: Your transferable skills and knowledge are… well, transferable from job to job. Think about what skills and knowledge you have in your current position that may be relevant to the lists below. This way, if you are interviewing for an L&D role without prior experience in the field, you could give an example of a relevant competence from your previous experience.

Note that the list below is rather comprehensive. You are NOT expected to be proficient in all these from the start of your career journey in L&D. 

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Transferable Competencies for Learning & Development 

In alphabetical order

* the most basic competencies required to enter the field

  • Agile practices 

  • Analytical thinking 

  • Basic marketing and branding 

  • Building trust and rapport* 

  • Business acumen 

  • Creative thinking* 

  • Decision making 

  • Emotional intelligence* 

  • Giving effective feedback 

  • Goal setting Influencing 

  • Interpersonal communication skills* 

  • Negotiation skills

  • Oral communication skills* 

  • Presentation skills* 

  • Problem solving 

  • Productivity tools (i.e. MS Office)* 

  • Project management* 

  • Public speaking* 

  • Receiving feedback effectively 

  • Research methods 

  • Stakeholder management 

  • Time management* 

  • Written communication skills*

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Specific Competencies for Learning & Development (per role)

In alphabetical order

L&D administrator:

  • Learning evaluation methods

  • Learning management system maintenance

  • Learning report preparation

  • Needs collection and analysis

L&D generalist / specialist / partner:

  • Adult learning theories and principles

  • Business partnering

  • Change management

  • Coaching

  • Consulting 

  • Data analytics 

  • Facilitation

  • Instructional design

  • Learning content curation

  • Learning experience design

  • Learning impact evaluation methods

  • Learning methods

  • Needs analysis

  • Psychometrics

  • Risk management

  • Training design

  • Vendor management

  • Video creation and editing

L&D manager / director:

  • Budgeting

  • Building a learning culture

  • Championing learning throughout the organisation

  • Change management 

  • Creating L&D strategy

  • Executive coaching

  • Mentoring

  • Organisational development practices

  • People management

  • Performance consulting

  • Risk management

Corporate trainer:

  • Adult learning theories and principles

  • Adult training approaches

  • Coaching

  • Facilitation skills

  • Learning styles

  • Training design

E-learning author/instructional designer:

  • ADDIE framework

  • Graphic design

  • Learning authoring software

  • LMS management

  • Needs analysis

  • Working with subject matter experts

Leadership and management development specialist:

  • Coaching (management and executive)

  • Consulting

  • Leadership theories

  • Learning impact evaluation

  • Management theories

  • Mentoring

  • Needs analysis

  • On-the-job learning methods

  • Psychometrics

  • Team dynamics

Team development specialist:

  • Facilitation skills

  • Learning experience design

  • Team coaching

  • Team dynamics

Coach:

  • Active listening

  • Asking questions

  • Empathy

  • Neuro linguistic programming

Disclaimer: The lists above are intended to  provide general information only, not specific professional or personal advice. Each organisation may have a different requirements for the various roles.  

Want to learn how you measure up? Download our FREE L&D competencies inventory template.