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What Is Training?

Training is the process of helping individuals improve performance by facilitating learning in an in-person or virtual classroom, in a one-on-one context, or on-the-job in an organization. Trainers facilitate this process. Training is a part of the talent development profession.

Training is an important component of work life, yet most trainers didn't plan on entering the profession. In fact, there's even a term that reflects this reality: the accidental trainer.

Where Trainers Come From

Many trainers started as subject matter experts who realized they had a skill for giving presentations or enjoyed helping new hires get up to speed. Some trainers come from other fields, such as K–12 education or entertainment, and they find they have transferable skills that help them become successful trainers.

Becoming a Trainer

Because there isn't one way of becoming a trainer, new trainers enter the field with diverse knowledge and skill sets. They may also have certain gaps in their knowledge. For example, they may know what good training looks like but not know the learning theories and models that point to why. They may be unfamiliar with the various roles in training and how they can continue growing their careers in the training profession. Taking the Talent Development Capability Model self-assessment can help new or accidental trainers measure their skills and knowledge in personal, organizational, and professional talent development capabilities.

Sound Familiar?

If any of this sounds familiar, then this page is for you. The Association for Talent Development is a professional membership organization supporting those who develop the knowledge and skills of employees around the world. We have curated some of our best resources for new trainers or those considering a career in training to help fill in their knowledge gaps and advance in the training field.

Talent development and training professionals use many different terms to describe their work. Here are ATD’s definitions for some of the most commonly used terms, starting with the broadest:

Talent Development: Talent Development refers to the efforts that foster learning and employee development to drive organizational performance, productivity, and results.

Training: Training is a subset of talent development and refers to formal ways of helping employees learn and develop new skills. This can include in-person and virtual training programs or training courses. Training encompasses the core talent development functions of instructional design and training delivery and facilitation.

Instructional Design: Instructional design is the creation of learning experiences and materials in a manner that results in the acquisition and application of knowledge and skills.

Training Delivery and Facilitation: Training delivery and facilitation is the means by which talent development professionals help individuals improve performance at work by learning new skills and knowledge.

A full glossary of talent development terms can be found here: Access glossary.

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Get a starter guide for those new to training, including an e-book on the foundations of instructional design and an e-book on measurement and evaluation. Fill out the below form to download your copy.

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