The Ups and Downs of Salary and Comp for L&D Professionals

With a median salary of $75,000, learning and development professionals are paid relatively well compared to other HR professionals and the general workforce. On average, however, their pay levels have not increased in the last four years. What has changed is that extremes in higher and lower paying positions have shrunk during the recession, creating greater concentration toward the median. During the same period, opportunities for advancement in the profession were above the general workforce average and basic benefit packages kept pace with a fairly typical blend.
One unfortunately unchanged statistic for the profession is the gender pay gap, with men in the L&D profession – as in many other professions – continuing to earn more than women even when education or experience is the same. There are also fewer women represented in the executive ranks and higher-paying specialties of the L&D profession, which can either help explain the pay inequity or is simply another symptom of a greater imbalance.
The just-released ASTD/i4cp Salary and Compensation Report provides a comprehensive analysis of salary and compensation among learning and development professionals, including detailed breakouts of practitioner demographics such as education, industry, tenure, L&D specialty and gender. This report gathered responses from 1,997 U.S. employees on 40 compensation and benefit measures. ASTD’s last salary survey was conducted in 2007, before the onset of the global economic recession.
An exclusive white paper that summarizes the findings from the full report is available to i4cp members for download.
Sample findings from the study include:
  • The median salary for L&D professionals is $75,000, exceeding the average U.S. income of $46,000
  • Sixty-five percent of L&D practitioners had a pay raise in 2010; 4% experienced a pay cut
  • Eighty-eight percent have a Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Differences in experience, education and L&D specialty drive differences in salaries
  • Investment of time, energy and fees for professional certification yield a pay premium
  • Employees with 10 years of experience see a noticeable salary bump, with the biggest salary leap coming after 20 years in the profession
  • Gender salary gap findings in the L&D profession show:
    • Median salary for men is $80,000-$90,000; for women it is $70,000-$80,000
    • The proportion of men earning $120,000 or more is twice that of women
    • Women are not as well represented in higher paying categories of L&D. There is a dearth of women in executive ranks and higher compensated specialties, possessing advanced degrees, or having 20 or more years of experience.
The ASTD Learning and Development Industry Salary & Compensation Report, 2011 is the definitive salary and compensation report for the L&D industry. A white paper summarizing the research is free to i4cp members. The full report can be purchased from the ASTD Store.
Erik Samdahl
Erik is the head of marketing at i4cp, and has nearly 20 years in the market research and human capital research industry.