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Parkin Space: E-Earning in the USA


Godfrey ParkinEver wondered how much your equivalent earns on the other side of the Atlantic? Read on.

This week the E-learning Guild released the results of its annual e-learning salary survey. Data was gathered in the first quarter of this year from people who work in the e-learning field. It’s amazing that they were able to find any participants for the survey, since, in the US at least, you hardly ever see a job advertised as an “e-learning” position any more. Two or three years ago, they were all over the place, but now it seems that some facility with e-learning is simply one of the requirements of anyone looking for employment in the broader field of corporate learning.

So while the results may be a little questionable, they do offer an interesting insight into the relative values placed on different skill-sets and responsibilities by companies in America. I’ve not been able to dig up a comparable study for the UK, but it would be fascinating to put them side-by-side.

For those who responded, what do US pay packages look like?

Across the country, the median annual pay of a Training Manager working in e-learning was $74,000 (£40,234*).

The US is a big place, and salaries vary with geography, jobs in the middle of the country normally paying 10-20% less than the East or West coast. Washington DC, where I am, is actually part of the South East, and salaries are typically a little less than those paid in New York, just to the north. So while New York Training Managers pulled in $84,000 (£45,671*), those in DC settled for around $72,000 (£39,146*).

Higher up the ladder, the national median salary of a Training Executive was $120,000 (£65,244*). At the bottom of the scale, a classroom or online trainer typically earned $50,000 (£27,185*). Between the humble trainer and the training manager, fell all of the “specialised” folk, including curriculum designers and developers, instructional designers, and content developers.

How hard do people have to work to earn these salaries? Permanent full-time employees are averaging 49.9 hours per week, and they get, on average, 18.8 days of paid vacation each year. (One poor soul reported working 80 hours a week! Been there, done that, dodged the bypass.)

The question that jumps out at me is this: why are trainers, who contribute so much to the actual effectiveness of training, so obviously undervalued by their organisations? Is an instructional designer really worth 20% more than a trainer? Trainers, after all, have the ultimate responsibility to “make it work” even if the design is no good. Given the insipid nature of instructional design that I see so often, I have to believe there is something wrong with this picture. Perhaps it is simply supply and demand. Or perhaps it is that, in companies that have gone overboard with e-learning, the classroom or synchronous trainer has indeed been sidelined.

You can get the complete report, free of charge, at the E-learning Guild site, but you have to sign up, free, as an associate member.

* Rounded to the nearest pound based on exchange rate of $1 US = £0.57143.

Read more of Godfrey Parkin's columns at here.


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