Choosing between HR path or L&D


I am looking for some advice regarding the decision of which direction to take my career. 

I am currently studying for my CIPD Level 3 Diploma in Human Resources, and have recently started in my first entry level HR role. Unfortunately this role does not provide the general HR exposure and experience that was promoted to me at interview with very little progression opportunity. 

Whilst thinking about my career ahead I have been in a dilemma as to whether I should remain within the HR field or branch into the L&D area. Obviously this would require further entry level study, all of which I am self-funding. I already have a BA Hons in teaching with Qualified Teacher Status which may support a career in L&D. I am very keen at this stage in my life to be learning and progressing and striving for higher level roles (and a greater earning potential).  Many of the higher level L&D roles I have seen appear to pay exceptionally well but I am concerned regarding the progression available. I am aware that within HR there are so many different aspects that have the potential for specialisms and climbing the ladder. 

Unfortunately it is not currently financially viable for me to undertake the L3 and L5 courses in both HR and L&D. 

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


  • Hi Bobbie
    from reading your post i am unsure of your motives for wanting to know the best option. You mention career progression and money as big drivers at the moment......what I think you need to start with is reviewing the different roles in L&D and HR, as both have varied roles open, and see where your passions are.

    I was introduced to training over 15 years ago by a L&D manager who saw my potential in coaching in mentoring new starters in role. OSince then i have progressed to be a L&D Manager, working in different industries and focusing on different areas of people development, which has provided me with a great knowledge and experiance to follow my current passion into Oragnisational Desgin and Development.

    Many great HR/L&D speciailist have started in generalist roles, getting a good understandning of all areas and then focused on the area(s) that they felt passionate about.

    Maybe you should discuss your current role and your expectations and professional development with your line manager, see what opitions that can open up for you where you are and get some feedback from them to assist your desicison making and development.
  • Elaine Helen

    | 33 Posts

    Chartered Member

    23 Aug, 2017 09:42

    Hi Bobbie,

    I kind of fell into specialising in L&D after gaining experience in generalist or operational HR roles in a few different organisations for a few years.

    I personally feel that this has helped me as I could talk about real experiences when delivering courses on such topics as absence and discipline etc that my colleagues who haven't done any HR work before, could not. When I was dong a generalist HR role, I was constantly being asked to deliver training (my colleagues all hated doing it) and I quickly discovered that it was my passion and I found it personally very rewarding (and still do!).

    I feel this gave me an opportunity to 'cut my teeth' in L&D to gain some 'live' experience. I chose after a few more years of working in a generalist HR role to specialise in L&D and have been doing so now for 13 years. Some people said I was crazy as the only L&D roles I could apply for were seen by many as a step back in my career, but I was determined that it was worth doing and taking a risk. 13 years on, I have no regrets at all. My path isn't necessary right for everyone, or for you, so my advice to you would be do what feels right to you. Not every employer is looking for specialist L&D qualifications, and in some cases being Chartered and having an HR background has given me the edge over other candidates. I wish you well whatever path you chose.

  • Hi Bobbie

    Rachel and Elaine have provided excellent answers. I'd like to focus just on your motivation and current experience.

    I sense you are ambitious and keen to achieve higher level roles. However you are in a role that doesn't tick those boxes right now.

    Do you need to be in a company / role with better talent mapping and career development plans so you know where you are going?

    Deciding on HR or L&D is a tough one however if you are after financial rewards than neither are going to offer you exceptional pay levels compared to other jobs. I work predominately in L&D and i'm driven by my passion for helping others develop and find this to be the real reason people enter and stay in the industry.

    Good luck with your decision making

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