Organizational Development Professional: Job Description & Career Info

Organizational development professionals use behavioral science and an understanding of company goals, systems and strategies to maximize efficiency in the workplace. They also specialize in 'change management' by helping companies adjust to large-scale transitions, such as mergers and reorganizations. Learn more about the requirements and benefits of this field by reading further.

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Career Definition

Organizational development professionals implement and oversee programs that increase efficiency, strengthen employee knowledge and abilities, improve leadership and maintain the overall health of a company. They work with top management in diagnosing problems and setting company goals, then create training programs to meet those goals, often incorporating behavioral science to enhance employee satisfaction and productivity. They also help personnel adjust to new procedures during times of change.

Organizational development professionals are also known as O.D. practitioners, and are employed in a variety of industries throughout the United Sates. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts average job growth for human resource occupations, including training and development professions, such as organizational development (www.bls.gov).

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How to Become an Organizational Development Professional

Educational Requirement

Professional and organizational development (POD) careers generally require a bachelor's, master's or doctoral degree in organizational management and development or a field with applicable coursework, such as labor relations, psychology or education. Certificate programs in organizational development are also offered through community colleges and university extension programs. The Organization Development Network website lists degree programs throughout the U.S. and internationally (www.odnetwork.org).

Essential Skills

Organizational development professionals must have a good understanding of human behavior, as well as business management, operations and strategy. They must be able to evaluate the needs of an organization and create, implement and lead training programs that develop needed skills. O.D. practitioners must be good communicators and effective leaders with strong interpersonal and team-building skills. They should also be able to set and carry out goals, work well during times of transition and be able to help others adjust to change.

Economic Forecast and Career Outlook

The BLS predicts average job growth of 11% for training and development managers working in human resources during the 2012-2022 period. Salaries vary by employer, educational degree and level of experience. As of May 2012, training and development managers earned a median annual salary of $95,400, according to the BLS.

Alternate Career Options

Training and Development Specialist

With a bachelor's degree in a field such as human resources, instructional design, training and development, education or social sciences, in addition to related work experience, these specialists plan and administer training programs to augment employee job knowledge and skills. The BLS reported median earnings of $55,930 per year in 2012 and projected faster than average employment growth of 15% from that time through 2022.

Human Resources Manager

These managers plan and direct organizations' administrative functions, including hiring new staff, communicating with top management about strategic planning and serving as liaisons between employees and management. An average rise in available positions of 13% was expected by the BLS during the 2012-2022 decade. As of May 2012, human resources managers earned an annual median salary of $99,720, the BLS said.

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