An Overview of Learning & Development Salaries

At Offbeat, we’re making it our daily job to offer L&D professionals all the information they need to have successful, happy careers. In this journey, our main focus is supporting you in acquiring the skills, knowledge, and behaviors you need to be impactful. However, we recognize that having successful, happy careers goes beyond this initial task we set for ourselves, that of upskilling.

Lucky for us, once we become aware of something, it’s quite easy to act upon it. The “something” we have noticed recently are the conversations around pay transparency. In the past few months, lots of countries and governing bodies of the world have been exploring what transparency means, and what companies need to do about it.

That’s freaking awesome! We can only hope these conversations will keep happening until we reach not only transparency but also fair pay. But we all know how slowly things move when it comes to government policies. It will probably take 3-5 years until we see the effects of the decision made this year.

So we felt an itch - what if we did something about pay transparency in our own industry? Since we always listen closely to our itches we decided to embark upon a journey that brought us more than we hoped for - lots of data, good feedback, and the occasional swear word (yep, you read that correctly!). 

At the beginning of August, we launched an ongoing, anonymous L&D Salary Survey. We asked L&D professionals from all over the world to share with us information about their compensation packages. The purpose? 

Benchmarking for Informed Negotiations: Negotiating a salary can be a daunting task, but it becomes significantly easier when armed with accurate and up-to-date information. Our salary database empowers you to benchmark your compensation against others in your field, providing you with a solid foundation to navigate the negotiation process confidently.

Equitable Compensation: Pay transparency is a crucial step toward ensuring equitable compensation practices. By sharing anonymous insights from L&D professionals worldwide, we contribute to the understanding of salary ranges, helping organizations move toward fairer pay structures.

Personal and Industry Growth: When you're aware of how your compensation compares to others in your role, you gain a clearer perspective on your value in the industry. This knowledge encourages personal growth and motivates the industry at large to acknowledge and reward the skills, dedication, and expertise of L&D professionals.

Our Progress So Far: Building Bridges Through Data

It’s been ±5 weeks since our survey went live. So far, close to 700 L&D professionals have shared information about their compensation packages. While not merely enough, we are confident to start analyzing the data and answering some of the questions you might have. So here we go.

An Empowering Platform: The Data We've Gathered

What’s The Average Salary in Each Country?

When we look closely at the data, it's clear that the countries with more respondents – like the US, UK, Germany, The Netherlands, and Romania – provide the most reliable insights. These places give us a strong picture of how salaries are trending. Right now, the lowest paying L&D pros seem to be located in India, earning on average €36,409, while those in the US seem to be the highest earning, with an average yearly salary of €112,523.

How Much Do Different Genders Earn Depending On Their Seniority?

Our industry is known to be female-dominated, and so is our database. While most of the respondents are female, we got enough male respondents to report some preliminary conclusions. As you can see below, in 4 out of 5 cases (levels of seniority) male respondents earn more than female respondents. We’ll be closely monitoring this metric, benchmarking it across others as well, to see if this is indeed a pay discrepancy we need to act on.

Who Earns More: On-site, Hybrid, or Remote L&D Professionals?

Taking a closer look at the data, we uncover some interesting variations in compensation based on work arrangements. The figures show that those who work fully remotely earn an average of €89,095.28, suggesting the advantages of remote work for L&D experts. On-site workers and those with a fixed hybrid schedule follow, with respective averages of €65,960.05 and €67,399.00. Meanwhile, L&D professionals in flexible hybrid roles earn an average of €65,841.00. These insights provide valuable information for individuals considering different work setups and negotiating their compensation.

Is There a Correlation Between Annual Salary and Education Level?

Our data reveals striking correlations between education levels and annual salaries among L&D professionals. Doctorate degree holders typically earn more, with a starting average of €69,514, soaring to €128,109 after 16+ years of experience. Those with a master's degree see a steady climb from €43,660 to €106,813. Professional degree holders maintain a relatively stable range, varying between €48,296 and €69,829. Bachelor's degree graduates experience significant growth, starting at €39,485 and peaking at €170,123 with extensive experience. Interestingly, those with an associate degree peak at €61,734 but dip to €53,219 after 16+ years. Even high school graduates and those with some college experience observe salary upticks, ranging from €40,653 to €94,497. Trade or vocational training leads to €66,666 with 10-15 years of experience. These insights offer valuable guidance for career and compensation planning.

Are L&D Professionals with Equity or Bonuses More Likely to Feel Fairly Compensated?

Our data analysis explores whether L&D professionals who receive equity or bonuses are more likely to perceive their compensation as fair. The numbers reveal that those receiving both equity and bonuses tend to rate their compensation slightly higher, with a score of 3.8125, compared to those without both, who rate it at 3.2743. Interestingly, those with equity but no bonuses also report a relatively higher fairness perception at 3.6495, while those with bonuses but no equity score in between at 3.5699. These nuanced differences suggest that equity and bonuses can contribute to a more positive perception of compensation fairness among L&D professionals, albeit to varying degrees. Further investigation into the factors influencing this perception could provide deeper insights for professionals and organizations alike.

Are L&D Professionals in Specific Age Groups More Likely to Negotiate Their Salaries?

Based on the data provided, L&D professionals in the 20-25 age group negotiate their salaries the most, with 63.64% reporting that they engage in salary negotiations. On the other hand, L&D professionals in the over 55 age group negotiate their salaries the least, with only 25.00% reporting that they engage in salary negotiations. These insights unveil diverse negotiation patterns among age groups within the L&D profession. While younger professionals often actively negotiate, the tendency appears to diminish as experience accumulates.

Navigating Negotiations: Wisdom from L&D Experts

We hope our insights were interesting. But we don’t want to stop at “interesting”. We want them to be useful in negotiating your salary in case you find that to be necessary.

I only wrote “negotiating your salary” and my muscles crumbled. Negotiating your salary can be a nerve-wracking experience for most people. Our hope is, that armed with the right knowledge and insights, you can approach it with more confidence.

Step 1. Looking at the raw data

Once you add your salary to our database you will be sent to a sheet with all the other replies we got (or at least those we considered accurate). You can filter it by various metrics: country, city, years of experience, company size, company industry, way of working, age, and others.

Filter the database according to your details and compare your salary to the rest of those submitted. If you see discrepancies that push you toward the thought of negotiating your salary, go to step 2.

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Step 2. Advice from other L&D professionals

Some of our awesome fellows were kind enough to share with us their tips and tricks for negotiating their salaries. Take a look at what they had to say and keep with you the things you find most powerful.

I look into Glassdoor, Kununu (I think this is a German platform similar to Glassdoor), and even used ChatGPT to give me a range (which was pretty accurate compared to the data I collected from the websites and from a few people I know). During interviews when they ask me about my salary expectation I say something like “based on my research of what is currently offered in the market for this role, this is the salary range I expect and I’m curious to know if this falls within what you have to offer". Almost always the answer is yes (we can offer you a salary within this range) and some of them even share their range with me.
I'm reading the e-mails when I received the offer at my current employer. I thanked them for the offer, reconfirmed my interest in joining, and asked them a few days to think about the offer. After a few days, this is what I told them: Thank you again for the offer. As discussed, I took the opportunity of this long Easter weekend to study it. I’m very much aligned with all the aspects of the proposal but one. Indeed, to be honest, I don’t feel very comfortable with the starting salary offered. Would you be available for a call so we could discuss this further and see how we can move forward? After the negotiation they agreed on a 5% more on the initial offer, with the promise of reevaluating in 6 months based on my performance.
Three quick points from my personal experience. Aim high, no company will ditch you because you aimed too high—instead, they will get back to you and tell you what their range is. Learning to hold a pause (or hmming it) is a great skill during a salary (or really any) negotiation. Don’t think of this as someone (a person) offering you money. Those are companies compensating your time and expertise—and time is valuable.
I read about this line to use when the recruiter makes you the offer: "I'm thrilled about this offer, and I want to work with HIRING MANAGER NAME as NAME OF ROLE. I know you interviewed other candidates and chose me, so it's great to be in a place where we both want the same thing". When they give you the salary, respond with "hmmm" instead of "ok." "Ok" constitutes acceptance where "hmm" gives room to negotiate. I was unemployed for almost a year (March 2021-February 2022), so I got to the point where I was just going for it - I'd state the salary I was looking for and usually would add an additional $10K to it. I did that for my current job and it WORKED. It was the highest offer I received during my search. Believe me, I know how sticky/ itchy/ ugh/ don't make me do this, salary convos can be, but I also mentally think "how would a man handle this?" because I read women are less likely to negotiate, and I don't want to contribute to that statistic.
Know your value: Start with research to find the normal range and objectively look at the skillset you're bringing in. Then define your bottom line based on this. Depending on the context you'll be working in, your value will change. Bigger companies, stronger industry tend to pay more. Smaller organization but complex role, you can also ask more. Adjust accordingly. Look at the big picture: Salary is just one part of the compensation package. If they said that have a fix range for certain roles, but you still think you deserve to get more, look at other ways you can be compensated. Maybe, higher budget for professional development? More vacation days? Travel expense? Higher for gadgets and equipments? Less working hour? Get everything in writing: Verbal promises don't meant sh*t. They said they are going to review or increase the salary in 6 months? Ask to add that into the contract. Salary is an expression of expectation: Know that the higher salary you ask, the higher expectation they'll have of you. If you gamble too much and ask way above the market range, they'll expect perfection from day one. Sometimes it's smarter to start at a safe zone and ask for the salary to be adjusted later. Again. Put this in writing. Add a clause in the contract that says "X's starting salary is Y, but 20% will be added after the probation."

Step 3. Just do it

Nike says it best - just do it. Armed with the data and the advice you got from our peers, prepare yourself for the conversation with your manager. Before you “go, go”, keep on reading, because we have some other tips for you. 

Key Considerations for Salary Negotiations: Beyond the Numbers

As you embark on negotiations to secure the compensation you deserve, it's important to remember that effective negotiation is more than just numbers on a piece of paper. Here are some key considerations that can greatly impact the outcome of your negotiations:

Know Your Business: Understanding your organization's financial health and the broader industry landscape can provide you with valuable context. If your business is thriving, it might be more open to discussions about competitive compensation packages.

Highlight Your Value Proposition: Clearly articulate how your contributions align with the organization's goals. Present specific instances where your work has led to measurable improvements, whether it's through enhanced programs, increased employee engagement, or cost savings.

Consider Total Compensation: Remember that salary isn't the only component of your compensation package. Benefits, bonuses, stock options, and professional development opportunities all contribute to your overall package. Assess the entire package to gauge its true value.

Timing Is Everything: Timing plays a pivotal role in negotiations. Consider discussing your compensation during performance review cycles or after accomplishing significant milestones. Presenting your request at opportune moments can enhance its impact.

Demonstrate Flexibility: While having a target figure in mind is important, being open to negotiation and compromise can lead to a more favorable outcome. Highlight your willingness to collaborate and find a solution that benefits both parties.

Professional Development: If your employer is unable to meet your salary expectations, explore opportunities for professional development, additional responsibilities, or potential for growth within the organization.

Practice Effective Communication: Approach negotiations as a dialogue rather than a confrontation. Clearly convey your points, actively listen to the employer's perspective, and work together to find common ground.

What Lies Ahead: Continuing the Journey

The journey we started in August is a continuous one. Our salary database will be open for as long as Offbeat is alive, ready for you to submit your details and go through the information others share.

We are also actively exploring ways to expand the database, refine our data collection methods, and provide deeper insights to assist you in your journey.

This initiative thrives on the power of collective participation, and your involvement can make a significant difference. Here's how you can contribute and amplify the impact of our salary database:

Add Your Salary: By anonymously sharing your salary information, you're not just providing valuable data for others to benchmark against – you're also taking an active role in fostering transparency. Your contribution serves as a building block for a more equitable industry, where every L&D professional is empowered with the knowledge they need.

Share the Database: Spread the word about this comprehensive salary resource within your L&D circles. Encourage your colleagues and peers to participate by adding their own salary information. The more entries we gather, the stronger our database becomes, enabling us to provide even more accurate insights and fostering a culture of openness.

Remember, this initiative thrives when L&D professionals like you come together to shape the narrative around fair compensation and transparency. By contributing your experiences, you're playing an essential role in paving the way for a more informed, empowered, and equitable industry. Together, we're creating a resource that transcends borders and nurtures growth for all.

Stay committed, keep the conversation alive, and watch as we collectively transform the landscape of L&D.

Lavinia Mehedintu has been designing learning experiences and career development programs for the past 9 years both in the corporate world and in higher education. As a Co-Founder and Learning Architect @Offbeat she’s applying adult learning principles so that learning & people professionals can connect, collaborate, and grow. She’s passionate about social learning, behavior change, and technology and constantly puts in the work to bring these three together to drive innovation in the learning & development space.

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