US L&D Salary Benchmark

Learning and Development Manager Salary: When Does it Pay More to Manage?

Managing a team is a common way for L&D professionals to advance their careers. 

L&D managers

However, although the majority (65%) of our survey respondents aren’t yet leading teams, many have their sights set on management; this was the most frequently chosen response when respondents in our survey were asked where they wanted to be in the next five years:

Learning and development managers want to stay managers

Learning and Development managers seem to enjoy their role; only 2% said they wanted to stop management and go back to being an individual contributor.

Only 2% said they wanted to stop management and go back to being an individual contributor.

How much do Learning and Development managers make?

This is probably in part because, unsurprisingly, managers make more than non-managers: There are more non-managers among those making  under $70k than among those making over $70k. 

Generally speaking, the more people you manage, the more you make. Those making under $70k manage, on average, either nobody, or just one person (0.5). Those making between $70k and $100k manage on average 1.3 people (between one and two people). 

Finally, those making over $100K manage on average just over 3 people (3.1). There are still, however, 43% of those making over one hundred thousand dollars that don’t manage anyone.

The bottom line? If you want to become a top earner, you’ll likely, but not necessarily, want to turn to management.

How much experience do you need to become an L&D manager?

If you’re new to L&D, you probably won’t start out as the head of a team. In fact, many L&D specialists don’t end up managing at all: If you’re not a manager, you’re likely to have between zero and five years’ experience, yet half of those who have 15+ years of experience in L&D don’t manage a team.

Learning and Development manager salary takeaway

There’s a strong appetite for management in L&D, and it’s one path—though not the only one—to earning a greater salary. Would-be L&D managers need to gain the skills and experience, however, to move up to this level. You can find actionable advice for putting yourself on a management track in the last chapter of this guide, Leveling Up.