Ever wonder how much it actually costs to develop and provide training?  We often find trainers pulling their hair out trying to explain “the numbers” to their bosses, or others, who are demanding the development of a training program.  In most cases, we don’t have the information, or the time to get the information, to share with the higher ups to help them understand that training program development takes time…and money.  A formula that illustrates the scope of where the costs come from is shown below:

Cost of Training = Salary (Hourly rate + Benefits) + Time (Plan, Development and Delivery) + Supplies (All materials, equipment, technology and animals)

Here are some quick facts to help fellow trainers provide “the numbers:”

·         The cost of developing one instructor-led training class from start to finish takes 40-185 hours which can equal $1240.00 to $5750.00 in labor alone.

·         The cost of developing one online training module takes between 93-154 hours which equals $2900.00 to $4800.00 in labor.

·         It takes an average of five hours (a minimum of $155.00) to provide one two-hour hands-on training program for up to 5 people. This accounts for preparing/setting up, providing/cleaning up and assessing/documenting.  This doesn’t include the time it takes to develop and get the program approved.  

So one training program that includes an online module, an instructor led seminar, and a hands on lab can take 375 hours to develop and deliver and equal as much as $10,000.00! And this just accounts for the trainer’s time!

In addition, these numbers don’t take in to account the Value of Training which considers compliance issues, employee morale and turnover and other factors that affect daily operations.


Bureau of Labor Statistics. Training and Development Specialist

Reducing Time to Develop One Hour of Instruction

Time to Develop One Hour of Training

Tobey, Deborah.  Needs Assessment Basics, ASTD Press, 2005