Training: how to get the best out of others

Being a trainer does not necessarily mean standing in front of a blackboard all day, writes Nick Langley

Being a trainer does not necessarily mean standing in front of a blackboard all day, writes Nick Langley

What does being a trainer involve?

There is more to a career in training than standing at the front of a real or virtual classroom. You could design courses or become a consultant, helping organisations to identify training requirements. At the highest level, consultancy broadens to cover other aspects of individual and organisational performance and development.

What is it for?

There are two kinds of IT training. There is the sort encouraged by bodies such as the BCS and E-skills National Training Organisation, which develops a broad understanding that can be applied whatever products you work with.

The second leads to competence or certification in a particular range of products. If you are considering a long-term career as a trainer, it is probably a good idea to get both professional and supplier-specific qualifications.

Where did it originate?

There is a real need for good skills training. But there is no doubt that proprietary software training, at a cost per day which often exceeds the annual licence fee per user, has been a good earner for IT suppliers.

What makes it special?

According to the Institute of IT Training (IITT), IT constitutes the largest segment of training in the UK. Governments and companies are investing in training to meet the growing IT skills shortfall. More skills training means more trainers.

How difficult is it?

Besides mastery of the subject, you will need to demonstrate the ability to establish credibility with your students, prepare course material and the "learning environment", make appropriate use of materials and techniques, and conduct workshops and hands-on demonstrations.

Prerequisites for certified Lotus instructor (CLI) status include a year's technical training experience and three months' Lotus product experience. CLI candidates should allow at least three months, and up to one year for higher instructor certification.

Microsoft certified trainers are required to be Microsoft certified systems engineers or equivalent.

Certified Novell instructor (CNI) candidates must be certified Novell engineers (CNE) and have at least one year's experience teaching adults in a classroom. Master CNIs must have been CNIs for at least two years and hold master CNE certification.

A good first step is to obtain certified technical trainer certification (CTT), developed by the Chauncey Group using input from suppliers including Novell, Adobe, Autodesk, Netscape, Microsoft and Oracle. CTT certification meets the presentation skills requirement for these suppliers' instructor certification programmes.

Where is it used?

Many IT suppliers outsource their training to authorised partners. You can also work as an independent freelance trainer.

Not to be confused with

Sweaty old sports shoes.

Few people know that

Novell says you should avoid saying "OK" at the end of a sentence to ask for confirmation of each idea. Got that? Continually adjusting your hair, playing with things in your pockets and laughing nervously are other things to avoid.

What is coming up?

Just-in-time training delivered to the user's desktop, rather than structured formal training.

Find out more

Details of Microsoft, Novell and other suppliers' certified trainer schemes are on their Web sites. See also, the Industrial Society International Board of Standards for Training, Performance and Instruction's and the US-based Association of Information Technology Trainers'

Rates of pay

From £25,000 to £35,000 for teaching supplier certification courses or languages. For more specialised skills or combinations of skills (software development and telephony, for example) rates can be much higher.

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