Help Others Succeed In IT as a Certified Technical Trainer
Because of how rapidly the field of Information Technology is changing and growing, there is a rising demand for capable and motivated individuals to teach others the skills necessary to succeed in IT and ensure that the field continues to flourish. The plethora of opportunities that exist for technical trainers, coupled with the sheer importance and depth of the position, make it an increasingly viable option for IT professionals.
What do Technical Trainers do?
A common misconception is that technical trainers are essentially just educators who happen to teach topics and skills related to IT. While that is certainly part of the job description, technical training is a very broad position and technical trainers will find themselves doing a wide variety of tasks, some of which have very little to do with educating and training other IT professionals directly. There are three main categories of work that most organizations require of their technical trainers.
Training — As the name suggests, training and educating IT professionals is a major component of the position. Among other things, technical trainers will conduct and attend educational workshops, conduct job-specific personal training and computer classes, develop comprehensive training manuals for employees by identifying and describing informational needs, and develop computer training modules based on their company's work procedures, work-flow, and IT operations.
Developing Standards — A key component of any technical trainer's position involves maintaining their organization's quality and service standards by developing, enforcing, and improving them constantly. Because technical trainers are in large part responsible for the efficacy and skill of the company's employees, they have first-hand knowledge of how the company's organizational standards and policies affect employees and how they should be changed to improve employee output. Technical trainers are crucial in ensuring regulatory compliance and assessing the training needs and certification requirements for a company.
Ad-hoc Support — Technical trainers are trainers for a reason: they have an abundance of IT knowledge, skills, and experience to the point where the majority of their time is better spent sharing that knowledge and experience rather than applying it directly to projects. Nevertheless, technical trainers are often required to assist directly in IT projects and support employees in achieving company goals.
What does it take to excel as a technical trainer?
As we've shown, technical training is a broad, all-encompassing position and as a result, technical trainers need to have a variety of skills to truly excel.
Obviously, technical trainers need an in-depth knowledge of the technical field(s) they are responsible for training their peers in. You can't teach someone something you don't know and as a result, successful technical trainers have the knowledge and skills in IT that give them credibility when they are training others.
The other utterly and equally (if not slightly more) necessary component of success in technical training is having the necessary soft skills to train effectively. Technical trainers need to have well-developed written and verbal communication skills, as well as the ability to motivate, educate, and present to others. Technical trainers interact with IT professionals on a daily basis and as a result, they need to have the ability to get their ideas and information to resonate with others.
What are some of the more prestigious certifications for IT trainers?
Before you begin even thinking about becoming a technical trainer, it's important that you become educated in IT in the first place. Most IT companies require at least one certification covering the products they use so before you decide to head down the technical training route, it's important to establish yourself as someone who is skilled and credentialed in IT.
That being said, there are several certifications that will truly set you apart from other aspiring IT trainers and that are becoming an absolute must as the position becomes more highly sought after by a growing body of IT professionals. Technical training credentials demonstrate that you have the communicative, presentation, and interpersonal skills necessary to effectively educate and train other IT professionals. There are two types of technical training certifications that you should consider.
Vendor-specific certifications are particular to specific IT vendors and should be pursued if you intend on training exclusively on a particular platform. These certifications include the Certified Novell Instructor, Microsoft Certified Trainer, Certified Cisco Systems Instructor, HP Certified Instructor, and IBM Certified Trainer credentials.
Non-vendor specific certifications demonstrate instructional abilities not particular to any IT platform. The most popular of these is the CompTIA Certified Technical Trainer credential, but the American Management Association and the International Board of Standards for Training, Performance, and Instruction also offer comprehensive IT instructor certifications.
How do I become a Technical Trainer?
After you've got the credentials and will to become a technical trainer, there are several routes you can take to enter the field.
The obvious route would be to become a staff trainer for an IT vendor. However, as these vendors continue to outsource much of their training to training providers, these jobs are becoming increasingly scare and difficult to attain.
An excellent entry point for potential IT trainers is to find employment for an authorized training provider such as Global Knowledge, QA, or New Horizons, among many others. Similarly, high schools, technical schools, and community colleges often hire certified technical trainers to teach many of their entry-level IT courses. Having experience working for a school or a training provider can provide invaluable experience and often allows IT trainers to pursue full-time training positions with IT vendors.
Additionally, many technical trainers, after working in the position for organizations, become contractors and provide ad-hoc technical training to whatever organizations deem it necessary. Technical training contracting can be a particularly lucrative field if you've got the network and credentials to obtain consistent training contracts.
As IT continues to grow and change, the deficit of effective technical trainers is becoming increasingly-apparent and presents IT professionals looking for a career change with an excellent opportunity. With major companies like HP and Cisco announcing their desire to increase the amount of people certified on their products, the time to consider technical training as a career path has never been better!