IT trainers design and deliver training programmes in information and communications technology (ICT). In addition to their training skills, they are experts in one of two areas:
- IT professional skills - covering technical training such as in C#; process skills like project management; applications, for example SAP; and the various IT specialisations, including firewalls and anti-virus packages;
- user skills - desktop applications such as MS Office, internet browsers and company-specific applications.
IT trainers are also responsible for the application of learning technologies to transfer skills, in both IT and non-IT subjects. These include:
- virtual labs;
- enterprise content management;
- performance management tools;
- social networking;
Trainers will develop expertise within their specialist areas, although those focused on the use of learning technologies could cover any content.
Typical duties are likely to include:
- carrying out training needs analyses;
- defining the skill sets needed to perform different roles;
- carrying out performance assessments to determine the skills gaps between current and desirable learner skill levels;
- designing training programmes appropriate to the skills needed;
- developing an appropriate mix of formal and informal development activities;
- ensuring the learning environment and resources support learner needs;
- designing course materials and other documents such as handouts, manuals and exercises;
- preparing the learning environment and resources, including setting up IT equipment where appropriate;
- delivering training programmes in formal (e.g. a classroom), informal (e.g. floor-walking) or online (e.g. elearning and webinar) settings;
- supporting and coaching learners using learning technologies to deliver skills;
- evaluating the effectiveness of training programmes and learning outcomes;
- liaising with partners (e.g. external course providers, employers, examining bodies) to fulfil the skills needs of an organisation;
- developing peer networks to keep abreast of current thinking;
- maintaining appropriate records of learner development and resource allocation.
- Graduate trainees can expect to earn around the £18,000 mark, depending on the employer and location.
- The national average salary for IT trainers with a few years experience is around £32,000 per annum.
- With more experience and responsibility, such as a team leader role, salaries rise to between £45,000 and £60,000 a year.
- Salaries can be higher for trainers in particularly specialised or technical areas of work and levels of pay also depend on the size and type of the employing organisation. For example, the average annual salary for experienced legal IT trainers is around the £40,000+ mark.
- Freelance or self-employed trainers may earn higher rates of pay, although regular work is not guaranteed. Daily rates range from around £250 to £400.
Company car, laptop, phone, bonus and benefits are available, depending on the employer and the role.
Income figures are intended as a guide only.
Working hours are typically nine to five, possibly with some extra hours. Some organisations also carry out staff training outside office hours or at weekends.
Flexible and part-time work is fairly common and career breaks are possible, but it is vital to keep skills and knowledge up to date.
What to expect
- The work is generally office-based even when learning technologies are deployed.
- The work environment depends very much on the type of employer.
- Due to the nature of the work, it is important to be well presented, but dress codes vary with different employers and client groups.
- Travel within the working day is frequently necessary and many assignments are likely to require absence from home overnight.
- Overseas travel opportunities may arise with some employers.
Although this area of work is open to all graduates and diplomates, the following degree/HND subjects may increase your chances:
- human resources.
The IT Management for Business (ITMB) degree was established as a result of collaboration between The Tech Partnership and top employers after it was identified that there was a need for a qualification that addressed the skills gap and resulting shortages in the industry.
For information about where you might study an ITMB visit IT Management for Business (ITMB).
Skills and personal qualities, such as an aptitude for IT and well developed interpersonal and facilitation skills, are generally more important than degree discipline although specialised subjects do require more comprehensive computing capabilities.
Entry without a degree or HND is possible, but does require extensive subject matter experience.
The European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL) or equivalent qualification is useful, as is any experience of working with people.
Technical qualifications and experience are important if you're delivering technical IT training.
Having a full driving licence and access to a car could be an advantage for travelling to client sites or training centres.
It's also useful to have an understanding of IT accessibility and usability issues.
Competition is fairly high for entry-level positions. Write speculatively to training providers, companies in the ICT sector, in-house training teams or educational institutions and keep an eye on the IT specialist press for vacancies.
You will need to show:
- up-to-date knowledge of common IT applications and systems;
- oral and written communication skills;
- organisation and planning skills;
- training delivery and presentation skills;
- the deployment of learning technologies;
- patience and confidence;
- self-motivation and the ability to motivate others;
- a willingness to learn.
Pre-entry experience is essential and it is possible to enter the profession after gaining experience in either computing or training. For desktop applications, experience of using a range of software packages is particularly useful.
Many employers, particularly end-user organisations, prefer candidates to have some experience of the sector in which they operate, as it is essential for trainers to understand the business context for the training they deliver.
The use of IT is widespread so there is demand across all industries and environments for IT trainers with diverse knowledge and experience.
Typical employers include:
- universities, colleges and other academic establishments - where the learners are students and staff;
- training providers - offering a range of training to their clients;
- learning technology providers - training on the deployment of their technologies;
- IT providers - offering training on their products and services;
- public and private sector users of IT.
Within the IT industry, potential employers can be categorised as:
- full-service companies, e.g. IBM and HP;
- software providers, e.g. Microsoft and Oracle;
- communications providers, e.g. BT and Orange;
- applications providers, e.g. SAP and Northgate;
- outsourced services, e.g. CSC and HP Enterprise Services;
- resourcing providers, e.g. Computer People;
- system integrators, e.g. Fujitsu and Computacenter;
- consultancies, e.g. Atos and Logica;
- thought leaders, e.g. Deloitte and Accenture.
End-user organisations, companies for whom IT is not the prime business, generally employ trainers to ensure effective deployment of new technologies or the effective use of learning technologies.
Self-employment as a freelance trainer is an option for those with experience. This involves either working alone or in association with one of the trainer resourcing organisations.
Look for job vacancies at:
- Contractor UK
- Inside Careers: Information Technology
- IT Jobs Post
- IT Jobs Watch
- Women in Technology
- Local and national press.
Specialist recruitment agencies, such as Blue Eskimo, commonly handle vacancies.
Trainers need to have knowledge in what they want to teach and the training skills to deliver this knowledge.
There is a range of courses available for both technical and desktop applications trainers and you need to do your research carefully to find out what courses are most appropriate for your needs.
Technical trainers will find that relevant technical qualifications are extremely useful and many training providers encourage or require their acquisition early on in a career.
There are a number of options available which depend on your area of expertise. These include courses to develop technical proficiency, as well as training qualifications, such as:
- Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT);
- Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE);
- Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD);
- Cisco Certified Academy Instructor (CCAI);
- Cisco Learning Virtual Classroom Instruction;
- Certified Novell Engineer (CNE);
- Certified Novell Instructor (CNI);
- CompTIA Certified Technical Trainer (CTT+).
For those interested in desktop applications training, relevant qualifications include:
- Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT);
- Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS);
- European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL).
Training delivery skills are also important. Relevant courses in this area include The Training Foundation TAP Training Accreditation Programme.
Some employers provide fully-funded courses in training, while others provide time off for relevant courses or sponsor qualifications taken in your own time.
Some provide no training at all and look for experienced trainers or those who already have training certificates, or are members of a relevant professional body like the Learning & Performance Institute (LPI) or BCS (The Chartered Institute for IT).
It's possible to undertake a few days' intensive training or longer-term qualifications at a college or university.
The LPI website has a database of LPI accredited training providers. Check this database when choosing a course.
A qualifications framework has been developed by The Tech Partnership in collaboration with employers and the Joint Awarding Body Forum.
It features links with qualifications vendors and awarding bodies including BCS (The Chartered Institute for IT), to ensure professional standards and a platform for the recognition of skills.
The BCS also provides information and guidance to assist members to develop their expertise and recognise and plan their learning needs.
Further IT trainer training will depend on the employing organisation and the career aims of the individual.
IT trainers work in a wide variety of environments, so career development can take many forms.
This can include moving up to take a post as senior trainer, with responsibility for a team of trainers and the writing of materials for other trainers to use.
Training managers take a more strategic responsibility for learning and development within an employer's organisation and/or for clients, or undertake increased account management and marketing responsibility.
It is also possible to move into a number of specialised areas of training that may be either content or deployment driven.
Once you have substantial experience it may be possible to set up as a freelance trainer or establish your own training company, a particularly attractive option for those who already have a network of contacts.
Other options include moving into:
- IT consultancy;
- learning and development consultancy;
- specialisations within a particular employer's organisation;
- education as a lecturer in a further education (FE) college or adult learning organisation.