A career as an IT trainer would suit you if you are a computer expert who excels in explaining, teaching and passing on your IT skills and knowledge

As an IT trainer, you will design and deliver training programmes in information and communications technology (ICT). In addition to your training skills, you will need to be an expert in one of two areas:

  • IT professional skills - covering technical training 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:

  • e-assessment;
  • enterprise content management;
  • performance management tools;
  • social networking;
  • virtual labs.

Responsibilities

You will develop expertise within your specialist areas, although you could cover any content if you choose to focus on the use of learning technologies.

As an IT trainer, you'll need to:

  • carry out training needs analysis;
  • define the skill sets needed to perform different roles;
  • carry out performance assessments to determine the skills gap between current and desirable learner skill levels;
  • design training programmes appropriate to the skills needed;
  • develop an appropriate mix of formal and informal development activities;
  • ensure that the learning environment and resources support learner needs;
  • design course materials and other documents such as handouts, manuals and exercises;
  • prepare the learning environment and resources, including setting up IT equipment where appropriate;
  • deliver training programmes in formal (e.g. a classroom), informal (e.g. floor-walking) or online (e.g. e-learning and webinar) settings;
  • support and coach learners using learning technologies to deliver skills;
  • evaluate the effectiveness of training programmes and learning outcomes;
  • liaise with partners (e.g. external course providers, employers, examining bodies) to fulfil the skills needs of an organisation;
  • develop peer networks to keep abreast of current thinking;
  • maintain appropriate records of learner development and resource allocation.

Salary

  • Starting salaries for graduate trainees are usually between £18,000 and £25,000, depending on the employer and location.
  • The national average salary for IT trainers with a few years' experience is around £32,000.
  • Experienced IT trainers in a team leader role can earn between £45,000 and £60,000.
  • Salaries can be higher for trainers in specialised or technical areas of work and can depend on the size and type of the employing organisation. For example, an IT trainer with a few years' experience in a law firm can expect to earn around £40,000.
  • 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.

Additional benefits, such as a company car, laptop, phone and bonus, may be available, depending on the employer and the role.

Income figures are intended as a guide only.

Working hours

Working hours are typically 9am to 5pm, although you may need to 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 that you keep your skills and knowledge up to date.

What to expect

  • You will generally be office based, even when learning technologies are deployed.
  • Your work environment will depend on the type of employer.
  • You will need 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.
  • Depending on the organisation, your job may involve overseas travel.

Qualifications

Although you can work in this area with any degree or HND subject, the following subjects may increase your chances:

  • business;
  • computing;
  • human resources;
  • management.

The IT Management for Business (ITMB) degree was established through a collaboration between The Tech Partnership and top employers as a means of addressing the skills gap and shortages in the industry.

For information about where you can study an ITMB, visit The Tech Partnership - Degrees.

As well as an aptitude for IT, you will need well-developed interpersonal and facilitation skills. Some specialised subjects will require more comprehensive computing capabilities.

You can enter this area without a degree or HND, but you will need extensive 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.

It's also useful if you have an understanding of IT accessibility and usability issues.

Skills

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;
  • patience and confidence;
  • self-motivation and the ability to motivate others;
  • a willingness to learn.

A full driving licence and access to a car would be an advantage for travelling to client sites or training centres.

Work experience

Pre-entry experience is essential but you can enter the profession after gaining experience in either computing or training. For desktop applications, you will need experience of using a range of software packages.

Many employers, particularly end-user organisations, prefer you to have some experience of their sector, as it is essential that you understand the business context for the training you will deliver.

Employers

The use of IT is widespread so IT trainers with diverse knowledge and experience are in demand across all industries and environments.

Typical employers include:

  • universities, colleges and other academic establishments where the learners are students and staff;
  • training providers;
  • 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:

  • applications providers, e.g. SAP and Northgate;
  • communications providers, e.g. BT and Orange;
  • consultancies, e.g. Atos and CGI;
  • full-service companies, e.g. IBM and HP;
  • outsourced services, e.g. CSC and HP Enterprise Services;
  • resourcing providers, e.g. Computer People;
  • software providers, e.g. Microsoft and Oracle;
  • system integrators, e.g. Fujitsu and Computacenter;
  • 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.

You can work on either a self-employed or freelance basis if you have experience. This involves either working alone or in association with one of the trainer resourcing organisations.

Competition is fairly high for entry-level positions. You could 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.

Look for job vacancies at:

Specialist recruitment agencies, such as Blue Eskimo, commonly handle vacancies.

Professional development

As an IT trainer, you'll need to have knowledge in the area that you want to teach and the training skills to deliver this knowledge.

Many courses are available for both technical and desktop application trainers and you will need to research which courses are most appropriate for your needs.

Technical trainers will find that relevant technical qualifications are extremely useful and many training providers will encourage you to acquire them early in your career.

If you want to specialise in technical training, you can gain qualifications, such as:

  • Certified Novell Engineer (CNE);
  • Certified Novell Instructor (CNI);
  • Cisco Certified Academy Instructor (CCAI);
  • Cisco Learning Virtual Classroom Instruction;
  • CompTIA Certified Technical Trainer (CTT+);
  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD);
  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE);
  • Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT).

If you are interested in desktop applications training, relevant qualifications include:

  • European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL);
  • Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT);
  • Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS).

You will also need to develop your training delivery skills. Relevant courses in this area include The Training Foundation TAP Training Accreditation Programme.

Some employers provide fully-funded 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 for those who are members of a relevant professional body such as the:

You can either undertake a few days' intensive training or longer-term qualifications at a college or university.

When you are choosing a course, you can check the LPI website's database of LPI accredited training providers.

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, to ensure professional standards and a platform for the recognition of skills.

You could think about joining the BCS, as it 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 your employer and your career aims.

Career prospects

IT trainers work in a variety of environments, so your career could develop in different ways.

You could take a post as a senior trainer, with responsibility for a team of trainers and writing 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.

You could also 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, an attractive option if you have a network of contacts.

Other options include moving into:

  • education as a lecturer in a further education (FE) college or adult learning organisation;
  • IT consultancy;
  • learning and development consultancy;
  • specialisations within a particular employer's organisation.