IT trainers design and deliver training courses in information technology

As an IT trainer, you'll need skills in the design and delivery of IT training and will also need to be an expert in one of two areas:

  • IT professional skills - covering technical training in C#, process skills like project management, applications such as SAP, and the various IT specialisations, including firewalls and anti-virus packages
  • user skills - desktop applications such as Microsoft Office, internet browsers and company-specific applications.

You'll also be 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

As an IT trainer, you'll need to:

  • develop expertise within your specialist areas - or cover any content if you choose to focus on the use of learning technologies
  • 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 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. 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 in the region of £30,000.
  • As an experienced IT trainer in a team leader role, you can expect to earn between £45,000 and £60,000.

Salaries can be higher for trainers in specialised or technical areas of work and depending on the employer and location.

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, Monday to Friday, 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's vital that you keep your skills and knowledge up to date.

What to expect

  • You'll generally be office based, even when learning technologies are deployed.
  • Being well presented is important, but dress codes vary with different employers and client groups.
  • Travel within the working day is frequently necessary and many assignments 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.

Tech Partnership Degrees is a not for profit organisation that operates an industry accreditation scheme called Tech Industry Gold programmes. The scheme works by uniting employers and universities to tailor the skills being brought into the digital workforce.

You can enter this area without a degree or HND, but you'll 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'll need to show:

  • an aptitude for IT and an up-to-date knowledge of common applications and systems
  • comprehensive computing capabilities for more specialist areas
  • good oral and written communication skills
  • well-developed interpersonal and facilitation skills
  • a high level of organisation
  • confidence in training and presentation delivery
  • patience and confidence
  • self-motivation, with the ability to motivate others
  • a willingness to learn
  • a full driving licence - this may be an advantage for some jobs depending on the location.

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'll 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's 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:

  • companies that have IT trainers as part of their permanent IT team
  • 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 EE
  • consultancies, e.g. Atos and CGI
  • full-service companies, e.g. IBM and HP
  • outsourced services, e.g. CGI and HP Enterprise Services
  • resourcing providers (recruitment consultancies), 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, in which 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'll need to research which courses are most appropriate for your needs.

Technical qualifications are extremely useful if you're a technical trainer and many training providers will encourage you to acquire them early in your career.

You'll also need to develop your training delivery skills. TAP Learning is one provider of this, running a number of relevant courses in this area. For more details, see Digital Tap Certificates.

Researching the approach to training a potential employer has before you apply can be helpful, as this can vary considerably. Some employers provide fully-funded training, while others provide no training at all - choosing only experienced trainers or those who already have training certificates. Others will give time off for relevant courses or sponsor qualifications taken in your own time.

Membership of a professional body may be helpful. These include:

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. It's likely this would involve writing materials for other trainers to use. Alternatively, you could take a more strategic approach for learning and development, in a training manager role.

Alternatively, you could take on increased responsibility for clients, or move into a different area such as account management or marketing.

Once you have substantial experience and contacts it may be possible to set up as a freelance trainer or establish your own training company.

Other options include working as a lecturer in a further education (FE) college or adult learning organisation, or an IT or learning and development consultancy.

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