IT Trainer

The Job and What's Involved

IT trainers teach people how to use information and communications technology. This includes the use of equipment such as PCs or interactive whiteboards, computer applications using industry-standard software packages, specialised networking systems, or tailor-made programmes for companies.

They spend part of their week planning courses or training sessions for learners, who may range from first-time users to the more experienced.

IT trainers need to plan out how long it will take to cover the topics they want to teach, and allocate time for learners to practise with the system or software for themselves. They have to prepare thoroughly, often by working through a complete course, checking that all the exercises are correct. Trainers need to be aware of all the mistakes learners are likely to make, so that they can steer them back on course.

Trainers may need to produce handouts that reinforce what happens during the session, or give learners a chance to work through examples in their own time.

During the session, trainers talk through the topic and demonstrate software or hardware. In a group situation they usually have a data projector and laptop to present information on a large screen.

Training might also be done online or through distance learning. In these cases, trainers support and coach students and answer queries.

Administration duties might include writing progress reports for students, and keeping records of who has been through a particular training programme.

Trainers may work alone or in a team, and they could be training people on a one-to-one basis or in groups in a classroom environment.

Trainers usually work normal office hours, but there might be some evening or weekend courses to fit in with learners' timetables. Flexible working and part-time hours are quite common.

Trainers may be based in one location where students travel to them or they may travel to wherever the learners are based. Travelling can add extra hours to the working day and may mean some nights away from home.

Trainers tend to work indoors in classroom environments or in offices. Depending on the style of teaching and the situation, they may spend time standing or sitting to present their session and to work with students.

The starting salary for a new IT trainer may be around £20,000 a year.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

There are opportunities for IT trainers throughout the UK, especially in the South East.

Large organisations often employ their own trainers, but many companies now buy in training services from specialised training companies. IT trainers can also work for software providers, further education colleges and training companies, or run their own training companies, working alone or employing a team of trainers.

Vacancies are advertised through recruitment agencies and websites, in local and national newspapers, and in trade publications such as IT Training, Computing and Computer Weekly.

Education and Training

There are no set qualifications to work in this field, and IT trainers may either have teaching skills or a good knowledge of IT and software. Some start as IT technicians, and then learn skills in training through experience while working. Others qualify as trainers or teachers, and then add IT to their specialist skills.

There is a wide range of general and vocational courses and qualifications that give a good grounding in IT. These include:

  • A GCSE/S grade in ICT.
  • An A level/H grade in computing/ICT.
  • NVQ's/SVQ's at Levels 1 to 4.
  • An SQA National Certificate in IT or BTEC National Diploma in Computing for IT Practitioners - entry requirements are four GCSE's/S grades (A-C/1-3), or the equivalent, and courses normally last two years full time.

At a more advanced level:

  • There are several HNC/HND courses in IT and related subjects. Entry is with a minimum of one A level/two H grades, or a BTEC national diploma.
  • Foundation degrees in IT. Entry requirements vary, so check with colleges. Courses usually take two years.
  • Degrees in IT, computing and related subjects. Entry is with at least two A levels/three H grades, or the equivalent. Maths or physics may be needed for some courses. Courses usually last three or four years full time.

Useful teaching qualifications include:

  • NVQ's/SVQ's in Learning and Development.
  • City & Guilds and OCR courses in a wide range of training and education subjects.
  • Courses from the Institute of IT Training and the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development.

There is also a wide range of product specific and professional qualifications, developed by organisations such as Microsoft, Cisco and Novell, and by professional bodies, such as the British Computer Society. The Institute of IT Training has compiled a list of recognised qualifications.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Professional Youth and Community Workers usually have a qualification in youth work validated by the National Youth Agency (NYA), (or Youth Council for Northern Ireland), and recognised by the JNC for Youth and Community Workers.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

IT trainers need:

  • A thorough and up-to-date knowledge of the hardware or software they are teaching.
  • To be able to adapt their approach to suit the learners.
  • Good verbal and written communication skills.
  • Strong planning and presentation skills.
  • Patience and tact when dealing with slower or anxious learners.
  • To be organised and punctual.
  • An awareness and understanding of health and safety issues relating to ICT.

Your Long Term Prospects

An IT trainer can progress to senior trainer, develop management skills and move into management, or work on a freelance basis.

It is also possible to move into different types of IT work or develop training skills to include other business-related subjects.

Get Further Information

British Computer Society, 1st Floor, Block D,
North Star House, North Star Avenue,
Swindon SN2 1FA
Tel: 01793 417417

Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD),
151 The Broadway, London SW19 1JQ
Tel: 020 8612 6200

e-skills UK, 1 Castle Lane, London SW1E 6DR
Tel: 020 7963 8920

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