Training Instructor

The Job and What's Involved

Training instructors help people to learn new skills or improve the skills they have.

They train people in all kinds of skills, usually specialising in one area. This could be:

  • Practical, technical or craft skills such as operating machinery or using tools.
  • IT skills such as word processing.
  • Customer service, call-handling or sales.
  • Personal development, such as assertiveness training.
  • Management skills, such as performance, team leadership or time management.

Depending on the organisation they work for and their responsibilities, they may work closely with training managers, human resource managers and the trainees themselves to decide on the type of training that is needed and how it will be organised.

How they deliver training depends on the skills they are teaching. They might:

  • Teach in a classroom setting using a whiteboard or projector and screen.
  • Be online to help trainees with e-learning.
  • Demonstrate practical tasks or equipment for the trainees and then help them practise.
  • Organise individual and group exercises.
  • Set up role play scenarios.
  • Show videos or DVD's.
  • Offer one-to-one coaching or mentoring.

Training instructors need to make sure they have prepared materials, exercises, handouts and so on for the session, and that they have the equipment they need. If the session is not in the workplace, they may have to book the training venue and organise refreshments. Training instructors also need to consider health and safety issues, as they will be responsible for the safety of their trainees.

Many instructors also assess the performance of trainees, especially if they are working towards NVQ's. This may involve observing them, both at work and in the training centre. Training instructors have to keep a record of their trainees' progress and, if they are working towards qualifications, will need to follow the requirements of the awarding bodies.

Training instructors usually work between 37 and 40 hours a week, Monday to Friday. Occasionally they may have to work outside normal office hours to fit in with shift patterns, or to offer training at times that suit trainees.

There can be opportunities for part-time work.

Their working environment depends on the skills they teach. They may spend time in an office or a customer reception area. They may also work outside, or in a factory or workshop. The work could involve lifting and carrying heavy materials.

There might be some travel and overnight stays if training instructors need to carry out training sessions in other areas.

A driving licence may be needed if the job involves traveling between different training venues.

Starting salaries may be around £16,000 a year.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

Training instructors work in the training departments of large companies and organisations, training their employees, or they could work for a training consultancy or college providing training for a range of different organisations.

They also work for councils, and for organisations such as the Armed Forces, the Prison Service and the police.

Skills and personal development have become more important and organisations are keen to have well-trained people, so there is a good demand for instructors. However, e-learning and self-directed learning is increasing too, which puts more emphasis on self-development than on traditional teaching.

Vacancies for training instructors may be advertised on company websites, in the local and national press, and in specialist journals such as People Management and Personnel Today. There are also recruitment agencies and websites that deal specifically with training posts and contracts.

Education and Training

There are no set entry requirements to become a training instructor. The main requirement is an in-depth knowledge and a high level of skill in the area being taught. In practice, though, many training instructors tend to have academic or vocational qualifications relevant to the skills they teach.

Although there is no minimum age limit, it is unlikely that someone will become an effective instructor, with the level of skill or experience required, until at least 21 years of age.

Many training instructors move into training from other jobs in an organisation - after working as a supervisor on a production line, for example, or after leading a customer service team.

Instructors who work for training consultancies rather than in-house usually need a recognised training qualification. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) awards the Certificate in Training Practice (CTP). There are no set entry requirements for this.

There are also City & Guilds and OCR courses in a wide range of training and education subjects.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

The CTP enables training instructors to develop the expertise to understand, identify, deliver and evaluate training within their organisation. Once individuals have gained the CTP, they are eligible for Associate membership of the CIPD.

There are two ways of studying for the CTP:

  • The modular programme gives students flexibility to study at their own pace through day release, block release or distance learning, but the course has to be completed within two years.
  • The fast-track programme is an intensive 28-week structured programme for training instructors with extensive experience.

There are also NVQ's for practising training instructors:

  • Learning and Development at Levels 3, 4 and 5.
  • Direct Training and Support at Level 3 for practitioners involved in government-funded work-based learning.

The NVQ in Learning and Development Level 3 has seven mandatory and four optional units, including:

- Monitoring and reviewing progress with learners
- Creating a climate that promotes learning
- Enabling learning through demonstrations and instruction
- Enabling individual learning through coaching

If training instructors supervise trainees who are working towards NVQ's, they will need to qualify as an assessor. The two relevant units from the above NVQ are A1 (assess candidates using a range of methods) and A2 (assess candidates' performance through observation).

The CIPD offers a range of courses and certificate programmes for training instructors at every stage of their career, as well as for those managing training. The CIPD professional qualification, the Professional Development Scheme, is aimed at those seeking to advance their managerial career in personnel and development.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

Training instructors should:

  • Be competent and experienced in the skills they teach.
  • Have excellent communication skills.
  • Be able to demonstrate or explain accurately and clearly.
  • Be able to organise their sessions and keep to the time schedule.
  • Know how to encourage and promote learning.
  • Be patient and tactful.
  • Understand health and safety risks and how to minimise them.
  • Keep up with developments in their trade or profession.
  • Be a good performer, so that they can make presentations interesting or entertaining.

Your Long Term Prospects

With experience and higher qualifications, such as the Level 4 and 5 NVQ's, training instructors could progress to become a training manager or consultant.

Get Further Information

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

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