Take the steps to become a technical trainer

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A few weeks ago I had a conversation with my friend Phil. He’s a pretty technical guy when it comes to networks, and he’s looking at changing jobs now. I suggested he should become a technical trainer because he’s already a certified flight instructor. I figured if he could teach one complex topic, he should be able to teach another. I told him I’d research what it would entail. This article is the result of that research, and I learned that it’s not quite as easy as just knowing your stuff about a technical topic. In a way, it’s gratifying to see that the IT industry has very stringent requirements about who is in the classroom training the next generation of technical professionals.

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If you want to become a technical trainer — especially for prominent companies such as Cisco, Microsoft, Novell, HP and others — the place to start is with your own technical skills. Most vendors want you to hold one or more technical certifications covering their products, at least for the products represented in the courses you would teach. For example, a trainer who teaches Cisco courses must minimally hold the CCNA certification. If the trainer is going to present a specialty course, he also must hold any related certifications for that specific topic.

The next kind of certification you must acquire is a technical trainer credential. This certification validates that you have the necessary presentation and classroom skills to teach adults. Just because you are an exert IT professional doesn’t mean you have the skills to be a great trainer.

Most of the big vendors have their own trainer certification, such as: