IT trainers teach people how to use, and get the most from, their computer systems. They prepare and deliver single sessions or whole courses of training. Preparation might include assessing their clients' needs. IT trainers often prepare materials such as course notes and practice exercises.
Also known as
- Trainer, IT
- Computer Trainer
Video: - Paula: IT Trainer
IT trainers teach people to use computers in businesses, public sector organisations, colleges, universities and training centres, for example.
They could be working with people who have no previous experience of computers, giving them a basic understanding of the technology, or they might be showing people with more knowledge how to use a specific computer system or software product.
Trainers support people's learning, encouraging those who might be quite frightened of computers and gradually enabling them to become more confident and self-sufficient.
Trainers cover a wide range of computer-related subjects, depending on who they teach. For example, they might train people in basic word processing or how to use the internet.
Other trainers might, for example, show journalists or publishers how to use desktop publishing (DTP) software, which helps people to lay out information attractively and produce it in different forms, such as magazine pages.
Trainers also help people to learn how to use spreadsheets and databases. People use these systems for storing information such as financial records and customers' addresses. Some trainers teach advanced computer users how to develop software and how to use complex computer languages.
IT trainers plan their training carefully. For example, they might talk to company managers or users to find out the type and level of training people need. Next, they prepare teaching materials and exercises to use in the session, as well as course notes that people can take away.
IT trainers sometimes stand in front of a room full of people and deliver a formal course, explaining and demonstrating each topic before asking the trainees to practise it. They set up the training room before the session, making sure that all the computers are working and any required software is installed. Sometimes they work with just one or two people at a time.
Trainers sometimes use self-teaching packages. These are computer programs that guide the trainee through a system, explaining each step along the way. Trainers monitor how the course members are progressing and give them any help they need. These could be delivered online as e-learning, sometimes in a virtual learning environment. Some trainers use webinars to deliver live sessions.
The length of training courses varies depending on the trainees' needs. Some are short, for example, a one-day course that covers basic word processing, while others could last up to several months. For example, this could be one evening a week or in blocks of several days at a time. Trainers sometimes offer technical support to trainees after the course, if it's needed.
Trainers keep records of all the courses they've delivered. Some trainers set and mark tests or exams as part of the course.
At the end of the course, trainers often ask the trainees to fill in forms saying how well the training went and how much they have learned. In this way, the trainer can make the course better next time. Trainers keep their own knowledge and skills up to date by going on courses themselves.
Some trainers travel around to different organisations to deliver their courses.
Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.
Personal Qualities and Skills
As an IT trainer, you'll need:
- A thorough and up-to-date technical knowledge of the systems, software or equipment that you will train people in.
- Delivery and presentation skills including an interesting and enthusiastic teaching style and an outgoing personality.
- Strong verbal communication skills to explain things clearly and concisely to people who might have little knowledge of computers.
- Interpersonal skills.
- To be able to assess people's training needs.
- The confidence and ability to speak in front of groups of trainees.
- To be able to plan and manage the time available for each part of the training course.
- Patience to give one-to-one help when someone needs it.
- Good written skills to help you to produce course materials and feedback.
- To be able to learn how to use new software and technologies quickly and efficiently.
- To be able to encourage people who are confused or even scared by new technology, using tact and sensitivity.
If you offer courses to different businesses, you will need to be smartly dressed and should be prepared for extensive travel and some overnight stays away from home. In this case, you will probably need a full driving licence.
Pay and Opportunities
The pay rates given below are approximate.
Salaries for IT trainers are in the range of £18,000 - £26,500 a year, rising to £33,500 - £41,000 a year.
Hours of work
Trainers usually work office hours, Monday to Friday. However, you might sometimes need to start early or finish late, depending on lesson preparation time, or travel to clients' premises. There are opportunities for job-sharing, part-time work and temporary work.
Where could I work?
Employers are computer manufacturers or dealers, software providers, consultancies, public sector organisations or large companies with many computer users. IT trainers also work for training organisations and in the further education sector.
Opportunities for IT trainers occur in towns and cities throughout the UK. A significant number of vacancies for IT and telecoms professionals are in London and the South East of England.
What's happening in this work area?
The IT industry is predicted to grow much faster than the rest of the UK workforce over the next decade. The recession has affected the IT industry, but overall it has emerged in a very strong position.
One reason for this strength is the realisation, by the global economy, of the importance of IT in helping businesses to survive the recession and economic downturn. Investment in technology is also viewed by many as a way for public bodies to become more efficient.
There is a shortage of candidates with IT skills and qualifications in the UK.
Future skills needsTechnical skills are highly important in this industry. However, employers have also highlighted the need for the following non-technical skills:
- teamworking skills
- good communication skills
- business skills.
Opportunities occur for IT trainers to work on a self-employed, freelance basis - usually on fixed-term contracts.
Where are vacancies advertised?
Vacancies are advertised on specialist IT job boards and employers' websites, in computing magazines and professional journals, in local/national newspapers, on Universal Jobmatch and at Jobcentre Plus.
Entry Routes and Training
Many entrants are graduates or holders of HNDs (in a relevant computing subject), who have gained experience in other computing jobs, for example, systems analysis or programming, and then gone into training.
Some universities and employers offer internships or student placements that develop business, communication and interpersonal skills.
Full-time and part-time foundation degrees are offered in various computing subjects.
Teaching is a possible entry route, as is secretarial or administrative work combined with skills in computer applications. Having the Advanced European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL) can be useful for entry to IT training.
In the commercial sector, you must be able to combine proven technical knowledge (perhaps through becoming a certified user of a specific system or software product, for example, Microsoft Office) with the ability to communicate your knowledge clearly and concisely to other people.
Academic qualifications are not always essential for entry. Employers test communication skills in a variety of ways: they might ask you to do a presentation or demonstrate a particular IT product.
The Learning and Performance Institute (formerly the Institute of IT Training) awards Institute Certified Training Practitioner (ICTP) status to trainers who have passed a live Trainer Performance and Monitoring Assessment (TPMA). TPMA reviews the trainer's core competencies, including preparation, communication, delivery and assessment. Entrants with no previous training or teaching experience might take a 'train the trainer' course first.
The Learning and Performance Institute also offers a course dedicated to helping trainers move traditional classroom-based training into a live online learning environment; this is called The Certified Online Learning Facilitator (COLF).
IT trainers working in the further education sector will probably need to take the Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector (PTLLS) qualification at level 3 or 4. Other accredited training qualifications are the Certificate and Diploma in Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector.
There is a Certificate in Learning and Development at level 3, and an Award or Diploma at level 4.
Qualifications are also available for IT users, practitioners or professionals.
IT trainers can progress to training management posts. An IT trainer working in the further education sector could become head of department. Some experienced IT trainers become self-employed.
Rehabilitation of Offenders Act
Working as an IT trainer in the further education sector can be an exception to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (if working with people who are under 18). This means that you must supply information to an employer about any spent or unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands or warnings, if they ask you to. This is different from other careers, where you only have to reveal information on unspent convictions if you are asked to.
Many trainers have experience in other computing jobs and hold a relevant degree or HND.
For entry to a degree in a computing subject, the usual requirement is:
- 2/3 A levels
- GCSEs at grade C or above in 2/3 other subjects
- English and Maths at GCSE.
Alternatives to A levels include:
- Edexcel (BTEC) Level 3 National qualifications
- the International Baccalaureate Diploma.
However, course requirements vary so check prospectuses carefully.
Some universities accept the Welsh Baccalaureate as equivalent to 1 A-level.
It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.
Most entrants into IT training have skills gained in other areas of work in the computing industry. This could be in a technical area, such as programming, or a non-technical area, such as sales.
Gaining general qualifications as a trainer is another entry route into some types of IT training. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) offers the Certificate in Learning and Development Practice, which is studied partly via distance learning, and is available from accredited training providers.
If you don't have the qualifications needed to enter your chosen degree or HND course, a college or university Access course could be the way in.
These courses are designed for people who have not followed the usual routes into higher education. No formal qualifications are usually needed, but you should check this with individual colleges.
Distance learning opportunities include the Open University's various courses in computing and IT.
- 11% of people in occupations such as IT trainer are self-employed.
- 13% work part-time.
- 27% have flexible hours.
- 8% of employees work on a temporary basis.
Professional institutesProfessional institutes have the following roles:
- To support their members.
- To protect the public by keeping standards high in their professions.
For more information on the institute(s) relevant to this career, check out the contacts below.
Open University (OU)
Tel: 0845 3006090
BCS: The Chartered Institute for IT
Address: First Floor, Block D, North Star House, North Star Avenue, Swindon SN2 1FA
Tel: 0845 3004417
Capita Learning and Development
Tel: 0800 0223410
Address: Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU
Tel: 020 3353 2000
Learning and Performance Institute
Address: Westwood House, Westwood Business Park, Coventry CV4 8HS
Tel: 0845 0068858