Become a Software Trainer: Education and Career Roadmap

Research the requirements to become a software trainer. Learn about the job duties and education requirements, and read the step-by-step process to start a career in software training.

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Should I Become a Software Trainer?

Software trainers typically train individuals on office production applications, such as word processing and spreadsheet software. Some trainers may conduct training via Webinars for off-location customers; however, this profession is particularly good for anyone who is a 'people-person,' since they spend a great deal of time training clients face-to-face. They often work in offices but might have to travel frequently to give seminars on-site. Other than time for traveling, they usually work during regular business hours.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree or equivalent work experience
Licensure and Certification Not required, but desirable to many employers
Experience Experience varies, but is typically from 1-5 years in technical training and facilitating
Key Skills Verbal and written communication skills, problem-solving skills, decision-making skills, customer-service oriented, public-speaking skills, familiarity with Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Office Suite, computer-based-training software and document management software, experience with webinar training, video conferencing and projectors
Salary (2015) $58,210 per year (Median for all training and development specialists)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Statistics

Step 1: Pursue a Degree

Many colleges offer both undergraduate and graduate degree programs in training and development that can jump start a career as a software trainer. A typical bachelor's degree in training and development prepares a student for a training position, and some qualify for teacher certification preparation.

Master's degree programs (though not usually required) are offered in both traditional and adult learning formats, and they focus on the education discipline with a concentration in training and development. Some schools also offer a combined bachelor's and master's degree in training and development in an accelerated format. Training and development degree programs may also focus on human resource management or education.

Step 2: Obtain Certification in Specific Software

Software trainers may need certification in specific software to qualify for open positions. Job seekers may look to certifications offered by product vendors like Microsoft in order to demonstrate their proficiency in software products. For example, becoming a Microsoft Certified IT Professional or Microsoft Certified 2010 Specialist demonstrates that a potential applicant possesses the desired proficiency to prospective employers and is recognized worldwide as an industry standard. Typically, there is a fee associated with certification, along with an exam to test competency. Some employers reimburse the fee upon hiring a candidate.

Success Tip:

  • Pursue advanced certification options. Once an aspiring software trainer has one of the designated Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) or Microsoft Dynamics certifications and one year of experience in the industry, they may pursue the Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) designation to show they're qualified for open training positions.

Step 3: Consider Certification in Learning Methodologies

Professional associations may offer certifications in professional-technical education and learning methodologies that may enhance the skills of a software trainer. Possessing some certifications may also be advantageous in a job search.

For example, the Association for Talent Development (ATD) formerly the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) provides a Certified Professional in Learning and Performance designation. ATD requires 3 years of specific experience or education and membership for eligibility. A fee, class and examination are also required to achieve certification. ATD also offers a master-trainer certificate program that is assessment-based and culminates in the designation ATD Master Trainer (a trademarked title that is not technically a certification). This class is offered at various U.S. locations and times to its members. Aspiring software trainers seeking upward career mobility should consider joining a chapter. In addition to certifications, ATD provides it members with a variety of career enhancement tools, such as continuing education, industry-related events, job listings, networking opportunities and other resources for professional growth and career advancement.

Success Tips:

  • Research training organizations specific to an employer's needs. Because most of these certifications require experience in the occupation, software trainers can research organizations tailored to specific industries or positions. Once employed in the desired industry, there are many options available to help advance a professional software training career.
  • Seek guidance from management or human resources. Speaking with a manager or human resource professional in the employing company may be helpful in determining which certifications may prove beneficial to a software training career.
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