How to Become a Computer Instructor

Learn how to become a computer instructor. Research the job description and the education requirements and find out how to start a career in computer instruction.

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  • 0:01 Should I Become a…
  • 0:30 Career Requirements
  • 1:29 Career Steps

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Should I Become a Computer Instructor?

Computer instructors have varying emphases, ranging from teaching basic computer literacy classes to classes on advanced principles of computer science. They might teach in a variety of educational settings, such as community classrooms, K-12 schools or even postsecondary education institutions. Beginning computer students may become frustrated, requiring a great deal of patience on the part of instructors.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Varies; high school diploma to a graduate degree
Experience 1-5 years of experience in computers and/or training
Licensure and Certification State license required for public school positions; certification is generally voluntary, though some employers require specific certifications
Key Skills Knowledge of software taught, such as Microsoft Office Suite, Adobe Suite or Java; computer-based training (CBT)
Median Salary (2015) $57,000 (for secondary school teachers); $74,840 (for post-secondary computer science teachers)

Sources: O*Net OnLine, job postings (October 2012), U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

The requirements for getting into this career depend on the job, ranging from a high school diploma to a graduate degree. However, you typically need 1-5 years of experience in computers and/or training. A teaching license required for K-12 public school positions. Certification is generally voluntary, though some employers require specific certifications. The key skills you need to become a computer instructor vary based on the job, but can include experience with various types of software, such as Microsoft Office Suite, Adobe Suite or Java. Computer-Based Training (CBT) may also be required. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in May 2015, secondary school teachers earned a median wage of $57,000 and post-secondary computer science teachers earned $74,840 a year.

Career Steps

So what are the steps to becoming a computer instructor? Let's find out.

Step 1: Determine Career Goals

Many possible career paths are available to those who wish to teach others about computers or computer technology. For example, computer literacy instructors often provide personal enrichment courses to older adult or immigrant populations. Instructors in specific areas, such as networking, can find work in private educational institutions that provide targeted career training. Computer teaching positions from kindergarten all the way up through college are another option. The first step to becoming a computer instructor is determining your specific career goals and planning accordingly.

Step 2: Complete Appropriate Level of Education

For those who wish to teach computer literacy classes, especially on a volunteer level, simple user experience may suffice. However, some computer instructor positions may require a bachelor's degree or some teaching experience. Computer science teachers must have at least a bachelor's degree to teach at the secondary level, and a doctoral degree in the field is usually necessary to teach at the postsecondary level. A master's degree is often adequate for 2-year college positions.

To succeed in this step, research what educational programs meet personal career goals. Employer requirements vary according to what a computer instructor wants to teach. Research the job openings in specific areas of computers to determine what degree program to pursue. These can range from certificate to graduate degree programs in specific areas like networking or generally accepted majors like computer science.

Step 3: Obtain Certification or Licensure

Although computer literacy instructors often do not require any formal credentials, some employers require specific program certifications. Many software manufacturers offer certifications specifically for their products, such as Java or Microsoft Office Suite. Those who teach subjects like networking on a professional level may find obtaining such certifications helpful in demonstrating skill sets to prospective employers. Computer instructors wanting to teach at the K-12 level in public schools will need to earn a teaching license.

To improve your chances for success in this step, research college certification programs. Some colleges offer specific educational programs in software like Microsoft Office or Java. Although software companies can also provide certification and preparation, aspiring instructors who prefer a classroom environment may find various certification preparation programs at a local community college.

Step 4: Gain Work Experience to Advance

Computer instructors may advance in their field by gaining teaching experience. For example, experienced teachers at the high school level may move up toward lead teacher or mentorship positions. Postsecondary computer teachers may advance through assistant, associate and full professorships with the end goal of gaining tenure. This process may take up to 7 years.

Teaching students basic computer skills to advanced degrees in network or computer science requires a computer instructor with varied education and skills, depending on the job title. However, it is common to complete an advanced degree and certification.

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