Every time you turn around, there's a new type of computer software. Maybe
it helps you organize your time. Maybe it helps count inventory. If you don't
know how to use this software, it's useless to you.
So you turn to someone to teach you how to use it. That someone is a software
trainer. These trainers teach people how to use computers and computer software.
Trainers work with all kinds of students. For example, they may teach some
people how to switch on the computer. Or they'll teach others some detail
of a programming language.
These days, accounting and business management software is very popular.
So is word processing and office software. For this reason, trainers are spending
most of their time coaching people in these types of software applications.
"Being versatile is a real asset," says Trent Gettling. He trains people
in everything from the basics to advanced levels in software like PageMaker
and AutoCAD. Being versatile means you can work with all kinds of students.
Gettling wasn't always a software trainer. "I worked in the construction
industry for years. Computers and software were an interest of mine that I
decided to pursue seriously."
Software trainers may work at business schools or community colleges. They
may work for companies that specialize in providing computer training. Their
students may come to them in a classroom. Or the trainer may go out and teach
at a client's workplace. Trainers meet with groups of people or teach one-on-one.
This job involves computers, but it's really about teaching. "You can learn
the technical stuff if you have fundamental computer skills, but good trainers
have a real affinity for teaching," says Jerry McKee. McKee is the director
of instruction for a private technical training school.
What kind of person makes a good software trainer?
"They're the type of people who like helping others and who can be effective
with all types of learners," says McKee. "They have to be flexible people
with excellent interpersonal skills."
Computer geeks generally don't make the best trainers. "Successful trainers,
especially IT trainers, are very good technology facilitators," says Dave
Murphy. He is the founder of the International Association of Information
Technology Trainers (ITrain).
"They have an appreciation for how it can increase the effectiveness of
an organization. They can explain it in plain English."
In this sense, a facilitator is someone who can teach others how to understand
technology and how to use it.
Trainers must be flexible enough to meet the needs of individual students.
They also have to enjoy teamwork and leadership.
Trainers can work part time, full time or as freelancers. Freelance workers
can take on long-term or short-term contracts.
Hours vary in this field. A full-time employee at a business college may
work regular office hours. Those who work for training companies may need
to work evenings and weekends to meet the needs of their students. Freelancers
also have to work flexible hours.
Although work is done at a computer, software training isn't a desk job.
"I'm on my feet moving around all day," says trainer John Gagne of Ohio. But
he says with a few changes to the workplace, a physically challenged person
would be able to do this work. "If you were in a wheelchair, you could easily
do this job."
But some aspects of the job may be difficult for people with other challenges.
"You certainly couldn't do the job if you were visually or hearing impaired,"
Gagne says. Luckily, there are related jobs. "They could easily pursue a career
in preparing training materials, tests and tutorials."
A growing trend in software training has been the increasing popularity
of online tutorials.
"The concept of the classroom is on its way out," says Murphy. Instead,
learning is moving to electronic delivery, like the Internet or intranet.
What's driving this is cost. E-learning is far cheaper for employers, Murphy
points out. In other words, software training is becoming a commodity industry.
Teach others how to use computer software
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