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Entry Level Job Profile — Corporate Trainer

Equivalent Job Titles — Instructor (Non-Credit Instruction)

This profession can be different from teaching in K-12 or college. First of all, you might not actually be working for the organization whose employees you are training. Many corporate trainers work for professional training firms that bring in trainers to a corporation on an as-needed basis. Secondly, in corporate training (or when teaching non-credit courses), you are not required to grade the students on their performance. The emphasis is usually on learning specific skills in a short time frame or preparing to take a certification examination. Time is money at a corporation, so training needs to be accomplished quickly and efficiently so the valuable employees can get back to work.

This is more of a job than a career. No one expects you to publish, do research or advise students. You are just coming in to teach a specific set of objectives on a given day (or days) and then leave. Working for a training company that provides corporate training can also involve a lot of travel. A typical week could be:

  • Sunday afternoon flight to Baltimore from Boston

  • Monday and Tuesday training in Baltimore

  • Tuesday night flight to Chicago

  • Wednesday training session in Chicago

  • Thursday morning flight to Tucson

  • Thursday evening and Friday training session in Tucson

  • Red-eye flight back home to Boston Friday evening

  • Saturday and Sunday training session to prepare for next week’s seminar in Atlanta

Is every week going to be like this? Probably not, but things can get hectic in the corporate training arena. Oh, I forgot to mention that all of the above seminars were on different topics! You need to be adaptable to keep up in this environment. So buy a sturdy suitcase and a lot of permanent press clothing…you’re going to need them!

There are positive aspects to these types of jobs. You are constantly meeting new people, since students in training classes are seldom with you for more than a one-week period. You receive constant exposure to new and different technologies as you continually teach different courses.

Compensation — Varies widely depending upon the size of the organization, level of skill you possess and the complexity of the course material being taught. $250 to $400 per day is a reasonable range for new trainers. $400 per day sounds pretty significant, but keep in mind, you probably will not be working 5 days a week every week of the year.

Education — In these types of roles, teaching ability and practical knowledge are more highly valued than college degrees. Although four-year college degrees are preferred, you may be able to land instructional jobs without them if you are a good presenter and have exceptional IT skills.

Responsibilities — Working for a corporate trainer or teaching non-credit courses involves the following tasks:

  • Reviewing course material for upcoming assignments — You may do five seminars in a two-week period that are all on different topics. Preparation time therefore can take a significant portion of your day.

  • Run training seminars — Obviously, you have to teach!

  • Participate in the preparation of course materials — Normally, course materials are provided for you in corporate training or non-credit teaching. However, you may be involved in a project where materials have to be developed from scratch to meet a specific corporate need or objective.

  • Set-up of computer labs — Equipment must often be reconfigured in between labs. Although some companies employ lab aides to do lab set-ups for the instructors, not all do.

Skills — Successful corporate trainers possess the following attributes:

  • Solid Time Management Skills — Running from seminar to seminar while preparing to teach them (often on airplane flights) requires skillfully budgeting your time.

  • Fast Learner — Since you are constantly exposed to new situations and seminar material, you need to be able to grasp the material you will be teaching very quickly.

  • Stamina — Whether you are traveling every week or just teaching new courses every week in your hometown, you will need to possess a great deal of stamina to keep up with the demands of learning new material.
  • Flexibility — Missed plane flights, non-working equipment, learning materials lost in the mail are just some of the stressful situations that corporate trainers can encounter. You must be flexible, easily adaptable and even-tempered to deal creatively with these types of challenges.
  • Mastery of Skill-based Teaching — In most instances, you will be teaching a skill. Perhaps you are training office clerical workers on the latest version of Microsoft Word. Or maybe you are teaching a group of COBOL programmers the Java language. In either instance, your students need to master a specific skill set and get back to work ASAP. Therefore, the teaching is very focused and directed towards achieving specific goals, as opposed to being a broad-based problem solving approach.
  • Sense of Humor — Humor is necessary to diffuse the tension in a corporate trainer’s life. The ability to laugh at oneself and bring appropriate humor into teaching presentations makes the instructor seem more human. This helps put learners at ease.

  • Enthusiasm — It can be tough to be enthusiastic though when you just got off an overnight flight and have to head straight to the training session! You have to be a special type of person to be able to maintain enthusiasm when you are extremely tired.

Experimenting With This Profession — Many institutions depend heavily upon part-time instructors to teach a large percentage of their non-credit courses. Also, many corporate training firms hire trainers on a part-time or consulting basis. This is especially true in IT since high salaries are luring instructors away from schools and into industry. Therefore, you should be able to land a job teaching non-credit classes at a local college on a part-time basis. This will give you the opportunity to test your teaching ability without making a full-time commitment to the profession.

Teaching can be a very satisfying and rewarding career. But like any other job, it has its share of frustrations. The biggest benefit of a teaching career is that you can immediately see the impact you are having on society…or at least those members of society in your classes that you help to learn.

 

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