Education

Beyond training: Expanding your career horizons

Most instructors, with their extensive knowledge base, can cast a wide net to find new career options. Schoun Regan shares some job opportunities that all instructors should consider.

As an instructor, you’re often asked to perform a variety of duties. You put on the hats of trainer, performer, job counselor, consultant, help desk director, salesperson, and mentor. You learn to master a variety of software applications and you may add some hardware experience to your resume. You may love your job, but you must wonder from time to time, "What's next?" Let's roll the mouse over the next hill and see what roads may lie ahead.

Consulting
Instructors who have mastered several software applications in a particular arena, say the Microsoft Office suite, may wish to try their hands at application consulting. Consultants usually teach a certain group, company, or department to tailor an application to their specific job functions. For instance, a company may call in a consultant to provide a workflow solution and tailor the training for that solution. This might involve building an Excel workbook, training certain employees on entering data, having Word build daily reports based on the data, and automating the entire process with the Microsoft macro language.

Training manager
You may aspire to management. If your skills are varied across the technological arena, you may search for a job supervising other instructors. The skills you possess may not be enough, however, so you might consider taking additional management courses or working toward a degree in the field of your choice. Remember, training managers always need to keep one foot in the software arena so their skills don't become outdated.
We’d like to hear how you’ve planned your career steps and what development activities you suggest to your fellow trainers. Please post your comments at the bottom of this page.
The explainer
Instructors often graduate into writing. We've all read a manual to certain software--or maybe we didn¹t because we felt it didn't contain the best information for learning. Since you have the full knowledge of the software, you can be the one to write the manual. Your experience in dealing with students can bring unique perspectives to aspects of the software that the developers may have missed.

If you’re not interested in composing 200- to 300-page masterpieces, perhaps technical writing is more your style. Web sites and publishing houses are on the lookout for writers who can explain IT.

Customized training manuals
Most companies have a need for manuals that explain how to use specialized or customized software. Finding a niche between the consultant and the explainer, this job will utilize your software experience, practical software use, and writing ability. Using Lotus Notes for an example, you would provide the training manual for every employee on the features of Notes relevant to that particular company. If you're on the ball, you'll deliver the manual in HTML format or as a .pdf file, which allows for the quick update of any additional features needing coverage in the future.

Bottom line
There are certainly more employment areas you could choose, and variations of traditional training are popping up with increasing frequency. If you're involved in training solely for the software experience, please step back and see all the other skills there are to learn. Then take your knowledge, apply it well, and never look back.

Schoun Regan is a consultant to training firms and travels across North America educating people for Complete Mac Seminars. If you'd like to comment on this article, write to Schoun .

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