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Degree and certification are important tools for teaching IT

A TechRepublic member asks career expert Molly Joss what tools and degrees are needed to expand an IT tutor/instructor role. The first and biggest step is finishing the college degree.


Question: How do I spur my teaching goals?
I am tutoring individuals in the use of Microsoft Word and other Office applications, plus teaching a basic e-mail class to senior citizens. Unfortunately, I do not have a bachelor’s degree, even though I am close to it. I have many references from people I have tutored individually and from the classes I have taught at the senior center.

How would I tailor a resume to emphasize that my goal is to teach more classes in Microsoft Office? I am also seeking Microsoft Office Master certification and would like to know if you think a Master certification in Microsoft Office would allow me to seek employment in teaching at other facilities.

Answer: A degree is the key to landing an educational role
The answer to your first question is easy. If you don’t have an “objectives” section on your resume, then you should add one (usually this section appears at the top of the first part). In this section, you should state that you want to be a full-time instructor. You could also add that you are willing to tutor individuals within the company if needed.

It’s a good idea to prepare a specific resume to send out to prospective educational institutions or schools, as well has having one geared toward private clients. In the “client” resume you would change the objective to state that you are seeking an independent contractor position rather than a full-time instructor position. Make sure that it’s clear in the resume or cover letter that you are willing to work on an as-needed basis.

The road to teaching IT full-time
In response to the career path questions, the first step is completing your degree, as that is a minimum requirement for the kind of job you’re looking for. While you are finishing your degree, keep building your own tutoring practice and keep looking for clients such as the senior center.

I suggest this because you will find it much easier to locate IT schools that want you to teach on an as-needed basis. Rarely do they want to take instructors on as full-time employees. They like the part-time arrangement where you are an independent contractor because class enrollments go up or down, depending on the seasons, holidays, and local economic climates.

If you decide you must have a full-time job, the best place to look for those kinds of jobs are established training schools and even local colleges with large continuing or adult education programs. They may have enough money to be able to pay a salary. Sometimes large corporations have in-house training staff, so they are good prospects, too.

You can also earn a more predictable wage by working part-time as a salaried employee/ instructor, plus working for other companies as an independent contractor. To do this, you’ll have to get one or two companies to commit to giving you a salary and something to do to earn it if they don’t run enough classes to keep you busy. Then you will have a fixed schedule and can fill in around those commitments with work from other companies. You’ll also have to make sure your part-time employer has no rules against this kind of moonlighting.

Determining if certs are worth the effort
In response to your question about the Master certification, I am not sure if you are referring to the Microsoft Office Specialist Master Instructor certification or to the Office Specialist certification. Since you stated “Master,” I am guessing you want the Instructor one. Right now you do not have the instructional experience that is required for the certification. You can view these requirements by visiting this Microsoft site.

If your degree will be in education, then you’re all set when you get that degree. If not, you will have to complete the CompTIA Certified Technical Trainer program and obtain that certification. Or, you need to complete a train-the-trainer course that is approved by Microsoft, such as those offered by New Horizons or by Langevin Learning Services. For a complete list of Microsoft approved train-the-trainer training providers, please check this site out.

Once you jump over these hurdles, you will still have to pass the five certification tests, each on a different Office product. You can opt for an XP certification or an Office 2000 one, but each requires that you pass five exams.

A lot of impetus for your decision will come from finding out how much this particular certification is valued by employers and training providers in your area. To find this out, you can call some and ask. You can also check with some technical recruiters who service your area about how important the certification would be to a prospective employer or client.

If you want to contact some training providers in your area that have gone to the trouble and expense of becoming Microsoft-certified training providers, you can find a searchable directory here. Note that these companies are also good candidates for your job/client search.

If you were talking about the Microsoft Office Specialist certification, that’s less of an investment. However, I am not sure it would be enough for a prospective employer for whom certification is a job requirement for an instructor.

With either certification, you’d have to put a lot of work and a lot of time and money into the effort, so you’ll have to decide whether it’s worth it. Your research, as I’ve outlined it above, will help you decide. My personal observation is that there are plenty of good Office trainers out there who do not have an Office certification of any kind.

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