Many of you reading this article are technically skilled and have the gift of gab. You’d do a great job teaching technical topics to learners of any age.

But there’s something holding you back—you don’t have a teaching certificate. Fortunately, you may be able to find work as a teacher without that certificate. Here’s how I did it.

Let the school go to bat for you
I’ve received a lot of e-mail from TechRepublic members who want to know how to get started as IT trainers. One way, of course, is to do freelance training and consulting. (Read my take on that business opportunity here.) I decided to write this column because so many of my friends and colleagues were surprised when I told them how I got started in the technical education biz.

When I was working as a staff programmer for a law firm, the manager of a local temporary services agency asked me to fill in for her and teach a Lotus 1-2-3 class. The class was part of the adult education division of an Ohio vocational school. By day, they trained the kids; at night, the adults came in to upgrade their skills.

The students liked me—in fact, they liked me better than the person for whom I was filling in. They told the director of the school about me, and he asked if I’d be interested in teaching for him on a regular basis.

The classes were for three hours a night, one night a week, for a total of seven weeks, so they didn’t interfere with my “day job.” My employer didn’t mind my doing that kind of moonlighting. I was psyched.

Unfortunately, the state of Ohio requires that all instructors in the vocational school system hold teaching certificates. I didn’t hold such a certificate, but that didn’t prevent me from becoming an instructor.

The director of the vocational school obtained an emergency teaching certificate for me. Basically, we filled out paperwork that showed my education and work history, and the state issued me a teaching certificate that was good for one year at a time. I taught those adult education classes for three years, and each year the State of Ohio issued a new certificate.
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Everybody wins
The nice thing about the emergency training certificate is that everybody won. I got to do something I loved doing—teaching computer courses, and the school was able to keep an experienced instructor on staff.

Is there such a thing as an emergency teaching certificate in the state where you live? There’s only one way to find out. Contact the vocational school or technical school in your area and ask these questions:

  • Are you hiring instructors for computer courses?
  • Does the school or the state require any special certification for those teaching positions?
  • Can you request an emergency certification for people who don’t have the required certification but who do have sufficient technical skills to teach your classes?

Although many training centers and vocational schools require their instructors to hold at least an IT certification, they’re usually willing to consider applicants who have strong technical skills and a desire to teach. If you’ve been thinking about trying your hand at teaching computer courses, contact the schools in your area and ask about emergency teaching certification.
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