How to Be a Successful Technical Trainer: Core Skills for Instructor Certification


Technology is used in many industries, from automotive and aerospace to plumbing and retail sales. Automated equipment, robotics and computer programs are examples of technologies that let businesses operate more efficiently and profitably. These businesses enlist technical trainers to help develop the technology skill sets of employees. Successful technical trainers are typically those who have mastered core skills often tied to trainer certification programs. According to the Association for Training Development, core instruction skills include subject matter knowledge, curriculum development and delivery skills, assessment skills and professionalism.

Know the Subject Matter

  • Effective technical trainers are well-versed in the subjects they teach. For example, technical trainers who teach trainees how to use personal computers or a new software application need intimate and intricate knowledge of computers or the software before attempting a training event. Trainees expect trainers to be the experts on the subjects they teach and will quickly lose interest, or challenge the trainer, if he doesn't demonstrate a thorough knowledge of the subject matter.

Know Curriculum Development

  • The ability to prepare a curriculum that trainees understand is another core skill for a technical trainer. A trainer should be able to explain technical concepts in a way that fulfills the trainee’s needs. For example, the needs of beginning computer users are different from those of advanced users, and the curriculum and objectives should reflect this. A technical trainer must also know how to organize course information so that it’s presented in a logical, easy-to-follow manner for optimal learning.

Deliver Student-Centered Training

  • Another core skill for instructors is the ability to deliver information in a way that trainees can grasp and understand. Delivery skills include knowing the audience and using the most appropriate training methods. For example, technical trainers teaching students how to operate new equipment or use new software should incorporate hands-on activities for practical instruction as well as lectures to reinforce important points and concepts. Delivery skills also include the trainer’s ability to engage students in the learning process, the ability to speak clearly without jargon, and the ability to adjust the volume, tone and inflection of your voice to keep training focused and energetic.

Use Assessments

  • A technical trainer needs the ability to assess whether students are learning. Training is more than dishing out information. It’s about making sure students learn a skill or absorb the information they need. With assessments, a trainer can alter training methods to adjust to the trainee needs. During training, a student's reaction and response to training information lets trainers weigh the need for changes. After training, evaluations are useful in capturing student feedback. Timely assessments provide valuable information for improving training.

Use Professional Behavior

  • Maintaining professionalism throughout training is another core skill. Professionalism refers not only to the quality of the training itself but also to personal qualities like appearance and behavior. Appearance covers grooming and proper attire. With technical training, the proper attire might mean coveralls if training takes place on a shop floor. Otherwise, business attire is a safe bet. In terms of behavior, it is important that trainers be professional and respectful at all times. This means not berating or shaming trainees. Learning a new technology may be difficult for some students and trainers should be patient, understanding and considerate to get them up to speed.

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