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Software Trainer  What They Do

Just the Facts


Insider Info

dotEvery time you turn on your computer it seems there's a new version of a software program ready to be installed. And brand new software programs are being created all the time. If people don't know how to use the new software, it's useless to them.

That's why software trainers are so essential. These trainers teach people how to use computers and computer software.

Trainers work with all kinds of students. For example, they may teach some people the very basics -- starting with how to switch on the computer. With more advanced users, they may teach the intricacies of a programming language.

Accounting and business management software is widely used. So is word processing and other office software. Trainers spend a lot of time coaching people to use these types of software applications.

Software trainers may work at business schools or community colleges. Software trainer James Martin works at Trident Technical College in Charleston, South Carolina.

"I train faculty and staff on how to use the software that we have here for various purposes," says Martin. "There are several apps that are my responsibility, and that includes Excel and Access for Microsoft Office."

Software trainers may also work for companies that specialize in computer training. Their students may come to them in a classroom. Or, they may go out and teach at a client's workplace. Trainers may meet with groups of people or teach one-on-one.

What kind of person makes a good software trainer?

"Besides writing skills and communication skills, the ability to work independently," says Martin. "Often you're just going to be assigned some new software to... figure out how we can best present it to end users who are not primarily technical people, who've got other things to do besides study up on technology.

"So, research skills are paramount," he adds. "I'm often researching things, trying to find out how to do stuff."

Trainers must be flexible enough to meet the needs of individual students. They also have to enjoy teamwork and leadership.

Software trainer Michael Shumko says it's important to have a passion for the subject.

"[It] sounds odd when related to software, but you have to want other people to know about the software," he says.

Shumko says these attributes are also important for software trainers:

  • Creativity in developing different ways to share knowledge
  • Flexibility adjusting to situations and to students' different levels of skill, motivation and learning styles
  • Communication skills (speaking, writing and listening)
  • Understanding body language, being able to determine whether a person is 'getting it'
  • Ability to adjust delivery of material to the learning style of the individual (visual, aural, verbal, physical, etc.)

Trainers can work part time, full time or as freelancers. Freelance workers can take on long-term or short-term contracts.

Hours vary in this field. A full-time employee at a business college may work regular office hours. Others who work for training companies may need to work evenings and weekends to meet the needs of their students. Freelancers also have to work flexible hours.

A growing trend in software training has been the increasing popularity of online tutorials. Learning is increasingly moving to electronic delivery, like over the Internet or intranet. What's driving this is cost. E-learning is far cheaper for employers.

Online learning can mean students access software programs that teach them how to use software. Or, it can mean a teacher connects with their students online, either live or in the form of recorded lessons.

"I do face-to-face classes for the people that work here [at the technical college]. And then I also shoot screencast videos so that people who can't get to a training class can watch videos and do software simulations and stuff like that on their own time," says Martin.

At a Glance

Teach others how to use computer software

  • A trainer has to know the latest applications
  • There is a demand for skilled and experienced professionals
  • An education and technology background is useful