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Good schools require you to be certified in the application you are teaching about, if a certification exists. 5/31/01 Teaching computers Good schools require you to be certified in the application you are teaching about, if a certification exists.

Dear Molly: I am a secondary school science teacher. I want to either supplement my income or (hopefully, eventually) quit my current job and start teaching adults about computers. I love to teach, but the budget cuts and the politics are starting to get to me. Are there any special qualifications or training that I would need to make the switch?

Molly says: To teach at the college level, you normally need a master’s degree or PhD in the subject area, although some universities and colleges allow people to substitute experience for degrees to teach computer classes, because it’s so hard to find good computer science professors.

The requirements to teach in an independent computer training school vary widely, with some schools requiring no more than a breathing person in the classroom. However, the good schools require you to be certified in the application you are teaching about, if a certification exists. Getting that certification would be your first step.

You may also want to invest some time and money into learning how to train adults in a short period of time. Computer training differs from traditional classroom teaching in several ways–one of the biggest is that you often have only a few days and not several months to convey information.

Be careful if you go looking for courses on how to be a computer instructor. The demand for good instructors is increasing, and so are the number of expensive, but useless, courses on the subject. Stick with name-brand training companies that have been in the business of training for at least a few years.

You may also not need a lot of additional training, given your background in teaching. Padgett Thompson offers a one-day course called How to be a Better Trainer. Something like this might be all you need.

Molly Joss also writes the monthly Career Advisor column for ComputerUser magazine. Ask a career-related question at [email protected]

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