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March 26, 2012

Earn Your CompTIA Certified Technical Trainer (CTT+) Designation

By Earn Your CompTIA CTT

Back in September, I wrote a piece about the values and benefits of becoming a Microsoft Certified Trainer(MCT) if you are or plan to be an instructor of Microsoft technologies. Being an MCT has heaps of benefits, but what if you either don’t want to teach Microsoft technologies, or want to teach other technologies along with Microsoft? There is a number of training certifications that you can obtain that are “vendor-specific,” meaning that they are designed to ensure that you know how to teach certain skills relating specifically to a product or group of products from a given vendor. MCTs are generally experts at Microsoft products, Apple Certified Trainers (ACTs) are generally experts at Apple products, Certified Novell Instructors are generally experts at Novell products, etc. You get the point.

But what if you’re teaching a little bit from a wide variety of vendors? You could go down one of the two following paths: you could obtain specific instructional certification in each area you teach or you could sit back on your laurels and not get any kind of instructional certification. After all, your teaching record speaks for itself, right? You don’t need a silly sheet of paper to validate your talents as a teacher!

Not so fast. Many businesses, when faced with hard economic times, will cut training first. The result of lots of businesses cutting training means a surplus of trainers on the market. You absolutely need a way to differentiate yourself from the other trainers on the job market.

Enter a third option: the CompTIA Certified Technical Trainer (CTT+) designation.

CompTIA Certified Trainer (CTT+) Designation

One thing CompTIA does extremely well is represent a wide-variety of vendors, and their CTT+ designation does not disappoint. The CTT+ certification is unique in that it can apply to any industry that provides technical training or even non-technical training. This is a certification for great teachers who are great at technology! It’s also great if you’re interested in getting a technology-specific trainer certification, like Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT), which allows you to use your CTT+ certification as proof of teaching prowess. Rrreow.

What’s it All About?

There are five domains tested by CompTIA for successful CTT+ designation: course planning, instructional methods and media, instructional credibility, group facilitation and overall training event evaluation. Specifically, CompTIA is looking for your performance in each of the following twelve skillsets (taken from the CTT+ Overview document):

  1. Review of Organizational Needs and Learners’ Backgrounds in Relationship to Course Objectives
  2. Instructional Environment in Relationship to Learning Objectives
  3. Selection and Implementation of Instructional Methods
  4. Use of Presentation and Instructional Media
  5. Instructor Delivery Competence and Content Expertise
  6. Instructor Communication and Presentation Skills
  7. Establishment and Management of a Learner-Centered Environment
  8. Promotion of Learner Engagement and Participation
  9. Assessment of Learners’ Needs for Additional Explanation and Encouragement
  10. Motivation and Positive Reinforcement of Learners
  11. Evaluation of Learner Performance during and at Close of Instruction
  12. Evaluation of Instructor and Course

A very telling point in where CompTIA is coming from in your certification is the fourth domain: Group Facilitation, counting for a full 45% of what you’re evaluated over. Clearly, CompTIA is interested in your abilities to get a group of people talking about the technology rather than sitting back and drinking in verbiage you spout to them.

Hurray! How Do I Get It?

Let’s walk through what would happen if you wished to obtain your CTT+ certification. Here’s the short-and-sweet list:

  1. Pass the CompTIA CTT+ Essentials: TK0-201 exam – ($246)
  2. Pass either ($266)
    1. CompTIA CTT+ Classroom Trainer: TK0-202 OR
    2. CompTIA CTT+ Virtual Classroom Trainer: TK0-203

Let’s dive in a little deeper:

The CTT+ designation is made up of two exams, each covering the aforementioned twelve skillsets. The first exam, CompTIA CTT+ Essentials (TK0-201) exam is a “written” exam much like the more popular A+ and Network+ exams from CompTIA – you’ll schedule an exam at a testing center much like you would for other written exams. For this test, you must achieve a 655/900 or higher. The test is a series of questions. Here’s an example, lifted straight from the CTT+ Overview document provided by CompTIA:

During a group discussion, a learner asks how the content being discussed would apply to a situation in the learner’s workplace. Which of the following is the BEST solution for the instructor to handle the situation?

a. Tell the learner how the content applies to a more generic situation.
b. Ask the learner how the content might apply in the workplace.
c. Ask the class members to discuss how the content applies in their situation.
d. Gather more information on the situation and then provide a response.

Let’s get honest. Did you think this question was hard? And if not hard, maybe a little tricky to navigate? Like maybe you were being set up? For me at least, it would be easy to think this; each answer choice is something that I know I’ve done in class and can clearly visualize doing. However, there’s a teachable moment opportunity when a student asks about how a technology can be used in the workplace and CompTIA wants to see if you will “spout verbiage” or bring in class discussion. The correct answer here is “C”. Keep student collaboration in mind as you take the exam, it could mean the difference between passing and failing.

The next requirement is to pass TK0-202 or TK0-203. This portion of the certification is likely very different from what you might be used to in the arena of technical certification.

You’re on video.

You read that correctly. CompTIA wants to see visual evidence that you know how to teach. The same twelve skillsets that were tested on the written exam will be judged by a panel of CompTIA judges. You’ll be graded on a scale of 1 to 4, based on each individual judge’s opinion on how you handled each skillset. If that wasn’t pressure enough, you must achieve a 2 or higher in each of the twelve categories; a score of 1 in any category disqualifies you.

Sounds good, right? Go and get it!

Whether you’re looking for a general technical training certification, or just something to help set yourself apart, you cannot go wrong with the CTT+ certification from CompTIA. Just be prepared to be able to prove yourself both on a written exam and in practice. Good luck!!

About the Author

(MCSE, MCSA: Messaging, MCTS: Windows 7, MCDST, MCITP:SA, A+, Net+, MCT) is a professional IT trainer with nearly 15 years of systems administration experience, specializing in Active Directory administration and Windows deployment. He holds a BA in Corporate and Organizational Communication and an MBA in Business Management. In his spare time, he enjoys bass guitar, spending time with his wife and three kids, and reading post-apocalyptic fiction.


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