Confessions of a Microsoft Certified Trainer: Why I Teach

Veronica Sopher - Microsoft

 Guest post by John Deardurff, Microsoft Certified Trainer

In my 15 years of training, the question I’ve been asked the most is… Why do you teach? The second most asked question is… How did you get so many certifications? (My current total is more than 30 Microsoft Certifications.) To be honest, I would have to give the same answer to both questions: I have a passion for learning.

That passion for learning is not only for my own self-growth, but it also extends to the people who attend my courses. Whether it is the experienced administrator upgrading skills on a new software version or the student who is just starting out in the IT industry, every one of those students is there to learn. By attending my class, each of them is trusting me with their learning and their career.

That is a great responsibility, and I take it as such. I take it as a challenge to stay current on the new products and technologies as they are released. And I take it as a challenge to help those students achieve their own goals.

Which brings us back to all those certifications… Why so many? Well, one of the first things you learn as a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) is that you never stop learning. The one item that ties all MCTs together is that, regardless of our area of expertise, we all specialize in teaching change in technology. And, as technology changes, an MCT needs to update their skills and knowledge.

Now wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way of demonstrating that updated skill and knowledge? Some way of letting students know that you are certified to teach a course? Obviously, I am talking about Microsoft Certification exams. An ongoing joke among my fellow instructors is that we are always five more exams away from being caught up. It can be a grind after you get into the certification cycle. But that feeling when you pass an exam is incredible, and you can’t wait to tell everyone you know. And that’s not to mention the achievement you feel when you add another certification to your transcript.

I am lucky enough to work for the largest Microsoft Learning Partner in the world, where I have been able to explore many new horizons. One of the benefits of working at a Microsoft Learning Partner is the constant support, encouragement, and assistance you receive from the other instructors at your learning center. (This is especially true at the center where I work, in Indianapolis, where each instructor has more than a dozen years of teaching and technical experience.) However, not all MCTs enjoy this immediate relationship with other instructors. I definitely recommend joining many of the online communities available, especially Born To Learn and MCT Central. There is always someone there to answer your questions, to give encouragement, and to lend support.

I know many excellent MCTs who are self-employed. And there certainly is a freedom to being a contractor and to booking your own courses and jobs. However, a contractor also deals with sales, accounting, marketing, and more. The fact that I don’t have to is one of the other benefits I get from working at a Microsoft Learning Partner. I can focus just on learning, teaching, and certification.

But the greatest thing about being an MCT—whether you are a contractor or you work for a Microsoft Learning Partner—is always getting to learn new technologies, explore new products, and meet new people. If you also have a passion for learning, you too have what it takes to be an awesome MCT.

  • Rogerio Prudente
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    I seems a "silly" question when I got the same question about why one would have so "many" certifications, in particular for being a MCT: that is why we are paid for - to learn!

    And I love it!

    I always say to my students that to me taking certifications is like a sudoku's game: It can be hard to solve it, but it is always a pleasure when you do it (not to mention that is a nice time killer - taking the exams).

    Last but not least, one of the main reasons that I teach is the famous Aristotle quote: "The proof that you know something is that you are able to teach it"

    Long live and prosper!

  • Jason
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    I think MCTs are one of the few people that get to enjoy learning and certification for it's own sake. For the rest of us, there are just too many new things coming at us :).

  • Veronica Sopher - Microsoft
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    Have you considered being an MCT?

  • Jason
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    Looks like I may have to get a CompTIA CTT+

  • Ioannis Chaidoulis - Former Regional Lead - Greece

    Good points in your article John!

  • Mohammad Salah
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    I think there is many aspect you talking about is right, i like what you say in the last about focusing on learning, teaching and certification. becouse   iam self employed and sometimes spend too much time on sales and marketing , i know this makes me not concentrate on learning but believe me  I always find time and this is becouse the same answer: I have a passion for learning.

  • clifford cotterill
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    Hello John,

    Been seeing you all over the web.  Awesome...   Including the fact that you wrote an article on marketing that won an award!

    I have been a trainer for about 10 years.  I train people mainly for Security certifications.  Such as CISSP and CEH.   But my employer always marketed the training and then I just went and taught the course.  Now I'm wanting to explore either doing marketing myself or teaming with someone else to help me find students to teach.

    I think I am going to be at MCT for Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Access.  These are not the most exciting topics.  But I think there must be a big demand and I would like to help people learn these very valuable skills.

    So my question is, if I do become an MCT, will that help me in any way with marketing my classes so that I can find students?  Or what might you suggest?  Is what I'm contemplating a reasonable thing to try?

    Thank you,