Consider going to the head of the class as a Microsoft Certified Trainer. This briefing tells you how.
- By Timothy L. Warner
- September 01, 2001
The Microsoft Certified Trainer, or MCT, is the
drill instructor of Microsoft’s Training and Certification
division. These are the people whose job it is
to train the rest of us on Microsoft’s new technologies
and products and turn us into networking mavens.
They’re authorized to deliver instructor-led training
(ILT) using Microsoft Official Curriculum (MOC)
course material for Certified Technical Education
Centers (CTECs), Authorized Academic Training
Partners (AATPs), or Microsoft Certified Partner
corporate entities. They may also teach for independent
training operations. They also generally happen
to fall on the high end of the earning strata,
according to this magazine’s annual salary surveys.
As such, maybe you’ve considered becoming an
instructor. My goal with this article is to provide
you with no-nonsense, clear-cut directions for
becoming an MCT. The rules have changed dramatically
over the last year, and you may be a bit fuzzy
about where to begin. The requirements I discuss
officially take effect on Oct. 1, as part of the
MCT 2002 program.
The Basic Requirements
The first step to becoming an MCT is to
hold one of Microsoft’s premier certifications.
The list consists of the MCSE, MCSD and MCDBA.
Next, you need to get technical trainer training.
This will give you a taste of what it’s like to
stand in front of a group of people and teach
them what you know (after all, you may discover
that it’s not for you).
You can fulfill the requirement in one of three
ways. First, you can attend a “train-the-trainer”
course approved by Microsoft. These courses are
usually offered at CTECs or AATP institutions.
Unfortunately, Microsoft hasn’t published a standard
curriculum for this course; therefore, the precise
content, length and cost of these courses vary
by location. However, typically they last two
days and cost between $700 and $900. You can download
an Excel spreadsheet containing a list of pre-approved
train-the-trainer workshop providers directly
from Microsoft by pointing your browser to www.microsoft.com/trainingandservices/content/downloads/TTTList.xls.
As of this writing, about 750 training facilities
were listed for the U.S. and Canada.
In this class you’ll develop presentation skills,
learn how to handle multiple learning styles and
speeds within the same group, and get a rundown
on the basics of classroom training, such as making
sure people are comfortable, getting feedback
from students, and learning how to pace yourself.
Not all classes focus on how to teach technical
topics. As you’re choosing a train-the-trainer
facility, keep this in mind; consider picking
one that does.
The second way to prove your training expertise
is by doing technical training for other companies.
Microsoft currently accepts training credentials
from the following vendors: Caldera, Prosoft (Certified
Internet Webmaster), Cisco Systems, Citrix, Lotus,
Novell, Oracle and Santa Cruz Operations.
Third, Microsoft accepts the Chauncey Group’s
Certified Technical Trainer (CTT) certificate.
CTT is a cross-industry certification available
to all training professionals who provide technical
instruction and education. To earn the CTT, you
must successfully complete one computer-based
exam and one performance assessment videotape
that contains a 20-minute sample showing you in
action, teaching a live classroom. The computer-based
test consists of 105 multiple-choice questions,
lasts 105 minutes, and costs $150 per attempt.
The performance assessment also has a $150 fee
attached to it. You can also take CTT courses
that prepare you for the exam. They frequently
last three days and can cost up to $1,800.
Also, you might be able to work out a special
deal with the MCT program folks if you have another
technical training certificate not given in the
preceding list. For example, I taught for ExecuTrain
of Syracuse, New York, when I applied for my MCT
certification. Microsoft accepted my instructor
certificate from ExecuTrain as valid proof of
my competency as a trainer.
Before you can submit your application to become
an MCT, you have a final requirement: taking an
MCT-led class that lasts at least three days.
Microsoft used to require you to sit through any
course you were going to teach. That’s been eliminated,
but Redmond still wants to ensure you know what
distinguishes a Microsoft course from any other
kind of training—to observe a Microsoft class
in practice. As the MCT guidelines explain, “Attending...will
allow you to observe the course flow and timing,
complete the course labs, observe student and
instructor interactions, and listen to questions
and answers.” You’re advised to make it a class
you plan to teach.
Last, it’s time to apply for the MCT program.
“Additional Information” lists where to obtain
the form online. You’ll need to supply some personal
information, give details about your employer,
designate how you’ve met the requirements and
provide various forms of proof, and agree to abide
by the rules of the program.
If you work for a CTEC, you’ll be asked for its
name and its certified partner number. If you
don’t work for a CTEC, you’re considered a freelancer
and you’ll need to pay a $200 application fee.
This applies even if you’re employed by an AATP.
Victor Melfa is CEO of The
Training Associates, an IT Training
and Consulting firm, and also
one of the founders of both
the Computer Technology Industry
Association (CompTIA) and Information
Technology Training Association
(ITTA). Recently, editor Elizabeth
Hoyt spoke to him about the
current state of the trainer
industry and how MCTs can stay
How would you characterize
the trainer industry compared
to last year?
Things have changed quite a
bit since the beginning of the
year. The slowing economy has
hit training companies. The
business outsource from corporations
to the training companies has
lessened. Many of the training
companies have experienced reduced
sales so far this year. There
have been a lot of layoffs of
Many more contract trainers
are available now, because the
demand for trainers has gone
down. The salaries for full-time
trainers have gone down. The
daily price of contract trainers
has gone down because there
are so many available. Last
year everything was going strong.
Maybe some weaknesses started
to show up in some places mid-year.
Beginning this year, right
after the election, when the
true news came out about the
economy and everybody realized
the economy wasn't as good as
they thought, layoffs started.
In our Salary Survey issue,
published last month, we found
that the average salary for
an MCT is $78,600. How does
this compare to what you’re
seeing in the industry?
I think that’s too high. Our
experience has been that since
the first of the year there
has been a definite reduction.
We’re the largest provider of
trainers to the industry. We
know that trainer salaries have
gone down from a year ago, and
contract trainer salaries have
When Microsoft first developed
the MCT program, [MCTs] were
getting over $1,000 a day. Today
they're getting $500 to $600
a day. In general, I think as
a company's program ages, there's
a reduction in pricing.
the MCT compare to other trainer
It's weaker than some
and stronger than others. It's
weaker than Cisco, stronger
than Novell. It depends upon
supply and demand. It really
depends on individual technology.
The hottest, newest technologies
have the most demand.
What can an MCT do to stay
ahead of the game and employable?
Are there certain skills
or expertise they should have?
The key is to make sure they’re
expert in the latest, most popular
technology that’s in demand.
And, of course, be an expert
at teaching that technology.
Also, if they want to stay employable…they
can lower their prices.
When a technology is first
released, the supply [of trainers]
is not great. That's when trainers
can make the most money. That's
when we pay the highest prices.
When Windows first came out,
we were working with Microsoft
and other [companies] getting
our trainers up to speed on
that. That's the trick to find
out what's going to be hot.
You've got to stay close to
The Benefits of the Credential
Once Microsoft has approved your application—which
takes about two weeks—you’ll be notified by e-mail
and receive a welcome kit. In that, you’ll find
a printed version of your MCP transcript, an MCT
certificate, a camera-ready MCT logo sheet, and
other assorted agreements and guidelines.
Becoming an MCT has its advantages besides use
of the logo. For example, you’ll get a discount
on every MCP exam you take—$45 off the price tag.
You won’t receive a separate MCT ID—the original
MCP ID still applies. To obtain your discount
with Prometric or VUE, you need to let the customer
service representative know you’re an MCT each
time you register for a test.
You’ll have the right to download trainer kits
for all MOC and MSDN training courses at no charge;
paper-bound editions are available for purchase
either directly from Microsoft or from Microsoft-approved
channels. You’ll also gain access to online editions
of trainer packs, which you can download for free.
You’ll get an invitation to Microsoft-sponsored
events and promotions specifically for the MCT
community. Plus, you’ll have access to the MCT
private area on the Web site and private newsgroups.
(The private area includes a log listing all problems
with the MOC.) Microsoft also makes a special
hotline available to trainers, where you can get
courseware questions answered, get help on how
to set up your classroom and labs, and address
Once you’ve achieved your MCT, the work
doesn’t stop. Obviously, you need to make sure
you don’t have a lapse in your premier certification.
If you’re certified under Windows NT 4.0, that
means you need to get through those Windows 2000
exams to retain your MCSE or you’ll lose your
However, one new addition in 2001 is the requirement
that you deliver at least 10 days of training
during the program year, which runs from October
through September. It can be in the classroom,
in online classes, or in a custom training situation—as
long as you use the MOC or MSDN materials, not
just kits or books from Microsoft Press or other
A second requirement mandates that you “earn”
15 technical continuing education credits (CECs)
during the program year. Interestingly, you can
take care of this in one fell swoop by getting
through the Accelerated test, exam 70-240, which
is worth 15 credits. Other exams are worth five
credits apiece. Alternatively, you can attend
Microsoft courses or a Microsoft technical conference,
each worth a credit a day. You can also obtain
credit for time spent in billable consulting work
(16 hours of billable time for one credit). This
year, you can obtain all of your CECs by getting
your Win2K certification before the end of 2001.
But that’s not all! You also need to earn five
instructional CECs. Microsoft is pushing online
training by granting a credit for each day of
e-learning you deliver. In-person training doesn’t
count. You can also earn credits by attending
Microsoft courses, a training skills course, or
a training skills conference (one credit per day).
The advantage of being new to the program is
that you get credit simply by joining. MCTs who
sign up between February 2002 and May 2002, for
example, gain 10 technical credits and five instruction
credits for their certification. Those who sign
on between June 2002 and September 2002 will have
all their credits covered. If you’re just about
to become an MCT—and complete that before the
end of January 2002—you’ll receive five technical
credits; you’re on your own to earn the rest.
Also, if you’re entering the the program as a
new MCT within 90 days of program renewal, your
renewal fee will be waived. That gives you a slightly
longer time to attain your MCT requirements until
the next renewal (in October 2002).
Finally, you’ll have to pay an annual program
fee to maintain your credential—$300 for full-time
trainers at CTECs and $400 for independent trainers.
Stand Up and Train! If you’ve been pondering the
possibility of becoming a trainer, now isn’t a
bad time to get started. Demand is high for instructors
who can train well on Win2K. If you time your
application right, you’ll eliminate some of the
continuing education credits from your to-do list.