Master Training Specialist: What it is & why it matters

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Written by Chief Petty Officer Lisa Varner, U.S. Coast Guard Training Center Petaluma.

I had never heard of a master training specialist certification prior to getting my instructor qualification. Even when I learned what it was, I didn’t think it would be a useful qualification to obtain. I now realize what it means and how it has opened doors for me as an instructor, particularly as a machinery technician. At the time, I was at Training Team West in the middle of a complete revamping of lesson plans for fisheries instruction. My unit only had two MTSs and my command was pushing for someone else to get the qualification, so I forged ahead along this path that was still unknown to me.

At first, MTS seemed like a far reach. When you look at a completed package, a requirement for the board you must pass to be MTS-certified, it’s instantly apparent how much time and effort is necessary for this qualification. The first PQS item, completing the Course Designer Course, gets you behind the scenes, learning why you are instructing, how the curriculum was built and how to improve it. Once you have this foundational knowledge, it’s more feasible to develop and deliver a workshop on your own – the next PQS item. CDC doesn’t exactly make it easy to do that but it certainly points you in the right direction.

In order to obtain MTS certification, you need to be recommended. In Phase I, you must receive a satisfactory Instructor Feedback Form with a positive recommendation from an MTS outside your department. In Phase II, you complete the MTS PQS. In Phase III, your branch chief nominates you in a memo. Finally, in Phase IV, you sit for a board composed of the chairperson and two additional MTSs. After you pass the board, you are recommended to your commanding officer for certification.

Being an MTS does mean additional collateral duties. You are now the subject matter expert for instructional design projects. Many people will come to you for assistance in keeping instructors qualified, updating or changing curriculum, recommending improvements to a course of instruction, redesigning how something is taught and being a role model for other instructors.

MTS is the highest-level competency for an instructor, so if you are striving to be the best you can at what you do, then this qualification is for you! The MTS qualification also opens doors to advancement opportunities, awards and future careers in the training field, in the service and beyond.

The MTS qualification is still pretty rare — there are fewer than 200 MTSs in the Coast Guard today. As a member of the elite MTS community, you will play an invaluable role in your schoolhouse, in curriculum development and for the Coast Guard as a whole.

See your local MTS today for more information on how to get started!

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