There are times when it becomes necessary to test one's skills and see if they really can do what their mind tells them they can. In 2005 I was approaching my 10 year anniversary of using 3D Studio and I was looking for the next step. At that time I was also looking at a career change considering a Ph.D. or heading out into the industry as a professional consultant to get my "teaching fix." Autodesk just started a new training program that was supposed to weed out the casual teachers from the experts and I figured this would be a great test to see if I had what it takes to teach.
The test consisted of three days of spontaneous teaching sessions and drilling. There were three of us there being reviewed, an Autodesk "Master" (Pia Maffei) and another professional. Each day those being tested would pick a topic out of a hat and would need to teach it right then and there. These topics could be basic modeling, inverse kinematics, particles, etc. As you were teaching, the other candidates were asking tough questions and pretending to be students. How prepared you were and how you handled the "students" decided whether you became a Discreet Certified Trainer. Since then the testing criteria and branding has changed (now Autodesk Certified Instructor), but I was proud to have been one of the few globally recognized certified trainers for 3D Studio Max.
After receiving my certification I began consulting and training companies such as Universal Studios, Barton Malow, and Stryker Medical. I started the Ego Lounge, which turned into a large resource for learning the digital arts with 100s of free tutorials and resources. I also had multiple opportunities to teach at Michigan State University, University of Michigan, various summer camps and conferences.
Obtaining certification served as the foudation and gave credibility to many of my teaching and consulting efforts. It also helped satisfy my urge to teach which I don't think will ever be satisfied.
I have since been nominated as a 3D Studio Max "Master" by the computer graphics community and ACM/SIGGRAPH.