Announcing: Instructor Mentors at LeaderQuest

Announcing: Instructor Mentors at LeaderQuest

We are excited to announce that a new Instructor Mentor role has been implemented across all of our campuses! The Instructor Mentor is an experienced, certified, technical trainer who will be scheduled to teach only half of the time. The rest of their time will be spent supporting and preparing students for exams.

This role represents LeaderQuest’s commitment to helping students at every step of their IT training journey. While some students excel at their exams without any aid, we recognized that others needed a stronger support system. Our classes give students all the knowledge they need to pass their exams, but some students may need to study more to feel confident while taking the test.

Instructor Mentor Responsibilities

The Instructor Mentor will support students after completion of class through successful completion of exams. To do this, they’ll have an open door for students who need individual help, set up study groups, and create exam prep classes. Instructor Mentors work from approximately 1pm – 10pm so they can support both day and night students.

In addition to the above activities, Instructor Mentors will also proactively identify and engage students that are having any difficulties and work with them to overcome these obstacles with personalized tools and strategies.

Expected areas of improvement moving forward will be reflected in overall student satisfaction, increased exam pass rates, increased employment rates and retention rates. Students will be less overwhelmed having a personal coach who is experienced and can relate. Personalized study plans will cater to the individual learner increasing their opportunity for a successful career in IT.

Methods of Student Support

The Instructor Mentor supports the students through five different avenues. Each student can take advantage of this resource in the way that best fits their schedule and learning style.

1:1 Tutoring

The Instructor Mentor will be available for one-on-one study sessions as needed. Students can schedule this time within office hours, and can meet with the mentor online or in person.

Creating Study Plans with Touch Points

A plan that is created with the Instructor Mentor and the student leading up to taking the exam. These are designed to help the student cover all of the skills and study topics needed to pass their exam with confidence.

Touchpoints can include:

  • Completion of labs at 80% or higher
  • Completion of exam prep questions at 80% or higher
  • An exam date goal

Group Study Sessions

Instructor mentors will schedule regular group study sessions where students can help each other study with the guidance of their Instructor Mentor.

Exam Prep Classes

Our first prep class is the Advanced Security+ exam prep class. This class has increased the Security exam pass rate by 17% since implementation in 2018! In the near future, the creation of an exam prep class for each course we offer will be in place and taught by Instructor Mentors.

Skills Labs

Instructor Mentors teach skills labs to make sure students have achieved mastery of the necessary application of the knowledge learned in the classroom. For example, a PC Build Lab has been implemented to allow students to build a PC from scratch and then troubleshoot the PC. Hands on application is important for students to gain confidence as they strive for a career in IT.

Meet our New Instructor Mentors!

Patrick Allen

Specialty: Network Administration & Security

Education: BSEE & MSEE from The University of Alabama at Birmingham

Industry Experience: 20+ years in IT implementation project management and over nine years in IT field service

Certifications: CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+, CompTIA Security+

Courses Taught at LeaderQuest: CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+, CompTIA Security+

Career/Skill Focus: IT Support Technician

Fun Facts: Patrick Allen is addicted to fly fishing.

More About Pat: Retired Master Chief, U.S. Navy

Khozema “KJ” Raja

Specialty: Network Administration & Security

Education: BA in Business University of Texas Austin

Certifications: CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+, CompTIA Security+, ITIL Foundation

Courses Taught at LeaderQuest: CompTIA A+

Career/Skill Focus: Network Administration & Security

Fun Facts: KJ is addicted to great coffee and imports Yemeni coffee. A former LeaderQuest student, KJ completed the curriculum and certifications in a very short period of time and has returned to mentor students. His goal is to help them quickly pass their certification exams.

More About KJ: Starting in 2004, after KJ graduated from UT Austin, he successfully co-founded a startup real estate website. In 2006 he founded of his own startup real estate website. KJ has consulted on e-commerce platforms including Wholly Guacamole. He completed a government contract for DFW Technologies as a Support Specialist with Trinity River Authority.

Greg Gardner

Education: Bachelor of Science in Math, with a Secondary Education/Computer Science Minor – Concordia College, Moorhead, MN

Master of Information Technology – Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech)

Certifications: CompTIA Security+, CompTIA A+, Certified Scrum Master, Mobile Learning Developer, and Instructional Designer

Courses Taught at LeaderQuest: CompTIA A+

Fun Facts: Greg is a novelist with two published cyber-espionage/warfare novels: In Plain Sight and Firestorm. You can check them out at http://www.greggardnerbooks.com. He enjoys travelling (especially in Europe), fishing, snowshoeing, and hiking.

More About Greg: Greg has spent over 30 years of in the IT and training industry. He is a former Naval Officer. Greg was a shift supervisor/operations lead at Microsoft’s Global Data Center, created network operations centers at several dot com companies, created a virtual help desk for a university system, and was a Technical Director for Online Learning Technologies at a Washington DC-based consulting firm. He has taught IT courses such as the entire MCSE suite, A+, Security+, as well as programming and Microsoft application courses at private IT training companies, and at the high school and collegiate levels.

Greg enjoys using his expertise and experience to help others achieve their goals and objectives. Many have written in evaluations of his presentations that he has a fantastic ability to “talk tech to non-techies.”

Greg is also a speaker at national conferences, an author of numerous technology-based blogs and magazine articles, and has written several cyber-espionage novels.

Eugene Hamric

Specialty: IT All-Arounder

Education: Associate of Science in Network Engineering, Bachelor of Science in Security Technology, Master’s Degree in Cybersecurity currently in progress

Certifications: CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+, CompTIA Security+, CCENT, CCNA, MCSA, MCP, Linux, LCIP-1

Courses Taught at LeaderQuest: CompTIA A+

Career/Skill Focus:

Fun Facts: Eugene enjoys traveling to different countries to try new foods, ethical hacking to help businesses against cyber threats, playing the bass guitar, and going to anime conventions for the new line-up serious.

His favorite saying is, “I win or learn, but I never lose.”

More About Eugene: Eugene comes from a military family background and has served 6 years in the Army. He will achieve his Master’s Degree in Cybersecurity in about 2 months, and his next goal is to obtain the CISSP certification. He has been involved in the IT Industry since the mid-1990s with the privilege of serving in various civilian and government projects.

Come train with our Instructor Mentors!

If you’ve been thinking about making a career change, consider IT! LeaderQuest can help you get trained, certified and hired in 3 months or less. We support our students through every part of this process, including state of the art facilities and learning materials, onsite Instructor Mentors ready to help, and a devoted Career Services team at each campus.

If you’re ready to take the next step in your career, contact LeaderQuest today! We can help you identify a career path and the steps you’ll need to get you there.

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The Most Lucrative IT Careers for 2019

The Most Lucrative IT Careers for 2019

It’s no secret that IT is exploding. Forbes has  predicted as many as 3.5 million unfilled positions in the cyber security industry by 2021.

Given this scarcity, it’s no surprise that the salaries for IT professionals are skyrocketing, but the size of that jump might be more than you expect. Salaries for software developers and information security analysts increased 17 percent and 18 percent respectively since 2013 while compensation for computer systems analysts rose a whopping 21 percent.

So what does this mean for IT? In this examination of the Robert Half 2019 Technology & IT Salary Guide, we’ll be exploring areas of growth, examining average salaries, and reviewing other information that’s essential for anyone thinking of getting into IT.

Counteract Inexperience with Quick Learning

As the world shifts towards automation, the need for talented IT professionals is far outstripping the supply. That’s why companies have become willing to hire professionals with less experience but who are motivated to learn quickly.

With technology evolving faster than ever, employers are also looking for new hires who can stay on top of technology in their own time. That means passion is a big selling point.

On the flip side, those with skills and techniques related cloud technology, open source practices, mobile development, big data, cyber security, and other new technologies will definitely be given preference in hiring.

Expanding IT Industries

Though the need for IT is rising everywhere, the three industries with the biggest demand are healthcare, financial services, and manufacturing.

  • Healthcare — Big innovations are needed to improve patient care by modernizing healthcare operations.
  • Financial services — In the wake of the Equifax breach, this shouldn’t be surprising. Both big data and information security initiatives drive the need for pros in this industry.
  • Manufacturing — While manufacturing has been slow to adapt, things are changing quickly with the trend toward automation.
  • Software as a Service (SaaS) — This industry is growing quickly as more companies leave traditional software behind for tailored solutions with great support.

The most in-demand job roles include:

Highly Valued Technology Certifications

Certifications are always in high demand as a way for employers to verify the skills of a new hire. The skills and knowledge required to pass these exams give employers confidence that they’ve made the right hire.

IT Salaries for 2019

In Robert Half’s extensive salary guide, they break down the numbers for what people in the 25th, 50th, 75th, and 95th percentile will make. Which percentile an individual falls into is decided by things like level of experience, special skills/expertise, job complexity, location, and other such factors.

When looking at these charts for yourself, it’s important to remember that the 50th percentile represents the midpoint. Those just getting started in the industry will be closer to (or below) the 25th percentile. Those with a lot of experience or credentials would fall in the 75th or 95th percentiles. For more information on using the salary guide, check out the video below.

When you examine the chart below, you can see that IT salaries top out with executive positions such as the Chief Information Officer ($171,750 – $293,000), Chief Technology Officer ($147,750 – $263,000), and Chief Security Officer ($148,000 – $270,000).

While that’s the highest of the high, it’s still worth noting that many of the salary ranges for IT roles easily reach over $100,000 including specialties and years of experience. Here are just a few high paying jobs in technical services, networking, and security.

Technical Services, Help Desk, & Technical Support

As you can see from the chart below, these positions represent the lower end of the salary range in IT. However, with the midpoint salary range for most positions around or over $50,000, it’s still much more than a living wage.

While salaries start in the $30,000 to $40,000 range, they quickly move to $50,000 – $60,000 as they get more and more specialized. This is especially true for systems administrators and systems engineers.

Position Title

25th Percentile

50th Percentile

75th Percentile

95th Percentile

Help Desk Tier 1

$32,250

$38,750

$46,000

$55,000

Help Desk Tier 2

$38,250

$45,750

$54,750

$64,500

Help Desk Tier 3

$49,000

$58,500

$70,000

$82,750

Desktop Support Analyst

$51,000

$61,250

$73,250

$86,500

Systems Administrator

$68,000

$81,750

$97,750

$115,750

Manager

$82,000

$98,500

$117,750

$139,000

Systems Engineer

$86,250

$103,000

$123,250

$145,750

When you’re looking to get into IT for the first time, it’s important to have a base of knowledge to draw upon. Our Computer User Support Specialist program combines popular ITIL® and CompTIA training programs necessary to develop the skills you’ll need for entry-level IT.

If you’re looking to get started in IT with little to no experience. Learn more about us by clicking the link below.

Contact Us!

Networking/Telecommunications

Network Administrators are listed as one of the most in-demand positions for 2019, so it should be no surprise their salaries range from $74,000 to $126,000, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Many higher level network positions such as Network Engineers, Managers, or Wireless Network Engineers start around $90,000 to $100,000 and can go as high as the $150,000 to $160,000 range.

Position Title

25th Percentile

50th Percentile

75th Percentile

95th Percentile

NOC Technician

$52,250

$62,500

$77,000

$98,750

Telecommunications Specialist

$59,500

$71,500

$85,250

$100,750

Network Administrator

$74,750

$89,000

$106,750

$126,750

Telecommunications Manager

$79,750

$95,500

$114,500

$136,000

Network Engineer

$92,000

$108,750

$130,500

$154,250

Network Manager

$94,750

$113,500

$135,750

$162,000

Wireless Network Engineer

$102,000

$122,000

$146,250

$173,500

Network Architect

$114,00

$137,500

$164,500

$195,000

If you’re interested in the networking positions, our Network Support Specialist Program teaches fundamentals, competencies, and qualifications that are necessary to start a career in networking. Through these classes, you’ll learn how to install, configure, run, verify, and troubleshoot medium-sized networks.

Interested in learning more? Click the link below.

Contact Us

Security

Cyber security is rapidly expanding and in desperate need of more professionals to stay on top of security. The compensation for these roles reflects this high demand.

In cyber security, even the jobs in the 25th percentile start around $90,000. With rising concerns about data from the Equifax breaches and others, it makes sense that Network Security Engineers, Data Security Analysts, and Information Systems Security Managers most often make between $115,000 and $160,000.

Position Title

25th Percentile

50th Percentile

75th Percentile

95th Percentile

Network Security Administrator

$93,000

$111,500

$134,000

$158,750

Systems Security Administrator

$93,750

$112,250

$134,750

$159,750

Network Security Engineer

$98,500

$118,000

$141,750

$167,500

Data Security Analyst

$105,000

$125,250

$149,500

$178,250

Information Systems Security Manager

$116,000

$139,000

$167,250

$199,750

With the gap between cyber skills growing wider by the day, the industry provides professionals with unparalleled job security and a world of opportunities. Whether you’re interested in working on securing networks, keeping data safe, or even getting inside the mind of a hacker, cyber provides a variety of great, high-paying options.

Interested in learning more about how our programs can help you build a career path toward cyber security? Click the button below.

Learn More!

Perks, Incentives, and More

Most IT positions include generous benefits packages. Here are the most common benefits broken down by the percentage of companies that offer them:

  • Medical Insurance (88%)
  • Paid Time Off (80%)
  • Dental Insurance (71%)
  • Vision Insurance (60%)
  • Disability Insurance (58%)
  • Life insurance (53%)
  • Employee Assistance Programs (39%)

Employers also consider a number of other incentives to snag top talent including signing bonuses, health insurance, generous vacation time, and professional development opportunities.

As for perks, places often offer flexible work schedules, social events, the option of telecommuting, onsite gym or access to a gym offsite, a compressed schedule, or free/subsidized meals.

In addition, employers offer 14 days paid vacation for the first five years of employment and nine paid holidays including floating holidays. Employers also match 3-4 percent of employees’ 401(k) or Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) contributions on average.

Importance of Certifications

Ultimately, the difference in salary comes down to specialization. For IT pros, that means skills and certifications. Both increase the marketability of a professional. Employers may increase salaries between five to ten percent for professionals with sought-after skills and abilities.

Some of the most popular certifications, as identified by the Robert Half guide, include CISSP, CCNA, CompTIA A+, and PMP®. However, certifications show more than proving a skillset. They also signal to employers that a professional is committed to keeping their skills up to date at all times. With the ever-widening cyber security gap, certifications and willingness to keep on top of the latest updates are becoming more and more of a commodity.

Certifications can mean the difference between thousands of dollars in salary. That’s why, at LeaderQuest, we balance by-the-book training that helps people pass their exams with real-world, hands-on experience. This ensures our students can take their learning beyond the classroom and be fully prepared for a brand new career.

We understand the pressures of working full-time while still wanting to advance education and earning potential That’s why we offer classes during the day, at night, on campus, or online to meet any schedule and learning style.

Ultimately, a certification is a great, cost-effective way to get into the lucrative IT field for the fraction of the cost of a university. With the continuing upward trend in salaries, the IT industry isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

If you’re interested in building a successful career in IT, contact us and we’ll get you set up with one of our expert career advisers.

Contact us today and unlock your career’s full potential!

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PMI, PMP, CAPM, and PMBOK are registered marks of Project Management Institute, Inc.

Career Services: A Bridge Between Students and Employers

Career Services: A Bridge Between Students and Employers

When you think about starting a new career or advancing your career, a couple of things probably come to mind. Can I earn more money? Where is the best place to find a new job? Can anyone help me?

Depending on your situation you may or may not get the help you need in answering these questions. But why are these questions so hard in the first place?

Traditionally, those doing the hiring and those doing the teaching do not communicate effectively. Both are running businesses serving different markets. When a college helps you earn a degree, they aren’t concerned with what you can do with it or what kind of jobs are available. They leave that up to the student. At LeaderQuest, we do things a little differently.

Watch Stephen Wright, the Employment Development Manager for LeaderQuest Denver, talk about the Career Services Department, below.

The IT Employment Divide

Why is there such a divide when these two industries should be working together? The harsh reality for students attending four-year Bachelor’s or two-year Associate’s programs in Information Technology is that by the time they reach the end of their curriculum, much of the knowledge and skills developed in the early semesters become obsolete. This renders these students less desirable by employers looking for people with an understanding of the latest tools and techniques – particularly in practices that pertain to cyber intrusion detection, forensics, and ethical hacking. For some skills. the pace of change in the tech industry is making the two-year or four-year college journey less relevant. You can learn more about the differences in our blog Degrees vs. Certifications: Investing In your Future.

Institutions like LeaderQuest, that focus on accelerated IT skills training are bound by strict employment guidelines. What does this mean exactly? To maintain our status as a training company and to be able to accept certain kinds of funding, our graduates must exceed state-set employment guidelines.

Faced with these regulations within the industry, we here at LeaderQuest had two options: we could train individuals and send them off to fend for themselves in the job market, or we could face the challenge head-on and develop a complete training-to-employment system. We decided to go with the latter.

LeaderQuest IT Training

In order to tackle this challenge we first had to align our goals with the needs of the industry.  This was done by analyzing the IT industry and directly speaking with IT companies. We pinpointed what skills are in demand, what skills are most critical, and what exactly we can do to best prepare students for breaking into careers (or advancing their careers) in the IT industry.

This led to the development of our Computer User Support Specialist program for individuals looking to break into the industry and our curation of several other certifications courses that individuals can utilize to advance their careers. In addition to these developments, this also led us to the creation of one of our most unique and crucial assets, the LeaderQuest Career Services Department.

LeaderQuest Career Services Department

After ensuring that our training programs and certification selection were aligned with the industry’s needs, we then had to build the bridge between students and employers. This is the purpose of our Career Services Department. This department was created to foster a symbiotic relationship between the IT industry and LeaderQuest while providing students with the optimal resources to confidently apply to and interview for their future jobs.

The Career Services Department provides a comprehensive path from professional development to employment. The process begins on the first day of training when students are introduced to their campus’ Employment Development Manager (EDM), the EDM is in charge of leading students through the Career Services process. This process is broken down into 5 steps.

The Career Services Process in 5 Steps

Step 1: Initial Evaluation Meeting

You will meet with the EDM one-on-one in order to understand your specific situation. This includes understanding your goals, experience, and desired timeline. For example, some students may be looking to be employed immediately after their first certification and some students may wait to finish their personalized program before looking for employment. It all depends on the experience and goals outlined in this first meeting.

A frequently asked question that our Denver EDM recieves on the first day of class.

Step 2: Professional Development

You’ll then meet with your campus EDM for professional development. You’ll collaborate with the EDM to develop quality resumes and cover letters while pulling together a good list of references. Throughout this step, you’ll learn about valuable resume techniques and cover letter strategies that have been developed by the LeaderQuest staff, all with the goal giving you an advantage right off the bat. A pristine resume and cover letter is crucial for standing out in the job market.

Step 3: Applying for Jobs

Once your resume and cover letter are up to professional standards, it’s time to start applying for jobs. By this time you should have an idea of what area you want to work in and what kind of company you’re looking to work for.

The EDM will then reach into their pool of jobs and look for a match. This pool of jobs comes from multiple sources: LeaderQuest’s Employment Partner Network*, LeaderQuest’s LinkedIn Professionals groups*, and positions curated from traditional job websites. In addition to the EDM searching for specific positions, students will also be taught what to look for and how to apply for jobs themselves. The EDM is available for all questions and concerns throughout this process.

The LeaderQuest Employment Partner Network spans from the private sector to government entities like the Department of Defense (DoD). These employers know the LeaderQuest curriculum, they know the quality of candidates we produce, and they have found success with hiring our students. This has created a mutually beneficial relationship between these employers and LeaderQuest where they supply us with jobs and we supply them with qualified candidates.
The LeaderQuest LinkedIn Professionals Groups are comprised of LeaderQuest’s alumni and current students from each campus. In these groups, there are exclusive jobs not typically advertised on job boards, as well as valuable networking opportunities. This allows students to connect with the LeaderQuest community and establish themselves locally before even stepping foot in their first position. These groups also provide a platform for LeaderQuest IT professionals to discuss IT topics and share different opportunities.

Step 4: Interview Preparation

In this step, once interviews opportunities start to get generated, you’ll learn what it takes to execute a perfect interview. In addition to years of resume/cover letter writing, EDMs are experts at interviewing. They know what specific employers are looking for, what strategies will work best for each candidate, and they know how to coach the necessary interview skills.

“When we have an interview set up it’s go time,” Stephen Wright, EDM for the LeaderQuest Denver campus.

There’s basic coaching, like when to show up and how to dress appropriately for the interview, and then there are the higher level skills that many students are unaware of. Some of these skills include (but not limited to): questions coaching; how to respond to and ask the right questions; mannerisms, body language and how to act appropriately; and one of the most important skills, closing: how to close the interview properly in order to secure a second interview or job offer.

In addition to skills coaching, the EDM will conduct mock interviews with you in order to help boost your interviewing confidence while ironing out any interview problems that may come up.

When this step is complete you will not only have the necessary skills and confidence to land a position, but will also have have a strong foundation to build from for continued professional development and success.

Step 5: Continued Support

Once you have interviewed and gotten a position, the job of the Career Services Department is not over. We would like to hear from alumni and continue to assist them throughout their careers. LeaderQuest alumni also have lifetime access to the LeaderQuest LinkedIn Professionals groups and all of the services offered by the Career Services Department, including their job pool.


Are you ready for an IT career?

The LeaderQuest Career Services department is here to aid students in their career aspirations, as well as continue the pursuit of cohesion between employers and graduates. The goal is to adapt as the job market advances and to innovate where necessary to give LeaderQuest graduates the highest level of service and the best chance of landing their dream job.

Whether you are looking to start a career in IT or advance your career, LeaderQuest’s Career Services is the perfect partner in helping you move forward.

If you are looking to break into the industry you may be interested in our entry level Computer User Support Specialist program which will give you a glimpse into each IT field allowing you to find out which sector best suits you while providing the skills crucial for entry-level IT jobs.

Looking to advance your career or break into cyber security? LeaderQuest has you covered there as well, with a wide variety of certifications from CompTIA, EC-Council, and the Project Management Institue (PMI®). Our complete list of certifications and programs can be found here: Training Programs & Courses.

If you have decided you want to learn more about what LeaderQuest can offer you, please click the button below, fill out a contact form, and a LeaderQuest Career Adviser will contact you for a discussion about your future.

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PMI, PMP, CAPM, and PMBOK are registered marks of Project Management Institute, Inc.

Degrees vs. Certifications: Which is Better for an IT Career?

Degrees vs. Certifications: Which is Better for an IT Career?

When seeking to join the ever-growing field of information technology, two of the most common paths to competency are degrees and certifications. While both of these options can get you a job in IT, they are by no means created equal! In this blog, we’ll take a look at some of the important differences between these two routes (as well as a couple of ways that you may not have to choose at all).


Time InvestedDegrees vs. Certificates: Time

College or Degree Program

In general, it takes about 4 years to earn a college degree. This is usually spread out over 8 semesters, with four courses per semester. This enables students to get a huge amount of information in their time at college and really process each individual class before moving on to additional learning materials. Especially determined students may be able to finish their major in 3 years (or less) if they take more than 4 classes per semester, or take classes during the summer.

In terms of time spent during the week, most courses are 3 credit hours. With four courses, that means about 12 hours per week spent in class. Additional time will of course be needed for homework, writing papers and exam-prep.

Certification Courses at LeaderQuest

Certification training at LeaderQuest is intensive and accelerated. We’ll take our Computer User Support Specialist program as an example, because it prepares students with enough certifications and knowledge to confidently enter the IT industry. This program includes training for four certifications: ITIL, CompTIA A+, CompTIA Security+, and CompTIA Network+. These courses take 5 days or 10 evenings each, except for A+ which is split into two courses. That gives us a total of 25 days of instruction, or 50 evenings.

For those taking the course during the day, instruction and labs comprise a 40-hour week. Each day is packed with instruction, hands-on labs, and time for questions and answers. Evening courses are spread out over twice as many days, with only 4 hours of instruction per evening. After instruction, students will need some time to review everything they’ve learned and take advantage of the additional materials offered by LeaderQuest. Most students complete their certification exams within the following month.


Cost of Training

College or Degree Program

According to LendEDU, for the 2017-2018 year, the average cost of tuition for a semester at a public 4-year in-state college or university was $9,970. For four years at that rate, one would expect to pay $39,880 for tuition. Of course, this doesn’t include other costs such as room & board, transportation, supplies and so on.

A college degree offers value that is above and beyond what certifications offer, which makes it difficult to compare these two items accurately.

Certification Courses at LeaderQuest

Our certification courses cost around $3,000 each (varies by course), with the total cost of our Computer User Support Specialist program coming in at $12,775. That’s close to the cost of a single year at an in-state college or university! Included in the overall cost of tuition are the industry-recognized certification exam attempt(s).

The certifications included in our Computer User Support Specialist program do not offer the breadth and depth of knowledge that a Bachelor’s degree does, but they offer a more expedient path to employment in the Information Technology sector. As you’ll see in the next section, the tight focus of our training courses provides a huge benefit to their holders.


Focus of TrainingDegrees vs. Certificates: Focus

College or Degree Program

Most degree programs require students to take electives or general education credits to help ensure a well-rounded education. Even within their major, college graduates study a huge variety of topics, not all of which will be useful in their career after school. General education requirements can take as much as one to two years to complete before students can really focus on technology skills.

Certification Courses at LeaderQuest

Certifications instead offer focused training designed to confirm skills in very specific areas that employers have a high demand for. These programs do not require students to take courses in other subject areas. Students are able to jump right into technology courses, each of which has a clear application and certification to show 3rd-party skills verification.

For those looking to start a career in IT as soon as possible, certifications offer a much more direct path to employment because of their increased focus.


Style of Training

College or Degree Program

Many college courses focus more on theory and the history of a subject than on its current practice. Textbooks may have been written years ago but still be in use until a new edition is released. Courses will vary in how much focus they offer on hands-on training depending on the instructor and the availability of lab facilities.

Certification Courses at LeaderQuest

All of our courses include a mixture of lecture time and hands-on labs. Labs are different for each class. In A+, you’ll be taking apart and putting back together computer hardware. Network+ and Security+ are more software focused, with students configuring network components and checking the security of connected virtual systems.

We want to make sure that our students get the experience they need, working with real computer systems and programs. We understand that it’s important for our students to get certified, but we also want to make sure that they have mastered the skills they’ll need to excel in the workplace.


Getting Hired after TrainingStarting an IT Career

College or Degree Program

The completion of a degree marks a huge milestone in one’s career and shows that they have the dedication and determination needed to complete their program. Degrees are respected all over the world as a sign of accomplishment and knowledge, but they don’t signify the same kind of skills-verification that a certification does. This is because certifications focus on very specific bodies of knowledge, while two graduates with Computer Science Bachelor’s degrees may have very different skill sets.

Certification Courses at LeaderQuest

One thing that many colleges lack is follow-through with students who’ve graduated. Once you’re done, you’re pretty much on your own when it comes to finding a job. At LeaderQuest, we make it our #1 priority to help you get hired in a job you’ll love. Each campus has a dedicated Career Services team that will work with you to optimize your resume, perfect your LinkedIn profile and practice interviewing. When you’re ready, we’ll connect you with our network of employer partners that are looking to hire entry-level It roles.

When applying to careers in the IT field, certifications can be a very persuasive credential. For example, if a company wants to hire a Network Engineer, knowing that a candidate has their Network+ and CCNA certifications may be valued over a degree that may or may not have covered the expertise they need. This is especially true of the IT careers in demand right now. If you look at a list of IT jobs, you’ll see certifications listed for almost every one of them. According to a survey conducted by CompTIA, 93% of hiring managers believe IT certifications are valuable in validating expertise. Not only that, but 80% of employers reward their staff for passing certification exams with an increase in salary or pay, public recognition, bonus or promotion!


Certifications vs. Degrees: Who is the Final Winner?

And the final winner is… *drumroll*

Really, we can’t say that one of these routes is superior to the other.

  • If you want a strong foundation and an unparalleled breadth of knowledge, a degree is the best path.
  • If you’re interested in quickly gaining skills and certifications that will get you employed in IT, certification training is a great option.

But did you know that at LeaderQuest you can do both?


With LeaderQuest, you don’t have to choose just one!

In January of 2018, the American Council on Education’s College Credit Recommendation Service (ACE CREDIT®) officially recommended 14 LeaderQuest courses for college credit. The American Council on Education (ACE), serves as the major coordinating body for the nation’s higher education institutions. Simply put, ACE CREDIT helps adults gain academic credit for courses and examinations taken outside traditional degree programs.

One can debate the merits of a degree or a particular certification endlessly, but there’s no doubt that having both a degree and the right certifications is a perfect recipe for career success! You can read more about which courses are approved and how many credits they’re recommended for on ACE’s website.

LeaderQuest also has formed a comprehensive partnership with Colorado State University-Global Campus (CSU-Global) to create career-relevant, continuing education pathways for technology professionals. This partnership includes an agreement for credit articulation, as well as a 10% tuition discount at CSU-Global for LeaderQuest students! CSU-Global is an online university, and students can attend from anywhere.


Are you interested in starting an IT career?

If you’re ready to get started in IT, LeaderQuest is a great choice. Our intensive training will quickly teach you everything you need to know to get hired in IT. Many students are employed in IT within 3 months of starting classes at LeaderQuest. Our classes are taught by expert instructors who hold the certification you’re training for. LeaderQuest covers the cost of one certification attempt per class, we also have onsite testing centers to make sitting for the exam easy and stress-free. Once you’ve completed your certifications, our Career Services team will work with you to get your resume and LinkedIn profile polished, and then connect you with local employers that are part of our Employer Partner network. That’s what makes us the experts when it comes to helping students start IT careers.

To find out more about how we can help you start an IT career, click the link below and get in touch with us!

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How Can the CompTIA A+ Certification Jump-Start Your IT Career?

How Can the CompTIA A+ Certification Jump-Start Your IT Career?

Today, we are living in a digital economy. Every business can see that technology has become a critical part of their current operations and their future success, and leadership is pushing for digital transformation. In order to remain competitive, companies know they must invest in IT. This includes everything from the computers that workers use every day, to the networks they communicate with the internet over, to data storage, to cloud computing, and more.

CompTIA A+ is the industry standard for launching IT careers into today’s digital world. Why? Because it’s performance-based, trusted by employers, regularly re-invented by IT experts, and offers a complete skills development solution.

Getting your CompTIA A+ certification will enable you to join this digital revolution and ensure a competitive salary and great job security. Read on to learn about why A+ is so powerful and what you’ll learn.

What Makes the A+ Certification Valuable?

CompTIA A+ vendor-neutral certification is the preferred qualifying credential for technical support and IT operational roles. A+ demonstrates comprehension of hardware, software, operating systems, system troubleshooting, technology repair, networking, mobility, security and operational procedures.

  • Directive 8140/8570: The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) recognizes CompTIA A+ certification for information assurance technicians under DoD Directive 8140/8570.
  • Mapped to NICE: CompTIA A+ maps to the Customer Service and Technical Support specialty area of the framework developed as part of the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE).
  • Highly In Demand: CompTIA A+ ranked 7th in U.S. job listings showing the certification is required or recommended for potential candidates. (Source: CompTIA IT Employment Snapshot, Q4 2017)

If you want to learn more about this certification, download CompTIA’s A+ Certification Guide.

Targeted Job Roles

The A+ certification is ideal for those looking to get started in the Information Technology industry. It was created to certify that readiness and skills for job roles such as Service Desk Analyst, Field Service Tech, Help Desk Tech, and IT Support Specialist.

Employers look for candidates with their A+ certification because it helps them know they’re making a great hiring decision. Being able to pass the exam is a form of 3rd party skills verification that gives hiring mangers confidence that this hire will be able to do the job and do it right. In fact, 96% of HR managers use IT certifications as screening or hiring criteria during recruitment!

What Does the A+ Certification Cover?

This in-depth certification covers the most important basics of the IT industry: security, infrastructure and hardware, networking, operations, operating systems, software and troubleshooting. For a more in-depth look at what you could learn, read through the exam objectives below.

Security

Tech support teams face a growing challenge to accurately triage a flood of security issues.

  • Physical and logical security
  • Social engineering
  • Malware detection and removal
  • Device hardening
  • Biometric authentication
  • Privacy concerns, including GDPR and handling PII

Security Objectives

  • Summarize the importance of physical security measures.
  • Compare and contrast wireless security protocols and authentication methods.
  • Given a scenario, detect, remove, and prevent malware using appropriate tools and methods.
  • Given a scenario, implement security best practices to secure a workstation.

Infrastructure & Hardware

Connectivity is the lifeblood of productivity. Troubleshooting device connectivity issues are table stakes for IT support professionals.

  • Cloud and virtualization
  • IoT devices and protocols
  • Internet appliances, including endpoint management
  • Different network types, including wireless mesh networks

Mobile Devices Objectives

  • Given a scenario, install and configure laptop hardware and components.
  • Given a scenario, install components within the display of a laptop.
  • Given a scenario, connect and configure accessories and ports of other mobile devices.
  • Given a scenario, configure basic mobile device network connectivity and application support.

Networking Objectives

  • Compare and contrast TCP and UDP ports, protocols, and their purposes.
  • Compare and contrast common networking hardware devices. (Routers, switches, access points, firewalls, bubs, repeaters, etc)
  • Given a scenario, install and configure a basic wired/wireless SOHO network.
  • Compare and contrast wireless networking protocols.

Hardware Objectives

  • Explain basic cable types, features, and their purposes.
  • Given a scenario, select and configure appropriate components for a custom PC configuration to meet customer specifications or needs.
  • Given a scenario, install and configure motherboards, CPUs, and add-on cards.
  • Given a scenario, select, install and configure storage devices.

Troubleshooting Objectives

  • Given a scenario, use the best practice methodology to resolve problems.
  • Given a scenario, troubleshoot problems related to motherboards, RAM, CPUs, and power.
  • Given a scenario, troubleshoot common wired and wireless network problems.
  • Given a scenario, troubleshoot hard drives and RAID arrays.

Operations

As the systems that users connect with increase in both number and variety, the definition of competency for an entry level IT support pros has expanded.

  • Scripting, Python, Bash, Javascript
  • Working with log files
  • Knowledgebase best practices
  • Change management
  • Basic disaster prevention and recovery
  • Using remote access

Operational Procedures Objectives

  • Compare and contrast best practices associated with types of documentation.
  • Given a scenario, implement basic change management best practices.
  • Given a scenario, implement basic disaster prevention and recovery methods.
  • Explain the processes for addressing prohibited content/activity, and privacy, licensing, and policy concepts.

Software

Hardware knowledge underpins tech support competency, but the day-to-day requires software expertise.

  • Windows, Linux, Android, iOS, Chrome OS, Mac OS
  • Software as a Service (SaaS)
  • Hypervisors
  • iCloud, Exchange, Google Inbox
  • Active Directory

Operating Systems Objectives

  • Compare and contrast common operating system types and their purposes.
  • Summarize general OS installation considerations and upgrade methods.
  • Given a scenario, use appropriate Microsoft command line tools.
  • Given a scenario, configure Microsoft Windows networking on client/desktop.

Software Troubleshooting Objectives

  • Given a scenario, troubleshoot Microsoft Windows OS problems.
  • Given a scenario, troubleshoot and resolve PC security issues.
  • Given a scenario, use best practice procedures for malware removal.
  • Given a scenario, troubleshoot mobile OS and application issues.

Are you interested in IT training?

Does the idea of installing and configuring motherboards make you grin? Do you want to learn the ins-and-outs of running virtual machines? A career in IT could be the perfect choice for you. If you enjoy working with your hands, fixing broken things, and understanding the latest technology, consider giving IT a chance.

LeaderQuest can help you get the training you need to get hired in IT. Our training courses take 5-10 days to complete and are taught by instructors with years of industry experience. We include hands-on labs in every course so that you’ll have the skills you need to excel. Finally, we offer one-on-one career services to help you with your resume, LinkedIn profile, cover letter, interview skills and more. We’ll even connect you with local IT employers that are looking to hire.

So what’s stopping you? Your IT career is waiting for you!

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8 Reasons to Start Your IT Career with Certifications

8 Reasons to Start Your IT Career with Certifications

When you’re stuck in an unrewarding, underpaying job, getting something better can’t come fast enough. No matter what you want, it can be difficult to break into a new field on the timeline you need. That’s where IT certifications come in.

IT certifications can help you to jump into a new career fast while building a foundation for further specialization. Still not convinced? Here are just a few of the reasons IT certifications are a great way to start a career in IT.

1. They’re a Fast/Low-Cost Way to Level-Up Your Resume

For those who have the time and resources to dig deep into a topic, the traditional degree model has a lot to offer. However, when you want to bump up your skills fast, certifications are a great investment. The average tuition for a master’s degree program is $60,000 to $80,000 while living expenses, books, and more can easily cost over $100,000. Certifications are vastly less expensive, especially if you can find a third party that will cover the cost for you.

Another benefit is that you get into the meat and potatoes fast. Certifications are hyper-focused on the skills you need, so there’s no Gen Eds to knock out.

2. Certifications Validate the Skills You Need to Succeed

From an employer standpoint, every hire is a gamble. It takes time and money to get them registered in the system, trained, and enmeshed with a new team. Of course, there will always be situations where things don’t work out for one way or another, but it still important to get every assurance possible an employee will be a good fit.

That’s where certifications come in. They provide a universal measure of a certain skill set. This can be easily understood by employers and technical professionals alike. Whether you’re validating a skill that you already have or taking on a wholly new one, it shows an employer that you definitely know what you’re talking about.

In fact, sometimes getting certifications isn’t a matter of “if” but “when” because…

3. DoD Jobs Require IT Certifications

If you’ve spent any time in the Department of Defense (DoD) arena, you’ve probably heard about directive 8570/8140. It requires that all users of authorized systems have a certain level of certification. This is to ensure that people who are working with sensitive information have the knowledge to do so.

DOD8570 Baseline Certs

Whether you’re working for the DoD, or just working with a company that regularly contracts with the DoD like Raytheon, Booz Allen Hamilton, Northrop Grumman, etc., you will need certain certifications to operate at different levels. The table below shows what certifications could be required for such work.

Conversely, this provides a huge opportunity because companies who work with the DoD are always in need of certified professionals to work on their contracts. Thinking about going into DoD work, but not sure which certification is right for you? Luckily, we wrote an entire article about that.

4. Certifications Are Good For the Whole Company

When it comes to an overall company’s well-being, certifications are the gift that keeps on giving. Studies from CompTIA, Microsoft, IDC, and Novell have done studies confirming the wide-ranging benefits for a company on the whole.

Organizations that invest in certifications for their employees are rewarded with happier and more productive workers who want to stay longer. Not only do they bring a brand new skill set to the table, they’re grateful, excited, and engaged because their company showed faith in them.

Getting employees certified also boosts confidence and peace of mind. On the one hand, workers feel assured in their knowledge. Meanwhile, customers themselves know that they’re getting more bang for their buck.

5. Certifications Help You Stand Out in Interviews

Before you even set foot inside a potential employer’s office, recruiters and resume scanning software will look for those key certifications. That means that certifications can make or break even getting a seat in the room. Once you’re in, certifications can help you stand up against candidates who might have as much or more experience than you.

6. Great Certs Equal Greater Earning/Salary Potential

There’s no doubt that certifications will help you make more money and this is true for many industries. In terms of project management, this study from PMI® showed that certified Project Management Professionals (PMP®) earn an average of 20% more than their uncertified counterparts. Not bad at all!

In terms of IT, Georgetown University’s Center on Education found that men with certificates in computer/information services earned $72,498 per year. That was more than 72% of men who held an associate degree and more than 54% who had a bachelor’s degrees. However, if you really want to be competitive and get a degree as well, certifications can help because…

7. Certifications Could Get You a Head Start at College

Many individuals get an entry-level certification like ITIL or CompTIA A+ so that they can get a start into a ground floor IT job. Then, they can go back, finish their degree, earn a few more certifications, and put themselves in the best position possible for work in an intermediate or advanced field like networking or even cyber security.

Colleges have even started recognizing certifications as counting toward credit. >The American Council on Education gives ACE CREDIT recommendations> where they review classes and deem them eligible to receive credit at various universities and colleges. This is the case for 14 LeaderQuest courses.

Other times, there are formal agreements between certification providers and certain colleges to offer specific credit in return for classes. This is the case for CSU-Global and LeaderQuest, who have formed an agreement for LQ certification classes translating directly into college credit.

What’s the upshot of all of this? You can get started on a career while earning college credit. Classic two birds one stone scenario.

8. Learn a New Skill Set and Change Your Life

Lastly, and most importantly, the best part of certifications is the energizing thrill of picking up a new skill. IT is a growing and ever evolving field with IT tech firms among the 10 fastest growing industries in the U.S. Meanwhile, there’s still a severe lack of talent making it difficult to hire as many people as quickly as the demands arise. This is even more noted in the cyber security field.

This means that IT is a field that is desperately needed, important, and can have a great impact on the world around you. Taking on these new skills means having an opportunity to enter into a career that will help you develop personally as well as professionally.

There is a Japanese concept known as ikigai which reflects on that which is needed and loved in the world. In the novel, “The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life,” co-author Hector Garcia has this to say about finding happiness and fulfillment in life.

“Your ikigai is at the intersection of what you are good at and what you love doing,” he says.

You never know where your purpose will come from. However, when it comes to a field as exciting and fast-growing as IT, you just might find yours.

Level-Up Your Career with LeaderQuest

Start Your IT CareerIf you want a career you’ll love, IT is a quickly growing field with a number of benefits both personal and professional. IT certifications can help you land that first job or advance to a higher, better-paying position. That’s why LeaderQuest offers some of the most essential IT certifications in the business.

We offer 5 and 10-day classes online, on campus, during the day, and at night with the goal of getting you trained, certified, and hired in the IT world. Once you’ve finished classes, you’ll have the opportunity to work with your own personal Employment Development Manager (EDM) who will help revamp your resume, nail your cover letter, and work with you to practice for behavioral interviews.

If you’re stuck in a job you don’t like, why delay? Contact us today and start a career you’ll love with a salary you’ll appreciate!

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