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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 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 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 Institute. 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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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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5 Essential IT Certifications for DoD and Cyber Security Jobs

5 Essential IT Certifications for DoD and Cyber Security Jobs

Cyber security is huge right now. There’s no doubt about that. If you’re thinking about working in cyber security, you’ll probably want to look at the contract world. And, if you’re thinking about the cyber security enterprise world, getting IT certifications isn’t just a good idea, it’s actually required.

The Department of Defense (DoD) Directive 8570.01 lays out a list of certifications that fit the bill to be considered for those roles. This is especially prevalent for companies that regularly work with the DoD, like Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, Booz Allen Hamilton, and others.

it certifications DoD requirementsWhether you’re coming from a military background and looking to get into cyber security or a cyber security pro looking to make yourself more competitive in the enterprise space, here are some of the best certifications and jobs you can get with them.

DoD Compliant Cyber Security Certifications

1. CompTIA A+

You might be surprised to see A+ on this list. It’s an entry-level certification which teaches the basics of personal computer hardware and operating systems including installation, upgrade, repair, configuration, optimization, troubleshooting, and preventative maintenance. However, support is an important part of any business and there are jobs to be had. In a role like Desktop Support Analyst, you can make between $50,000-$85,000.

  • Potential Job Roles: IT Help Desk Tier I-III, IT Field Technician, Desktop Support Analyst, IT Support Specialist, and more.
  • Salary: Starts at $50,000 (for Desktop Support Specialist).
  • Qualifies for: IAT Level I.

Learn More About A+

2. CompTIA Network+

Like A+, this certification covers the very basic building blocks of cyber security. In this case, keeping a network protected and maintained. Network+ certifies the skills to install, operate, manage, maintain, and troubleshoot a corporate network. It’s good for those who are ready to take on a role building, managing, and protecting a data network. With an unprecedented need for networking jobs, particularly System Administrators, it’s a role that’s important and well-compensated.

  • Potential Job Roles: Systems Administrator, Network Support Technician, Network Administrator, Network Engineer, & more.
  • Salary: Starts at $67,250 (for Systems Administrator).
  • DoD Qualification: IAT Level I.

Learn More About Network+

3. CompTIA Security+

While A+ and Network+ can you started in the field, Security+ is the certification that really gets you ready to launch your cyber security career. If you are interested in specializing in any type of IT security, this cert is a must. In addition to an overview/introduction to cyber security, it’s also a gateway to more specialized fields like penetration testing or ethical hacking.

  • Potential Job Roles: Systems Administrator, Information Security Analyst, Information Technology (IT) Manager, Information Technology Specialist, & more.
  • Salary: $81,467 on average (for Security+).
  • DoD Qualification: IAT Level II and IAM Level I.

Learn More About Security+

4. ISC2 Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

Often considered the gold standard in cyber security, the CISSP commands great respect in the cyber world. It’s a grueling, three-hour exam and intense application process. However, once obtained, it opens up many doors in infosec, architecture, design, management and more.

  • Potential Job Roles: Information Security Manager, Infosec Analyst, Penetration Tester, Cyber Security Engineer, & more.
  • Salary: $113,820 on average (for Information Security Manager).
  • DoD Qualification: IAT Level III, IAM Level II & III, and IASAE I & II.

Learn More About CISSP

5. EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)

Added to the DoD list in 2010, the CEH certification operates under a simple rule. Sometimes to catch a hacker, you have to think like a hacker. Ethical or “white hat” hacking is about taking proactive measures by getting into the mindset of cyber criminals. This could include perimeter defense, policy creation, navigating social engineering, preventing DDoS attacks, and more.

  • Potential Job Roles: Information Systems Security Manager, IT Security Specialist, Penetration Tester, Security Network Engineer, Cyber Security Analyst, and more.
  • Salary: Starts at $115,610 (for Information Systems Security Manager).
  • DoD Qualification: CSSP Analyst, CSSP Infrastructure Support, CSSP Incident Responder, and CSSP Auditor.

Learn More About CEH!

IAT, IAM, & Other DoD Terms – What’s the Difference?

Different certifications can make you officially qualified for different levels in DoD jobs, but what do those words actually mean? We’ll go into that below. It’s important to know that some positions, particularly for Information Assurance Technicians and Information Assurance Management, are divided up by a tier system from level I to level III. This rating, of course, signifies the difficulty of the task at hand, experience needed, and, of course, a difference in compensation.

Here is what a professional might be doing depending on the DoD requirements they meet.

Information Assurance Technician (IAT)

Great for those who love the technical work, these positions are often about keeping an organization in compliance. You’ll have access to sensitive data and need to ensure that networks and systems are up to code. If they’re not, you’re the one who goes in and fixes many of these issues. If you are looking to start an enterprise cyber security career, this is the place to start.

Potential Job Roles: Network Engineer, Junior Software Engineer, Cyber Security Analyst, and more.
Certifications That Meet Qualifications: A+, Network+, and Security+.

Information Assurance Management (IAM)

As “management” suggests, this level often oversees more of the macro problems of ensuring that hardware, software, and networks are in compliance and safe from those who would do harm. If you’ve got an eye toward focusing on the more macro problems and are looking to get into IT management, this could be for you.

Potential Job Roles: Information Systems Security Officer, Infrastructure Engineer, Cyber Information Systems Security Analyst, and more.

Certifications That Meet Qualifications: Security+ and CISSP.

Information Assurance System Architect and Engineer (IASAE)

In the DoD 8570.01M, IASAE positions are responsible for, “the design, development, implementation, and/or integration of a DoD IA architecture, system, or system components.” What does this mean, exactly?

Basically, these roles move into the realm of a cyber security architect. Duties can include overseeing the building of a network from design to implementation to make sure all fronts are functional and secure. This could also include designing record systems and special purpose environments. Bottom line, if you like designing systems from the ground up and solving complex problems, this could be for you.

Potential Job Roles: Information Assurance System Architect and Engineer, Cybersecurity Architect, Information Systems Security Engineer, and more.
Certifications That Meet Qualifications: CISSP.

Cybersecurity Service Provider (CSSP)

There are five different areas of DoD compliance that begin with the title of Cybersecurity Service Provider. Each of those compliance areas covers a multitude of jobs. However, in general, Cybersecurity Service Providers operate on a much larger scale within a company.

They determine policy and work with senior management to ensure that policy becomes reality. This could include making vulnerability assessments, developing and overseeing tracking, or helping with audits, but specific duties vary greatly.

Here’s a quick list of a few of the different CSSP roles.

  • CSSP Analyst: Works with a lot of data to figure out where the risks in an organization occur/could occur and make sure the tracking methods are in place to properly assess an organization.
  • CSSP Infrastructure Support: These roles are geared more towards maintaining, creating, and designing the infrastructure and the actual systems of an organization.
  • CSSP Incident Responder: Relates to responding to real-time threats to cyber security. This could include recognizing and dealing with potential, current, or past intrusion attempts and assisting with the implementation of counter-measures.
  • CSSP Auditor: This person takes charge Risk Management Framework or Security Control Assessment and Authorization (A&A) of management, operational, and technical security controls. They could work on detecting, characterizing, countering and mitigating network and system vulnerabilities and managing security events.

Potential Job Roles: Cybersecurity Policy Analyst, Operations Program Analyst, Cybersecurity Policy Analyst, and more.
Certifications that Qualify: CEH.

Learn Cyber Security Fast at LeaderQuest

it certifications best for cyber security

Cyber security is a rapidly growing field with a real and present need for more qualified professionals. If you’re thinking about starting a career in cyber security, there’s no need to wait. That’s why LeaderQuest provides 5-10 day classes online, at night, or on campus, to fit any schedule and learning style.

LeaderQuest specializes in cyber security training. We’ll cover everything you need to know to get certified in cyber security and excel during your first day on the job. If you get to a point where things just aren’t sticking, don’t worry! You can resit the course for free anytime you want when you need a refresher.

Join the fight against cyber terror. Contact us today!

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12 CompTIA Exam Tricks and Secrets to Help You Pass Your Test

12 CompTIA Exam Tricks and Secrets to Help You Pass Your Test

Taking tests is no fun. There’s a reason it’s a common nightmare for anyone that’s ever been in school, even briefly. This goes double for CompTIA exams which are a big investment in terms of time and preparation.

But just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s impossible. People pass and get their CompTIA certifications every day. While nothing will ever replace diligent studying, these 12 tricks and secrets to help you pass your test are sure to help you show up for test day confident and ready.

1. Avoid “Brain Dumps”

Sometimes it’s not about how much you study, but where you’re getting your materials. Using official CompTIA textbooks or materials from well-established industry pros is a great way to ensure you’re getting quality materials.

As for what to avoid, two words: brain dumps. A brain dump is when someone posts test questions after taking an exam. They often include the answers. While this might seem like the best place to get knowledge, be careful. There’s no quality control, you have no idea if you’re actually getting the right answer, and, while it might help you pass the test, it won’t do you any favors when you’re actually trying to use the knowledge in the real world.

Worst of all, brain dumps can actually get the person posting them in legal trouble since CompTIA exam takers have to sign a non-disclosure agreement. This Reddit thread gives a great summary of why they should be avoided.

Looking for study materials, exam questions, practice tests, and more! Get them here: CompTIA A+ questions, Network+ questions, & Security+ questions.

2. Memorize the Test Objectives

While this might seem like a no-brainer, knowing the test objectives does more than just prepare you for the layout of the exam. It’s a roadmap that lets you know how fast or slowly you’re moving through the material.

Time is of the essence in these tests and knowing where you are and how much you have left is vital. Not to mention the fact that studying the objectives means you’re more prepared to take and pass your test in general. Which is a very good thing.

3. Know What Type of Learner You Are

Everyone studies differently. Maybe you need to write things down or use flashcards. Maybe you need silence. Maybe reading voraciously helps you retain knowledge or maybe you need to explain the concepts to someone out loud. It’s more of an art form than an exact science.

Figuring out what works best for you is the best exam trick when you have to do a ton of studying. This article gives you an idea of some of the best ways to study while this quiz can tell you if you’re an auditory, visual, or kinetic learner. It can make all the difference when you’re on your tenth hour of studying.

4. Build a Computer or Set up a Network

This is especially important for the CompTIA A+ exam and the Network+ exam. The CompTIA A+ 901 exam covers hardware while 902 covers software. While it might sound daunting, building an actual computer is a great way to prepare. It will be essential in understanding not just the theory, but the actual practice. The same goes for the Network+ exam. There’s no better way to understand networks than to actually set one up yourself.

It comes down to this: It’s easier to remember which port is which if you just finished interacting with them in real life. If this just isn’t possible, finding a virtual lab is the next best thing. Our CompTIA A+ course includes hands-on experience with building computers, a great component of any IT education. As for our online classes, we provide a virtual environment for students to get the experience they need.

5. Practice, Practice, Practice

CompTIA provides practice questions for almost every exam including A+, Network+, Security+, and more. (Scroll down to see the form where you can request a CompTIA practice test, objectives, and more.) In addition to giving you an idea of how ready you are overall, you can hyper focus on the areas you’re having problems with.

When you’re reviewing your answers, figure out what you keep getting wrong and then redouble your study efforts in those areas.

6. Skip Strange Exam Questions

Again, these tests are about managing time and are graded on a pass-fail basis. So, if a question seems too hard, skip it! On a test like Security+, there are actually beta questions, seemingly random questions which are being tried out for a future version of the test. They are not graded, which is good, though it’s hard to tell what is and isn’t a beta question so don’t skip TOO many questions without answering.

While beta questions aren’t a feature of all CompTIA exams, skipping a confusing question will give you more time to answer the questions you do understand. By the time you return to the question, you may see it in a whole new light or have the confidence to answer.

7. Be Prepared for CompTIA’s Performance-Based Questions

Performance-based questions (aka PBQs) ask the taker to perform a task or solve a problem in a simulation. More complex than your standard multiple-choice, these questions take time and can be intimidating if you’re not prepared. However, they don’t have to bring your test to a screeching halt.

First, it’s important to know that most PBQs will come toward the beginning of the test and, while they are a little more complex, they aren’t impossible. The best defense is a good offense, and preparing for these questions with online labs will make it much easier. However, if you reach the question and don’t feel confident, it’s okay to skip it for the moment and come back to it.

8. BEST, MOST, LEAST

One of the simplest exam tricks is if a question contains capitalized words like “BEST,” “MOST,” or “LEAST,” pay attention! This gives you a hint as to what the question is really asking. There could be a number of answers that seem to fit, but only one that corresponds with the capitalized word and will help you pass your test.

9. Join an Online Community for CompTIA Exam TricksReddit CompTIA Exams

Finding a CompTIA study group online is a great way to work out your brain. They are a lot of great resources, study suggestions, and more in the CompTIA subreddit, /r/CompTIA which is full of people who have either passed their certifications or who are deep in the process. If you need extra help with a tricky section, ask! They’re always happy to share the secrets to their success and give all the information about the tests you could want. (Without breaking the non-disclosure agreement, of course.)

10. Create a Study Plan to Pass that Test

CompTIA exam pass your testIf you were planning on running a 10K, you wouldn’t start training a week before. Studying for a CompTIA exam is no different. Plan out the time between now and when you’re going to take your test.

Be sure to allow more time for difficult subjects or areas you might need some extra help on. Set aside an amount of time each day to dedicate to different objectives. Then, study, study, study.

11. Know the Multiple-Choice Tricks

While multiple-choice questions can cause you to tear your hair out (all of the above? WHY WHY!?) there are a few ways to even the odds. Always eliminate answers that are obviously wrong. Think of, “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” The odds are always better when you cut it down to 50/50.

Second, recall information related to the question. This can be a surprisingly effective method for remembering the right answer. If two of the answers are related, that probably means that one of them is correct. If all of the answers seem wrong, you might want to re-read the question to figure out what they’re really asking.

And lastly, skipping a question and coming back to it can be helpful. A question later in the test might key you into an answer the question earlier. For more tricks, check out this article on multiple-choice questions. You’ll be glad you did and made this portion of the test a little less daunting when you finally schedule your exam.

12. Treat Yourself Well the Day of Your CompTIA Exam

Last, but certainly not least, you’ll want to show up well-rested, fed, hydrated, caffeinated, and de-stressed (at least, as stress-free as possible). While last-minute cramming can be important, you need to leave yourself enough time to get a full eight hours of sleep. Be sure to eat some protein in the morning (oatmeal is always good brain food).

Making sure you know the testing location is especially important (which is why LeaderQuest offers a Pearson VUE testing center for you to take the exam on-site). If you do have to travel to a new location, make sure you leave yourself plenty of time in case you get lost. Finally, build up your confidence to prepare for the test. Give yourself a pep talk. You’ve done the hard work. You’ve got this.

If All Else Fails, Study with a Professional

CompTIA Exams Secrets Pass ExamIt can be easy to get discouraged, especially if you’ve tried and failed once or even twice. With the CompTIA A+ exam cost at $211 for 901 and 902 each, it’s clear that this is an investment you want to make wisely.

While self-study is important, it’s okay to need a little extra help. That’s why LeaderQuest offers tech industry training with expert instructors to help you pass your CompTIA courses, get your certification, and prepare you for your career in IT.

With classes offered during the day, at night, online, or on campus, we’re prepared to work with any schedule and learning style. First, we’ll help you along your certification career path. Then, we’ll provide career services to assist our graduates in getting hired. That includes helping you optimizing your resume and even setting you up with our employer partners.

As the skills gap in IT grows more and more every day, the industry is in desperate need of professionals who are ready to tackle the challenges. Taking CompTIA certification classes can be a great way to get started. If you want to pass your test, get certified your career to the next level, contact us today.

Pass Your Exam Today!