7 Tips for Getting Into IT With Zero Experience

7 Tips for Getting Into IT With Zero Experience

Whether you’re working a dead-end job or transitioning out of the military, everybody has different reasons to make the transition into the IT industry. And the timing couldn’t be better! The industry is facing a massive shortage of workers, offers great pay, amazing benefits, and lots of employment opportunities.

If you don’t have much experience, but you’re looking to join this thriving industry, don’t worry!  You’re not the first. Check out our 7 tips for getting your foot in the door of the IT industry.

1. Re-examine and Apply Your Past Experience to the IT Industry 

When you first make the decision to pursue a new career in IT, it’s important to take a hard look at your prior experience. It might seem like you

skills charthave none of the skills listed on job postings, but “soft skills” can be surprisingly important and many skills are transferable into IT roles.

For example, if you’re looking to start in a help desk position (a common entry-level IT role), things like communication, customer service, familiarity with Microsoft Office, and other common skills can be a huge boost to your resume. By carefully thinking about your past roles through the lens of the role you’d like to get, you may find a treasure trove of relevant experience.

Are a military veteran? Check out our blog  From The Military to Information Technology: The Perfect Fit and see why IT may be the perfect fit for you.

You’ll need to create a new resume with relevant experience listed and tailored specifically for the kinds of roles you’re trying to land. Employers are highly likely to take a look at your LinkedIn page during the application process. Using your new resume, you should revise your profile to make sure the two match up. You should also take time to write a new cover letter that explains your prior experience, how it’ll be useful in your new role, and why you’re interested in changing industries. This will help answer a lot of questions if your resume piques their interest.

2. Get Industry Certifications

Getting certified may be the fastest way to break into information technology. While a tech degree can take 1-4 years, certifications can be studied for and earned in just a few weeks. Entry level certifications like the ITIL, CompTIA A+, Network+, and Security+ found in our entry level Computer User Support program, can lay the foundation for roles in networking and cyber security later in your career.

By getting certified, you’ll show potential employers that you have the skills they need. This can go a long way towards making up for a lack of experience. For some roles, the right certifications will put you higher in the stack than applicants with limited experience and no certifications. Best of all, certifications can help open up more entry-level opportunities instead of just taking the first IT job that comes your way.

How do you get certified? The short answer is that you can choose between self-studying or in person, hands-on training, and then take a certification exam. For most individuals with little to no experience, the best option is to take a course taught by an expert with real-world experience so you can ask questions and really understand the topic in depth. Another great learning technique for beginners is taking a course that allows you put your hands on the actual technology you will be working within on the job, this allows you to get a feel for what a real job in IT will be like while simultaneously building your confidence. If you’re interested in a course like this, LeaderQuest’s A+ course offers hands-on computer builds taught by expert instructors with real-world experience.

3. Your Degree in Another Field May Be a Huge Asset

You may be tearing your hair out with regret, wondering why you used all that time in college on a degree that isn’t helping you with your quest for a lifelong career. But don’t be too hard on yourself! Many employers are more inclined to offer you a job because you were able to accomplish

the feat of earning a degree.

it graduate with certificationsInstead of focusing on how your degree may have cost you time and money, focus on the ways that your degree can be applied in moving your life forward into an IT career. For example, an IT worker with a literature degree will be more likely to take a creative approach to problem-solving and have superior writing and communication skills. A philosophy major has a deeper understanding of logic and a unique way of approaching challenges. By casting your degree as an asset, you’ll stand out from other applicants who only have computer or tech experience.

With the rapid evolution of IT, there is a huge demand for individuals from diverse backgrounds and their unique perspectives.

4. Be Open to Starting at the Bottom

It’s important to note that you may have to “start over” in IT. You may have been a manager or an advanced professional in your old industry, but you’re leaving it for a reason! Be prepared to start with a lower level position and work your way up. The experience you get working at the bottom of the ladder will be valuable as you grow into a more challenging position.

Don’t worry too much though, the earning potential you will have in IT is only limited by the work you put in. On the low-end, you are looking at starting out right around 40k in a help desk position, within 5 years in the industry and a couple of cyber security certifications you could be looking at around 65k minimum in a Cyber Security Analyst role. It really depends on your willingness to move forward and the extra learning time you put in to master your craft.

If you want a “head start,” considering getting a degree or a few certifications. These credentials have the potential to help you out significantly. You can read about the differences between the two in our blog Degrees vs. Certifications: Which is Better for an IT Career?

Getting educated about your field of interest shows your commitment to your new industry and helps to give you an advantage over other applicants. It can also prepare you for more advanced positions down the line. With no experience, you still won’t be able to jump to the top of the ladder but with so many open positions all across the IT industry, the right credentials can help you quickly climb to higher paying and more specialized positions in IT.

5. Don’t Forget the Power of Networking

You may be surprised by how powerful your connections can be. When looking to fill a job role, most employers are more interested in hiring somebody based on a recommendation than interviewing a bunch of total strangers.

people networking over it certifications

Make sure to use social media and everyone in your address book to reach out to anybody you know who’s associated with the tech world. Simply putting a post out there letting your connections know that you are looking to get into tech may bring out an opportunity that you never knew about.

You can even just ask your friends or connections if they know anybody who’s looking to hire for the type of positions you want. The right connection can give you a huge head start over the competition, and might even spark a career passion that lasts the rest of your life.

6. Teach Yourself Relevant Tech Skills

When it comes to technology, there are a million different things to learn that can improve your resume. Anything from understanding Salesforce to knowing how to post on WordPress might be useful to your next employer. Utilizing YouTube and learning from countless free videos is a great way to learn new skills and reinforce old ones.

Follow your interests and teach yourself about software and hardware in your free time. You’ll be able to add these skills to your resume once you’re competent at them, and they just might make the difference between getting hired and getting looked over.

7. Look for Crossover Positions

While you might not have any direct experience, there are IT workers in every industry that use networks and computers ( pretty much every industry out there). If you have years of experience in car sales, for example, it might help to look for an IT position at a car dealership. Understanding half of the business can go a long way towards making you a valuable employee right from the start, even if your tech skills aren’t top notch. You’ll still have to start at the bottom, but it could be the perfect way to gain your first year or two of IT experience.

All in all, it is not impossible to start a career in IT with no experience, hence the word “start,” but many individuals are still skeptical of making the leap into IT. By arming yourself with the right tools and knowhow you can significantly increase your chances at starting a career in tech that will last a lifetime.

If you are looking for a partner in helping you move forward with an IT career, LeaderQuest specializes in assisting individuals to do just this. Throughout our 13 years of helping individuals transform their lives, we have curated the perfect formula that takes into consideration career changers and the needs of the IT industry. This formula leads to higher employment rates because we provide relevant training for jobs that are in demand.

Our unrivaled success is achieved by focusing on both training and employment outcomes.

We can help you open the door to an IT career!

Here at LeaderQuest, we know that making a decision like starting a new career is a difficult one and you should have someone to help guide you through this process. That’s why we employ experts in the field to aid you in this transition. Their purpose is to understand your whole situation in order to help you make the right decision. They do this by analyzing your previous experiences, learning about your unique situation, and understanding your personal goals. If IT industry is right for you, they will search for any grants that you may qualify for and set up a personalized IT certification program around your schedule. 

Interested in learning more about what a meeting with a Career Training Consultant is like and what you will learn from a one-on-one Information session? Click the button below to find out!

Information Session
When Is Getting Your Certified Network Defender (CND) Worth It?

When Is Getting Your Certified Network Defender (CND) Worth It?

When you’re looking for a way to climb the ranks in the cyber security world, it can be difficult. As a newer industry, there’s no cookie-cutter path to cyber security and qualified experts come from a variety of backgrounds.

However, one surefire way to prove yourself is through certifications which validate your skills in the eyes of an employer and let you get a foot in the door for that dream job. The EC-Council’s Certified Network Defender (CND) is one such certification, great for people who want to work on making sure an organization’s network is secure and maintained.

In this article, we’ll cover the CND certification, what it covers, how it works, and whether or not it’s the perfect move for your career.

Cyber Security Skills Gap and Certification

Before we move on to the CND, it’s important to understand why it’s relevant in this world. The answer? The cyber security skills gap. With more and more high profile hacks from Equifax to Uber, qualified professionals are in short supply.

By 2019, there will be a global shortage of two million cyber professionals, according to the nonprofit ISACA. Meanwhile, CyberSeek estimates that around 240,000 information security analysts and other cyber roles go unfilled every year.

That’s where IT cyber security certifications come in. For professionals who already know their way around a computer and are ready to help fight the bad guys, certifications give them a chance to prove those skills quickly and get to work.

But not all certifications are created equal. So where does the Certified Network Defender come in?

Why Do We Need the Certified Network Defender?

No matter what your interest in cyber security, there’s a certification out there for you. Want to get into the mind of a hacker? The Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) certification lets you do that. More interested in collecting cyber evidence and testifying against hackers? The Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (CHFI) lets you do that. If you’re not sure what you want to do in cyber security, our article on different paths can help you get started.

But what about the CND? In short, it’s all about data breaches. We know them. We fear them. In fact, cyber breaches have increased 1,370% over the past 10 years. People who earn this certification come equipped with the skills to protect, detect, and respond to threats on their network.

To get more specific, the CND is great for anyone who wants to focus on the operations and processes involved in network defense, rather than the tech. Their focus is on maintaining infrastructure in a system. A day in the life of a network defender could include testing a network for weaknesses, installing security programs, evaluating/monitoring networks, and more.

For info on when this certification could be the right choice for you, check out the infographic below from the EC-Council.

CND certified

As for the process of getting certified itself, well, it’s not easy. The Certified Network Defender exam is over four hours and costs hundreds of dollars. Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect . . .

  • Number of Questions: 100
  • Test Duration: 4 Hours
  • Test Format: Multiple Choice
  • Test Delivery: ECC EXAM
  • Exam Cost: $350.00

Salary Range for CND Professionals

What’s in it for you once you do get the CND? We’re glad you asked! This certification uniquely prepares you to work with networks or seek network administrator positions.

Some of the most common Certified Network Defender jobs include. . .

  • Network Security Administrators
  • Network Security Engineer
  • Network Defense Technicians
  • CND Analyst
  • Security Analyst
  • Security Operator

As for salary, the average Certified Network Defender salary is around $65,721* but could easily be much higher depending on your specialization. For a Defense Network Technician, salaries range between $70,000 and $76,000.

Meanwhile, a Network Security Engineer could make anywhere between $97,000 and $163,000 according to the Robert Half 2018 Technology & IT Salary Guide. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Certification Training at LeaderQuest

Our Certified Network Defender course is designed to help you quickly learn the skills needed to pass the exam and take on a new job role. This EC-Council Certified Network Defender (CND) cyber security training program was developed as a result of extensive market research and surveys to give students a detailed understanding and the hands-on ability to act in real-life situations involving network defense. Hands-on labs, based on major network security tools and techniques, give network administrators real-world experience on current network security technologies and operations.

This cyber security training is skills-based and lab intensive. It based on a job-task analysis and the cyber security education framework presented by the National Initiative of Cybersecurity Education (NICE). The course has been mapped to global job roles and responsibilities for system and network administrators.

Get Certified and Hired!

If you want to start an exciting, in-demand, well-compensated career in network defense, Certified Network Defender training can get you there. That’s why we’re here to help you get a cyber security certification that launches your career!

We offer high-impact IT certification training designed to help you learn the material, get certified, and be prepared to start a new job role with confidence. Getting you a great new job as quickly as possible is our ultimate goal. That’s why we offer 5-10 day classes, during the day or at night, online or on campus, which you can resit as many times as needed to make sure you absorb your new skills fast.

Train with an expert instructor at LeaderQuest and start your new career with the help of our Employment Development Manager (EDM), your personal career coach who comes equipped with a host of employer connections to help you get hired fast.

Don’t wait to get your Certified Network Defender (CND) and start a great future in cyber security. Reach out today!

START A NEW CAREER IN CYBER SECURITY!

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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WIOA: State Sponsored Training

WIOA: State Sponsored Training

Finding a career you enjoy is not an easy task, especially when you are unemployed and your skills are not in demand. The snowball effect from being fired, being laid off, or an extended stint of unemployment can be detrimental to one’s well being and one’s future career. As of January 2019, the amount of persons in the United States that are burdened by unemployment is over 6.5 million.

On the other side of the employment spectrum there is a massive shortage of skilled workers across the United States, especially in the IT industry with over 350,000 current openings in the cybersecurity sector alone! So how do you solve both of these problems at once?

The solution is the Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act or WIOA for short.

What is WIOA?

WIOA is landmark legislation designed to help job seekers access employment, education, training, and support services to succeed in the labor market and to match employers with the skilled workers they need to compete in the global economy.

Since its inception in 2014 WIOA has helped approximately 20 million individuals a year.

What is the purpose of WIOA?

This legislation was put in place to help foster economic stability by analyzing each state’s employment needs and strategically funding programs to help employers fill open positions with skilled workers. In this way, WIOA helps solve the unemployment shortage and skilled workers shortage at the same time. Each state is responsible for developing and submitting a strategy for preparing an educated and skilled workforce to meet the needs of its local employers.

In order to develop this workforce, unemployed individuals often require different kinds of help to become fully capable of making the transition. For example, some individuals might need help paying their bills and supporting their family while receiving the training.

This allows states to include and combine key programs such as temporary assistance programs and technical education programs (such as LeaderQuest’s Computer User Support Specialist Program) that help job seekers acquire industry-recognized credentials for in-demand jobs. This creates a comprehensive plan for individuals to go from unskilled and unemployed to skilled and employed.

What training programs qualify?

Since job seekers are funded through taxes, the programs that they receive funding for must adhere to certain performance indicators to ensure the quality and effectiveness of the program so that money is not being wasted. First, the program must align with the state’s plan to fulfill the hiring needs of local employers.

Other performance indicators include:

  1. The percentage of trainees that were successful in obtaining the desired credentials after training.
  2. The measurable skills gains of unskilled to skilled job seekers.
  3. The percentage of job seekers that found employment after training.
  4. The percentage of workers that retained employment after training.
  5. The median wages of workers hired after training.

Who qualifies for funding for training and assistance programs?

Depending on your specific situation you may or may not qualify for WIOA funding. There are also different priorities based on your previous education and eligibility for other government programs.

Factors that will affect your eligibility include:

  1. Employment Status and Reason Unemployed
  2. Age
  3. Income
  4. Family Size
  5. Disability Status
  6. Eligibility for other funding
  7. Literacy
  8. Housing Status
  9. State
  10. Education
  11. Relation to a military servicemen
  12. Record

If you qualify you could be on the road to a bright new future today! Ready to find out if you qualify? We put together a complete guide and worksheet to help determine your WIOA Fund eligibility. The worksheet and guide can be found there (here)

Note: This is not an official guide and is intended to give you a general idea if you do or do not qualify for WIOA funding. Any final decision of qualification will be determined by a caseworker at your local Workforce Center.

GET THE GUIDE

The Workforce Center

Your local Workforce Center is designed to help you get employed by offering a wide variety of services for anyone who needs them. This ranges from the basics of computer and internet access to career guidance and resume help. Some workforce centers will even help with child care services during your job search so you can attend training and interviews.

A great service to take advantage of is the skills assessment. This assessment will assess your previous jobs, roles, and any other relevant experience to tease out any skills that may lead to a fulfilling career.

skills chart

Is starting a new career right for me?

You might be asking yourself if you could benefit from WIOA or how training might help you move forward into a stable career. There are usually worries and anxiety that come with the thought of training for a new career, but are those fears worth losing out on a great opportunity? That is for you to decide, but arming yourself with the right knowledge can tremendously improve your confidence in your ability to make this decision.

To help answer some of these questions and give you an idea of the opportunity at hand we will analyze of one of the most in-demand industries in the world, Information Technology, and give you an example of an individual’s journey from beginning to end through the WIOA process.

Want to know more about what exactly what Information Technology is? No problem, check out our blog What is IT (Information Technology) and Why You Should Know.

Supply & Demand in IT

As previously mentioned, for a program to get the funding to train individuals, this program must align with the state’s plan to fulfill the needs of local employers. This means that there must be a demand for the industry the program trains and certifies jobs seekers for.

Fortunately for IT, there is no shortage of demand! By 2021, there will be an estimated 3.5 million open cyber security positions worldwide. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026 for Information Security Analysts is a whopping 28%! Compare that to the average growth rate for all occupations at 7%.

Salaries for IT Careers

Entry level IT salaries range from $30,000 to $40,000 ($15.50 to $19.23 per hour) annually. In IT there is a clear path to advance your career and plenty of opportunity. Salaries in this field can quickly move to $50,000 to $60,000 ($24.40 to $28.85 per hour) range as you gain more experience, as illustrated in the graph below.

The combination of the high demand for skilled IT workers and low supply creates a situation that forces companies to pay well and provide lucrative benefits in order to retain employees. Because of this, the climate for IT employment is at an all-time high in favor of job seekers in this field. With a wide gamut of careers in this field, job seekers can easily draw from previous experience to find a career the would enjoy in IT.

A WIOA Student Journey

Have you ever been interested in what makes the modern world tick? Ross Earnheart had always been interested in computers, but his journey in the military never gave him the opportunity to explore that passion.

After Ross separated from the military he was directionless without anyone to guide him to a career he would enjoy. Not knowing what to do, he got a job through a friend and began working day in and day out. Ross worked a job that did not challenge him nor offer any room for advancement. Fed up with his job, Ross decided to head to his local unemployment office and see what his options were.

To Ross’s surprise, he actually qualified for WIOA funding and was recommended to LeaderQuest by his caseworker who knew that Ross had a possible interest in IT.

“As soon as I found out about all of the different kinds of jobs and careers and everything else you can do in the IT world it just opened my mind” – Ross Earnheart

Ross contacted LeaderQuest and got set up for a one on one meeting with a Career Training Consultant. The job of the Career Training Consultant is to assess if an IT career is a good fit by analyzing the person’s ambitions, salary goals, past skills, and willingness to learn.

Watch Ross tell his story about training at LeaderQuest in his own words, below or check out his full story The Student Experience at LeaderQuest: Ross Earnheart

After determining that an IT career would be a good fit for Ross, his Career Training Consultant then put the training into motion by scheduling his courses and working with the unemployment office to secure his WIOA funding. Ross took the Computer User Support Specialist entry-level IT program which trains students with the skills and knowledge required to achieve the ITIL, CompTIA A+, Network+, and Security+ industry standard certifications. This program exposes students to multiple facets of IT including best practices, desktop support, networking, and cyber security.

LeaderQuest’s IT Training & Certification Courses

  • Each course includes 40 hours of training, taken over 5 weekdays at 8 hours/day (full time) or 10 weeknights at 4 hours/night (part time).
  • To fit your time schedule, these course can be spread out or taken back to back.
  • Support from our Career Services team is included with your enrollment.
  • Through WIOA, you may be eligible to receive other benefits to cover your bills while training.

Once Ross finished his courses he continued to work with our Career Services team to develop his resume, cover letter, and interviewing skills. The LeaderQuest Career Services team has fostered partnerships with local companies to fill their IT positions as well as sources outside positions to get students hired quickly.

Ross was subsequently hired by a local academy as an Information Technology Specialist. He is now out in the real world making a real difference for his community and family, and it all started with his decision to start a new career in IT at LeaderQuest.

Are you ready to consider a career in IT?

If you are looking for a new career, you should consider IT! WIOA was designed for individuals like yourself who are looking for a fresh start in a new career that has a bright future. You already possess skills that could be perfect for an IT career, and you have a company willing to help you through every step of this transition.

With the possibility of your training and bills being paid for during the duration of your training, maybe it is time to take a step in the right direction and speak with a LeaderQuest representative today.

Want to see if you qualify for WIOA funding? Please download our worksheet below. Remember that this worksheet does not qualify/disqualify you from any WIOA funds but can give you an idea of the requirements in your area. We recommend that you speak with a professional at your local unemployment office to find out for sure if you qualify. We hope that this blog has armed you with the knowledge to make decisions about your future. If you are considering a career in IT, consider LeaderQuest!

Download our WIOA Eligibility Guide

10 Pros and Cons of Being an IT Professional

10 Pros and Cons of Being an IT Professional

When you’re standing on the precipice of a new career, taking the plunge can be scary. No one likes being stuck in a job they hate, but getting out takes hard work, grit, and a little luck. You might know that IT is one of the fastest growing industries in the world, but deciding to make it your new career isn’t easy.

Never fear! If you’re thinking about going into information technology, we’ve prepared a list of pros and cons so you can decide for yourself if the world of tech is right for you. This list builds on research from our 2016 article but includes more stats and more considerations for IT professional jobs.

Stress & Constant Complaints vs. Great Salary & Benefits Package

Let’s not beat around the bush about the hardest part of IT. You’re interacting with people whose patience has been ground down until they’re ready to throw their computers out the window. This is especially true for the Help Desk.

What’s more, for people employed in positions such as Systems Administrators, Network Engineers, or anything cyber security related, even a small screw up can mean big problems for a company and its data. With cyber security horror stories floating around, it’s bound to be high pressure.

Fortunately, with big risk comes big rewards in terms of IT professional salary. Even for entry-level Help Desk positions, the salary midpoint is around $38,000 and can go as high as $54,000, according to the Robert Half 2018 Technology & IT Salary Guide. Again, that’s just entry-level. Systems Administrators are in huge demand with starting salaries at $67,000 that can go as high as $113,000 while Network Engineers make anywhere from $90,000 to $150,000.

The real money is in cyber security which has an unprecedented need for new professionals. More and more, companies are prioritizing people who are willing to learn quickly. Many positions garner over $100,000 with the salary for a seasoned, specialized professional such as Data Security Analyst between $100,000 and $170,000.

As you can see, the pay scale for IT professionals is a huge draw. Employers use a number of other incentives and benefits to snag the top talent like signing bonuses, health insurance, generous vacation time, and professional development opportunities. Perks are also a big draw and can include flexible work schedules, social events, telecommuting, onsite/offsite gym access, a compressed schedule, and even free/subsidized meals.

Long Hours vs. Flexible Hours

Late nights as an IT ProfessionalUnfortunately, tech problems don’t work on a 9 am – 5 pm schedule. They can strike at 6 am or five minutes before you were planning to leave. This is definitely a job that asks much of its employees and that’s no different when it comes to their time.

Fortunately, companies understand that and deeply appreciate and value the time of their IT pros. They want you to be rested, de-stressed, and ready to deal with whatever the servers throw at you.

This sometimes means you can pick your own schedule, work on a compressed schedule, or even telecommute (work from home). This is great for anyone who hates getting stuck in traffic at the end of the 9-5 slog.

No One Understands Your Job vs. Unparalleled Job Security

IT comes with an almost endless number of specializations. Do you want to work on securing networks? Fighting cyber attacks? Or maybe you’re just interested in updating and maintaining systems? No matter what, there’s a field for you.

Unfortunately, that means that people at your company won’t always understand what your duties include. You could be a Systems Administrator, but still get asked to fix someone’s home computer. You’ll be the go-to tech expert, even about stuff that’s definitely not in your job description. What’s next? Fix their iPhone? Debug their Fitbit? Talk about scope creep.

On the flip side, being an IT pro comes with unparalleled job security. Of Business Insider’s list of 26 careers with the best job security, two were IT positions. This is especially true for cyber security. According to the nonprofit group ISACA, there will be a shortage of two million cyber security professionals by 2019.

Meanwhile, the nonprofit group Cyberseek reports that 40,000 jobs for information security analysts go unfilled every year while employers are struggling to fill 200,000 other cyber-security related roles. You will be valued. You will be needed. Most importantly, you will be hard to replace and that’s a good feeling.

People Lie and Lie vs. Challenging and Exciting Work

Pros and Cons of an IT CareerHow did your computer get a virus? Why do all these pop-up ads have the name of a website you shouldn’t be browsing at work? Why is there peanut butter and mustard smeared all over the keyboard? (And why are you eating peanut butter and mustard? That’s just weird.)

Personal snafus with the computer are embarrassing. No one wants to own up to that dumb thing they did. However, figuring out what’s wrong can be frustrating when people aren’t honest about how the computer got messed up.

What’s worse than your coworkers lying to you? Vendors lying to you. In this article from Tech Republic, they discuss the difficulty of debugging software from a third party when their support won’t admit that something’s wrong. (Our software? Buggy? Never!)

You can also expect to be lied to by vendors’ technical support departments. I have lost count of the number of support technicians over the years who have told me that a problem is not related to their software, but rather to the computer’s hardware or to the operating system. And of course I won’t even begin to talk about the number of vendors who have lied to me in an effort to make a sale.

-Tech Republic

On the bright side, what makes this job difficult also makes it challenging and even fun. IT is all about solving problems and that’s reflected in job satisfaction. A whopping 61% of IT professionals in one poll said they feel appreciated by their bosses and coworkers. And, if you ever don’t feel appreciated, you know you can find somewhere that does appreciate you.

Overwhelming Amount of Choices vs. Mobility and Options

Whether you’re interested in working on hardware, software, networks, databases, cloud security, or more, there’s a niche for you. Picking your career path can be nerve-wracking, to say the least. You can get bogged down in a specialization before you realize that it’s not where you want to be. No one wants to be extra-qualified in something they hate.

Fortunately, that also means qualified professionals have many options and career mobility. Since there’s such a tremendous need, especially for cyber security, more employers are embracing nontraditional paths for employment. IT certifications, which qualify and verify your skills, are one of the best ways to show employers you’ve got the right stuff.

With the ever-widening cyber gap, employers are more likely to invest in someone who shows they’re willing to keep on top of the updates on their own time, even if they don’t have picture perfect experience on their resume. Quick learning and the passion for improvement are invaluable commodities.

And this specialization pays off. Again, the Robert Half Salary guide found that employers may increase salaries between five to ten percent for professionals with sought-after skills and certifications. If you’re interested in getting started quickly, especially with cyber security, IT is a no-brainer.

Learn More About Cyber Security!

Is an IT Career Right For Me?

Ultimately, it’s a matter of personal preference. Some people can’t handle the long hours, difficult work, and stress of interacting with people at their most frantic. However, if you’re interested in challenging and exciting work where you get to solve problems, you could have a long, well-paying IT career ahead of you with salary and benefits.

If you’re interested in becoming an IT pro, but don’t have the time or money for a four-year degree, IT certifications can be a great way to get into the field. At LeaderQuest, we offer 5-15 day courses that get you ready to pass the exam, get certified, and put those skills to use in the working world in no time. We focus on the It professional certifications that employers want the most, like Security+, CCNA and Certified Ethical Hacker.

We know that you have responsibilities. That’s why we offer classes during the day and at night. Whether you prefer to take classes on campus or online, you’ll be getting access to our expert instructors who will prepare you to kick butt on the exam and teach you to excel in your new IT professional career.

Ready to start your IT career? If you’d like to learn more about careers in IT, check out our 2019 IT Career Finder! Choosing an IT career can be a daunting task. You must balance personal experience and aptitude against the likely future of the role, both in terms of earnings and the number of IT job positions that will be available in coming years. We created this guide to help connect the dots between your skills and IT job descriptions and duties to help you find your path to becoming an IT professional!

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What is IT (Information Technology) and Why You Should Know

What is IT (Information Technology) and Why You Should Know

Unless you were raised in a remote village beyond the reach of modern society you have most likely heard the term Information Technology or “IT” for short, be used to describe a wide variety of industries, jobs and technology, but have you ever stopped to ask yourself, “What exactly is IT?” or “Where did it come from?” IT is quite possibly the most integral part of our modern civilization, acting as not only the glue that holds it together but also the catalyst that propels it forward.

 With its incomprehensible ability to connect the world, destroy the world, and help humanity explore the possibilities of the universe, it is time that we take the time to help people understand Information Technology.

In helping individuals understand IT, we hope to bring a heightened awareness to the vulnerabilities and tremendous opportunities that lie ahead for this invisible yet powerful force that drives our everyday lives. To understand IT’s current and future state we must start at its origins and how it has transformed throughout the years.

The Origins of Information Technology

Information Technology: the study or use of systems (especially computers and telecommunications) for storing, retrieving, and sending information.

By this definition you could say that Information Technology has been around some 65,000 years, the age estimation of the earliest known cave paintings where humans were most likely recording what they saw in everyday life.

Information Technology is no stranger to evolution, it evolves hand in hand with humans and our unquenchable thirst to advance.

From ancient cave drawings to alphabets and words, the complexity of what we could create has only been limited by how long it takes us to come up with improvements in Information Technology.

In 1945, the development of a stored program concept allowed for programs to be read into a computer. It’s significance may have not been completely realized at the time but the possibilities of Information Technology had grown exponentially because of it. This development laid the foundation for the unprecedented achievements that took place in IT for the next 50 years.

 Notable achievements that led to modern IT.


1975
– MITS, The first personal computer was released.1973– Bob Metcalfe, the invention of the ethernet.
(using medium such as coax as an either to send and receive data)

1989– CERN Information management: A proposal
(addressed problem of accessing information and proposes the idea of linked information systems)

In 1993, after developing the World Wide Web, CERN put the software in the public domain making it free of charge for anyone to use. Once again Information Technology was reborn, but this time it was different. It was now a truly collective technology for individuals and enterprises to improve upon and utilize for their own endeavors. This opened up the flood gates for Information Technology and ushered in what is know as the Information Age.

Modern Information Technology

The driving force behind the continual advancement of Information Technology can be explained in one sentence.

“Humans want to store, recover, and share as much information as possible as quickly as possible in order to learn as much as possible.”

A more modern definition of Information Technology is:

  1. The use of any computers, storage, networking and other physical devices, infrastructure and processes to create, process, store, secure and exchange all forms of electronic data.

This means that every computer device and all vital technology related to these computers’ functions and operations, including the jobs involved, fall under “Information Technology.” This term can be broken into 6 sectors: IT support, Networking, Cyber Security, Computer Systems, Programming, and the World Wide Web. Yeah, that’s a lot of different things!

World wide, in 2019 there are an estimated 26 billion devices connected to the internet. In 2025, That number is expected to explode to over 75 billion!

To put that in perspective, that’s about 3.4 devices for every man, woman, and child on the planet.

Those astronomical numbers almost seem too high to be true, but when you think about it, in the United States the average person most likely has a computer, cell phone, router, and possibly a smartwatch or Google Home. That’s 5 right there, and soon almost every bit of tech available will be internet connected. Even vehicles!

IT Devices & Networks Create More IT Jobs

With all of of this tech, lots of humans are needed to create, install, maintain, and protect it all.

According to CompTIA’s 2018 Cyberstates Report, in the United States from 2010 to 2017 over 1.5 million tech jobs were added. This trend is showing no signs of slowing down, with shortages of workers in all 6 sectors of Information Technology.

The 6 categories of jobs for Information Technology can be defined as:

IT Support Technicians provide assistance for individuals having technical problems with hardware and software.

Networking Technicians set up, administer, maintain and upgrade networks, allowing devices to interact with networks.

Cyber Security Experts protect systems, networks, and programs from digital attacks.

Computer Systems Analysts are the multitaskers of information technology; they have to understand computer hardware, software, and networks—and make them work together.

Programmers write and test the code that makes up software programs.

Web Developers build websites and the infrastructure behind them.

The Huge IT Worker Shortage

Cyber security has been hit particularly hard by this shortage. By 2021, there will be an estimated 3.5 million open cyber security positions world wide. With average cyber security salaries of $116,000, or approximately $55.77 per hour, why is the industry having trouble filling such desirable positions?

There are a few reasons this problem exists.

  1. People do not understand what IT jobs are.
  2. People unaware of the booming IT Job Market.
  3. People are think it takes years to get trained for IT and don’t know about alternative paths to IT employment.

For example, compared to a traditional 4 year degree, in less than 3 months, day or night, individuals can get trained, certified, and employed into the IT industry by attending our Computer User Support Specialist program for individuals with little to no IT experience.

Careers in Cyber security and the other IT sectors typically start off in a technical support role, which the Computer User Support Specialist program here at LeaderQuest is specifically designed for.  As seen in this chart from Competitive Position’s salary report, the earning opportunity for IT professionals only grows over time time.

The great part about entering the IT industry with the Computer User Support Specialist is that students gain exposure to multiple areas within IT, so when they start to advance their career they know what area suites them and their future best.

There’s also a massive shortage of upper level talent in IT. A great way to move forward in an IT career is to pick a certain area to specialize in. Specialized positions command a higher salary and are in very high demand right now. For those looking to specialize in cyber security, our Information Security Analyst program is a great next step, and for those looking to get into networking, our Network Administrator program can take your from a intermediate to advanced network professional in just a few weeks. For every step of your career we have a program that can help you take advantage of this booming industry in order to create a brighter future for you and your family.

Is the Term “IT” Still Relevant?

Some argue that the term “Information Technology” is a misrepresentation of modern IT and all it encompasses, but this term has engraved itself so deeply into the modern psyche, it shows no sign of leaving us anytime soon. Like the ancient cave carvings created by our ancestors, the mediums and uses of Information Technology will continue to evolve with humans.

The bottom line is Information Technology will be around as long as there are humans around. For us to ignore the opportunities presented by Information Technology and to neglect the problems threatening its advancement will only hurt us in the long run. That is why understanding IT and it’s many facets is necessary for anyone interested in moving forward in our current society.

LeaderQuest is on a mission to help people improve their lives through IT training.  Lives are not only improved through starting a stable career but through the outstanding salaries offered by these IT positions. By doing our part in helping fill the jobs gap, we are participating in advancement of Information Technology which will continue to help mankind come together and solve the world’s problems.

Are you interested in starting a career in the IT industry? Check out our 2019 IT Career Finder guide where you can learn about different IT positions, what those people do, the skills needed to get the job, and what they pay.

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