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.
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:
The percentage of trainees that were successful in obtaining the desired credentials after training.
The measurable skills gains of unskilled to skilled job seekers.
The percentage of job seekers that found employment after training.
The percentage of workers that retained employment after training.
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:
Employment Status and Reason Unemployed
Eligibility for other funding
Relation to a military servicemen
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 below.
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.
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 childcare 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.
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.
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 opportunities. 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.
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.
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!
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
Unfortunately, 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
How 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.
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.
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!
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)
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.”
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?
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.
Interested in a career in information technology or cyber security?
We can help you choose an IT career path! Join our mailing list, and we’ll send you our 2019 IT Careerfinder white paper, totally free!
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 the coming years. If you’re considering an IT career or specifically, a career in cyber security, we have good news for you! Business is booming and there are more IT job postings for these occupations with every passing year.
If you’re wondering about jobs in information technology that might be perfect for you, download the guide below!
Sign up for our IT Career Training White Paper
What’s in the Careerfinder?
This white paper contains useful information on six IT careers in demand, including:
Computer User Support Specialists
Computer Network Support Specialists
Network and Computer Systems Administrators
Computer Network Architects
Information Security Analysts
Computer and Information Systems Managers
For each of these occupations, we can help answer important questions, like:
What do people in this role do every day?
Is this occupation expected to grow?
What salary do people in this occupation earn?
What skills are required for this occupation?
What certifications are required for this occupation?
Are you interested in IT certification?
LeaderQuest can help you get the IT certifications you need to get that promotion or career change you’ve been looking for! Speak with one of our IT career training consultants today and make the change you’ve been waiting for. We’re experts on careers in the IT industry, and we’d love to help you get hired.
Given this scarcity, it’s no surprise that the salaries for IT professionals are skyrocketing, but the size of that jump might be more than you expect. Salaries for software developers and information security analysts increased 17 percent and 18 percent respectively since 2013 while compensation for computer systems analysts rose a whopping 21 percent.
So what does this mean for IT? In this examination of the Robert Half 2019 Technology & IT Salary Guide, we’ll be exploring areas of growth, examining average salaries, and reviewing other information that’s essential for anyone thinking of getting into IT.
Counteract Inexperience with Quick Learning
As the world shifts towards automation, the need for talented IT professionals is far outstripping the supply. That’s why companies have become willing to hire professionals with less experience but who are motivated to learn quickly.
With technology evolving faster than ever, employers are also looking for new hires who can stay on top of technology in their own time. That means passion is a big selling point.
On the flip side, those with skills and techniques related cloud technology, open source practices, mobile development, big data, cyber security, and other new technologies will definitely be given preference in hiring.
Expanding IT Industries
Though the need for IT is rising everywhere, the three industries with the biggest demand are healthcare, financial services, and manufacturing.
Healthcare — Big innovations are needed to improve patient care by modernizing healthcare operations.
Financial services — In the wake of the Equifax breach, this shouldn’t be surprising. Both big data and information security initiatives drive the need for pros in this industry.
Manufacturing — While manufacturing has been slow to adapt, things are changing quickly with the trend toward automation.
Software as a Service (SaaS) — This industry is growing quickly as more companies leave traditional software behind for tailored solutions with great support.
Certifications are always in high demand as a way for employers to verify the skills of a new hire. The skills and knowledge required to pass these exams give employers confidence that they’ve made the right hire.
In Robert Half’s extensive salary guide, they break down the numbers for what people in the 25th, 50th, 75th, and 95th percentile will make. Which percentile an individual falls into is decided by things like level of experience, special skills/expertise, job complexity, location, and other such factors.
When looking at these charts for yourself, it’s important to remember that the 50th percentile represents the midpoint. Those just getting started in the industry will be closer to (or below) the 25th percentile. Those with a lot of experience or credentials would fall in the 75th or 95th percentiles. For more information on using the salary guide, check out the video below.
When you examine the chart below, you can see that IT salaries top out with executive positions such as the Chief Information Officer ($171,750 – $293,000), Chief Technology Officer ($147,750 – $263,000), and Chief Security Officer ($148,000 – $270,000).
While that’s the highest of the high, it’s still worth noting that many of the salary ranges for IT roles easily reach over $100,000 including specialties and years of experience. Here are just a few high paying jobs in technical services, networking, and security.
Technical Services, Help Desk, & Technical Support
As you can see from the chart below, these positions represent the lower end of the salary range in IT. However, with the midpoint salary range for most positions around or over $50,000, it’s still much more than a living wage.
While salaries start in the $30,000 to $40,000 range, they quickly move to $50,000 – $60,000 as they get more and more specialized. This is especially true for systems administrators and systems engineers.
Help Desk Tier 1
Help Desk Tier 2
Help Desk Tier 3
Desktop Support Analyst
When you’re looking to get into IT for the first time, it’s important to have a base of knowledge to draw upon. Our Computer User Support Specialist program combines popular ITIL® and CompTIA training programs necessary to develop the skills you’ll need for entry-level IT.
If you’re looking to get started in IT with little to no experience. Learn more about us by clicking the link below.
Network Administrators are listed as one of the most in-demand positions for 2019, so it should be no surprise their salaries range from $74,000 to $126,000, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Many higher level network positions such as Network Engineers, Managers, or Wireless Network Engineers start around $90,000 to $100,000 and can go as high as the $150,000 to $160,000 range.
Wireless Network Engineer
If you’re interested in the networking positions, our Network Support Specialist Program teaches fundamentals, competencies, and qualifications that are necessary to start a career in networking. Through these classes, you’ll learn how to install, configure, run, verify, and troubleshoot medium-sized networks.
Interested in learning more? Click the link below.
Cyber security is rapidly expanding and in desperate need of more professionals to stay on top of security. The compensation for these roles reflects this high demand.
In cyber security, even the jobs in the 25th percentile start around $90,000. With rising concerns about data from the Equifax breaches and others, it makes sense that Network Security Engineers, Data Security Analysts, and Information Systems Security Managers most often make between $115,000 and $160,000.
Network Security Administrator
Systems Security Administrator
Network Security Engineer
Data Security Analyst
Information Systems Security Manager
With the gap between cyber skills growing wider by the day, the industry provides professionals with unparalleled job security and a world of opportunities. Whether you’re interested in working on securing networks, keeping data safe, or even getting inside the mind of a hacker, cyber provides a variety of great, high-paying options.
Interested in learning more about how our programs can help you build a career path toward cyber security? Click the button below.
Most IT positions include generous benefits packages. Here are the most common benefits broken down by the percentage of companies that offer them:
Medical Insurance (88%)
Paid Time Off (80%)
Dental Insurance (71%)
Vision Insurance (60%)
Disability Insurance (58%)
Life insurance (53%)
Employee Assistance Programs (39%)
Employers also consider a number of other incentives to snag top talent including signing bonuses, health insurance, generous vacation time, and professional development opportunities.
As for perks, places often offer flexible work schedules, social events, the option of telecommuting, onsite gym or access to a gym offsite, a compressed schedule, or free/subsidized meals.
In addition, employers offer 14 days paid vacation for the first five years of employment and nine paid holidays including floating holidays. Employers also match 3-4 percent of employees’ 401(k) or Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) contributions on average.
Ultimately, the difference in salary comes down to specialization. For IT pros, that means skills and certifications. Both increase the marketability of a professional. Employers may increase salaries between five to ten percent for professionals with sought-after skills and abilities.
Some of the most popular certifications, as identified by the Robert Half guide, include CISSP, CCNA, CompTIA A+, and PMP®. However, certifications show more than proving a skillset. They also signal to employers that a professional is committed to keeping their skills up to date at all times. With the ever-widening cyber security gap, certifications and willingness to keep on top of the latest updates are becoming more and more of a commodity.
Certifications can mean the difference between thousands of dollars in salary. That’s why, at LeaderQuest, we balance by-the-book training that helps people pass their exams with real-world, hands-on experience. This ensures our students can take their learning beyond the classroom and be fully prepared for a brand new career.
We understand the pressures of working full-time while still wanting to advance education and earning potential That’s why we offer classes during the day, at night, on campus, or online to meet any schedule and learning style.
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Oh, those certification (cert) exams! There’s so much content!
“Help! Is there any way to streamline the learning process in preparation for my next certification exam?”
The massive number of acronyms, new concepts, dozens of new definitions, performance skills to master, coupled with busy family and life responsibilities, can feel overwhelming to anyone. Information Technology (IT) study resources can be 500-1,500 pages. Content is often supplemented with learning labs, practice questions, graphs, diagrams, and other exam-related content.
Do test taking strategies or shortcuts exist? Are there any study strategies that can make this easier? Anything helps!
My name is Gary Bell. I have spent the last 13 years of my life teaching IT courses, and 15 years before that working in the IT industry. Over time, I have discovered test taking tips that I have incorporated into my own IT exam preparation. If you are open to either new or amended exam preparation strategies, see if these same strategies can work for you, too.
Preparing for an Exam
I have always suspected that some individuals are better test-takers than others. They seem to have secret ways to prepare for exams or a gift to perform well taking exams. I seem to fall in the category of “others.” Because of that and because of the volume of information to be studied, slowly and methodically over the years I have developed some personal strategies to assist in absorbing huge amounts of new information. Maybe they can help you, too. Below are my tips on how to prepare for a test and build up your test preparation skills.
Attitude and Emotion
Here’s a surprising strategy. Our attitude and our emotional ability to work with technologies may be key in IT career success.
Considering attitude, do you really want this IT position? Or do you feel you are compelled to accept a position because of the feeling, “I need to feed my family?”
Regarding emotional ability, do you have the “emotional stability to be more responsible, better able to focus on the task at hand and pay attention, be less impulsive with more self-control, and improve your scores on achievement tests” (Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman, publisher, Bantum, 1997, p. 284)?
In his book Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman expounds on why emotional intelligence can matter more than IQ. Developing IT skills is hard enough. It takes time, practice, experience, and patience to become proficient with IT skills. If an individual faithfully desires to succeed in an IT career, then the journey will becomes much easier.
Before an exam, make sure that your attitude is in the right place and that you’re not in emotional turmoil. Don’t let recent life events distract you from focusing on the exam.
Match study material to exam objectives. Supplemental IT content is usually included because it may be related to the topic being discussed. However, if it is not listed in the exam objectives, consider absorbing that material later. Keep a copy of exam objectives handy for quick review, and let these objectives guide where you spend your study time. This is one of the most important test preparation strategies when it comes to spending your time wisely!
Many exam objectives require becoming familiar with steps, or lists of courses of action. Most anyone can master memorization, or learning one list. Often there are many lists (or sequences of steps) that should be mastered before sitting for an exam.
Make it simple. Learn the “bookends” first. Here’s an example: for a six item (step) list, memorize the first and last steps first. These steps are usually very logical and easy to remember. For example, consider the following list of CompTIA’s A+ troubleshooting best practice steps that will appear in their revised and updated version of this certification due in 2019:
CompTIA A+ Best Practice Troubleshooting Steps
Identify the problem
Establish a theory of probable cause
Test the theory
Establish a plan of action to resolve the problem and implement the solution
Verify full system functionality and, if applicable, implement preventive measures
Document findings, actions, and outcomes
Troubleshooting usually begins with verification (identification) that a problem actually exists – the first step. Upon resolution, documenting activity associated with the problem and resolution must be recorded – the last step. Now you know two steps.
That leaves only four more to grasp. Try for two more. It should be fairly obvious that you should verify (test) your solution before you complete documentation (Step 5). And before you verify full system functionality, one must perform the fix (implement the solution) (Step 4).
Now, there are only two more to go. Do you think you could come up with a plan for the last two (Steps 2, 3)?
The more important I think the list content is relative to the objectives, the more apt I am to learn (memorize) all the steps. Less important lists, at least in my view, tend to just get the “bookend” treatment. By solidly knowing one or two or three steps in any type of list, often I can figure out a test question answer even if it’s about a step I did not pay much attention to.
This method also applies to the content within the steps. To be truly prepared for questions related to steps or lists, you must be prepared for the content within the steps. For example, if you were asked “Which step would a technician typically ask the user?” The answer is Step 1, because it is part of identifying and verifying a problem condition exists.
Short of learning every list in maximum detail, it is better to know 1-3 steps of a given list well, as opposed to, “I sort of remember that in the textbook, but I can’t quite remember the exact order or what was in the steps.”
Time Allocation Absorption (TAA)
Some material is essential to know not only for exam preparation but also to be able to function quickly and efficiently in the field (job performance). Looking up resources certainly works, but that activity can be slow and may indicate a tech is not ready for the task at hand.
I developed a method for my test prep which I call Time Allocation Absorption (TAA). A more simple description might be called Mini Index Card Method. This strategy allows more focus (time) to areas most needed. This works well for short word-and-description material I need to master, and is one of the best ways to study for an exam.
Two examples are IP port numbers and acronym identification. Here’s how it works. I create a small stack of index cards (any color) cut into two pieces (½ size of a standard index card). Using the port number example, I write the TCP/IP protocol on one side, and the associated default TCP/UDP port number(s) on the other side.
Referencing exam objectives, I produce a card for every listed protocol or port number. I do the same for the acronyms. The acronym goes on one side, the full-word representation on the other.
Now here’s the learning method. In no particular order, I read the first protocol; recite to myself the associated port number, if I know it. If not, I flip the card and peek at the answer, spending a brief moment memorizing.
Next, I go to the second card and repeat the process. When satisfied, I go back to the first card and repeat the process for card #1 and #2. If I get both correct, then the process moves to card #3. If I get it correct or incorrect, I go back to #1, and repeat through the first three cards. If I miss one, I start over. If I get them all correct, I move to card #4. I repeat this process until the entire stack is completed.
Notice what is happening here. When I reach the final card in a 20 card stack, in theory, I have seen card #1 twenty times, card #2 nineteen times, card #3 eighteen times, etc. all the way to the end. I do not pretend that I have nailed down the beginning cards and skip them. What I am doing is reinforcing what I should have already learned.
Repetition accelerates learning.
The repetition process should begin to permanently etch port-number associations into my long-term memory. For content that needs a little work, just reshuffle the cards and place any unlearned content towards the front. For more information on this technique, check out this video demonstration.
Self-Assessment and the ABC Method
How do you know if you are exam-ready? Is it just a feeling, or is there an objective signal stating that you are ready? At some point the decision must be made. It’s time! How do you really know when?
Assessments! Assessments are your best friend!
The only way a student pilot will ever get to fly an airplane on his/her own is by the grace of an assessment by a licensed and experienced pilot instructor. For IT people, the same principle can apply. Assessments can greatly help determine your state of readiness.
Assessments (or practice tests) evaluate one’s ability to answer questions related to the content. Here are two methods to consider.
First, take as many practice tests from different authors (publishers) as possible, not just from one. Consider using at least three authors that offer multiple quizzes and tests. I typically use three to five authors. Why so many?
I have noticed with this method that there seems to be many questions that are strikingly similar comparing one author to another. To me, this is a clue that I had better be sure I am familiar with the question, the correct answer, and the wrong answers. Right or wrong, I assume that most of the question writers are also certified. Maybe they know something that I should too.
Watch out! IT industry questions can come is surprisingly different formats. Only studying one set of questions from one publisher could be a bit misleading if you are expecting similar exam questions. Exams could offer very different question formats. Exposing yourself to varying question formats can only be beneficial.
Second, consider the ABC method (my term). Use chapter quizzes and/or full-length practice exams. Hopefully they are provided with your study material. Next, on a sheet of notebook paper or using a word processor, create three to five columns and label them each A, B, C, to start (D and E are optional). Down the left hand side number the quizzes or tests you might be taking. If there are 11 quizzes, there will be 12 rows numbered from 1-11 and row 12 can be labeled Total (average %).
Now take the first quiz (Row 1-A). I prefer taking this assessment before I read or study the content. I do not look up anything, or cheat myself, or pretend I know the answer. I want to record exactly what I know and do not know. I finish all the quizzes in the first column (A), and record my honest scores for each.
I study the content. Then I take the same quizzes for the B column, and never in the same day. (Even I can remember an answer if it was reviewed a few minutes ago.)
My goal is to keep repeating the above process until my scores are at a minimum of 90%. Hopefully, I can do this by the time I reach the C column. If not, I may have to expand the columns to D or E. Strive for 95% or higher. Repeat the process until all quizzes and practice exams are well in the >90% range. Once I reach that plateau, I schedule the exam.
Notice the log on the right that I used for a cert exam. Some content I had a better understanding than others in the beginning. One caution is I try to avoid (not pretend) I know an answer when I really do not.
I mentioned earlier that it is possible to prove that changing an answer creates more wrong answers than right answers. Well, in the process above, I noticed that when I change answers, I very often get it wrong. I have not actually logged that kind of data, so I cannot verify it even to myself. But I am totally convinced that changing an unsure answer is not in the best interest of getting the most answers correct.
Learn vs. Memorize
Exam preparation requires memorization, at least in the beginning. Some content may be worth memorizing just for an exam. But much content is well worth learning (committed to long-term memory) not only for a cert exam, but to be able to function when landing that next position. You never know what type of pre-employment assessment you might encounter. You definitely want to be prepared by retaining as much content as possible.
Be careful here, but I do tend to classify some content as retainable just for the exam. Then I magically seem to forget it.
Certification exams are not necessarily easy. I do not recommend “shortcuts” as a primary strategy. Every exam subject deserves our best efforts: the buckle-down method. It’s the real “shortcut” for long-term success.
Sitting for an Exam
Common Exam Tips
This is just a reminder of common strategies that can apply on most any exam:
Prepare for exam day. Get a good night’s rest, make time to have breakfast and get to the exam on time.
Read the question, every word. Watch for words like is or is not, always or sometimes.
Learn to identify distracters and to ignore them, as they have nothing to do with the question.
Eliminate the obvious wrong answers first, then consider what’s remaining.
Consider reading the answers first, then the question.
If allowed, start by writing out a brain dump of important info you’ve memorized on a scratch sheet.
Be aware of time spent on each question and don’t let a tough one take up too much of your time. Come back to it if needed.
Use all of the time available to you. If you finish the exam, go back over your answers to look for any mistakes.
Take deep breaths and stay calm. Panicking will not do you an favors!
While I cannot verify that these strategies are solid, I have spoken to individuals who swear by them.
Don’t Change Answers
The first strategy requires no study effort. None. Only “question awareness”. Avoid changing an exam answer in which you are unsure, also known as – guessing. Leave your first intuition (answer) alone, and move on.
When I first started graduate school, my professor explained this concept to my class. She explained that changing an answer can result in a 45 percent chance of getting the question correct. Leaving your first answer “as is” produces a 53 percent chance of getting the question right.
Using those numbers, a test-taker could get eight more questions answered correctly on a 100 question exam. That could easily mean the difference between pass or fail.
CompTIA, an IT industry certification provider, also supports this strategy. In their course material (IT Fundamentals) testing suggestion section, they state, “Studies indicate that when students change their answers they usually change them to the wrong answer.”
I have used this strategy ever since I first learned of it. Is there any way to prove that it works? Maybe. That will be addressed later in this writing.
Skip the Hard Ones
From personal experience, other cert takers, and suggestions provided by industry exam providers, consider skipping the harder questions, and return to them later.
Some certification exams present performance-based questions. They seem to appear towards the beginning of exams. The recommendation is that if you cannot work out a satisfactory answer quickly, mark it for review (if your exam allows it). Continue and answer the rest of the questions that might be more quickly answered. Also consider marking any other question (i.e., multiple-choice) for “review” if you find yourself spending excess time on them as well.
After completing the last question, return to the questions you have marked for review. In most cases you will have more than enough time to complete all questions. Each question counts the same on most tests, so the strategy is to get the highest number of questions correct, not necessarily the hardest.
This method works! In 2002, I spent too much time on the first five questions of a Network+ exam. Suddenly, I realized I was almost out of time to answer the remaining 85 questions. In a sweating panic, I blasted through the rest of the questions. The result was good. But the journey (pressure) of getting there was miserable. I learned the hard way. You don’t have to.
Never allow a single exam to define your career. Regardless of if you pass or fail an exam, your next charge is to press on. If you pass, do not relax, take the next cert in sequence, attend the next webinar, seminar, or training class, but ABL (always be learning). If you fall short on an exam, identify what needs to improve, and go back and succeed.
Never allow a single certification exam to define your career.
Perhaps by applying these test taking strategies and study strategies for exam preparation, you will feel more confident about your career progress.
Born in Billings, MT, Gary attended the Oklahoma City University, the University of Central Oklahoma, The University of Oklahoma, and Oklahoma City Community College. His proudest accomplishments come from helping students connect with job placement contacts. He’s worked with companies like Dell, Purina, and many others to facilitate great jobs.