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Your Military Transition: A Career Guide

Your Military Transition: A Career Guide

The transition from the military to civilian life is composed of an array of emotions. From the excitement of having control over your life again and being able to dictate what your days consist of, to the fear of the unknown; this can prove to be a true challenge for many veterans. And, although the military does offer several transitional services such as transitional classes and resume writing, it seems that the majority of this burden falls on the veterans themselves.

Everything from securing transportation, to acquiring housing, to finding a job are the responsibility of the the veteran. This is a time when each veteran must take responsibility for their livelihood and their future.  To understand this fully, and what steps you can take to create a strong foundation for your future, let’s explore the transition process from the military to civilian employment.

Making the Transition

If your MOS doesn’t translate directly into a civilian job, it might seem as if you’re completely starting over. Before we discuss that topic, let’s go through the first steps of the transitional period. This is when you’re still in the military but nearing terminal leave, nearing your release date/separation date, or approaching your return date.

  • Terminal Leave Start Date – A final leave just prior to separation or discharge from service consisting of any accumulated, unused time off granted to a member of the armed forces. Some transitioning military members use this time to take classes before their official release date.
  • Release Date or Separation Date – When you officially separate from the military.
  • Return Date – When you are returning “home” or wherever you are settling after the military.
  • Work Date – The date that you must begin working before you run out of money.

To help you nail down your timeline, we created a Veteran Transition Timeline Worksheet.

Download the Timeline Worksheet


*Note: When downloading PDF and printing out, make sure to click the printer icon and then “Fit to page” on the print screen.

During the transitional period there’s much work to be done to secure a solid future for yourself. So after determining these key dates, it is crucial to begin evaluating your situation. Below are some serious questions you should consider during the beginning of your transition.

Should you take some time off to focus on your mental health?

This aspect of the transition is often overlooked, typically because many veterans feel the pressure to jump into a civilian career immediately. This mistake is as understandable as it is dangerous. Unfortunately, 10%-20% of veterans suffer from PTSD and 20 veterans commit suicide every day. The side effects of PTSD can be mitigated by allocating the proper amount of time to recover physically and mentally during this transition while utilizing the resources available to you.

*You can also check out our blog on the topic: Get Help, Get Better: Veteran Suicide Prevention

Do you have time for an education, or do you need to work immediately?

Everyone’s transition is different. Some veterans can afford the missed time at work and some veterans need to start working immediately. A good way to evaluate your situation is by creating a budget. Mint is a great free way to put together a budget. By putting together a budget, you will be able to see how much money you have to spend on bills and how much money you have in surplus. This will help you determine how much time you have (if any) to get an education, but this is also contingent on what benefits you have available.

What military education benefits do you qualify for?

The educational benefits you qualify for will vary depending depending on: time served, period served, branch, and discharge status. While you may have already know that, did you know that you can also share your benefits with immediate family members? You can even use part of your benefits and still share the remaining benefits with an immediate family member. To help you learn what benefits you may qualify for and the details each benefit, we put together an informative list below.



Tuition Assistance

What is it? Tuition Assistance is a military benefit that pays the cost of tuition and some fees.

Who is Eligible? Virtually all military service members are eligible. However, criteria for eligibility is determined by each branch.

Benefit: Tuition Assistance covers up to 100% of tuition and fees not to exceed:

  • $250/Semester Credit Hour
  • $166/Quarter Credit Hour
  • $4500/Fiscal Year (The Navy has a 16 credit hour annual limit.)

Post 9/11 GI Bill®

What is it? The Post 9/11 GI Bill® provides up to 36 months (4 traditional school years) of education benefits to eligible service members and veterans for:

  • College
  • Business Technical or Vocational Courses
  • Correspondence Courses
  • Apprenticeship/Job Training
  • Flight Training
  • Licensing & Testing Programs

Who is Eligible? Service members (Active Duty, Guard and Reserve) and veterans who have served at least 90 days on active duty since 9/10/2001. Survivors of military member who died on active duty after 9/10/2011 may be eligible for Fry Scholarship program which pays the same as Post-9/11 GI Bill.

Benefit: Paid tuition and fees, living (housing) stipend and book stipend.

  • Benefits are tiered based on number of days on active duty.
  • Some limitations apply to those currently on active duty.
  • Benefits can be transferred to spouse or family member.

Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty & Veteran

What is it? Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty & Veteran (MGIB-AD) provides up to 36 months (4 regular school years) of education benefits to eligible veterans for:

  • College, Business
  • Technical or Vocational Courses
  • Correspondence Courses
  • Apprenticeship/Job Training
  • Flight Training

Who is Eligible? Active Duty members who have served at least two years on active duty. Veterans – there are four categories of Veteran eligibility depending on when you enlisted and how long you served on active duty..

Benefit: Up to $1,994 per month for full-time institutional education.


Montgomery GI Bill® – Selected Reserves

What is it? The Montgomery GI Bill® – Selected Reserves is similar to the Montgomery GI Bill® Active Duty & Veteran but at reduced rates.

Who is Eligible? Active duty members who have served at least two years on active duty. For veterans there are four categories of veteran eligibility depending on when you enlisted and how long you served on active duty.

Benefit: Up to $1,994 per month for full-time institutional education.


Loan Repayment (LRP)

What is it? Your service may partially or fully repay college loans.

Who is Eligible? Generally for enlisted members only. Several factors determine your eligibility, including your branch, your MOS, and terms of your contract. Your loans must be in good standing, i.e. not in default.

Benefit: Learn more about repayment programs below.

There are also specialized loan repayment programs for health professional officers.


Tuition Assistance “Top-Up” Program

What is it? The Tuition Assistance “Top-Up” Program is an additional benefit intended to supplement tuition assistance from the military with GI Bill® benefits.

Who is Eligible? To be eligible for the Top-Up benefit, the person must be approved for federal Tuition Assistance by a military department and be eligible for GI Bill® benefits.

Benefit: Tuition Assistance will pay up to 75% of the cost of classes, the “top-up” program will pay the remainder of the cost.


Survivors’ and Dependents’ Assistance Program (DEA)

What is it? The Survivors’ and Dependents’ Assistance Program (DEA) provides education and training opportunities to eligible dependents of certain veterans. May be used for degree and certificate programs, apprenticeships, and on-the-job training.

Who is Eligible?You must be the son, daughter, or spouse of a service member who died, is missing, or was permanently disabled while on duty or as a result of a service-related condition.

Benefit: Up to $1,224 per month for full-time institutional education.


Work-Study Program

What is it? If you’re a full-time or 3/4-time student in a college degree program, or a vocational or professional program, you can “earn while you learn” with a VA work-study allowance through the Work-Study Program.

Who is Eligible?The VA work-study allowance is available to persons training under one of the VA benefit programs:

  • GI Bill®
  • Vocational Rehabilitation (for veterans)
  • Survivors & Dependents Educational Assistance (DEA)
  • Dependents may also be eligible

Benefit: You’ll earn an hourly wage equal to the Federal minimum wage or your State minimum wage, whichever is greater.


Tutorial Assistance Program

What is it? The Tutorial Assistance Program can help you pay for necessary tutoring and is a supplement to your GI Bill® benefit. If you have questions on this program please contact the VA’s toll-free number 888-442-4551.

Who is Eligible? If you are receiving VA benefits at a half-time or more rate, you are eligible

Benefit: VA may provide you with a tutor or with information for finding one.



Choosing a Career & Training Path

Once you have determined if you need to take time off for your health or simply cannot afford to and also what your educational options look like (benefits-wise). You now face the challenge of choosing what career will be best for you and your future

What are you going to do? How are you going to choose? This may seem like a daunting task but luckily we put together a series of questions which can help you determine which career path may be best for you!

What kind of experience/skills do you have?

For this question you should take all of your experience and skills into consideration. Whether they come from hobbies or previous work, you may have experience or skills that will translate into many job roles. For this question we recommend you write down all the skills and experience you have. Try to identify at least 10-15 things.

Examples : Problem solving, computer building, management, gaming, communications, networking, building, team building, project manager, logistics, leather working.

How do my skills lineup with a career I will enjoy?

Once you have listed out all of your experience, you should pick out your three strongest and the three you enjoy most. Next, pick two things you are passionate about. Now combine your two passions with each skill/experience (strongest & enjoy most) and enter them in the My Next Move search engine. From there you can start to get an idea of what kind of career paths might be suitable for you.

*Note: This is a tool to help you generate ideas. Don’t get down on yourself if you don’t like the options you see, there are many other pathways you can choose!

Example:

  • (Problem Solving, Computer Building)-Enjoyed Most
  • (Logistics, Communications)- Strongest
  • (Sports, team building)- Passions

Jobs matched with keywords while also having a positive job demand in the future:

  1. Coaches & Scouts
  2. Computer User Support Specialists

If you’re interested in a career in IT or cyber security, check out our Top 3 IT Jobs for Transitioning Veterans Blog.

What type of education matches your situation?

This question depends on multiple factors; timeline, preferred style, benefits, lifestyle, and work position. Contrary to popular belief, your options are not limited to a traditional 4 year degree. You can use your benefits for a wide array of programs; day & night, part & full time, degree & certification, long term & short term. It is vital to know that there are other options available and you can most likely find one that suits your specific situation.

Examples:

  • Traditional college degree plan which takes around 4 years full time.
  • IT certification training that takes around 3 months of night classes after work.
  • *For more information on the difference between these two, check our blog Degrees vs. Certifications: Investing In your Future

How strong is the demand for workers in this field?

When looking into a career this should be one of the main factors you consider. This is because demand for a particular field can be predicted and will dictate how your career in that field pans out. If the outlook is weak, you will have a tough time not only finding a job but advancing in that field. It the outlook is strong, you will not only have an easier time finding a job in that field but you are more likely to advance and make more money in that field throughout your career.

Examples:

  • Information Technology, there is is a predicted 3.5 million job openings in cyber security alone by 2021.
  • Solar installers demand is set to increase over 105% in the coming years.
  • Leather and allied product manufacturing is set to decline 37.1% by 2022

How much money do you want to make?

This may seem like the most obvious of all the questions, but is it one that you have given real consideration?  It comes down to balancing what you enjoy doing and what pays you enough to live the lifestyle that you want. Some people would like to make as much money as possible and work as much as they need to make it happen while others may be looking to lead a more simple life. Understanding what you want from the beginning of your transition can really help how you life turns out in the end.

Examples:

No matter the education path you choose, there are some necessary questions you should ask before committing to any institution.

  1. Does this institution accept military benefits?
  2. Does this program qualify for college credit? Is it American Council on Education credit recommended or otherwise accredited?
  3. What kind of support does this institution offer?
  4. What kind of guarantees does this institution offer?
  5. What is the success rate or “placement rate” for graduates of this program?
  6. What kind of career assistance does this institution offer beyond the program horizon?

To help you evaluate the institutions that you visit, we developed a questions worksheet for you to bring with you to each visit and a decision helper to help you compare your different options.

Download the Decision Helper

Military Transition Question Helper

 

 

 

 

*Note: When downloading PDF and printing out, make sure to click the printer icon and then “Fit to page” on the print screen.

Why is getting into IT worth looking into for any veteran transitioning out of the military?

  • As an IT practitioner, you’ll have great job security and plenty of room for advancement
  • IT positions from entry level to advanced are well paying and salaries are only expected to rise.
  • Most skills can be translated into an IT position (from hands on positions to technical positions). There are many areas of IT to get into.
  • Military benefits will most likely cover the cost of the training and most of the time training will only use a fraction of your benefits.
  • Less time training and more time making money. Compared to a traditional education, you will spend a significantly less time learning which allows you to spend more time making money and gaining experience.

Good Luck with Your Transition!

We hope that the information provided can help guide you towards a fulfilling and lifelong career whether it be in IT or another field. As a veteran who has made it through their time in the military, we applaud you and thank you for your service. We recommend that that you take each question into account and consider all of your options before making a decision.

Considering that a large portion of our employees are military veterans, we empathize with what you are going through and want to aid ease this process. This life altering decision does not have to be one that you make alone. Here at LeaderQuest, our goal is to partner with you in making this decision and guide you throughout the whole process.

If you are interested in transitioning into the IT industry please click the button below, fill out a contact form, and a Career Adviser will contact you about your future. Thanks you for your service and good luck!

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The Most Lucrative IT Careers for 2019

The Most Lucrative IT Careers for 2019

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

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

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

Counteract Inexperience with Quick Learning

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

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

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

Expanding IT Industries

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

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

The most in-demand job roles include:

Highly Valued Technology Certifications

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

IT Salaries for 2019

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

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

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

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

Technical Services, Help Desk, & Technical Support

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

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

Position Title

25th Percentile

50th Percentile

75th Percentile

95th Percentile

Help Desk Tier 1

$32,250

$38,750

$46,000

$55,000

Help Desk Tier 2

$38,250

$45,750

$54,750

$64,500

Help Desk Tier 3

$49,000

$58,500

$70,000

$82,750

Desktop Support Analyst

$51,000

$61,250

$73,250

$86,500

Systems Administrator

$68,000

$81,750

$97,750

$115,750

Manager

$82,000

$98,500

$117,750

$139,000

Systems Engineer

$86,250

$103,000

$123,250

$145,750

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

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

Contact Us!

Networking/Telecommunications

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

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

Position Title

25th Percentile

50th Percentile

75th Percentile

95th Percentile

NOC Technician

$52,250

$62,500

$77,000

$98,750

Telecommunications Specialist

$59,500

$71,500

$85,250

$100,750

Network Administrator

$74,750

$89,000

$106,750

$126,750

Telecommunications Manager

$79,750

$95,500

$114,500

$136,000

Network Engineer

$92,000

$108,750

$130,500

$154,250

Network Manager

$94,750

$113,500

$135,750

$162,000

Wireless Network Engineer

$102,000

$122,000

$146,250

$173,500

Network Architect

$114,00

$137,500

$164,500

$195,000

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

Interested in learning more? Click the link below.

Contact Us

Security

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

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

Position Title

25th Percentile

50th Percentile

75th Percentile

95th Percentile

Network Security Administrator

$93,000

$111,500

$134,000

$158,750

Systems Security Administrator

$93,750

$112,250

$134,750

$159,750

Network Security Engineer

$98,500

$118,000

$141,750

$167,500

Data Security Analyst

$105,000

$125,250

$149,500

$178,250

Information Systems Security Manager

$116,000

$139,000

$167,250

$199,750

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

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

Learn More!

Perks, Incentives, and More

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

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

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

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

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

Importance of Certifications

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact Us!

2018: A Year of IT Training Success

2018: A Year of IT Training Success

In 2018, we saw many individuals come and go through the doors here at LeaderQuest for IT Training throughout our five campuses in Colorado Springs, Dallas, Denver, Jacksonville, and San Antonio. We are proud of everyone’s success and celebrate the diversity of our hard working students. We celebrate them not only for passing their exams and overcoming adversity but also for starting careers and contributing to society through the use of their new found IT skills.

Our students showed the world that no matter your background, race, gender, or income, if you are willing to put in the work to change your life then you can make it happen. From homeless veterans to single mothers to those looking to change careers, LeaderQuest has partnered with with thousands of individuals throughout the country to help them realize a revitalized American Dream and create futures they can be proud of.

As the IT industry grows, so do the opportunities it presents with a predicted 3.5 million open IT positions by 2021. A couple reasons preventing people from joining the industry are that they simply don’t know how to do it or they’re afraid to take that next step. There are no words we can write to help people make this life changing decision, but the words of our graduates can shed light on their experiences at LeaderQuest in order to help others make this important decision.


From Homeless Veteran to a Career in Cyber Security

Michael Fugett

Certifications: CompTIA A+Network+,

Security+CND, CEHCHFI, CISSP

Job: Senior Technical Infrastructure Analyst

When the odds are stacked against you it is easy to give up.  The key to not giving up is getting a glimpse of a brighter future and the hope that comes with it. One of the individuals who found hope and made their dream into a reality was military veteran Michael Fugett who now is earning over six figures and has become an inspiration to everyone around him.

“Now I go out into a community, I go volunteer, I go help others, and people look at me like a beacon of hope. Look at you making it, look at you striving, but for me, I know none of this happens if I would have never come to LeaderQuest.” – Michael Fugett

Unfortunately, Michael’s story didn’t start off so wonderfully.  Military veteran Michael Fugett found himself divorced, homeless, and alone upon returning to civilian life in May of 2017. Michael told us, “Life itself felt like it was kicking me down.”

At this point in his life Michael had two options: he could give into the grasp of depression and homelessness and fade into the background, or he could make the arduous journey of moving forward. “It was tough, but it created a drive within me where I knew I was going to succeed,” Michael expressed. This type of drive is not easy to achieve, especially as his struggles in moving forward continued to test his resilience.

Michael had some IT responsibilities throughout his 8 years in the military on top of his transportation, logistics, and finance roles. He knew he wanted to work in IT, but it just wasn’t working out. “I just kept applying, but all of the jobs wanted certifications,” he said. He started to do his research and looked into three separate training companies in his area, one of which was LeaderQuest. “They had understood what I had been through in the past, they got me,” Michael told us.

Read Michael’s full story here If I Can Do it, You Can Do It: Michael Fugett or watch him tell it in his own words below.


How a Single Mother Left the Call Center for an IT Career

Whitney Smith

Certifications: CompTIA A+, ITIL

Job: Tier 1 Application Support Engineer

Struggling alone is hard enough but being a single parent can add even more difficulties to any situation, especially if you are trying to move forward. The great Albert Einstein once said, “In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.” This couldn’t be more true for Jacksonville student Whitney Smith who took advantage of the opportunity to train for the IT industry and turned a difficult situation into her fuel for moving forward. She made a decision that changed her and her son’s lives forever and all it took was a little courage.

Whitney had done everything right to create a bright future for her and her son. In 2013, she was medically discharged from the military and decided to use part of her GI Bill® to get a degree in event management. She was able to land a job in event management at an expo center, but after two years decided that she wanted to move with her son to Jacksonville to be closer to her family. That’s when her life and career started to move in an unexpected direction.

Unable to land a job as an event coordinator in Jacksonville, Whitney ended up taking a job at a call center. “It was definitely not what I wanted to do. I was making less money than people who had way less credentials than I had,” she told us. Whitney’s situation is not uncommon, according to the U.S.Bureau of Census, “Just 27 percent of college grads had a job that was closely related to their major.” She had the education and the experience but a lack of jobs in her field left her career crippled, all while having a child to support!

Faced with the looming reality of her situation and few options at the time, she did what she had to do and worked the call center for two long years. Day in and day out, Whitney grinded to support herself and her child. Unsatisfied with her life path at the time, she decided to seek other opportunities and that is when LeaderQuest came into view and changed everything.

Read her full story here How IT Training Helped a Single Mom Become an IT Expert or watch her tell her story in her own words below.


Realizing Potential and Changing Careers with PMP Training

Gilbert Alvero Jr.

Certifications: CompTIA A+, ITILPMP

Job: Remote Desktop Assistant

In between a rock and a hard place is not where anyone wants to find themself, but sometimes that’s exactly where you are and you don’t know how you got there. Gilbert Alvero Jr. had two degrees and yet found himself not utilizing either of them, working a manual labor job.

“I was stuck in a rut, I was stuck in a position where I didn’t know where my life was going.”

Starting over was not an option for him. He needed employment that was not only in demand but also utilized his previous experience. Fortunately that’s exactly our goal here at LeaderQuest: to extract your relevant experience, find an area in IT that will suit you, help you learn the necessary skills for the job, and ultimately help you find employment.

Gilbert accepted the challenge of training with LeaderQuest and was able to achieve something that he didn’t know was possible: he started a new career in six weeks. He’s now working in a new field that pays well and allows him to utilize his many other skills.

Read his full story here Realized Potential: Gilbert Avelo Jr.’s Success Story or watch him tell his story in his own words below.


Stepping Up to Support His Family With IT Training

Khozema Raja

Certifications: CompTIA A+, Network+, Security+

Job: IT Support Specialist

Stability is sometimes an illusion. The job landscape is ever shifting and you are at its mercy. Khozema Raja worked in the commercial real estate industry for 15 years, making good money, almost feeling invincible, until the world gave him a wake up call and he found himself jobless with a child on the way.

Khozema was faced with a difficult situation. “I really needed to step up and take care of my family,” he told us. He could either go get a low-paying non-career job or go to the unemployment office and see what options there might be out there for him. He decided to go with the latter and there he was introduced to the idea of joining the IT industry. The best part was that he qualified for funding that would allow him to get his training paid for wherever he decided to go.

“I’ve always liked being around computers and my father worked at IBM, so I was like, why don’t I actually try to make a career out of it?”

He was advised to go to LeaderQuest’s campus and take a tour with a Career Training Consultant whose job it is to help people understand what a career in IT entails and ultimately if it is the right move for them. “It was a no-brainer to enter the IT industry. I didn’t even hesitate when I decided to go with LeaderQuest. They made me feel like family as soon as I walked in.”

Read his full story here and see how our entry level program helped him move forward From Unemployed to Empowered: Khozema Raja or watch him tell his story in his own words below.


Amateur Techie Goes Professional with Certification Training

Ross Earnheart

Certifications: CompTIA A+, Network+, Security+

Job: Information Technology Specialist

Navigating the job market is a daunting task and one a lot of people avoid until it is absolutely necessary. Getting comfortable is something that we’re all susceptible to. It isn’t until you decide to move forward that things will start to improve. Ross Earnhart had always loved technology but his life had never steered him in its direction, until he decided that it was time for a change.

“Years ago I remember I bought my first computer and had a problem so I had to call this guy. He replaced my hard drive. He was probably there twenty minutes and I had to pay him $170! At that point I realized that I wanted to know computers inside and out, and this is where my passion for IT started.”

After his time in the military, he didn’t immediately seek an IT career. “I got a job through a friend and kind of just fell into the workforce. I didn’t know that resources like this were out there.” It wasn’t until long after that initial job that he finally decided to visit his local unemployment office and see what kinds of options were available. That’s when he was referred to LeaderQuest.

Read his full blog and learn how a career transition changed his life forever The Student Experience at LeaderQuest: Ross Earnheart or watch him tell his story in his own words below.


Improving Your Life Through IT Training

If there is anything that 2018 showed us, it’s that if you put your mind to it you can change your life and it all starts with a decision and a conversation, a your decision that a change is necessary and a conversation with a Career Training Consultant here at LeaderQuest to see if our training is right for you. No matter your situation we are here to help you with the right advice and the right plan to assist you in moving forward.

We hope that you are inspired by the stories of our alumni and realize that you to can be part of the LeaderQuest family and the rapidly growing IT industry if you just make the decision to give it a try. If you or anyone you know is interested in a career change or are looking to start a new career, please contact us by clicking the button below, filling out the contact form, and having a conversation with a Career Training Consultant about IT Training. Best of luck and we are looking forward to hearing from you!

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Career Services: A Bridge Between Students and Employers

Career Services: A Bridge Between Students and Employers

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

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

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

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

The IT Employment Divide

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

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

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

LeaderQuest IT Training

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

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

LeaderQuest Career Services Department

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

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

The Career Services Process in 5 Steps

Step 1: Initial Evaluation Meeting

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

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

Step 2: Professional Development

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

Step 3: Applying for Jobs

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

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

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

Step 4: Interview Preparation

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

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

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

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

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

Step 5: Continued Support

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


Are you ready for an IT career?

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

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

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

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

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

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Degrees vs. Certifications: Investing In your Future

Degrees vs. Certifications: Investing In your Future

Like most things in life, getting certified comes at a cost. Yes, there is a financial cost associated with getting certified, as well as the time it takes to study for your certifications. But what about the opportunity cost? What else could you have done with that time, and how does getting certified compare? We’ve already covered some of these differences in a previous blog, but in this one we’ll be focusing on the timeline of return on your investment in education.

In this blog, we’ll be taking a look at the costs and opportunities for certification training as opposed to pursuing a bachelor’s degree.

Part 1: Getting IT Training

First, we’ll take a look at the timeline for these training options.

Bachelor’s Degree

Typically, a bachelor’s degree requires four years of study to complete. In these four years, students will complete 120 semester credits or around 40 college courses.

While this is the longest of any of the four options, it’s also important to mention that a bachelor’s degree program aims to create well-rounded graduates who learn about history, language, math and literature in addition to their chosen area of study. Usually only 30 to 36 credits or 10 to 12 courses will be in a student’s major area of study.

According to LendEDU, for the 2017-2018 year, the average cost of tuition for a semester at a public 4-year in-state college or university was $9,970. For four years at that rate, one would expect to pay $39,880 for tuition.

LeaderQuest Training

At LeaderQuest, we recognize that highly employable graduates aren’t created overnight. While each IT certification is a powerful addition to a resume, a single certification is not typically enough to secure employment in the industry. That’s why our Computer User Support Specialist program includes four of the leading IT certifications for entry-level work: CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+, CompTIA Security+, and ITIL Foundation.

The Computer User Support Specialist program takes five weeks to complete the courses (or 10 weeks if taken part-time in the evening). Students will need a few more weeks to study the material, take practice exams, and prepare themselves for their certification exams. Most students will need two months to complete all of their courses and get certified.

Our certification courses cost around $3,000 each (varies by course), with the total cost of our Computer User Support Specialist program coming in at $12,775.

Part 2: Getting Hired in IT

Once you have your certifications and training or degree, how hard is it to get hired in IT?

Bachelor’s Degree

With your bachelor’s degree in hand, you’ll find a large number of entry-level positions that you qualify for. Depending on the focus of your studies, you may be able to get a head start in the specific IT field you’re interested in. However, with more and more high school graduates attending college, the value of a college degree has begun to decrease.

While a degree will help you qualify for more jobs, it’s by no means a golden ticket. As you can see from this Quora thread, you’ll still need to look for internships during college, network with other IT professionals and employers, create a great resume and work on your online presence.

If you can’t show potential employers that you have the hard skills they are looking for, a degree may not mean much to them. They’ll want to know that you worked with the systems and hardware that they’re currently using. In fact, many of our graduates have combined a degree with certifications to help them compete in the job market. For more on this, check out the success story of Michael Cost who got an Information Assurance degree but still wasn’t able to find work until he added a Security+ certification to his resume.

LeaderQuest Training

Certifications like CompTIA Security+ are ideal for employers because they provide third party verification of the worker’s skills. For most IT jobs, skills are far more important than college degrees. Employers want to know that you’ll be able to configure a router, rebuild a computer or help secure the company’s systems. Because of this, the four certifications offered in the Computer User Support Specialist program are an ideal gateway to working in the tech world.

80% of our graduates are hired within six months of completing their studies and certifications. This is because our training is an ideal way to meet the increasing employer demand. According to CompTIA research, nearly 4 in 10 U.S. IT firms report having job openings and are actively recruiting candidates for technical positions. For those who wish to continue their education and expand into the cybersecurity market, they’ll have an even easier time getting hired. In fact, The Cybersecurity Jobs Report predicts there will be 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity positions by 2021.

The final component to our employment rate is one-on-one Career Service support. Each campus has a dedicated Career Services team, ready to help you optimize your resume, polish your LinkedIn profile, and practice your interview skills. When you’re certified and ready, they’ll connect you with local employers that are looking to hire.

Part 3: Where Will You Be Five Years Later?

Bachelor’s Degree

After five years, a bachelor’s degree student would have only been in the working world for about a year, or possibly less given the time needed to secure employment. In an entry-level position like Information Technology Specialist, one could expect an average salary of $48,063. Working for one year in a role like this, the bachelor’s degree recipient would have incurred $39,880 for tuition and would just be able to start to pay that off.

LeaderQuest Training

Assuming two months to complete training and certification, and six months to find a job in the industry, a LeaderQuest graduate would have been working for four years and four months. Considering the average salary of $48,063 for an Information Technology Specialist, the LeaderQuest graduate could have already made as much as $208,271 in the same amount of time that the bachelor’s degree holder was just getting started in the working world! If you factor in the potential for promotions or pay raises, they might even be making more. And they’d be gaining valuable industry experience that can help them get ready for the next move in their career—instead of just starting it.

TimelineBachelor’s DegreeLeaderQuest Training
Year 1Studying, -$9,970Training, -$12,775

Working, +16,021

Year 2Studying, -$9,970Working, +48,063
Year 3Studying, -$9,970Working, +48,063
Year 4Studying, -$9,970Working, +48,063
Year 5Working, +48,063Working, +48,063
TOTALTotal: +9,183Total: +195,498

Looking at the table above, the benefits of accelerated training through LeaderQuest are obvious. Get trained, get into the field, and start earning experience and money!

College or LeaderQuest?

You don’t have to choose! The American Council on Education’s College Credit Recommendation Service (ACE CREDIT®) has recommended 14 LeaderQuest courses for college credit. ACE CREDIT® recommendation means you could get trained with entry-level certifications, quickly start a job in IT, and still have college credit if you decide to go back to school to specialize. Really, the only thing better than certifications or a degree is certifications and a degree!

LeaderQuest also has an articulation agreement with Colorado State University-Global Campus (CSU-Global) which makes our Computer User Support Specialist program worth about as many credits as a semester of classes. In addition, LeaderQuest students can take advantage of a 10% tuition discount at CSU-Global. This means you can use the training and job relevant skills you learn at LeaderQuest in high demand career areas of information technology, cybersecurity, and project management, and apply it toward your continued education and career advancement with CSU-Global.

Are you ready to get started on an IT career today?

If you are, it might be time to talk to a Career Advisor and schedule a tour of one of our campuses. During the tour, you’ll get a free career consultation with one of our Career Training Consultants to help you determine if IT is a good fit for you, and what field you might like to work towards. They’ll also talk to you about funding, training timelines, employment rates, and anything else that’s on your mind.

Getting into the IT industry doesn’t have to be time consuming. LeaderQuest can make it easy to take the first steps on a new career path.

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Pursuing a Passion Through IT Training: Michael Cost

Pursuing a Passion Through IT Training: Michael Cost

Imagine this. You’ve been serving in the military overseas. You have been away from American society for years and now it’s time to come back. You have no idea what you want to do with your life. So like any reasonable person, you decide to so some research on what career path would suit you best.

Upon doing your research you see the same theme over and over: IT. “What is IT exactly?,” you ask yourself. You know it stands for Information Technology but what exactly is Information Technology?

Alright, now that you have searched google you probably would have stumbled onto an answer like this, “Information technology (IT) is 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.”

You still might not know what exactly it is but you think you might have an idea. You decide to look into it a little more and you find a layman’s definition, “I.T.  refers to anything related to computing technology, such as networking, hardware, software, the Internet, or the people that work with these technologies.”

A light bulb suddenly goes off and you realize that IT is everywhere and is integrated into every part of your life! At this point you can now see why there are so many jobs in “IT” and why it is so popular.

The Road To An IT Career

These are the thoughts of veteran Michael Cost and many others career seekers navigating the sea of career possibilities. In Michael Cost’s case, this happened in 2013 upon returning home to the United States and separating from the military.

 

“I did a lot of research in regards to the job market and I naturally have a passion for technology and it all worked out!”

Michael’s success did not happen overnight though. He started by looking at what field he would be interested in and landed in Information Assurance or “Cyber Security.” Naturally his career compass pointed towards college. He landed at Colorado Technical University in Colorado Springs and 3 years later ended up with an Information Assurance degree.

Watch Michael tell his inspiring story about training at LeaderQuest Colorado Springs in his own words, below.

IT Certification Training

To ensure that he landed his ideal job it was recommended to him to check out LeaderQuest. He took took that recommendation and also decided to look into other training companies but landed on LeaderQuest stating that it was, “Their professionalism in the school, classes, and recruiters that gave me a good feeling about attending LeaderQuest.”

“A LeaderQuest employee actually drove me around to different veteran organizations to try and help me out. Either he was looking to get me in the door as another number or he was looking to genuinely assist me. As I found out the whole time I was here, these people were really looking out for me; they wanted me to succeed.”

He entered the Security+ certification training program and this is what he had to say about it, “It felt like they want to teach you and send you out into the world to be better IT professionals.” Before he even finished the training he was receiving calls for interviews, on one of the final days of his training he had an interview in the morning and was hired by that afternoon.

“LeaderQuest exists to help us IT professionals in this position to where we can build our careers.”

And successful Michael was, after receiving his certification he was hired as a tier two IT technician at Colorado Computer Support. During his time there and upon learning about Michael’s certifications and education, his boss decided to put him and another colleague on a brand new project involving Cyber Security, Michael’s passion. “This is the career path I chose and it seems to be working out really really well.”

IT Career Advice

His advice to someone considering a career in IT, “If you are looking to get into the IT field it is really important that you research the specific field within IT that you want to pursue. I would tailor your training, classes, degree, whatever into the field that you feel the most passion for and in the end that is what will lead you to success.”

Maybe like Michael you are thinking about entering the IT industry but aren’t quite sure what field in IT will be best for you. Luckily, LeaderQuest has the solution for you. We created a Computer User Support Specialist program designed specifically for individuals looking to break into the IT industry. What is so special about this program? It was designed with the job market in mind, that means it was designed to land you an entry level job while also exposing you to multiple different fields of IT.

Do You Want to Start A Career In IT?

The Computer User Support Specialist program is made of of 4 different certifications courses. The first certification  is called ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library), designed to help you align IT services with the needs of a business and provides a practical understanding of key concepts, principles, processes, and functions to enable successful IT Service Management. The second certification is the A+ certification where you learn how to identify, install, maintain, configure, and troubleshoot hardware, system components, and more. The third certification, Network+, is where you learn the foundation-level skills needed to install, operate, manage, maintain, and troubleshoot corporate networks. The last certification in the program is the Security+, during this training you learn a number of IT security skills in multiple different areas ranging from networks, computers, internet connected, all the way to mobile phones.

The program as a whole will give you a glimpse into each IT field allowing you to find out what area you would like to learn more about in the future. Interested in learning more about our Computer User Support Specialist program? Click the button below and fill out a contact form to be contacted by a Career Advisor to see if starting a career in IT is right for you!

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