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If I Can Do it, You Can Do It: Michael Fugett

If I Can Do it, You Can Do It: Michael Fugett

“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

Divorced, homeless, and alone. This is the situation military veteran Michael Fugett found himself in upon returning to the civilian life in May of 2017. As discussed in our previous blogs, homelessness among veterans is rampant and Michael was one of many veterans that fell into this unfortunate situation. 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 since his struggles in moving forward continued to test his resilience.

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

Employers Want IT Certifications

Michael 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 instead of traditional education. They actually show the employer that you know what you are doing,” he said.   This couldn’t be more true, as the gap between available IT workers and the amount of available IT jobs widens, hiring managers are increasingly looking for candidates with certifications.

Traditional education typically educates individuals mostly on theory while certification training focuses on the practice and knowledge side of IT. Certification also offers a much more accelerated track. Individuals looking to enter the IT industry can typically be trained, certified, and hired within three months of entering our accelerated program, as opposed to the traditional four-year route offered by most universities.

Do Your Research

Michael had some IT responsibilities throughout his 8 years in the military on top of his transportation, logistics, and finance roles. His limited IT responsibilities ended up becoming the springboard for his future success. Knowing that IT is a growing industry, Michael, while homeless, decided to do some research and find out how he could better leverage his IT background in order to actually secure a position in IT, since he didn’t have any luck before.

His conclusion landed him exactly where he thought it would: certifications. So he did the smart thing and and looked into three separate training companies in his area, one of which was LeaderQuest. “The first one wasn’t able to give me what I wanted, the second one only focused on finances, completely ignored what my goals were, and the last one was LeaderQuest, the only one I could tell actually cared about me.” Here at LeaderQuest we know that we are not a one size fits all company, so we do recommend that you look around, do your research and speak to current and past LeaderQuest students. The more you know the more confident you will be in you decision.

We Understand You

“They had understood what I had been through in the past, they got me,” Michael said. People just like Michael, military and civilian alike, share the same hopes, dreams, and struggles. We know that when you come to us in seek of a brighter future through IT certifications and training that your situation is most likely not ideal.

It is important to remember that while we are a company, we are humans just like you whose passion lies in serving military veterans and anyone with the aspiration of moving their life forward. We believe in doing this together but at your pace. You may be working a full time job or you may be unemployed, in either situation we will customize an IT training plan that is feasible for you and that aligns with your goals.

We also know that life gets in the way of plans sometimes and that is why we offer our Learning Guarantee. If you happen to miss a couple training periods or simply did not understand the course, we will reset your plan and allow you to take the course over at absolutely no cost and no hassle to you. This guarantee reaffirms our promise that we will provide you with the highest level of training with the utmost integrity.

IT Trained, Certified, and Most Importantly HIRED

After finding out he had some G.I. benefits available to pay for his certifications, Michael hit the ground running. Without a job or a place to go, Michael spent the majority of his next couple weeks at LeaderQuest, day and night, studying, doing labs and learning from his instructors. At the same time, LeaderQuest’s Career Services team was hard at work to find him a position.

After he knocked out ITIL and A+, the first two certifications of his plan, to his amazement he started to receive phone calls for interviews. “My first job offers came directly from LeaderQuest’s Career Services. The first offer was for $15. I interviewed at another company and it went up to $24!” He accepted the second position which allowed him to gain experience and prepared him for his next role. LeaderQuest not only trains and certifies, but actively seeks job opportunities for students during the process. The goal is to align an opportunity with your timeline so when you are done or at least have a couple certifications under your belt, you can get to work and gain valuable experience as soon as possible.

Where is Michael Now after his IT Training and Certification Training?

After he settled into his first role he went back to LeaderQuest while working to finish out the rest of his plan where he earned the CompTIA Security+, Network +, EC-Council CEH, CND, and CHFI certifications. As he gains more and more experience he’s also planning on getting his  CCNA, CCENT, and CISSP certifications — all at LeaderQuest. We recently caught up with Michael to ask him how things are going. “If you add in my salary and incentives I am making well over six figures; it’s nice. To go from rags to riches is awesome!” Michael now lives in his own two bedroom apartment and is on his way to owning his own home! He currently works at a bank with the title of Assistant Vice President, and position title of Infrastructure Senior Technical Analyst. His success came from his persistence and hard work. He reached his goal of becoming a beacon of hope for anyone out there who might be doubting themselves or anyone who is afraid to take that next step.

Advice from Michael

While talking to Michael it was clear that he wanted to help more people achieve what he has, so here are a couple of his top tips.

  1. “Do your research.”
  2. “Come in and see what it is like for yourself.”
  3. “Talk to other students, listen to the good as well as the bad so you can make a good decision for yourself.”
  4. “It may seem hard at first, but if you put in the effort you will see how rewarding it can be.”
  5. “Take advantage of all the resources available to you.”

Are You Ready To Move Your Life Forward With IT Training?

No matter what your situation, LeaderQuest will do its best to help you move forward. From the first steps of seeing if an IT career is right for you, to training, and ultimately to getting hired. We recommend that individuals looking to break into the industry take our entry-level Computer User Support Specialist program. We also offer advanced level courses for professionals looking to advance their careers in either IT, cyber security, networking or project management. If Information Technology sounds like an industry that you would like to look into, please do your research, talk to people in the industry, and schedule a tour at you local LeaderQuest campus today!

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How IT Training Helped a Single Mom Become an IT Expert

How IT Training Helped a Single Mom Become an IT Expert

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 her and 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 her and her child. Unsatisfied with her life path at the time, she decided to seek other opportunities.

Watch Whitney tell her story about training at LeaderQuest Jacksonville in her own words, below.

Opportunity of a Lifetime with LeaderQuest IT Training

Whitney had her resume online for a bit but did not receive any offers worth looking into until a Career Adviser here at LeaderQuest reached out to her about IT and Cyber Security Training. “I was looking for a career change in order to make a better life for me and my son. I have always loved technology so I decided to check it out!”

Whitney, like many people, had never considered this career path before, nor was she aware of the major shortage of IT (information technology) or cyber security workers here in the United States. Some major reasons for this shortage are that not enough people know about IT careers, they don’t think they would qualify for a career in IT, or they just don’t know how to get started in an IT career.

Entry Level IT vs. College

Unlike a traditional career path, credentials for an entry level job in IT can be obtained fairly quickly, often in three months or less, compared to a traditional college education that typically takes up to four years. Our most popular program is the Computer User Support Specialist, where candidates can typically get certified and find employment within three to four months, even while working a full time job.

Even more compelling is the average salary of four year college graduates vs. entry level IT positions here in the United States. According to to a new survey by the consulting firm Korn Ferry, the average salary for a college graduate is $50,390. Compare this to the average salary of an “entry level” IT Computer User Support Specialist position at $52,000 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). Considering that IT training requires just a few months vs. up to four years for traditional college, the value of certification training is obvious.

New Career Without a 4 Year Degree? Is That Possible?

“They gave me the option to do something else without having to go get a four year degree. I just didn’t have the time to start completely over again.”

After doing a little research, Whitney decided to come in and meet with a Career Training Consultant and see if a career in IT was right for her. “After learning about the industry demand and LeaderQuest’s sped up courses, it was a no-brainer.” Whitney entered the Computer User Support Specialist program that day and was able to use the remaining part of her GI Bill® with a little bit of Vocational Rehab funding to completely cover the cost.

The Computer User Support Specialist training program consists of four different certifications that take either 5 days or 10 nights each plus some off-time studying. The four certifications contained in this program are CompTIA A+, Network+, Security+, and the ITIL certification, all of which are internationally recognized.

The program as a whole is specifically designed for helping career starters and career changers just like Whitney who need to be trained quickly for an in-demand job. The program provides a rock-solid foundation for careers in IT support, networking, and cyber security. The knowledge gained from this program spans from computer and network components all the way to cyber security concepts. This allows individuals to experience IT from multiple perspectives in order to find the path that most interests them. This array of certifications is especially attractive to employers.

Hands-On Experience with CompTIA A+

Our training programs are specially designed to give you hands-on experience. Whitney shared with us that his was one aspect of the training that she really enjoyed. “It was hands on. If you had a question, we were in the back opening up computers, handling motherboards, and actually updating them.” LeaderQuest’s goal is to give you the necessary knowledge and experience in order to make the transition into a new career as smoothly as possible without an extensive amount of on the job training.

In Whitney’s words: “They prepare you for the world outside of the training room, which is really important.” We couldn’t agree more. Not only do we give you the training you need to excel, we also offer support in your job search.

Career Services

We not only work on the training side of things, we also want to make sure that your professional profile is complete which is why our Career Services team will work with you throughout your time at LeaderQuest to give you the best chance possible at employment. We were able to help Whitney significantly improve her resume and optimize her LinkedIn profile. “My resume was now on point, and my LinkedIn, which I found out I surely wasn’t using correctly. They helped me understand its significance and how to take advantage of it, which helped out a lot.”

Our Career Services team focuses on more than just the resume and LinkedIn, they also help candidates out with cover letters, interview prep, and actually connecting them with jobs. We have multiple employment partners in each our our markets to help connect graduates with quality jobs straight from training.

While we do have the ability to connect people with employment, in Whitney’s case she was recruited before she even finish the program. “After 3 weeks I was contacted by a recruiter, went in for an interview, and they pretty much offered me a job on the spot because I did so well.” Whitney was hired by HDI Group as a Tier 1 IT Support Specialist. She’s currently works there as she gains the experience to get her dream job in cyber security.

LeaderQuest is committed to not only training out students, but making sure they get the help they need to find a great job after training. “The overall support and help here really helps you move forward,” Whitney told us.

Women in Cyber Security

Whitney’s dream to work in cyber security is shared by many, but there are far fewer women thinking about and working in this field than men. According to a recent Harris Poll, 9 out of 10 women have never even considered a career in cyber security and 3 out of 4 cyber security jobs currently in the U.S. are filled by men.

We asked Whitney about the challenges of being a woman in the tech world. “Women are always being tested on their abilities, especially being an African American women, it’s just known that it’s going to happen, so we have to be better than and smarter than the average person just to have the slightest chance to get ahead.”

This intimidation is a large part of why women have trouble advancing in the workplace, especially in new industries like cyber security. But don’t worry, if you’re a woman and considering a career in cyber security, you are not alone!

The Cyber Security Industry Needs More Whitneys

“Tech is becoming such a large part of all of our lives that we won’t be seeing such large barriers in the future as long as us women here already continue to break them down,” Whitney said.

According to CompTIA, Cyber States 2017,  there is a predicted shortage of over one million IT and cyber security positions in the U.S. by 2020. With so much room for new blood, women could be the the answer to this cyber security job shortage. Currently there are multiple efforts to get women into cyber security and these efforts are led like women like Whitney who have the drive and tenacity to break down barriers and try new things. If you’re considering cyber security and need some inspiration, check out our 10 Inspiring Quotes from Women in Cyber Security and Tech.

The Future of IT and Cyber Security

Women like Whitey will lead the the future in cyber security innovation on both the shortage side and the technological side. As more and more people get sick of their current jobs and want to switch to IT, we regularly get the question, “How do I make this transition into IT?”

We made the answer simple.

  1. Speak to a LeaderQuest representative and find out if a career in IT is right for you.
  2. Get trained by our world-class instructors and pass your certification exams.
  3. Work with our Career Services team to get connected to positions in your area, as well as interview training, LinkedIn optimization, and resume/cover letter writing.

With this simple approach, LeaderQuest’s concise and efficient training has developed a solution for individuals looking for a new direction. LeaderQuest is proud to work with people like Whitney to pave the way for future generations of IT and Cyber security workers. We made Whitney’s hope of a better future become true, and she told us, “Thank you LeaderQuest, thank you for making this a reality.” Could you be next?

Here are a couple closing words of advice from Whitney:

  • “To anyone looking to change careers or to start a career just come in and meet with someone to talk about your future.”
  • “Take advantage of everything LeaderQuest has to offer.”
  • “For the average person this might intimidate you but you can do it!”

Whitney Smith went from being a miserable call center rep to an IT professional in months, all while being a single mother. She also inspired a new dream within herself to become a cyber security expert. The problem that Whitney found herself in is common among many Americans, fortunately at LeaderQuest she found a 21st century solution that worked for her.

If you’re interested in a brighter future like Whitney’s, click below and fill out the form to be contacted by a Career Adviser for a quick evaluation conversation to see if we can help you turn your dreams into reality!

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From Lost Soldier to Cyber Security Warrior: Lavall Woodhouse

From Lost Soldier to Cyber Security Warrior: Lavall Woodhouse

Lavall Woodhouse separated from the United States military in 2004 after being stationed in Mannheim, Germany and Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Like most veterans, Lavall had just come off of a deployment and had little idea about what to do with his life after serving our country.

“There wasn’t really a whole lot of support in the idea of transitioning from the military to the civilian world, it was kind of like you’re on your own,” Lavall said.

Watch Lavall tell his story about training at LeaderQuest Dallas in his own words, below.

Homeless and Directionless

Unfortunately, many of our veterans are lost upon their return, lacking a compass to lead them to success in the country they have been navigating the world to protect. LeaderQuest is here for that exact reason, to be a compass for individuals and lead them to success through IT training.

Lavall was in desperate need of guidance and had found himself in unfortunate circumstances leading up to his time at LeaderQuest Dallas. “When I first came to LeaderQuest, I was trying to rebuild in a sense. I was homeless, and I didn’t have a job.”

This is all too common, veterans 18-30 are twice as likely as the general population to become homeless.

The Start of a Brighter Future

Lavall was directed towards LeaderQuest Dallas by his vocational rehabilitation counselor who presented him with different training opportunities. He decided to go with LeaderQuest’s short-term certification training program and in 2016 and began his journey towards a fulfilling career in IT.

“My first impression was positive. Everybody that I had met had a great attitude in the idea that they were glad to have me there, and those attitudes were a large part of my choice”.

LeaderQuest’s Career Training Consultants evaluated Lavall’s situation and created a plan in order to ensure his success. He took the Network+, Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), and Certified Hacking Forensics Investigator (CHFI) courses, all of which complimented his previous work experience.

Ready To Move Forward

Once he passed the certification exams, he then faced the next challenge of finding a job. Luckily, LeaderQuest was already one step ahead of him and ready to ease him into this next phase with one-on-one guidance from Erika Ofurum, LeaderQuest Dallas’ Employment Development Manager (EDM). “She sat down with us and started to learn about what we were into, what kind of backgrounds we had, and what kind of certifications we had.That’s when I started to get really confident,” Lavall went said. “She really rekindled that fire for me. That was exciting.”

Getting a Job with Amazon

Lavall’s excitement was intensified as more companies started to reach out to him. His hard work finally culminated in a job offer from Amazon to work for their web services team. About a year later, we asked him if he liked his new job. He told us, “I love it!”

“We all have this idea of wanting to be GREAT. That thought is within all of us, you just have to find it and then realize it.”

Cyber Security Training at LeaderQuest

There are times when we are alone and lost and there are times when we guide each other as human beings to find ourselves and our purpose. Lavall’s will had gotten him through the trenches of the military and his determination propelled his future into a fulfilling career.

Lavall served our country, fell down, and rose up to a bright new future. His situation is a perfect example of why we exist and what drives LeaderQuest employees to deliver the highest quality of service. LeaderQuest and Lavall will always be connected by his story and the continued story of how we plan to change thousands more lives through short-term training, certifications, and guidance.

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7 Common Misconceptions About Veterans (& Why They’re Harmful)

7 Common Misconceptions About Veterans (& Why They’re Harmful)

As Americans, it’s no secret that we love our military men and women. A few times a year, we come out en masse to thank our active duty military or veterans for their service. Despite this, there are a number of myths about veterans that circulate in our culture.

In the United States, there are 1.4 million people in the military and an additional 22 million more veterans. That’s a sizeable population of dedicated people who have made a tremendous commitment to their country only to sometimes face a backlash born of misunderstandings in the civilian world.

Veterans are sometimes put in a box by those who don’t understand and labeled as villains, victims, or vindicators. Those three categories sweep aside the broad spectrum of veteran experiences and ignore everything veterans have to offer as complex individuals with unique circumstances.

With that in mind, here are the top seven misconceptions that are harmful to veterans, the truth behind the men and women in uniform, and how everyone can fight these myths. Thank you to the LeaderQuest staff and students who have served in the military and shared their experience with us for this piece.

1. All Veterans Have PTSD

“I think one of the most unique situations I was in was when my 18-year-old daughter was giving a report in her high school class that covered my time in the military. One of the comments that was made by her classmate was how I was dealing with my PTSD. She laughed this off but then it turned out the majority of the class believed that all veterans are suffering from PTSD.

My daughter let them know that although it is great that veterans are able to have access to the help they need more so than in the past, not all veterans suffer from PTSD.”

-Charles Marcus, Retired U.S. Air Force, LeaderQuest Student

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is definitely something that affects the veteran community, but it’s not quite as relevant as you might think. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, PTSD affects:

  • Almost 31% of Vietnam veterans
  • As many as 10% of Gulf War (Desert Storm) veterans
  • 11% of veterans of the war in Afghanistan
  • 20% of Iraqi war veterans

To sum up, don’t assume that if a person is a vet they have PTSD because it’s simply not true. If someone does tell you they’re suffering from PTSD, understand that they’re trusting you with something important and often misunderstood. That brings us to our next big myth about veterans.

2. PTSD Makes Veterans Unpredictable and Violent

“One of the misconceptions is that we all have PTSD. That we’re all going to suddenly explode some day. Or they have a misconception of what PTSD is . . . popular media oftentimes shades people with military service and what they’ve done and what they’ve been through.”

-James Gross, U.S. Air Force, LeaderQuest Staff

Yes, this is such an important issue that it gets two entries. Merely saying the word PTSD is sure to conjure up images of unbalanced vets about to explode in violent, unpredictable ways. However, this characterization is a gross misrepresentation of the real disorder.

“PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder) is a mental health problem that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, like combat, a natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault.”

National Center for PTSD

What you might not know is that PTSD affects a multitude of people who experience trauma, not just those in the military. Symptoms of PTSD include reliving the event, avoiding situations that remind you of that event, having more negative beliefs because of the trauma, and feeling keyed up/jittery. People with PTSD may have other problems including:

  • Feelings of hopelessness, shame, or despair
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Drinking or drug problems
  • Physical symptoms or chronic pain
  • Employment problems
  • Relationship problems, including divorce

Even for the population that is affected by this, it’s more likely to cause problems for the sufferer than the people around them. Violence is only prevalent in about 7.5% for PTSD sufferers in the U.S. population and 19.5% in post-9/11 veterans. While that is a little higher, it’s important to note that post-9/11 vets are younger (median age = 34) which meaning they’ve got a higher risk of violence anyway.

One of the biggest problems with this misconception is that it often leads to the idea that veterans with PTSD can’t be trusted with firearms. This simply isn’t true. This can be especially harmful because it’s a barrier for veterans who do suffer from PTSD and want to seek treatment. Many veterans chose not to seek treatment in part due to fear that their guns will be taken away. This can be another unnecessary barrier for people who already have to navigate a difficult mental health system to get help.

Next time you hear someone speaking with authority on how PTSD makes veterans violent, you’ll have the knowledge to step in and explain what’s really going on.

3. Veterans Don’t Think For Themselves

“When people think of a soldier obeying orders, they’re thinking of orders like ‘drop and give me fifty’ that they’ve seen in movies and on TV. In reality, those orders are more likely to be a complicated series of dynamic objectives, any or all of which can and will change as soon as plans meet reality.”

Antonio, 7 Myths Civilian Employers Have About Veterans

We’ve all heard the stereotype. The vet who’s a mindless drone, completely unable to think for herself. While it’s true that basic training is designed to get those that enter the military putting the good of the group first and understanding the importance of obedience, the idea that veterans don’t have original thoughts is untrue and offensive.

Veterans are put into incredibly complex situations and have to think on their feet. Each unit has its own personality which comes out in unique ways, and getting the job done is most important above all else. This means that veterans are often forced into situations where creative thinking isn’t just good, it’s essential.

So, got a complex problem you’re not sure how to fix? Call on a vet for help. You’ll be glad you did.

4. Female Veterans Don’t Exist/Don’t Do Very Much

“The simple fact that I am a veteran. They assume my husband is a veteran but are shocked that I am too.”

-Mary Walker, U.S. Air Force, LeaderQuest Staff

Women serving on the battlefield aren’t as new as you think and have been kicking butt and taking names for decades. Currently, there are more than 2 million female veterans in the U.S., about 9% of the total veteran population. However, that doesn’t stop many people who can’t seem to wrap their minds around women in service.

While the U.S. Military only announced it would open all combat jobs to women by the end of 2015, the truth is they’ve been on the battlefield for as long as America has been a country. During the Revolutionary War, American Civil War, and Spanish American war women served as nurses, cooks, support staff, and more while others dressed as men to serve in secret.

Women were officially allowed to serve in the military since the last two years of WWI, mostly as nurses, spies, and support staff, and slowly took on more duties through WWII, the Korean War, and Vietnam War

In 1976, the first women were allowed to enroll in service academies like Westpoint and during the 90’s women were allowed to fly on combat missions, serve on combat ships, and were deployed to areas like the Persian Gulf. In the last two decades, women have served in more and more positions and Sergeant Leigh Ann Hester became the first woman awarded the Silver Star for combat action.

The lack of awareness of female veterans is especially problematic because of the issues women have to deal with in post-service life. Female veterans are two to four times as likely as their civilian counterparts to experience homelessness and make up the fastest-growing share of homeless vets. Between 20,000 and 40,000 are homeless. Most, especially those with kids or histories of trauma, couch-surf with friends and relatives as opposed to going to shelters.

So the next time someone asks, “but do women really serve in the military?” feel free to educate them on how much women have contributed to the U.S. military.

5. Vets Are Less Skilled/Able Than Their Civilian Counterparts

In a market with such a strong emphasis on degrees, there are times when veterans are looked down upon simply because of their lack of job experience outside of the military. If you had a job fixing aircraft or defusing roadside bombs in the military, there might not be a lot of direct crossover in your skillset.

However, that doesn’t mean that veterans are less skilled or incapable of learning quickly. Quite the opposite in fact. They know how to problem solve, work on deadlines, and operate under immense pressure. In fact, research from Deloitte found that the veteran workforce is 4 percent more productive and 3 percent less likely to leave the organization.

Veterans often make great employees because they’re honest, notoriously hard workers, candid, and they know how to get things done. The truth is, you’re probably already working alongside great vets right now. Be sure to give them their due and call out their hard work.

6. Some Military Branches are Lesser/Vets Are All the Same

“From an Army point of view, they look at us like, ‘You were in the Army? That’s it?’”

-U.S. Army, LeaderQuest Student

It’s no secret that the different branches of the military like to poke fun at each other, but in the civilian world, certain branches of the military are looked down upon by some. Whether they make fun of the Army, National Guard, or the Air Force, there’s no short supply of shade to be thrown around.

In the end, serving in the military is a huge commitment. Each branch is different because it serves a specific purpose, but each branch also gives members the same loyalty, ability to operate under high-pressure situations, and willingness to do what’s best for the group and get things done.

Veterans also run the risk of attracting anti-government sentiment in general. The truth is that, while veterans do tend to vote more conservative and Republican (and also vote more in general), veterans are not a homogenous group. They have varied opinions on politics and the role of government in general. As for directing anti-government sentiment their way, just don’t. It’s not necessary or appropriate.

7. Getting Hired as a Veteran is Easy

“I thought I could get a job at the drop of a hat because I was told everyone wanted to hire military. I was unemployed for 6-weeks and was throwing my resume at anything and everything.”

-Aaron Kiewicz, U.S. National Guard, LeaderQuest Staff

Transitioning is never easy. There’s the culture shock to navigate and the sudden realization that you no longer have every hour of your day planned out for you. Perhaps the single biggest fear veterans have to deal with is going from a steady paycheck to an uncertain future for them and their families. Issues like having skills that don’t translate, concern for upcoming deployments, and being swayed by negative stereotypes of veterans, can keep veterans out of jobs they might otherwise excel in. On top of that, going from a culture that uses the f-word in excess to an office environment can be difficult.

When veterans are able to find jobs, it can be difficult to find work that is meaningful. For a population of people who had such a strong sense of duty and purpose, going to an environment where that feeling isn’t front and center can be devastating.

So, with all that in mind, what is the solution to helping vets transition into the workforce more smoothly?

Getting Vets Employed in Meaningful Jobs

Fortunately, there is a multitude of groups working to help veterans get into the civilian workforce and transitioning into the next step of their lives. Groups like We Hire Heroes, Operation Homefront, Valor Bridge, and even the USO help with career fairs, practicing interview skills, and resume building to get vets prepped for the next chapter of their lives.

Certifications are also becoming an increasingly viable option for vets who need to demonstrate their abilities to get that first employer to take a chance on them. That’s why cyber security and other IT fields are becoming an increasingly attractive option for vets.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to shattering these misconceptions. The men and women of our armed forces have done so much for us. By disarming these myths that can keep vets from jobs where they excel we take the first step in creating a workforce that is open and accepting of veterans. Not to mention the fact that vets are kick-ass workers, and who among us couldn’t use a few more of those on staff? It’s just common sense, really.

4 Students Who Changed Their Lives with IT Certification at LeaderQuest

4 Students Who Changed Their Lives with IT Certification at LeaderQuest

When you’re looking to start a new career or enter a new industry, it’s hard to find the right path. While self-study with online resources and textbooks can help, most employers won’t be swayed by that on a resume. Degrees are an excellent path to success, but they can take 2-4 years to complete. That’s where certification training comes in.

Certifications fill an important gap, especially in the IT world. They can open doors, launch careers, and show employers their new hire will have the required skills to get the job done. Of course, there’s no better proof for this than the stories of our students.

We couldn’t be more proud of our graduates who have gone out into the world and found great jobs that let them make use of the IT training they got at LeaderQuest. Today, we’d like to highlight four of these stories and show off some of our most successful grads.

Peter Quinones

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

Peter came to LeaderQuest after serving in the U.S. Army for 16 years. He trained military police for the army and pursued a Master of Arts in Security Management at American Military University. Cyber security was a recurring theme in his studies, but Peter didn’t have much of a background in IT. After looking for a training provider, Peter contacted LeaderQuest and signed up for some foundational IT certifications including CompTIA A+, Network+, and Security+.

Peter was a quick study and took just three months to acquire all of these certifications. Combined with his extensive education and experience, he was able to find employment quickly.

Today, he’s the Chief Operating Officer of an information system engineering firm that focuses on risk management framework compliance and IT security solutions and loving every minute.

“Immediately upon obtaining my Security+ certification I was offered a position as an Information System Security Engineer, that jumped me up from my previous pay by about $20,000, just shy of making six figures.”

READ PETER’S STORY   LEARN ABOUT IT TRAINING

Marcus Mingo

Certifications: CompTIA Security+, EC-Council CEH, and  EC-Council CND

As Marcus was completing his military service, he had an eye toward the future. He didn’t want to be scrambling to find a job after he transitioned out. He noticed that many of the job postings he was interested in listed IT certifications as a requirement. Using his GI Bill® funding, Marcus enrolled at LeaderQuest to take courses for CompTIA Security+, EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), and EC-Council Certified Network Defender (CND).

With the help of our Career Services team, Marcus lined up three interviews by the time he’d completed his exams. Marcus got multiple offers and accepted a position with Cyberspace Solutions that came with a $20,000 pay increase. Three months later he got an even better offer from Booz Allen with another $20,000 pay bump, which he accepted.

“Since I’ve been certified, I’ve gotten a job offer for every IT position I’ve applied for.”

READ MARCUS’ STORY    LEARN ABOUT CYBER TRAINING

Randa Elfaki

Certifications: PMP and CCNA Security

Randa had IT experience in Africa but wasn’t able to secure a position here after moving to America in 2014. She took work as an assistant teacher, but she knew she wanted to be working in IT. She just couldn’t figure out how to break into the industry in the United States.

Randa didn’t have funding for her IT training, but we were able to connect her with her local workforce center where she secured funding for her training. She enrolled at LeaderQuest to get her PMP and her CCNA Security certifications; two powerful credentials that made job hunting much easier. After completing her PMP, she got a 6-month contract job with Comcast. At the end of the contract, she applied to work at WebRoot, a company that does business with Comcast. Even though she hadn’t taken the exam for her CCNA Security, the knowledge she got at LeaderQuest helped her to nail the interview and get hired.

She is now making more than $72,000 per year, a pretty big raise from making $12/hour for contract work!

“When the manager from WebRoot interviewed me, all of the information from the class was still in my head, and I got all of the questions right. He said, ‘That’s great!’ I told him that I have no experience, just education through LeaderQuest and through one class in Mumbai. And he laughed and said, ‘We’re going to train you! And we’ll help you to succeed in this role.’ So the training with LeaderQuest got my foot in the door.”

READ RANDA’S STORY    LEARN ABOUT PMP TRAINING

Richard Marx

Certifications: CompTIA Security+

Richard was laid off from his job at Honeywell in 2016. As he was trying to figure out what his next step would be, he went to his local workforce center. They discussed some options with Richard and explained that he needed to secure some key IT certifications to verify his skills so he could potentially qualify for several IT jobs immediately.

Pikes Peak Workforce center connected Richard with LeaderQuest, and he enrolled immediately. Richard started on his Security+ certification and worked with our Career Services team to improve his resume and online presence. One of our star Employment Development Managers (EDMs) here at LeaderQuest reached out to a connection at Raytheon on Richard’s behalf. Richard received a job offer from Raytheon halfway through his training. This was even before he earned his Security+ certification!

After training with LeaderQuest, Richard was making $10,000 more than he was at his previous position, before being laid off!

“Little did I know that I wouldn’t even have time to complete my certification!”

READ RICHARD’S STORY    LEARN ABOUT SECURITY+ TRAINING

IT Training at LeaderQuest

If you’re interested in starting a career in the IT industry, we can help! LeaderQuest offers 5-10 day classes designed to quickly get you trained on everything you need to know to pass the exam and get hired. Our courses are taught by expert instructors with real industry experience. They include hands-on labs. We offer courses in a full-time day format, or in the evenings after work. You can also train online or on campus, whichever works best for you.

When you’re ready to take the next step in your career and secure your future, contact us!

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5 Essential IT Certifications for DoD and Cyber Security Jobs

5 Essential IT Certifications for DoD and Cyber Security Jobs

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

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

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

DoD Compliant Cyber Security Certifications

1. CompTIA A+

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

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

Learn More About A+

2. CompTIA Network+

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

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

Learn More About Network+

3. CompTIA Security+

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

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

Learn More About Security+

4. ISC2 Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

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

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

Learn More About CISSP

5. EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)

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

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

Learn More About CEH!

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

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

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

Information Assurance Technician (IAT)

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

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

Information Assurance Management (IAM)

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

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

Certifications That Meet Qualifications: Security+ and CISSP.

Information Assurance System Architect and Engineer (IASAE)

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

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

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

Cybersecurity Service Provider (CSSP)

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

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

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

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

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

Learn Cyber Security Fast at LeaderQuest

it certifications best for cyber security

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

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

Join the fight against cyber terror. Contact us today!

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