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Degrees vs. Certifications: Which is Better for an IT Career?

Degrees vs. Certifications: Which is Better for an IT Career?

When seeking to join the ever-growing field of information technology, two of the most common paths to competency are degrees and certifications. While both of these options can get you a job in IT, they are by no means created equal! In this blog, we’ll take a look at some of the important differences between these two routes (as well as a couple of ways that you may not have to choose at all).


Time InvestedDegrees vs. Certificates: Time

College or Degree Program

In general, it takes about 4 years to earn a college degree. This is usually spread out over 8 semesters, with four courses per semester. This enables students to get a huge amount of information in their time at college and really process each individual class before moving on to additional learning materials. Especially determined students may be able to finish their major in 3 years (or less) if they take more than 4 classes per semester, or take classes during the summer.

In terms of time spent during the week, most courses are 3 credit hours. With four courses, that means about 12 hours per week spent in class. Additional time will of course be needed for homework, writing papers and exam-prep.

Certification Courses at LeaderQuest

Certification training at LeaderQuest is intensive and accelerated. We’ll take our Computer User Support Specialist program as an example, because it prepares students with enough certifications and knowledge to confidently enter the IT industry. This program includes training for four certifications: ITIL, CompTIA A+, CompTIA Security+, and CompTIA Network+. These courses take 5 days or 10 evenings each, except for A+ which is split into two courses. That gives us a total of 25 days of instruction, or 50 evenings.

For those taking the course during the day, instruction and labs comprise a 40-hour week. Each day is packed with instruction, hands-on labs, and time for questions and answers. Evening courses are spread out over twice as many days, with only 4 hours of instruction per evening. After instruction, students will need some time to review everything they’ve learned and take advantage of the additional materials offered by LeaderQuest. Most students complete their certification exams within the following month.


Cost of Training

College or Degree Program

According to LendEDU, for the 2019-2020 year, the average cost of tuition for a semester at a public 4-year in-state college or university was $5,220. For four years at that rate, one would expect to pay $41,760 for tuition. Of course, this doesn’t include other costs such as room & board, transportation, supplies and so on.

A college degree offers value that is above and beyond what certifications offer, which makes it difficult to compare these two items accurately.

Certification Courses at LeaderQuest

Our certification courses cost around $3,000 each (varies by course), with the total cost of our Computer User Support Specialist program coming in at $13,875 for five courses. That’s close to the cost of a single year at an in-state college or university! Included in the overall cost of tuition are the industry-recognized certification exam attempts.

The certifications included in our Computer User Support Specialist program do not offer the breadth and depth of knowledge that a Bachelor’s degree does, but they offer a more expedient path to employment in the Information Technology sector. As you’ll see in the next section, the tight focus of our training courses provides a huge benefit to their holders.


Focus of Training

Photo by Kevin Ku on Unsplash.

College or Degree Program

Most degree programs require students to take electives or general education credits to help ensure a well-rounded education. Even within their major, college graduates study a huge variety of

topics, not all of which will be useful in their career after school. General education requirements can take as much as one to two years to complete before students can really focus on technology skills.

Certification Courses at LeaderQuest

Certifications instead offer focused training designed to confirm skills in very specific areas that employers have a high demand for. These programs do not require students to take courses in other subject areas. Students are able to jump right into technology courses, each of which has a clear application and certification to show 3rd-party skills verification.

For those looking to start a career in IT as soon as possible, certifications offer a much more direct path to employment because of their increased focus.


Style of Training

College or Degree Program

Many college courses focus more on theory and the history of a subject than on its current practice. Textbooks may have been written years ago but still be in use until a new edition is released. Courses will vary in how much focus they offer on hands-on training depending on the instructor and the availability of lab facilities.

Certification Courses at LeaderQuest

All of our courses include a mixture of lecture time and hands-on labs. Labs are different for each class. In A+, you’ll be taking apart and putting back together computer hardware. Network+ and Security+ are more software focused, with students configuring network components and checking the security of connected virtual systems.

We want to make sure that our students get the experience they need, working with real computer systems and programs. We understand that it’s important for our students to get certified, but we also want to make sure that they have mastered the skills they’ll need to excel in the workplace.


Getting Hired after TrainingStarting an IT Career

College or Degree Program

The completion of a degree marks a huge milestone in one’s career and shows that they have the dedication and determination needed to complete their program. Degrees are respected all over the world as a sign of accomplishment and knowledge, but they don’t signify the same kind of skills-verification that a certification does. This is because certifications focus on very specific bodies of knowledge, while two graduates with Computer Science Bachelor’s degrees may have very different skill sets.

Certification Courses at LeaderQuest

One thing that many colleges lack is follow-through with students who’ve graduated. Once you’re done, you’re pretty much on your own when it comes to finding a job. At LeaderQuest, we make it our #1 priority to help you get hired in a job you’ll love. Each campus has a dedicated Career Services team that will work with you to optimize your resume, perfect your LinkedIn profile and practice interviewing. When you’re ready, we’ll connect you with our network of employer partners that are looking to hire entry-level It roles.

When applying to careers in the IT field, certifications can be a very persuasive credential. For example, if a company wants to hire a Network Engineer, knowing that a candidate has their Network+ and CCNA certifications may be valued over a degree that may or may not have covered the expertise they need. This is especially true of the IT careers in demand right now. If you look at a list of IT jobs, you’ll see certifications listed for almost every one of them. According to a survey conducted by CompTIA, 93% of hiring managers believe IT certifications are valuable in validating expertise. Not only that, but 80% of employers reward their staff for passing certification exams with an increase in salary or pay, public recognition, bonus or promotion!


Certifications vs. Degrees: Who is the Final Winner?

And the final winner is… *drumroll*

Really, we can’t say that one of these routes is superior to the other.

  • If you want a strong foundation and an unparalleled breadth of knowledge, a degree is the best path.
  • If you’re interested in quickly gaining skills and certifications that will get you employed in IT, certification training is a great option.

But did you know that at LeaderQuest you can do both?


With LeaderQuest, you don’t have to choose just one!

In 2018, the American Council on Education’s College Credit Recommendation Service (ACE CREDIT®) officially recommended 14 LeaderQuest courses for college credit. The American Council on Education (ACE), serves as the major coordinating body for the nation’s higher education institutions. Simply put, ACE CREDIT helps adults gain academic credit for courses and examinations taken outside traditional degree programs.

One can debate the merits of a degree or a particular certification endlessly, but there’s no doubt that having both a degree and the right certifications is a perfect recipe for career success! You can read more about which courses are approved and how many credits they’re recommended for on ACE’s website.

LeaderQuest also has formed a comprehensive partnership with Colorado State University-Global Campus (CSU-Global) to create career-relevant, continuing education pathways for technology professionals. This partnership includes an agreement for credit articulation, as well as a 10% tuition discount at CSU-Global for LeaderQuest students! CSU-Global is an online university, and students can attend from anywhere.


Are you interested in starting an IT career?

If you’re ready to get started in IT, LeaderQuest is a great choice. Our intensive training will quickly teach you everything you need to know to get hired in IT. Many students are employed in IT within 3 months of starting classes at LeaderQuest. Our classes are taught by expert instructors who hold the certification you’re training for. LeaderQuest covers the cost of one certification attempt per class, we also have onsite testing centers to make sitting for the exam easy and stress-free. Once you’ve completed your certifications, our Career Services team will work with you to get your resume and LinkedIn profile polished, and then connect you with local employers that are part of our Employer Partner network. That’s what makes us the experts when it comes to helping students start IT careers.

To find out more about how we can help you start an IT career, click the link below and get in touch with us!

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 of 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 that focus on accelerated IT skills training, like LeaderQuest, 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 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.

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 to 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 (PMI®). 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.

PMI, PMP, CAPM, and PMBOK are registered marks of Project Management Institute, Inc.

How Can the CompTIA A+ Certification Jump-Start Your IT Career?

How Can the CompTIA A+ Certification Jump-Start Your IT Career?

Today, we are living in a digital economy. Every business can see that technology has become a critical part of their current operations and their future success, and leadership is pushing for digital transformation. In order to remain competitive, companies know they must invest in IT. This includes everything from the computers that workers use every day, to the networks they communicate with the internet over, to data storage, to cloud computing, and more.

CompTIA A+ is the industry standard for launching IT careers into today’s digital world. Why? Because it’s performance-based, trusted by employers, regularly re-invented by IT experts, and offers a complete skills development solution.

Getting your CompTIA A+ certification will enable you to join this digital revolution and ensure a competitive salary and great job security. Read on to learn about why A+ is so powerful and what you’ll learn.

What Makes the A+ Certification Valuable?

CompTIA A+ vendor-neutral certification is the preferred qualifying credential for technical support and IT operational roles. A+ demonstrates comprehension of hardware, software, operating systems, system troubleshooting, technology repair, networking, mobility, security and operational procedures.

  • Directive 8140/8570: The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) recognizes CompTIA A+ certification for information assurance technicians under DoD Directive 8140/8570.
  • Mapped to NICE: CompTIA A+ maps to the Customer Service and Technical Support specialty area of the framework developed as part of the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE).
  • Highly In Demand: CompTIA A+ ranked 7th in U.S. job listings showing the certification is required or recommended for potential candidates. (Source: CompTIA IT Employment Snapshot, Q4 2017)

If you want to learn more about this certification, download CompTIA’s A+ Certification Guide.

Targeted Job Roles

The A+ certification is ideal for those looking to get started in the Information Technology industry. It was created to certify that readiness and skills for job roles such as Service Desk Analyst, Field Service Tech, Help Desk Tech, and IT Support Specialist.

Employers look for candidates with their A+ certification because it helps them know they’re making a great hiring decision. Being able to pass the exam is a form of 3rd party skills verification that gives hiring mangers confidence that this hire will be able to do the job and do it right. In fact, 96% of HR managers use IT certifications as screening or hiring criteria during recruitment!

What Does the A+ Certification Cover?

This in-depth certification covers the most important basics of the IT industry: security, infrastructure and hardware, networking, operations, operating systems, software and troubleshooting. For a more in-depth look at what you could learn, read through the exam objectives below.

Security

Tech support teams face a growing challenge to accurately triage a flood of security issues.

  • Physical and logical security
  • Social engineering
  • Malware detection and removal
  • Device hardening
  • Biometric authentication
  • Privacy concerns, including GDPR and handling PII

Security Objectives

  • Summarize the importance of physical security measures.
  • Compare and contrast wireless security protocols and authentication methods.
  • Given a scenario, detect, remove, and prevent malware using appropriate tools and methods.
  • Given a scenario, implement security best practices to secure a workstation.

Infrastructure & Hardware

Connectivity is the lifeblood of productivity. Troubleshooting device connectivity issues are table stakes for IT support professionals.

  • Cloud and virtualization
  • IoT devices and protocols
  • Internet appliances, including endpoint management
  • Different network types, including wireless mesh networks

Mobile Devices Objectives

  • Given a scenario, install and configure laptop hardware and components.
  • Given a scenario, install components within the display of a laptop.
  • Given a scenario, connect and configure accessories and ports of other mobile devices.
  • Given a scenario, configure basic mobile device network connectivity and application support.

Networking Objectives

  • Compare and contrast TCP and UDP ports, protocols, and their purposes.
  • Compare and contrast common networking hardware devices. (Routers, switches, access points, firewalls, bubs, repeaters, etc)
  • Given a scenario, install and configure a basic wired/wireless SOHO network.
  • Compare and contrast wireless networking protocols.

Hardware Objectives

  • Explain basic cable types, features, and their purposes.
  • Given a scenario, select and configure appropriate components for a custom PC configuration to meet customer specifications or needs.
  • Given a scenario, install and configure motherboards, CPUs, and add-on cards.
  • Given a scenario, select, install and configure storage devices.

Troubleshooting Objectives

  • Given a scenario, use the best practice methodology to resolve problems.
  • Given a scenario, troubleshoot problems related to motherboards, RAM, CPUs, and power.
  • Given a scenario, troubleshoot common wired and wireless network problems.
  • Given a scenario, troubleshoot hard drives and RAID arrays.

Operations

As the systems that users connect with increase in both number and variety, the definition of competency for an entry level IT support pros has expanded.

  • Scripting, Python, Bash, Javascript
  • Working with log files
  • Knowledgebase best practices
  • Change management
  • Basic disaster prevention and recovery
  • Using remote access

Operational Procedures Objectives

  • Compare and contrast best practices associated with types of documentation.
  • Given a scenario, implement basic change management best practices.
  • Given a scenario, implement basic disaster prevention and recovery methods.
  • Explain the processes for addressing prohibited content/activity, and privacy, licensing, and policy concepts.

Software

Hardware knowledge underpins tech support competency, but the day-to-day requires software expertise.

  • Windows, Linux, Android, iOS, Chrome OS, Mac OS
  • Software as a Service (SaaS)
  • Hypervisors
  • iCloud, Exchange, Google Inbox
  • Active Directory

Operating Systems Objectives

  • Compare and contrast common operating system types and their purposes.
  • Summarize general OS installation considerations and upgrade methods.
  • Given a scenario, use appropriate Microsoft command line tools.
  • Given a scenario, configure Microsoft Windows networking on client/desktop.

Software Troubleshooting Objectives

  • Given a scenario, troubleshoot Microsoft Windows OS problems.
  • Given a scenario, troubleshoot and resolve PC security issues.
  • Given a scenario, use best practice procedures for malware removal.
  • Given a scenario, troubleshoot mobile OS and application issues.

Are you interested in IT training?

Does the idea of installing and configuring motherboards make you grin? Do you want to learn the ins-and-outs of running virtual machines? A career in IT could be the perfect choice for you. If you enjoy working with your hands, fixing broken things, and understanding the latest technology, consider giving IT a chance.

LeaderQuest can help you get the training you need to get hired in IT. Our training courses take 5-10 days to complete and are taught by instructors with years of industry experience. We include hands-on labs in every course so that you’ll have the skills you need to excel. Finally, we offer one-on-one career services to help you with your resume, LinkedIn profile, cover letter, interview skills and more. We’ll even connect you with local IT employers that are looking to hire.

So what’s stopping you? Your IT career is waiting for you!

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The 2018 Survey Results are In (and Students Love LeaderQuest!)

The 2018 Survey Results are In (and Students Love LeaderQuest!)

We love our customers, and there’s nothing more important to us than what they want! With in-class surveys, friendly support staff, and instructors that are accessible 24-7, we try to be as receptive as possible to our students’ needs.

This year, we wanted to gather even more information about our customers and those who are curious about IT training. That’s why we conducted a survey to find out what’s our students and the general public has to say about IT, certifications, and our training.

Who We Surveyed & Our Methods

Of the people who responded, 52% were alumni or current students while 48% had not taken classes at LeaderQuest. We wanted to get a mix of those who are interested in IT, our students, and our alumni. By emailing our survey and putting it on social media, we were able to get a good number of responses from the public as well as from LeaderQuest alumni and students. Of those responses, 39% had no IT experience at all, 24% had one or two years of experience, and 37% had three years or more experience.

Responses from Non-Alumni

Certifications with the Greatest Name-Recognition

We were curious about how well-acquainted our audience is with the certifications LeaderQuest offers. While> some certs have been around for years, others are pretty new. We found that about 77% of non-alumni respondents had heard of the Network+, Security+, and A+ certifications. Only 30% had heard of CASP. This shows that some of the newer certs have a long way to go in terms of name recognition. Check out the chart for the full list.

While not all certifications are widely known, most of our respondents felt that IT certifications offered a lot of value. A total of 90% of non-alumni respondents felt that IT certifications were useful in starting an IT career, and 87% would consider getting one or more IT certifications to start a career. These numbers speak to the incredible value certifications offer through objective verification of a candidate’s skills from a trustworthy third party. Employers look for certain certifications in the hiring process to make sure their employees have the needed skills for the role, and this is reflected in the popularity of IT certifications.

Popular Fields in IT

In the IT industry, non-alumni were most interested in positions related to cyber security (73%), IT support (45%), and project management (45%). Only 36% were interested in networking. This is great news for the industry, considering that there’s a huge demand for workers in cyber security. At the time of this writing, CyberSeek.org lists 285,681 cyber security job openings in the United States! LeaderQuest is proud to help train the next generation of cyber security experts and help to close the cyber skills gap.

Room for Growth in the IT Industry

Of course, many people surveyed were aware of this huge growth opportunity. The non-alumni we surveyed felt the most attractive thing about working in IT is the potential to command a high salary (80%) and the growth potential of the industry (72%). If you haven’t checked out our blog about IT salaries in 2018, take a look! IT salaries are no joke, and they are only getting better. As the industry grows, these positions will command higher and higher pay.

Responses from Alumni and Current Students

The Future of IT Certifications

Our alumni know the value of certification better than anybody. In fact, 87% of our alumni plan on getting more certifications in the future. When building an IT career, certifications can be a huge aid to help professionals take the next big step in their career, whether that’s a raise or a new position. In workplaces that don’t help their employees expand into new skills and positions, certifications are an important way to gain the knowledge needed to start a new role.

Geographic Area of Respondents

In terms of location, Alumni survey respondents studied at Denver (34%), Colorado Springs (27%), Dallas (24%) or Jacksonville (15%). With Denver and Colorado Springs as our first campuses, it’s not surprising that they garnered more responses than our newer campuses in Dallas and Jacksonville. But, with new, bigger facilities in Jacksonville and more happy students than ever in Dallas, next year’s numbers will be even better for these two campuses!

Why Our Students Chose LeaderQuest

Alumni survey respondents told us that the deciding factor(s) for them to attend LeaderQuest were helpful/friendly staff (55%), day or night classes (50%),LeaderQuest covering the cost of certification attempts (47%), IT industry/salary info (44%), and our career services team (44%). We added night classes to make it easier for employed professionals to get training, so it’s good to hear that this made the difference. LeaderQuest covers the cost of one certification attempt per course because we want our students to get certified with the fewest amount of roadblocks possible! And our career services team is hugely important to student success at LeaderQuest, so it’s good to know that it gave some students the final push to enroll. Most importantly, we couldn’t be more proud of our amazing staff, who make all the difference to our students in their day-to-day lives.

LeaderQuest Instructors

When it comes to training, no one is more important than our instructors. That may be why 92% of alumni survey respondents felt that LeaderQuest instructors were well-informed on the topics they covered and effective in helping them understand the material. There’s no replacement for experience, which is why we hire industry-expert instructors who’ve been there and done it before. They’re present at every class to answer questions and address tough subjects so that students gain a thorough understanding–not just of how to pass the exam, but to excel in the new roles they land with these certifications on their resumes.

The Overall Experience at LeaderQuest

The final word in customer service comes when it’s all said and done. When the courses are over, the exams have been taken, and the birds have flown the nest, how do LeaderQuest graduates feel about their experience in retrospect? Well, 87% of alumni said that overall they were very pleased with their experience at LeaderQuest and would recommend it to a friend. There’s no bigger compliment than this. In the end, we’re glad that we could be of service on the journeys of so many talented individuals and empower them to seek out the kind of employment they really want.

Survey Winners

We really appreciate everyone who took the time to fill out our survey and let us know your thoughts. After drawing names, we sent out $100 Amazon gift cards to Darin H., Alexandra M., and Brian T. Thank you all for participating in our 2018 survey! You’ll have another chance to win next year.

Get IT training at LeaderQuest

As you can see above, we have a lot of happy customers! If you’re curious about IT training, contact us today. We offer 5-10 day courses taught by expert instructors, available on campus or online. We also offer our training in an evening format for those who are working during the day. If you’re interested in getting certified, contact us today!

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Making $50,000 More in Cyber Security with IT Training

Making $50,000 More in Cyber Security with IT Training

Any vet can attest that making the transition back to civilian life can be difficult. The skills that make you successful in military life don’t always translate to the civilian world. You’re essentially starting a whole new career. However, many military vets rise to the challenge and pass with flying colors.

Enter Peter Quinones. A tattoo artist, Harley-enthusiast, and U.S. Army Vet, Peter was transitioning out of almost two decades of service when he came to LeaderQuest for assistance.

This is the story of how he was able to land a job in cyber security that made him $50,000 more a year from where he started.


Sixteen Years of Service

June 1999 – January 2015

“I was doing a PhD in emergency management and a lot of cyber was coming up as a critical need so I started looking around. I decided to come into LeaderQuest and talk.”

Peter Quinones left the U.S. Army with an impressive, 16-year service record. He started as a Human Resources Specialist and was later reclassified as Military Police where he aimed to apply real-world practice towards his BA in Criminal Justice.

During his career, he trained military police officers in tactical law enforcement operations that resulted in 100% mission success with zero casualties. While still in the employ of the Army, he also pursued a Master of Arts in Security Management at American Military University.

It’s safe to say, Peter was no slouch. With his military transition coming up he wanted to face the problem head-on. That’s where he first made contact with LeaderQuest.

“I was doing PhD in emergency management and a lot of cyber was coming up as a critical need so I started looking around,” Peter said, “I decided to come into LeaderQuest and talk.”


Joining up with LeaderQuest

January 2015 – March 2015

“LeaderQuest has become more than just a place to take classes. The staff is great and always helpful . . . everyone is helpful and that is why I keep recommending it to people.”

With his background primarily in security-related work, Peter didn’t know much about IT. What he did know is that the field was growing and he wanted to explore his options. Taking classes at LeaderQuest seemed like the perfect way to see if he was interested.

Peter headed to the Colorado Springs campus to learn more. He liked what he saw and before long he was enrolled and hit the ground running during his transition. “The first thing I did upon my transition to civilian life was to take my A+, Net+, and Sec+,” Peter said, “I had no previous IT experience.”

Peter tackled the three CompTIA certifications in January, February, and March. He ended up liking the atmosphere so much that LeaderQuest became more than a school. It wasn’t long before enjoyed coming on to campus just to study.

“It kind of feels like home,” Peter said, “The staff is great and always helpful.”

Interested in our entry-level IT classes such as A+ and Network+? Get more information below.

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Cyber Security All-Star

February 2016

“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.”

After Peter earned the Security+ certification, which is much sought-after in the Department of Defense and enterprise cyber security world, it wasn’t long before he got the job he was looking for.

“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,” he said.

By the time Peter was finished, he had accomplished much. He’d made it into the cyber security world. He’d learned valuable knowledge and was even able to re-sit his Security+ class to refresh the information later. All in all, during his time at LeaderQuest, Peter went from making around $40,000 to $90,000.

 


Today

December 2017

“If I can make it with little to no experience, anyone can—especially if they have LeaderQuest on their side.”

After getting hired, Peter continued to push his career. Eventually, he partnered with another IT specialist in the field. Today, he’s the Chief Operating Officer of an information system engineering firm that focuses on risk management framework compliance and IT security solutions.

“I’ve recommended numerous individuals to LeaderQuest,” Peter said, “I am proof that if I can make it with little to no experience, anyone can—especially if they have LeaderQuest on their side to assist them with their goals.”


Interested in IT Training?

LeaderQuest IT TrainingLooking for a chance to upgrade your career? Or maybe you want to jump into the thriving IT or cyber security industry and you just need your foot in the door. LeaderQuest offers excellent IT training with industry expert instructors. They’ll prepare you to take the certification exams while also giving you the skills and confidence you need to thrive in a new position.

Do you work days? Nights? Would you rather take classes online? LeaderQuest offers classes during the day, at night, online, and on campus to work with any schedule. Getting trained is an investment in your education, but with even starting IT salaries in the $35,000 to $50,000 range, it’s one well worth making.

If you’re exhausted and stuck in a job you hate, don’t worry. Give us a call today and our career advisers can help you find IT training path that’s best for you.

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The Ultimate Study Guide for CompTIA IT Exams: A+, Network+, Security+, CASP

The Ultimate Study Guide for CompTIA IT Exams: A+, Network+, Security+, CASP

Failing an exam can feel like a punch to the gut. You’ve worked hard, studied harder, and given up your free time only to fall short. If you find yourself in this difficult position, don’t worry! It’s more common than you think, even for seasoned IT professionals.

Each exam costs $200-$400 depending on the test so it’s an investment (even though it’s a drop in the bucket compared to what you could earn long-term.) You don’t want to get stuck taking the exam too many times.

That’s why we’re providing a comprehensive list of study guides, exam prep, and tools to help you succeed at certifications such as CompTIA’s A+, Network+, Security+, and CASP exams. The first time. Read on for the keys to success.

(Know which cert you’re looking for? Jump to A+, Network+Security+, or CASP.)

A+ Exam

When it comes to starting your career, A+ is one of the most recognized certifications in the world. Most major computer software and hardware manufacturers are actually members of CompTIA including Microsoft, Dell, IBM, Compaq, and others. The exam is an hour and a half with 90 multiple-choice and performance based questions.

CompTIA offers a number of resources, both free and paid, for test takers. You can get sample questions and exam objectives for free after signing up via email. They offer a number of alternate media for varying prices in their Self Study and Training including books, online courses, and even arranging training. There are also free flash cards and a low-cost A+ app for your phone or tablet.

While there’s an abundance of other free study materials out there, ensuring the consistency and currency of these sources can be difficult. If you’re concerned about passing the A+ exam, LeaderQuest offers a 15-day foundational training course which includes both A+ and ITIL. The average salary for A+ certified professionals is around $50,000.

If you’re new the IT world, certifications communicate to employers that you’ve got the skills to do the job. Many hiring managers actually require A+ to even be considered. By adding the ITIL certification, you’ll be broadening your skill set and setting a strong foundation to build on if your ambitions are for cyber security, network security, or others.

See our full list of A+ resources below:

Pass the A+ Exam!

Network+ Exam

Even though it’s an entry-level certification, there’s no shortage of threads around the internet about failing the Network+ exam.

We’ve already covered the value Network+ can have to your IT career and skillset, but as for the exam, Network+ covers the key skills needed to troubleshoot, configure and manage network systems.

Again, there are sample questions and exam details available on the CompTIA website. CompTIA has also published a basic list of what students should do ensure they pass the test. If you’re looking for a way to beef up your knowledge in your free time try out these free flash cards or the low-cost CompTIA app.

For IT professionals who are considering Network+, but may be open to broadening their qualifications and earning potential, LeaderQuest offers a 25-day Computer User Support Specialist courses which cover A+, Network+, and Security+. While we do have a five-day course solely dedicated to Network+, people in computer user support specialists roles can make an average of $60,000 a year. By adding more than one certification, your earning power increases.

See more studying resources below:

Pass the Network+ Exam!

Security+ Exam

The notoriously difficult Security+ exam recommends that you have at least two years of experience in IT administration. If you’re not sure if Security+ is really the right move for your career, we wrote a whole blog about it here. It’s extremely versatile with employers such as Apple, Dell, HP, IBM, Intel, and the U.S. Department of Defense.

The test includes the following subjects:

  1. Network Security (21% of exam)
  2. Compliance and Operational Security (18% of exam)
  3. Threats and Vulnerabilities (21% of exam)
  4. Application, Data and Host Security (16% of exam)
  5. Access Control and Identity Management (13% of exam)
  6. Cryptography (11% of exam)

CompTIA offers sample questions and an exam overview for free. There’s also an official online app and flash cards for quick studying on the go. Interested in investing some money in some official study guides? This complete list of the best Security+ books is a good place to start.

If you’re getting your Security+ because you’re interested in cyber security, LeaderQuest’s 15-day Information Security Analyst course pairs Security+ with hacking certifications like CND and CEH. From 2015-2017, our Security+ classes boasted a 77% pass rate. This is a great entry point into the cyber world for anyone with at least two years of IT experience.

While a Security+ certification can net you between $40,000 and $90,000, depending on the company and position, an Information Security Analyst’s median income with $90,000 and they can make upwards of $115,000.

See more resources below:

Pass the Security+ Exam!

CASP Exam

The CASP is the odd man out in this list because it’s a mastery-level certification. Often compared to the more well-known CISSP, the CASP is Ideal for IT professionals who’d rather stay in the hands-on technical aspect of their careers than go into management.

With around 90 performance-based and multiple-choice questions, this test clocks in at 165 minutes. CompTIA offers Sample Questions and Exam Objectives for free after users fill out a form. You can get free flash cards that cover acronyms or general test prep. CompTIA has also released an official “Certification Guide” which will provide you with the information you need to pass the CASP.

Since it is a newer certification, there are fewer resources available than for other tests. That’s why we offer a 15-day training course to help pros pass the test. The CASP is perfect for Department of Defense jobs because it fulfills DoD Directive 8570.1. This allows you to work for a number of positions some with salaries as high as $120,000 per year.

(Not sure if you want to take the CASP or the CISSP? See the pros and cons here.)

See more studying resources below:

Pass the CASP Exam!

What Happens if I Fail an Exam?

If you don’t nail your test on the first try, there’s nothing wrong with asking for help. Again, you’re not alone. CompTIA actually has an official retake policy for this very purpose.

No matter how good you are at studying alone, there are always going to be gaps. Even a small misstep on an IT certification exam can mean the difference between getting certified and failing. Not to mention the $10,000 a year in salary.

That’s where we come in. LeaderQuest classes are taught by trained professionals in their field of study. They know the exams inside and out and provide live simulations to help you practice your skills. With our flexible hours, night or day, and online or in person classes to suit your landing style, and we set you up for success. Once you graduate, we also offer resources to help you land a job.

If you need help passing a certification exam, or want to plan the next move in your IT career, contact LeaderQuest today!

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