This is the second blog in our series, What to Do After School: Starting a Secure, Life-long Career. Last week, we examined why IT certification training is a great option for high school grads who aren’t sure that pursuing a college degree is right for them. But what about those who did not complete their high school education and don’t have a GED? Certification training fills a vital role for these individuals as well.
Career Prospects with No GED
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for occupations requiring no formal credential was $23,480 in 2017. That’s significantly lower than $37,690, the median annual wage for all occupations. The BLS also notes that workers who don’t hold a high school diploma are the lowest earners on average, at just $504 median earnings per week.
Additionally, the unemployment rate for Americans without a high school diploma or GED is the highest of any of the educational categories at 7.4%. Combined with low wages on a weekly basis, that puts those with no GED in a precarious position. Making ends meet on low wages is already a challenge, but if they should become unemployed they won’t have any savings to fall back on.
That’s why it’s so important for those who did not complete high school to get additional education that can open up new, more stable career prospects that will offer a higher salary.
Career Training is Often a Better Option than College
While many colleges require a GED to enroll, most trade schools do not. This can be hugely beneficial for those who have not completed high school, as they will not have to go back and complete a GED before they can start training.
Career schools like LeaderQuest also offer a much faster timeline from beginning training to completing credentials and being able to start a career. While most degree-granting institutions require 2-4 years of study, a trade school can have students job-ready in a matter of months.
In addition to this, many colleges offer little in the way of career services support. After completing your degree, it’s up to you to market yourself and find a position in the working world. At LeaderQuest, it’s our No. 1 goal to make sure that each graduate finds work in their field. We offer one-on-one Career Services support for each graduate. This includes resume help, interviewing practice, job hunting tips — plus all the connections we have with local IT employers often looking to hire.
Certifications are in High Demand
According to the BLS, employment for computer support specialists is growing at 10%, faster than average for all occupations. While some employers may seek a degree, others are looking primarily for relevant certifications like CompTIA A+, Security+ and Network+. As the BLS puts it: “Certification validates the knowledge of and best practices required by computer support specialists.”
Burning Glass found that one in five entry-level IT roles require the CompTIA A+ certification.
“Employers value these in-demand certifications so much that they are willing to pay a higher salary for them. All of these door-opener certifications carry sizable net salary premiums, independent of skill, experience, education, other certification requirements, occupation, and wage levels for the industry and MSA.”
“This salary premium is particularly notable because certifications usually demand less investment compared to degree credentials, such as an associate’s degree. For instance, A+ certification requires a $200 fee and an average of six weeks of preparation time to pass the exam. Yet A+ certification commands a 5% salary premium, more than half as much as the average premium for IT workers with a two-year associate’s degree (9%). So in this area, certification can be an alternative for job seekers for whom acquiring more formal education is not a viable option.”
IT Training at LeaderQuest
Our Computer User Support Specialist program is designed for those who have no prior experience in IT. This program trains students for four industry-standard certifications, including ITIL, CompTIA A+ (in two parts), CompTIA Security+, and CompTIA Network+. Each course takes five days of full time instruction, or ten days if taken on our evening schedule for students with full-time jobs or other commitments. After completing the courses, students take advantage of the resources and practice tests that LeaderQuest provides to help them study and prepare for the exams.
Each campus has an Instructor Mentor that’s available for one-on-one support while studying for exams. Our online Learning Portal is full of resources and tools designed to help students master the material not just so that they can pass the exam, but so that they are fully prepared to take on a job role using these skills. We want to make sure that our students have every advantage and are fully prepared when the time comes for them to take the exam and earn that certification.
After classes are complete, graduates work with our Career Services team to help them start their career. Each campus has one or more Employment Development Managers that work with students to perfect their resume, help them successfully apply to jobs in the area, and get them ready to interview successfully and get that job offer. Our Career Services team also helps to create a network of local Employer Partners who have a regular need to hire IT workers. When possible, we connect our students with job opportunities from our Employer Partners to help them get hired quickly.
Ready to Learn More?
If you’re interested in learning more about training options at LeaderQuest, fill out the form below and we’ll contact you with more information.
What is Airforce COOL?
AF Credentialing Opportunities On-Line or AF COOL (Note: You’ll most likely get a security warning from the AFVEC website) is an Air Force program designed to help airmen achieve credentials that are recognized by the civilian community. This serves two purposes: to help the enlisted force gain new skills in an airman’s Air Force job, and to prepare the airman to work in the civilian world after leaving the airforce.
The AF COOL website can be used to research credentials and their prerequisites, identify credentials that are relevant to Air Force Specialties, learn about how credentials can fill gaps between Air Force training and civilian job roles, and learn about the resources available to Airmen that can help them gain civilian job credentials.
Read on to learn about a special offer for those using AF COOL funding for LeaderQuest training.
LeaderQuest and AF COOL
LeaderQuest is proud to participate in the AF COOL program. We know how important it is for airmen to get the right certifications to get hired once they are a civilian. That’s why we offer training in high-demand industries like IT, networking, and cyber security. The certifications that we train students for are globally recognized and are often listed as a prerequisite on job postings in these industries.
For those with little to no IT experience who would like to get started in the industry, we recommend CompTIA certifications such as:
- CompTIA A+ is a two-part course that covers computer hardware, as well as software installation, OS maintenance, troubleshooting, security, basic networking, and more. This foundational course builds important skills for technical support practitioners.
- CompTIA Network+ provides network technicians and support staff with the foundation-level skills they need to install, operate, manage, support, and troubleshoot a corporate network.
- CompTIA Security+ students will understand the field of network security and how it relates to other areas of information technology. This course also provides the broad-based knowledge necessary to prepare for further study in specialized security fields, or it can serve as a capstone course that gives a general introduction to the field.
Which of these courses is right for you depends on your level of experience and where you’d like to take your career. Our Career Training Consultants can help you choose a career path and evaluate which courses are right for you.
For those who already have some experience, we offer mid and high level certifications such as Project Management Professional (PMP), Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), and Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP). Whether you are just beginning your IT or cyber career or looking to advance it to the next level, we offer training in the certifications you’ll need to get there.
LeaderQuest’s AF COOL Training Offer
For those using AF COOL funding, LeaderQuest offers two certification courses for $4,500! Our courses include the cost of all materials, and we also cover the exam fee for each student and offer an onsite testing facility to make the process of getting trained and certified as simple as possible.
If you’re interested in getting into IT, LeaderQuest is a fantastic option. We hire instructors with years of industry experience and our training is always live and in-person. When training is complete, our Career Services team makes it their #1 priority to help you get hired into a great job in the industry of your choice. You’ll get one-on-one assistance with resume writing, practicing interview skills, and looking for the perfect job.
AF COOL Process
We have a summary of the process below. For the full process to apply, click here. (You’ll most likely get a security warning from the AFVEC website.)
Step 1: Search for the Credential
In your AFVEC account, navigate to the AF COOL homepage and search AFSC related credentials. Find the credential you wish to achieve.
Step 2: Create Education Goal
Click on the icon that is listed on the top right of the certification you are seeking to create your education goal.
Step 3: Upload Your Documentation
You’ll want to review the eligibility requirements to make sure the credential or program is a good fit for you. You’ll also want to get all the information on pricing for books, exams, administration fees and so on. If you choose to study at LeaderQuest, we make this simple by charging one price for all the materials (books, labs, etc) and training, and we cover the cost of the exam as well.
You’ll need to upload supporting documentation including:
- EPRs (only if required as proof of eligibility for the credential)
- Prerequisite certifications
- FAA Form 8610-2 (FAA Tickets to test) or CCAF-awarded Certificate of Eligibility
- Books – MS Word document with ISBN, Title, and web link for each book per the vendor’s site
- Login Information – If payment must be made via student login, please provide login and password to AF COOL on a MS Word document (this is not required for LeaderQuest courses)
- Exam Cost – Invoice or quote from the vendor; screen shot or active link to the vendor’s site is also acceptable
- Prep Course/Boot Camp – Invoice from the vendor
Step 4: Start a Funding Request
In your AFVEC account, click “Start a Funding Request” at the bottom right. You’ll need to be ready with info on…
- The exam center you plan to use (LeaderQuest has a Pearson VUE testing center at each location)
- The total cost of the exam (The exam fee is covered with your LeaderQuest enrollment.)
- The testing window, which can be up to 120 days by default or more with special permission
Step 5: Approval Process
First your supervisor has to approve the request, and then it will get passed on to the AF COOL office which will make the payment on your behalf. You should expect a call or email about this from the CPO/Purchase Agent.
Step 6: Study for and Take Exam
Now you’re ready to study for the exam and then sit for it! You’ll need to follow up with the AF COOL CPO to report your scores/achievement and close out your educational goal.
Ready to Start Training?
If you’re interested in learning more about using AF COOL to train at LeaderQuest, you can start the process by contacting us today! Our Career Training Consultants are experts on what certifications will help connect you to a great career in IT, networking or cyber security.
Fill out the form below to get the process started, and take control of your future!