fbpx
The Ultimate Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Study Guide

The Ultimate Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Study Guide

Well-respected and renowned, there’s no doubt that obtaining the Cisco Certified Network Associate Implementing and Administering Cisco Solutions (CCNA) certification can give you an edge over other candidates.

Unfortunately, as evidenced by the many posts about failing the exam, it’s also not a test to be undertaken lightly or where you can get away with cramming. To help out with this difficult (but still obtainable) certification, we’ve prepared an all-inclusive study guide to get you on the right path.

We’ll start out going over the exam’s format and objectives and then dive into study materials. If you’re just here for the study guides, jump ahead here. For the rest of you, welcome! This is the ultimate guide to the CCNA exam.

Jump to study guides, supplemental materials, flashcards/apps, or textbooks.

Why Take the CCNA?

It’s true that there are a number of other reputable networking certification such as CompTIA’s Network+. However, while this could be a good choice depending on your career goals, Cisco certifications are notoriously hard and held in high regard by recruiters and hiring managers.

If you’ve had some experience in IT and want to take your networking career to the next level, the CCNA is the way to get there. As for your career outlook with a CCNA, here’s the rundown:

  • Mean salary: $80,873
  • Most common job titles:

With the demand for network and computer systems administrators expected to grow as much as 28 percent by 2020, it’s clear this is a career that’s not going anywhere soon. To learn more about our CCNA program, contact us at the link below.

Contact Us Here!

Exam Delivery & Overview

While there used to be a few different CCNA exams, there’s now just one exam to take to get this certification: 200-301 CCNA.

Simply put, the CCNA exam is no small feat. Read on for more info on the exam and lots of resources.

Exam Overview

Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Exam Quick Facts

  • Exam Number: 200-301 CCNA
  • Associated Certifications: Implementing and Administering Cisco Solutions (CCNA)
  • Duration: 120 minutes
  • Cost: $300

The focus of the exam will be testing skills and knowledge relating to network fundamentals, LAN switching technologies, routing technologies, infrastructure services, and infrastructure maintenance, LAN switching technologies and expand to IPv4 and IPv6 routing technologies, WAN technologies, infrastructure services, and infrastructure maintenance.

The following are general guidelines for the content likely to be included on the exam.

Cisco CCNA Exam Study GuidesStudy Guides, Labs, and Other Resources

The Cisco website provides a robust amount of study materials, both free and paid, that you can use to prepare for the exam. You can find study materials for the CCNA exam here. Overall, the materials include training videos with industry experts, an up-to-date community with networking basics, practice questions, virtual labs, and more.

Supplementary Study Materials

If you’re interested in a specific topic, you can find more in-depth materials like this companion document on transitioning to IPv6. You can also find videos/seminars on specific concepts, and study groups. For more supplementary materials to keep in mind while you’re preparing for the exam, check out the Cisco blog here.

Flashcards & Apps

Textbooks

Study with an Expert

As you can see from this list, the amount of information out there about the CCNA can be overwhelming. While self-study works great for some, it’s nice to have some assurance when you’re about to take these exams.

At LeaderQuest, we provide quick, comprehensive training that can help you get certified, prepare for a new career, and get hired in a snap.

Looking to dive into a full schedule of classes? Or are you trying to work around a full-time job? We offer classes during the day, at night, online, and on campus to accommodate every schedule and learning style.

With live-virtual labs, a wealth of extra study materials, and industry-expert instructors, we provide you with everything you need to pass your exam. Afterwards, our dedicated Employment Relations Manager will work with you to improve your resume, LinkedIn profile and interviewing skills to help you get hired.

Looking for a chance to pass your CCNA exam, get your Cisco certification, and start a career in networking? Sign up at the link below!

Pass Your CCNA Exam!

The Most Lucrative IT Careers for 2020

The Most Lucrative IT Careers for 2020

It’s clear that Information Technology is a fast growing field with lots of opportunity. According to (ISC)2’s Cybersecurity Workforce Study 2019, which polled more than 3,000 cyber and IT professionals, the current cybersecurity workforce in the United States and 10 other world economies at 2.8 million – about 4 million short of what it needs to be. LeaderQuest is proud to help train the next generation of IT specialists and cybersecurity pros.

Considering that IT workers are needed in nearly every sector of industry, it’s no surprise that these roles are growing like crazy. Salaries are also increasing at high rates, with Information Technology Managers seeing their compensation rise by over 8% from 2015-2019.

So what does this mean for IT? In this examination of the Robert Half 2020 Technology & IT Salary Guide, we’ll be exploring areas of growth, examining average salaries, and reviewing other information that’s essential for anyone thinking of getting into IT.

Expanding IT Industries

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

  • Healthcare — Big innovations are needed to improve patient care by modernizing healthcare operations.
  • Financial services — In the wake of the Equifax breach, this shouldn’t be surprising. Both big data and information security initiatives drive the need for pros in this industry.
  • Manufacturing — While manufacturing has been slow to adapt, things are changing quickly with the trend toward automation.
  • Technology — Unsurprisingly, the tech industry has a huge and growing need for all kinds of information technology roles.

The most in-demand job roles include:

Highly Valued Technology Certifications

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

IT Salaries for 2020

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

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

When you examine the chart below, you can see that IT salaries top out with executive positions such as the Chief Information Officer ($174,750 – $298,750), Chief Technology Officer ($152,250 – $266,000), and Chief Security Officer ($155,250 – $278,000).

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

Technical Services, Help Desk, & Technical Support

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

While salaries start in the $34,000 to $40,000 range, they quickly move to $50,000 – $60,000 as they get more and more specialized. This is especially true for systems administrators and systems engineers.

Position Title 25th Percentile 50th Percentile 75th Percentile 95th Percentile
Help Desk Tier 1 $34,250 $40,500 $47,500 $56,750
Help Desk Tier 2 $41,500 $50,000 $56,500 $65,250
Help Desk Tier 3 $50,500 $60,250 $72,000 $83,000
Desktop Support Analyst $49,750 $61,500 $73,500 $86,500
Systems Administrator $69,250 $84,750 $102,750 $117,250
Manager $107,500 $130,250 $157,750 $185,250
Systems Engineer $88,750 $106,000 $125,750 $148,000

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

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

Contact Us!

Networking/Telecommunications

Network Administrators are listed as one of the most in-demand positions for 2020, so it should be no surprise their salaries range from $76,250 to $129,500, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Many higher level network positions such as Network Engineers, Managers, or Wireless Network Engineers start around $105,000 and can go as high as the $178,750.

Position Title 25th Percentile 50th Percentile 75th Percentile 95th Percentile
NOC Technician $53,750 $64,500 $79,250 $101,750
Telecommunications Specialist $60,000 $72,250 $86,000 $101,250
Network/Cloud Administrator $76,250 $92,500 $110,250 $129,500
Telecommunications Manager $83,750 $103,750 $120,500 $140,000
Network/Cloud Engineer $94,750 $112,000 $134,500 $159,000
Network/Cloud Manager $97,500 $120,000 $141,750 $169,750
Wireless Network Engineer $105,000 $123,750 $148,750 $178,750
Network/Cloud Architect $117,500 $141,750 $169,500 $196,250

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

Interested in learning more? Click the link below.

Contact Us

Security

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

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

Position Title 25th Percentile 50th Percentile 75th Percentile 95th Percentile
Network Security Administrator $94,750 $113,500 $137,000 $160,500
Systems Security Administrator $93,750 $112,250 $134,750 $159,750
Network Security Engineer $101,500 $119,750 $143,000 $168,500
Data Security Analyst $108,250 $129,000 $154,000 $183,500
Information Systems Security Manager $119,500 $143,250 $172,250 $205,750

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

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

Learn More!

Perks, Incentives, and More

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

  • Medical Insurance (81%)
  • Paid Time Off (76%)
  • Dental Insurance (71%)
  • Vision Insurance (63%)
  • Retirement Savings Plan (65%)

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

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

Importance of Certifications

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3 Solid Reasons You Should Stop Thinking About a Cisco Certification & Just Do It

3 Solid Reasons You Should Stop Thinking About a Cisco Certification & Just Do It

Getting started on the road of Cisco certifications can seem like a long, hard, expensive commitment—especially if you’re just starting out and know you want to get all the way to the architect level.

But just because you’ll spend countless hours studying and a couple thousand dollars on test fees over the course of getting your Cisco certifications doesn’t mean it won’t be worth it in the long run.

In fact, quite the opposite is true.

In the end, IT certifications usually end up paying for themselves many times over with increased salary and the peace of mind that comes with job security.

Since offering the CCNA-Security (Cisco Certified Network Associate) certification in our CCNA training Network Administrator course, we’ve seen droves of students set out on the course to better careers with Cisco certifications and with the higher salaries and job security they get from it, they’ve never looked back with regret.

Learn More About CCNA Training!

How Cisco Certification Works

In the 1980s, Cisco was founded as a routing company and added switching in the 1990s. As time went on, they added other technologies, and the journey from their most basic to their most advanced certifications reflects this same route in added technology.

With the CCNA training course, you first learn routing and switching. As you go along, you learn about wireless, data centers, voice, and so on.

To begin the Cisco journey, the CCNA courses Interconnecting Cisco Networking Devices Part 1 (ICND1) and Interconnecting Cisco Networking Devices Part 2 (ICND2) are the first step and prerequisite for any other Cisco courses. Even if you only really care about data centers, you still need to start from the ground up since that’s how Cisco has designed the training.

So in the case that you do not want to pursue a routing and switching path, the steps they’ve designed still improve your career over time and give you the more wider-reaching knowledge to be better at your job than the majority of your peers.

1. Land More Interviews with Certifications

As it turns out, years of experience actually have little to do with proving you know your stuff to hiring managers.

“If I were to filter resumes based on years of experience,” said Marcus Fan on The Cisco Learning Network, “I would find that many candidates would not meet the technical requirements for the positions needed despite the years of experience.”

“My last several openings I’ve received 30-60 applicants each,” he went on. “Since it’s difficult to gauge a candidate’s expertise, many recruiters will then narrow candidates based on referrals or IT certifications.”

So if you don’t know a guy who knows a guy, then it seems like having a legitimate, third-party certification (like Cisco’s CCNA) on your resume will increase your chances of landing an interview even more than having years of experience.

More Interviews with Cisco IT Certifications

2. Higher Lifetime Earning Potential with a Cisco Certification

Especially for full-time or part-time workers, one of the main oppositions to studying for Cisco IT certifications is the time it takes to do so.

Our Network Administrator Program, for example, lasts for 10 days, and each session is half a day each. If you work full time, the time away from your job means you’re missing out on a weeks’ worth of total income, which can make a difference when your bills come due.

However, one weeks’ worth of income pales in comparison to what your potential salary could be just a few months after completing the certification… not to mention how much more you’ll earn over the course of our lifetime.

According to Payscale.com, the average salaries for someone who earns just the basic CCNA Cisco certification broken down by job title are approximately:

  • Network Engineer: $49,000 to $105,000
  • Network Administrator: $41,000 to $82,000
  • Sr. Network Engineer: $72,000 to $135,000
  • IT Manager: $54,000 to $132,000
  • Systems Administrator: $44,000 to $87,000

Quite a difference, don’t you think?

From real pay increases from real LeaderQuest students, read about the success story of Tremayne Brown and many more!

Tremayne Brown Artificial Intelligence IT professional

More Student Success Stories

3. Get Irreplaceable Job Security After CCNA Training

In line with what Marcus Fan was saying about job candidates with IT certifications being more likely to land interviews, candidates with Cisco certifications also enjoy far greater job security than those who don’t… simply because they’ve taken the time to prove that they know their stuff.

Here are some experiences from people who’ve taken the time to get a Cisco certification:

“As a CCNP/CCDP for the past 10 years, I have never had to worry about getting interviews and landing great jobs in the Network Engineering/Architecture career,” said Robert L, a Data Center Networking Infrastructure Specialization Field Engineer in Nevada. “Not to mention portability. The certifications give companies assurance that as a candidate, I know my stuff. Whatever industry!”

“You’ll probably never have to look for a job and you’ll be paid top dollar for what you know,” said Sufyan Ali Shaikh, a bank Network Engineer.

Don’t Wait… Take an Easy First Step Right Now

More interviews, higher salary, and job security—who doesn’t want that?

We’re not claiming that a Cisco CCNA training certification is the magic bullet to IT career success, but we are saying that it’s something that will help you out immensely.

And luckily, getting started isn’t hard. We’ve got information ready to send you that will help you figure out the best course timings for your schedule, and easy payment plans to fit your budget.

Fill Out the Form Below to Learn More

The Most Lucrative IT Careers for 2019

The Most Lucrative IT Careers for 2019

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

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

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

Counteract Inexperience with Quick Learning

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

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

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

Expanding IT Industries

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

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

The most in-demand job roles include:

Highly Valued Technology Certifications

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

IT Salaries for 2019

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

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

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

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

Technical Services, Help Desk, & Technical Support

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

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

Position Title

25th Percentile

50th Percentile

75th Percentile

95th Percentile

Help Desk Tier 1

$32,250

$38,750

$46,000

$55,000

Help Desk Tier 2

$38,250

$45,750

$54,750

$64,500

Help Desk Tier 3

$49,000

$58,500

$70,000

$82,750

Desktop Support Analyst

$51,000

$61,250

$73,250

$86,500

Systems Administrator

$68,000

$81,750

$97,750

$115,750

Manager

$82,000

$98,500

$117,750

$139,000

Systems Engineer

$86,250

$103,000

$123,250

$145,750

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

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

Contact Us!

Networking/Telecommunications

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

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

Position Title

25th Percentile

50th Percentile

75th Percentile

95th Percentile

NOC Technician

$52,250

$62,500

$77,000

$98,750

Telecommunications Specialist

$59,500

$71,500

$85,250

$100,750

Network Administrator

$74,750

$89,000

$106,750

$126,750

Telecommunications Manager

$79,750

$95,500

$114,500

$136,000

Network Engineer

$92,000

$108,750

$130,500

$154,250

Network Manager

$94,750

$113,500

$135,750

$162,000

Wireless Network Engineer

$102,000

$122,000

$146,250

$173,500

Network Architect

$114,00

$137,500

$164,500

$195,000

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

Interested in learning more? Click the link below.

Contact Us

Security

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

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

Position Title

25th Percentile

50th Percentile

75th Percentile

95th Percentile

Network Security Administrator

$93,000

$111,500

$134,000

$158,750

Systems Security Administrator

$93,750

$112,250

$134,750

$159,750

Network Security Engineer

$98,500

$118,000

$141,750

$167,500

Data Security Analyst

$105,000

$125,250

$149,500

$178,250

Information Systems Security Manager

$116,000

$139,000

$167,250

$199,750

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

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

Learn More!

Perks, Incentives, and More

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

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

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

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

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

Importance of Certifications

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact Us!

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

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.

LEARN MORE


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.

Contact Us


 

When to Invest in IT Certifications over College Degrees

When to Invest in IT Certifications over College Degrees

In today’s fast, market-driven economy, it can be difficult for a newcomer or career changer to decide between technical or IT training / certification(s) and traditional college degree paths. We take a look at these two alternatives so you can decide which one is right for you!

Key Differences Between IT Training and Degree Programs

There are a few fundamental differences between traditional college programs and technical training programs. A traditional college will generally mandate certain “area requirements,” or classes you must take outside of your major to graduate with a degree. It is important to realize that with any traditional college degree, a great deal of time commitment and financial investment is required. Your area requirements can take a year or more before you are even able to begin actual technology courses.

Turning to IT training and IT certification, there is a stark difference. 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. Course length varies widely depending on the course, program, certification, and school.

IT certifications are different than a degree a student would receive by attending a traditional college. A college degree in Information Technology usually has subjective courses, depending on the issuing college. A technical or IT certification is confirmation of knowledge at a national, or in some cases, international standard of a certain area of applied technology.

What Timing Fits Your Plan?

Time Money Outcomes - Do They Equal Out?As we mentioned earlier, timing is a big consideration when making the decision between technical training and college. Colleges generally operate on a semester basis, meaning that the average course lasts approximately 15 weeks and you get about and average of 3 hours per week of class time.

IT training and IT certification courses generally have a shorter course length than college. In general, you will be able to find IT training courses ranging from 5-30 days per course. Some certifications require multiple courses so, for example, you may need to take two 5-day courses to get one certification. Technical classes usually have more laboratory and classroom hours, because, while much of college is theoretical and independent work, IT training programs focus on hands-on applications of technology. The total amount of time it takes to complete training and achieve certification is variable and will greatly depend on your career goals, previous experience, the institution you are attending, and what certifications you’d like to earn. The timing will almost certainly be less than the four years it takes on average for a college student to receive any Bachelor’s degree.

Student services and career counselors are generally available at good technical schools and colleges alike to help you work through your career path and what courses you will need to achieve your goals. 

Employment and Career Opportunities

Now let’s take a look at which types of jobs value IT certifications over college IT degrees. According to Ramon Padilla, an experienced IT manager interviewed by Tech Republic, an online computing magazine, certifications are almost always preferred to degrees when the job is for something specific. This is because an individual can amass certifications, each of which has a very specific title, such as “Oracle Database Administrator,” and these coincide very well with job descriptions hiring managers are looking to fill. Having certifications is almost always better when the hiring is being done by another person who works in Information Technology versus a Human Resources employee or similar. Just saying you have an “IT degree” doesn’t answer too many questions, while having very specific and specialized certifications in areas where the company is lacking speaks volumes about how useful you will be if you are hired.

There are many jobs that require one of many available IT certifications. Just by looking at a career listing site, such as StackOverflow Careers (almost exclusively slated for technology jobs) and Indeed.com, you can see there is a massive collection of job openings just waiting for people with qualifying certifications to apply. For example, let’s look at a Computer User Support Specialist job. This position is a great entry level job for those who are looking to gain experience and pursue an IT career. There are no pre-requisites, prior experience, or college degrees required and with the right training and certifications, you can earn between $30,000 and $56,000 per year! For those who want to pursue additional training and certifications, it is easy to move up the ladder in a relatively short time.

Tech Careers 2016

One of the more profitable certifications to get is the Cisco Certified Network Associate or CCNA. This certification will give you all of the networking fundamentals, competencies, and qualifications needed to pursue an IT career in Network Administration. Network administration is a very well-paying job. Companies are constantly striving to keep up with increasing technology demands of clients and employees alike, and more and more careers are opening up every day. According to PayScale.com, just this certification yields salaries starting from a bit above $40,000 to well over $100,000! That isn’t too bad for a job that does not require a college degree. There are also several other IT certifications available from technology conglomerates around the world that can qualify you for several other well-paying jobs, including System Administrator, Network Administrator, Project Manager, and many more.

Cyber Security Specialties

A huge specialty in IT right now is Cyber Security. Companies have become much more concerned about the security of their computers and networks, especially after high profile hacks of large corporations like Sony have been leaked to the news. This has led to a large demand for cyber security professionals. Certifications like CEH or Certified Ethical Hacker and CISM or Certified Information Security Manager are in high demand right now.

Certified Ethical Hacker Payscale 2016

Another relevant certification available in Cyber Security is the Cisco Cybersecurity Specialist (CCS). According to Cisco’s Learning Network, all five of the IT security fields their certifications apply to have had large salary increases recently; this includes Data Security Analyst, Network Security Administrator, Systems Security Administrator, Network Security Engineer, and Information Systems Security Engineer. All of these jobs use some portion of the CCS certification, and their estimated 2015 average salaries range from $71,000 all the way to $156,000.

Note that in most cases, to achieve a good position in Cyber Security you will need several years of experience in addition to certifications but not necessarily a college degree. It is important to research a career path for Cyber Security to determine if four years of experience will benefit you more or less than four years of college.

 


In short, IT training and IT certification may be a viable alternative to traditional college. Especially if you are not ready or cannot afford to invest years and large amounts of money into “area requirements” and other general expenses. It also may be ideal if you need to progress along a career path quickly, are tired of your current job, or are currently unemployed. Finally, while only you can make the decision about which path is right for you, you should remember that IT certification is one of the few ways you can train so quickly and get paid a salary well above what some people who recently graduated from a Bachelor’s program may be able to get! Contact LeaderQuest today to learn more about our IT Career Training programs!

Top 8 Highest-Paying IT Certifications (& What You Need to Do to Get Them)

Top 8 Highest-Paying IT Certifications (& What You Need to Do to Get Them)

It’s no secret that the IT industry is plagued by and inundated with IT certifications. PMP, CCNA, CISA, MCSE, MCSA, CISM, CEH and the list goes on and on!

It seems like you can get an IT certification for every little thing you can do with a computer, and sometimes, the hard thing with all these possibilities is knowing which opportunities are most worth your time and your effort. (And even your money.)

And while money isn’t the end-all be-all of career happiness, making more of it generally doesn’t lead to all-out dissatisfaction. (And let’s be honest… one of the up-sides to getting into an IT career is the earning potential.)

So if you’re wondering which IT certifications you should be planning for and going after, this list will help you narrow down your list to the ones that will up your salary… getting you closer to where you want to be financially.

 

1. CRISC – Certified in Risk & Information Systems Control

  • Salaries revealed online: $118,000 to $119,000*

This is a fairly new IT certification, just coming on the scene in 2010, that is offered by ISACA, a non-profit group that advocates for IT professionals.

The certification is designed for those in IT who are responsible for identifying and managing risks from the design of a system, to its implementation, even through general maintenance.

To qualify for the CRISC exam, you need to rack up a minimum of three years of experience in three of the five areas the certification covers. Then, of course, you need to pass the exam, which is offered twice per year.

Because only 17,000 people have passed the exam since 2010, it’s an in-demand IT certification that pays well.

You can register for the next upcoming exam and find locations here.

2. CISM – Certified Information Security Manager

  • Salaries revealed online: $114,000 to $118,000*

Also regulated by the ISACA, this particular IT certification focuses more on the strategy behind computer security and analyzing the policies and methods a company has in place, rather than being so concerned about the actual work of implementation.

It’s a bit older than CRISC, coming on the scene in 2002. And since only 24,000 have been certified in those 13 years, it’s got a small supply of qualified individuals, which makes this certification something that’s sought-after and worth paying a high salary for.

To take the exam, you need to have racked up five years of experience in information security, with at least three of those years in a security management role.

The exam is given three times per year, and is one IT certification that’s recognized all over the world.

Find the upcoming exam dates, registration deadlines, and study materials on the CISM section of the ISACA website.

3. CISA – Certified Information Systems Auditor

  • Salaries revealed online: $106,000 to $112,000*

This is the third and final one on the list from the ISACA. It’s also their oldest certification, dating back to 1978.

It’s focused around the work of information security auditors who work in monitoring, controlling, and assessing IT systems, and measures a person’s ability to manage vulnerable spots, update policies, and confirm compliance with pre-set standards.

To take the exam, you need to have five years of experience in information systems – either in cybersecurity, auditing, or control, and the exam is offered three times per year.

Find the rules of taking the exam, when and where you can take it, and registration forms on ISACA’s CISA page.

4. PMP Certification – Project Management Professional

  • Salaries revealed online: $108,000 to $109,000*

No, PMP certification is not exclusive to IT, but it IS a popular one in the IT industry. (Because everything in IT—from a software program to a security system—is a project that needs managed.)

It’s offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI), and is the most popular project management certification out there.

To qualify for the exam, you need to have 7,500 hours (around 4 years of full-time work) of project management experience if you don’t have a Bachelor’s degree, or a minimum of 4,500 hours (a little over 2 years of full-time work) of project management experience if you’ve earned a Bachelor’s degree or higher.

Once you qualify, the exam itself goes over the five most important areas of the project management lifecycle, which include initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing.

There are several schools that offer formal PMP certification training as well as many self-study guides that you can find online. If you’re not sure which is the best path for you, our in-house PMP expert and certified trainer tackles the question of self-study vs. formal PMP certification training here.

Learn about the facelift the PMP exam is getting starting in January 2016.

5. Certified Scrum Master

  • Salaries revealed online: $101,000 to $107,000*

This is another certification that isn’t necessarily IT-specific.

It’s basically project management, but a totally different approach to project management than is required by the Project Management Institute for the PMP certification.

The term “scrum” actually comes from rugby, and is when a game has to be re-started because someone violated the rules or the ball bounced out of play.

When it comes to project management, the scrum theory says that expectations and requirements will change throughout project development, requiring a restart of sorts… instead of trying to identify everything upfront.

This certification, unlike the PMP certification, doesn’t require a set number of hours of experience. What you need to do instead, is become familiar with the scrum philosophy, attend an in-person CSM course lasting two days, and then pass the Scrum Alliance’s exam.

The first thing the Scrum Alliance wants you to do before becoming certified is familiarize yourself with the Scrum philosophy, and they’ve created an entire page full of resources to help you do that.

6. CEH Certification – Certified Ethical Hacker

  • Salaries revealed online: $95,000 to $103,000*

Given by the EC-Council (International Council of Electronic Commerce Consultants), this cybersecurity IT certification tests your know-how when it comes to finding weaknesses in a company’s network defense strategy using the same techniques as the unethical hackers trying to cause harm.

Because e-commerce security is such a big deal, the need for certified IT professionals in this area is pretty high, resulting in pay that is also pretty high.

The EC-Council itself has self-study and instructor-led options to prepare you for the exam, but if you’re looking for something that might be a little more local to you (and quicker), we have a CEH course that will fully prepare you to take the exam in just five days.

7. CCDA – Cisco Certified Design Associate

  • Salaries revealed online: approx. $99,000*

This IT certification covers the use of Cisco’s hardware in designing and setting up on-campus networks, requiring those taking the exam to be familiar with routing and switching, wireless connectivity, IP, security, and a few other things.

Since it’s an Associate-level IT certification from Cisco, you must first earn the CCENT, CCNA, or CCIE certification. After that, you’ll have to study the preparation materials and then pass the exam.

If you’re ready to prepare for the Certified Design Associate exam, Cisco’s website has overviews, study materials, and practice exams for you to look over.

(However, if you’re still in need of one of the other certifications to qualify for this one, we’ve got a great program that’ll prepare you for the CCNA exam in just 15 days.)

8. ITIL v3 Foundation

  • Salaries revealed online: $95,000 to $97,000*

This IT certification was created in the 1980s by England’s government to help standardize IT management across the country.

This one is open for entry-level IT professionals (because it covers foundations), and in fact, the ITIL is nothing more than a set of books that outlines the most commonly used IT management framework in the world.

The books cover capacity management, availability, operations management, incident management, and change. Getting the ITIL certification demonstrates that you understand the basic concepts of the IT lifecycle and all the terminology involved.

The AXELOS website has free papers you can use to test yourself on the certification’s concepts, and an easy search tool to find a local place to get your official training from. Many times, however, it’s helpful to find an ITIL prep course to help you pass the ITIL exam the first time!

(Loads of our own professors have this certification.)

 

Keeping Your Expectations Realistic

While a few of these IT certifications are relatively “easy” to reach in comparison to others, most actually take years of planning to obtain, which is why their reflected salaries are so high. (Though some don’t take years, so there’s good news for everyone.)

However, even if your particular goal certification does take you a number of years, having that specific goal in mind will guide your IT career choices and help you get to your goal… and your ideal salary… much faster.

(Also, if you’re one of those smarties that does manage to race to the top – Congrats! – keep in mind that some of the salaries listed also reflect career time and progression and are not 100% dependent on the IT certification itself.)

What are your goal IT certifications and target salaries for your IT career? What steps have you taken so far to move in that direction? What are you going to do next? We know that answering these questions is not always easy. We are dedicated to helping you reach your IT career dreams. Contact us anytime and we can help you create or refine your career goals and recommend a good IT training path that will work on your budget in your timeline!

 

*Salaries compiled from available 2015 online resources

I Passed My CCNA…What Now?

I Passed My CCNA…What Now?

You should feel a great sense of pride and satisfaction once you have achieved your CCNA certification. The biggest question is, “What do I do now?” Don’t let your time, effort, and money go to waste! Utilize this new certification to boost your IT career!

What you can do with your CCNA certification depends on your current situation. If you are new to the field and looking for your first IT position, then your strategy would be very different from the experienced IT pro who has recently obtained their certification. In either case, the good news is that the CCNA certification from Cisco is considered to be a valuable and highly sought after credential, so job opportunities should be abundant.

Here are my thoughts on how to proceed for both the new entrant to the IT field and the experienced IT Pro:

CCNA Without Experience

Never stop learning!

Working with technology means that change is part of our daily lives, so we must stay current with the latest advancements. Staying on top of the advances in a given field or area of expertise is critical to your relevance in the work place, so take advantage of all learning opportunities. Join study groups or Meet Ups to learn from others in the field, read blogs and Cisco websites to stay on top of new or evolving technologies. One strategy that I have found critical is leveraging Twitter which can funnel information to me rather than spending hours searching the Internet to find important announcements or relevant changes.

Socialize

Utilize social networking tools like LinkedIn to promote your newly acquired certification and effectively connect with other professionals and placement specialists. Also, attending Cisco conferences can help you meet the right people to further promote yourself. Again, join various study groups and learn enough to become a presenter/mentor for others.

Gain real-world experience

Hands-on experience in a production environment can further set you apart from other candidates, so be willing to gain experience through different channels. One solution would be to purchase a home lab and work through all the setup, configuration, troubleshooting, security and optimization procedures taught in your studies for the CCNA. Labs kits can be purchased off of eBay and can be a difference maker when it comes to thoroughly understanding these technologies.

Also, pursue other forms of experience by offering your services for free. For example, work as a volunteer for smaller companies who may not be able to afford high priced consultants and full-time IT staffs. Often family and friends work for or know of small companies who need some basic assistance with networking, etc. so become a valued technologist by assisting these companies free of charge or perhaps at a discounted rate.

Experienced IT Pro

Explore new technologies

Few technologies have the staying power to be relevant throughout your IT career, so be open to learning new technologies which can lead to new opportunities. Be willing to self-study some technologies in order to gain a rudimentary understanding of potentially relevant fields of study.

Embrace the Cloud and Security

The cloud and cyber security are two areas of interest are two of the most sought after skill-sets and will likely be in demand for several years, so embrace learning and being an advocate of both of these fields. Both may require a steep learning curve and constant attention to evolving technologies, but these types of skill-sets will certainly open doors for qualified practitioners. LeaderQuest offers a complete Cyber Security program and also several individual cyber security courses.

Network

Engaging with other technical specialists can be enlightening as to what skills gaps you may still have and can assist with improving your overall understanding of this constantly changing field. Take opportunities to attend sponsored events and conferences to learn the latest technologies directly from the experts.

 

If you haven’t achieved your CCNA certification yet, stop thinking about it and just do it! The bottom line is that the CCNA certification can help you boost your career and increase your pay. You will need to network, market yourself and your certifications, and continue growing your skills and experience. Our Network Support Specialist training will prepare you for the CCNA certification and help boost your professional profile.