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Turning a COVID-19 Layoff into a New Career: Eric Thompson

Turning a COVID-19 Layoff into a New Career: Eric Thompson

After getting laid off in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Eric decided to focus on a new career in cybersecurity. This is the story of how he made that switch.

“I’ve always been a techie. I’ve got tons of computers at home that I tinker with all the time. And I just love helping people by looking at their current environment. They tell me, ‘We’re having trouble with this, how can we fix it?’ And that’s what I’ve always liked doing with IT.”

Watch the video below, and read on to learn more about Eric’s IT training success story.

Trouble with the Pandemic

Eric moved to Colorado in 2012 and had a great career in IT sales. In college, he had double majored in business and computers and enjoyed having one foot in each world.  Eric switched companies so that he could stay in Colorado. Not longer after this switch, his company merged with another. They were struggling when COVID-19 hit, and he was laid off in April of 2020.

Looking for a next step, Eric’s brother reminded him about his passion for cybersecurity. Eric started working on getting some certifications he hadn’t needed for his career in sales, and completed his Security+ in a month of self-study. He was looking for a next step when he met up with Ken Hoerning. Ken is one of the Career Training Consultants here at ACI Learning (formerly LeaderQuest), and was able to advise Eric on a plan of action.

“Ken walked me through start to end, ‘Here’s how we can get you into this class, here’s kind of what it looks like, here’s what the courses are going to be, here’s what you can anticipate,’ all the way through the test.”

Training at ACI Learning

Eric took our one-week CISSP prep training course, and chose to also attend an evening schedule.

“For the CISSP program, I actually took the class both in the day session and the night session. The day session was about 8 hours a day. Everything was remote, so you’re basically on your computer and the instructor is talking about things and it’s very interactive. You have sample questions and group discussion, but mainly it’s going through the book in the best way possible. ACI has their own materials for this. ACI will let you resit as many times as you want so that was a very nice offer.”

“I think ACI did a very good job as far as being able to get in the highlights and provide materials in the time they had. They give you access to several test banks, which is very nice. I worked with some of my classmates and we started a daily training session to share information and go over practice questions.“

CISSPs are information assurance professionals who define the architecture, design, management, and/or controls that assure the security of business environments. The CISSP certification was the first certification in the field of information technology and cybersecurity to meet the requirements of ISO/IEC Standard 17024.

Our CISSP training offers a job-focused approach to the cybersecurity process while providing the basic skills required to prepare for CISSP certification. Get live training, online or in person, from an instructor with industry experience. You’ll also gain access to a plethora of practice tests, videos, and other resources designed to teach you everything you need to know to pass the exam. If you’re not feeling ready, you can resit the course as many times as you’d like for up to 24 months! And when you’re done, you’ll have the full support of our Career Services team to help you find the job that’s right for you.

If you’re not ready to tackle something as advanced as CISSP, we offer foundational courses in our Computer User Support Specialist program, as well as mid-level certifications like CCNA, Certified Network Defender (CND), Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) and more!

Career Services Support and Getting a DoD Job After Training

Eric worked with our campus Career Services staff to find his ideal job: working with a DoD contractor. Our Employment Development Managers (EDMs) specialize in helping graduates perfect their resume and online presence, make connections with local people and companies, and get the interviews needed to land their dream job.

“Michelle Martin has been wonderful. She sent millions of things to me per day saying, ‘You should check out this and this and this’ and it was really helpful. So just the energy and the passion that ACI had and their commitment of making sure everything went well, all the follow-ups, everything else, was very helpful.”

Michelle and I talked many times. I was very passionate about finding a DoD position. And so she said you should connect with this person on LinkedIn or this person on Amazon, and talk to these individuals and she made some introductions and it really helped.”

As of early August 2020, Eric has accepted a position as a Cyber Network Architect for SAIC, pending a clearance level approval. Congrats, Eric!

“ACI’s main benefit is the fact that they have a recruitment specialization that will help you locate your new job. You can use that as much or as little as you want. So if you ignore them they will not be able to do much, but if you say, ‘Hey I need some help with this,’ they are very willing to step up, help, make introductions. And the other part is that if you went through the week and you still feel like, well I need some help, ACI is constantly having these classes and you can re-sit these classes as many times as you want. And they’re more than happy to do that.”

Are You Ready to Level Up Your Career?

With classes running weekly for the most popular IT certifications, there’s never been a better time! If you’re ready to have a conversation about training at ACI Learning, just fill out the form below.

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.

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.

What is ITIL V3 Foundation and Why Do You Need It?

What is ITIL V3 Foundation and Why Do You Need It?

The IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is one of the most commonly requested certifications for IT support staff. For those looking to start a career in IT, this certification is an important addition to their resume. LeaderQuest offers a 5-day ITIL course that will teach you everything you need to know to pass the exam and get certified, even if you don’t have any IT experience.

This blog will cover what ITIL is, why it’s important for a career in IT, and how it doesn’t just apply to support roles.

What is ITIL?

ITIL is a framework for best practices for delivering IT services. In the 1980’s, the British government’s Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA) started collecting best practices in an effort to reduce inefficiency and standardize IT processes. The library eventually included 30 volumes, collected from all over the world. These volumes covered a variety of best practices, including ones from technology vendors all over the world.

In 2000, ITIL V2 was released. This revision of the ITIL reduced the number of volumes to just 7, each focusing on a different part of IT service management:

  • Service Support
  • Service Delivery
  • Planning to Implement Service Management
  • ICT Infrastructure Management
  • Applications Management
  • Security Management
  • The Business Perspective

In 2005 the ITIL was again consolidated, this time to just 5 volumes. In 2011, ITIL V3 was released by AXELOS, a joint venture of Her Majesty’s Cabinet Office and Capita PLC. V3 is the most current version of ITIL, and the version that LeaderQuest offers training on.

ITIL Foundation is the first of five certifications offered by AXELOS:

  • Foundation Level
  • Practitioner Level
  • Intermediate Level
  • Expert Level
  • Master Level

What makes ITIL V3 different?

In general, V2 was more focused on process, while V3 is more focused on business integration and a holistic service lifecycle for continuous improvement.

While V2 was very process-focused, V3 is more service oriented. V3 introduced the lifecycle approach to service management. V2 had a linear structure from business to infrastructure, whereas V3 offers a hub-and-spoke structure that enables flexibility. V3 also roughly doubles the size of the library that composes ITIL. While V2 did little to help IT service management professionals to clearly articulate the benefits of professional service management, V3 uses clearly defined roles and responsibilities through the entire lifecycle.

Finally, while V2 was more focused on “what” should be done and why, V3 has more practical focus on “how” one should go about doing it. V3 aligns much much better with the needs of modern businesses and their focus on seeing real results, instead of focusing on theory.

Benefits of ITIL and PMP

If you’re interested in doing project management for an online company or any business that has strong IT needs, this is a powerful combination. ITIL Foundation will give you a deep understanding of the processes and framework for IT service management, which will help you plan your projects in a way that works efficiently with those teams. When it comes to getting hired, this combination can put you on the top of the stack with the right kind of companies.

The PMP certification is the most important industry-recognized certification for IT project managers. Globally recognized and demanded, the PMP certification demonstrates that students have the experience, education, and competency to lead and direct projects. PMP is an ideal certification for project managers, project team members, functional managers, and others involved in the planning, implementation, and control of projects. If you are looking to solidify skills, stand out to employers and maximize earning potential, this certification is for you!

ITIL is also an important certification if you’re interested in going into management. By understanding the terminology, processes, and service management cycle, your ability manage IT teams with efficiency and confidence will be greatly increased. ITIL gives you a foundation to create best-practices through the latest tools and techniques available.

LeaderQuest offers these two certifications as a package in our Senior Technology Project Manager program.

Senior Technology Project Manager

Benefits of ITIL and CISSP

For those who are interested in going into IT security, ITIL is the perfect certification to combine with other more cyber security-focused certs. If you want to make sure that systems and networks are secure, it’s important to understand the processes that are used to create and maintain those systems.

Because CISSP has a focus on management, ITIL and CISSP are a great combination. It’s vital to understand the business front to back, soup to nuts, and IT infrastructure is an important part of how any business operates. ITIL will assist you in coordinating with all levels of IT efficiently.

Hands-On ITIL Training at LeaderQuest

We know how hard studying new concepts can be when you don’t have any IT experience. That’s why we custom-built our ITIL curriculum to empower career changers to master these concepts quickly and start a career in IT with confidence. An important component of our curriculum is a case study that we adapted for use. You can read all about it here.

Are you ready to start your IT career?

If you are thinking about getting into IT but have no experience, ITIL is the perfect place to start. Combining ITIL with the power of other certifications my seem daunting at first, but when you get started with LeaderQuest you’ll find that this training is designed for people just like you.

The truth is, you really only need a few key certifications to get started in the IT industry. Our Computer User Support Specialist track combines ITIL, A+, Net+ and Security+ to give you a strong foundation for career growth. After a few years working in the industry, you can use this as a base to grow into cyber security with certs like CEH, CND or CISSP. Or you can get into networking and infrastructure with CCNA. If you’d rather be in management, you can get your PMP and easily find work anywhere in the world.

If you’re ready to get started, consider LeaderQuest. We offer short-term training designed to get you skilled up and on the job market in as little time as possible. The Computer User Support Specialist program takes about two months to make you job ready, including instruction and time to take your exams. All of our courses are taught by live, industry-expert instructors, and LeaderQuest even covers the cost of one certification attempt per course.

Once you’re certified, our Career Services team will meet with you to optimize your resume, improve your LinkedIn profile and online presence, and help you prepare to interview for IT roles. We have connections with local IT employers, and can get your resume in front of their hiring managers. It’s our goal that every LeaderQuest graduate get connected with a great IT job, and our Career Services team is here to make sure that happens!

So what are you waiting for?

GET STARTED
What is the CASP Certification and is it Right For You?

What is the CASP Certification and is it Right For You?

It’s no secret that cyber security is an ever-growing concern. In 2016 alone, the National Crime Agency reported over 2.46 million cyber attacks. As demand for cyber IT specialists skyrockets, ensuring professionals have the necessary skills has been a challenge.

That’s where the CASP exam and certification comes in. Designed to test enterprise cyber security skills, it can be a great investment for an IT pro looking to level up their career. But is it right for you? Read on to find out.


So… What is CASP, Anyway?

CASP, or CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner, is a mastery-level certification developed to provide verification of cyber security skills. It’s currently the only advanced, performance-based IT certification that focuses on practitioner skills at the five to ten-year level.

It was created at the request of the Department of Defense (DoD). During the process, CompTIA collaborated with government, military, and enterprise agencies like the U.S. Army, Department of the Navy, U.S. Air Force, Dell, Lockheed Martin, HP, IBM, and more.

CASP is a useful cert because it fulfills DoD Directive 8570.1. This rule states that all Information Assurance workers who work with selective data–which include a number of cyber security roles–must have a certification verified by ISO standard 17024.

This puts CASP in the category of other notable certifications like Security+, Network+, A+, CISSP, CISM, CND, andCEH. However, CASP helps you qualify for better paying, more dynamic jobs than some.

Though CASP’s history is military, it’s become increasingly more relevant in the enterprise world for companies with coexisting IT business needs and important security concerns.


Is CASP Right for You?

Getting CASP certified is ideal for individuals who have 5-10 years of IT experience and are interested in cyber security. Unlike the CISSP certification, another important cert in the cyber security world, CASP’s focus is hands-on and technical. This is ideal for people who AREN’T interested in transitioning into management.

(Considering CISSP? Click here to see our CASP vs. CISSP infographic!)

CASP could be a smart investment if you’re in one of the following situations:

  • You’ve got a CEH or Security+ certification and are looking to make more money or dive deeper into cyber security, OR
  • You’ve got 5-10 years of IT experience and want to move up, but aren’t interested in management, OR
  • You’ve obtained your CISSP, are looking for a pay bump, but don’t want to stop, “geeking out on the keyboard,” OR
  • You’re looking for a career in enterprise cyber security and need something that can land you jobs with DoD compliance requirements

Once obtained, CASP opens doors for various advanced-level cyber security jobs. If you’re interested in assessing and managing risk, securing networks, preventing cyber attacks, and even getting inside the mind of a hacker to make sure that a company’s network, computers, and information are as safe as possible, CASP could be right for you.

This includes opportunities such as:

  • Cyber Security/IS Professional
  • Information Security Analyst
  • Security Architect
  • IT Architect INFOSEC
  • IT Specialist Cybersecurity
  • Cybersecurity Risk Manager
  • Cybersecurity Risk Analyst

As stated above, CASP was developed at the request of the DoD and is valid for 8570 compliance. Because of this, it qualifies an individual for DoD positions in cyber security at the following levels:

  • IA Technical Level III
  • IA Manager Level II
  • IA Architect & Engineer Level I
  • IA Architect & Engineer Level II

Of course, the biggest benefit of CASP is that it’s a relatively low-cost way to increase job opportunities and salary, especially compared to CISSP. The CASP program can be completed at LeaderQuest in just one week of daytime classes, or two weeks for those who sign up for our evening schedule.

If you’re interested in CASP courses in your area, click below.

Get CASP Info


CASP vs. CISSP

One of the main critiques of CASP is that it doesn’t measure up to the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification. But that’s like comparing apples to oranges.

The tests have different goals and represent two completely different career paths. Yes, CISSP has been around longer and holds slightly more street cred in certain areas, but CASP is more cost effective, easier to pass, and is a powerful way to open the doors to new positions.

If you’re looking for a career in IT management, CISSP might be the better choice. If not, CASP can level up your career at a fraction of the cost.

Still not sure how the two stack up? Don’t worry. We’ve provided a comprehensive guide below. Read on to see if CISSP or CASP is right for you.

CASP vs CISSP

Think CISSP is a better fit for your career? LeaderQuest offers low-cost courses for CISSP online and at our campuses in Denver, Colorado Springs, Dallas, and Jacksonville. If you’re interested in learning more about CISSP, get more info below.

get CISSP INFO


Are you interested in getting CASP certified?

If you’ve got 5-10 years of IT experience, aren’t interested in management, and are looking to make more money in the cyber security field, CASP may be right for you.

While it may not be as versatile as CISSP, it’s a cheaper, easier alternative for people in the enterprise cyber security world.

Weylin Piegorsch

CASP occupies a strongly-needed niche . . . I feel that it’s one of (the) most important certfications that I hold.

Weylin Piegorsch, Manager of Network Engineering for Boston University

At LeaderQuest, we have a team of highly trained professionals who can help you study and pass the CASP exam. With flexible classes, both online and on our campus, we’re here to ensure you succeed. We also offer professional skills assistance to help your job hunt after you graduate.

This certification could be the perfect way to advance your IT career. If you want to take the next step in your cyber security education, click the link below. Questions? Contact us here.

Get CASP Info!

Top Cyber Security Certifications to Advance Your Career

Top Cyber Security Certifications to Advance Your Career

Cyber Security professionals have become increasingly indispensable in the wake of today’s technology-driven world. With the astonishingly speedy evolution of technology, the need to protect users, data, and systems is critical. And with great need comes great demand! The Occupational Outlook Handbook states that the national growth rate for Information Security Analyst jobs is much faster than average at a staggering 18%! And with an average of $88k + per year, choosing a cyber security career path is a no-brainer for some.

So now that you’ve decided you want to take your tech career to the next level and you’re intrigued with the possibilities of a cyber security career, you’re probably wondering, “What now?”

We’re glad you asked! In this article, we’ll highlight some “must-have” cyber security training and what the courses entail, industry-recognized certifications that are sure to make you stand out, and the income opportunities that certified experienced professionals are likely to enjoy in the current job market.

EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)

Certified Ethical HackerThe Certified Ethical Hacker certification is a must for anyone who wants a promising IT security portfolio. The training entails hacking, securing, testing, and scanning your own security systems. Learners are subjected to real-life interactive scenarios to amass practical in-depth knowledge and experience in key security systems. Further, this course helps students understand how intruders take advantage of certain privileges to compromise user security and as well as the counteractive measures that should be embraced to keep information criminals at bay. Certified Ethical Hacker courses are generally five days long (or 40 hours) and prepare students for the EC-Council ANSI accredited Certified Ethical Hacker exam and CEH cyber security certification. This course is great for people wanting a career as a security specialist, website administrator, or security assessor.

EC-Council Certified Ethical Hackers are widely needed in various sectors. The salary of a Certified Ethical Hacker ranges from $49,000 to $135,000 a year, depending on the employer, state/country in which the professionals work, and the key responsibilities of the job.

Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

The CISSP certification or Certified Information Systems Security Professional certification is a globally recognized cyber security certification that authenticates an individual has in-depth knowledge in the area of information security. CISSPs are much-needed specialists who act as information assurance experts with a thorough understanding of the control, management, designs, and the architectures that guarantee risk-free business environments. It is also imperative to note that CISSP was the first training in the field of IT and computer security to fulfill the requirements for the international standards set by ISO/IEC Standard 17024.

Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

While offering essential preparatory knowledge for CISSP certification, CISSP training also provides practical approaches for combating IT-related crimes. Security professionals with this industry recognized cyber security certification are in high demand. Expect interviews to dwell more on experience and the hands-on capabilities that you possess.

To be eligible for CISSP training, you must have at least five years of experience in one or more of the CISSP security domains (or security categories). However, anyone who has a degree from a recognized college plus four years of experience in the information security sector also qualifies. The coursework is specifically tailor-made for existing specialists in the cyber security field and is not an entry-level course. It is meant to equip the learners with an advanced skill set and knowledge base for an advanced level career. Ideal applicants for this training include information security auditors, investigators, and cyber security risk management professionals.

The average CISSP professional’s salary is $130,000 a year, with some of the highest paid experts in the field pocketing up to $202,000 working for leading IT firms.

EC-Council Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (CHFI)

Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (CHFI)This cyber security training course takes about 5 days and focuses on computer evidence analysis and forensics. It comprehensively equips learners with the technological knack required to undertake a rigorous computer forensic inquiry. With cases of IT crimes increasing by the day, police officers, corporations, and government sectors require increased capacity to carry out painstaking forensic investigations. Due to a flurry of constant inventions and innovations in the world of technology, cyber security personnel need to keep honing and fine-tuning their skills in order to stay ahead of the perpetrators who tirelessly work to find loopholes in existing security systems.
Computer forensics involves applying various techniques to uncover possible cyber crime and amass important legal evidence at the same time. The specialty is quite broad and involves things like misuse of the internet, theft or destruction of intellectual property, theft/misuse of private business secrets, and general fraud. Because the average cyber criminal is IT-savvy, CHFI professionals know a number of ways to access information in almost any computer system by circumventing access controls and recovering deleted or encrypted data.

This cyber security training course is meant to prepare candidates for the industry recognized EC-Council CHFI certification. It may also be desired by those that need further studies in fields such as network security, penetration testing, and system architecture and engineering. Depending on CHFI specialists’ duties, employer, and the country/state where they work, the annual income is somewhere between $49,000 and $105,000.

Certified Information Security Manager Training (CISM)

CISM and CISO (Chief Information Security Officer) are two job titles trending off the charts right now! And it’s no surprise with the high salaries that accompany these titles. Like the other cyber security certifications discussed above, CISM training is designed to last five days. The training helps security experts align information security processes with the ever-changing day-to-day needs of various organizations/businesses. Learners are taught how to detect possible information security loopholes and thwart potential breaches before cyber criminals take advantage of such weaknesses. Summarily, information security managers are tasked with sensitive information security responsibilities that include implementing information security programs, enhancing the ability of businesses to identify and curb IT security infringements, overseeing and directing strategies meant to fight cyber crime, and creating the necessary programs for preventing or controlling several crimes related to information security.

Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)

Ideal students for this highly specialized course include IT specialists such as network engineers and operators. Other individuals practicing in the information security sector may also consider CISM training to sharpen their skills in information security management procedures. Statistics show that most information security managers in the United States draw salaries of between $71,000 and $106,000 every year.

 

Cyber Security Certifications Have Big Payoffs!

There are several different training programs you can embark on for a cyber security career. The bottom line is that cyber security careers are in high demand, meaning job security, and they pay well! Four of the “Top 8 Highest-Paying IT Certifications” are in the cyber security category! Call us today at (866) 378-0761 or contact us here and our career services professionals can create a training and career plan to help YOU on a path to your dream cyber security career and salary.

The Best Certifications to Land the Coolest Cyber Security Jobs

The Best Certifications to Land the Coolest Cyber Security Jobs

Cyber security is everywhere.

Anywhere you see anything happening online, via the internet, or any sort of connected computer system—cyber security is at play.

So chances are, if you’re an avid fan of, well, anything, you can find a job in cyber security supporting it.

The coolest brands and retailers use top-of-the-line cyber security to to protect their online purchases, inner-company information sharing, and any sensitive customer data collected in-store. (We all remember the Target and Home Depot security breach fiascos, don’t we?)

The big financial service companies who essentially run the country are heavily dependent on cyber security, as are cloud-based and SaaS tech companies who are shaping the future of both how business is done and the world at large.

And let’s not forget some of the sexiest positions in cyber security: ones you can land working for the CIA, for example.

According to a survey by the SANS Institute on Cybersecurity Professional Trends, the top five industries seeking cyber security professionals include:

  1. Banking, Finance & Insurance
  2. Information Technology Management
  3. Government Defense
  4. Non-Defensive Government Departments
  5. Consulting or Professional Service Companies

Awesome Cyber Security Job Titles

Some of the leading job titles for cyber security professionals include:

  • IT Auditor
  • Junior Cyber Security Network Defense Reporting Specialist
  • Penetration Tester
  • Security Architect
  • Cyber Security Threat Analyst
  • CIA Information Assurance Security Professional
  • Chief Information Security Officer (CISO)

But they don’t hand these jobs out to just anybody. You’ve got to get certified, even if you’ve already got a degree.

“Security-related certifications are a prerequisite for most commercial cybersecurity jobs and all defense-related IT security jobs,” said Carolyn Duffy Marsan of Network World. “These credentials range from basic CompTIA Security+ to the gold standard ISC2 Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP).”

She gives the example of Verizon, a company that’s so in tune with security that they publish an annual support on security breaches. For them, it’s important that IT staff take and pass a course like GIAC Incident Handler so they’re fully prepared to deal with security breaches when they do happen.

And according to Study.com, employers who need cyber security professionals prefer to hire ones who’ve got both a bachelor’s degree in an area like computer science or IT and industry-accepted certifications. On occasion, experience can be used as a substitute for the degree, but the idea is not to hire newbies that need extensive training… they need people who know what they’re doing.

The 3 Best Cyber Security Certifications to Help You Land the Job You Want

According to Monster, one of the internet’s leaders in job posting, computer science roles alone are in high demand, but when you add in the element of security, the individuals who can fill this criteria become even more valuable.

For this, getting certified as a job candidate seeking to extend your career is critical.

1. One of the best certifications you can get is the CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional)—especially if you’re already working in cyber security and want to advance your career. It’s a globally recognized certification that tells your prospective employers that you really know your stuff when it comes to information security, and it was the first of its kind to meet ISO/IEC Standard 17024. There are also cyber security specialization certifications in penetration testing, ethical hacking, vulnerability assessment, and digital forensics examination which can make you stand out in a crowd!

2. For those with at least two years of experience in the industry, CompTIA’s Security+ is a certification that passes the standards of the US Department of Defense and is updated every three years to make sure you’re always on top of the security information curve, helping you manage risk and keep a designated network secure.

3.For total beginners, the Cybersecurity Fundamentals Certificate can be done by self-study until you’re ready to take the exam. Completing the certification indicates that you’ve got a solid enough background in the principles of cybersecurity architecture, concepts of cybersecurity, and knowledge of how to respond to incidents.

Stay On Top of Your Game & Get Ahead in Your Cyber Security Career

Staying on top of the curve with cyber security certifications is actually one of the best things you can do for your career.

Diana Burley, 2014’s Cybersecurity Educator of the Year and professor at George Washington University said, “Continuous professional development is critical in the field of cybersecurity because the nature of the threat continuously evolves.”

Even if you don’t land a job in cyber security right away, if it’s your dream career, you need to keep at it.

“Get a job doing general computer work,” advises Ira Winkler of Computerworld. “The logic behind this is that you cannot be expected to protect computers if you don’t know how to administer a computer system, you can’t secure a system that you can’t properly configure on your own… and you certainly can’t write secure code if you can’t code at all.”

No matter what path you take to your dream cyber security job, certifications are an important stepping stone to getting there.

You tell us: what is your dream job in cyber security? What steps are you taking to get there, and how have certifications helped you out so far?

The Difference Between IT Certifications & IT Degrees

The Difference Between IT Certifications & IT Degrees

“At my company, I don’t even know which of my employees has a degree or not—it makes no difference to me,” said Ilya Pozin, Founder of Pluto TV on LinkedIn.

“I’d much rather hire someone who has been freelancing as a web developer for three years than someone who has a master’s degree in computer science,” he went on. “They’re bound to be more passionate, driven, and profitable in the long run, as they know what it takes to impact the bottom line.”

Lots of today’s business owners and managers are realizing that the old system of a job seeker earning a four-year IT degree from a traditional college and landing an entry-level position where they expect to gain ‘experience’ may not be what’s most worthwhile for them as a company.

Things that were cutting-edge four years ago are hardly relevant today.

In fact, in the beginning of his article, Pozin said “Getting hired in entry-level positions requires experience and fine-tuned skills, not a 4.0 GPA.”

So… Are IT Degrees Worthless Now?

Certainly not.

Even though lots of IT business owners have said things like Pozin, it’s be a bit short-sighted to completely discount the value of an IT degree – but it’d be equally as silly to assume they’re somehow ‘better’ than specialized IT certifications.

Because while there are a lot of forward-thinkers like Pozin out there, a lot of companies still require IT degrees for certain positions, particularly if you’re new to the field and don’t have a lot of experience.

IT Degrees: The Pros & Cons

Let’s address the elephant in the room: getting a degree takes a lot more time and money than earning a certification.

For starters, bachelors degrees usually require passing credits from at least 30 classes, while certificates rarely require more than 10. Using overly-basic math, that means a degree is thee times more expensive and takes three times as long as a certification.

If you don’t have time or money on your side, an IT degree probably isn’t going to work for you.

But what about the upsides of an IT degree?

To give you an idea, the employers who seek degree-holders usually do so because it means the person has spent a significant amount of time steeping himself in the expertise of his desired profession, has a functional overview of the industry as a whole, and has a more well-rounded education that can’t be completed with an IT certificate.

The time spent studying the industry and the more well-rounded education are the main factors why IT degree holders are often seen as ‘more qualified’ upfront than IT certificate holders.

IT Certificates: The Pros & Cons

On the upside, IT certificates seem to be a more efficient use of your time and money since they focus specifically around one job role and don’t take the time to teach you things you don’t need to know yet.

They can be completed in a matter of months or weeks so you can get moving quickly in a new career path in the job role of your choice.

But since they’re a quickie solution for job experience and training, they may yield a smaller starting salary than someone that’s spent the time steeping themselves in learning for four years.

But if you’re going to work for a company where your initial job role will be pretty narrow, a certificate might be all you need to get started.

“Certificate programs taken alone are similar to associates degree programs,” said Study.com. “They take less time [than associate degrees] because general education courses are not required.”

To make it easy, you can look at weighing the pros and cons of an IT certificate in the same way you’d weigh the pros and cons of an associate’s degree in IT. It’s great to have, but might not be quite as good of a qualifier as a bachelor’s or master’s degree.

IT Certificates vs IT Degrees for Career Expansion

One of the best things IT certifications can be used for, sometimes even more so than helping you start a career in IT, is to expand the education and experience you already have to take your career to the next level.

For example, let’s say you’re a web developer with a bachelor’s degree from 10 years ago.

You’ve probably got things HTML, CSS, Ruby and PHP down pat.

But you notice that your company (and the companies whose job postings you like to keep an eye on) have been mentioning responsive development with increasing frequency.

Because you it wasn’t something you needed to know ten years ago, and because your company is just now catching onto responsive development, you feel like you’re a little behind and want to catch up so you can remain an A-player in your company’s development team… or at least keep your options open.

Rather than going back to schools for a new degree (which seems silly for just one skill set), doing an IT training course that teaches responsive development and getting a certificate to prove your new knowledge can be a great way to move ahead.

Choosing the Most Effective IT Degree or Certification

According to CIO.com, some of the best IT certifications to set your resume apart from the rest, even if you do have a full-blown degree include:

What about you?

Which IT degrees and certifications do you have? Which ones do you want to get to advance your career?