Steffon Fisher thought he had his post-military life all figured out.
After leaving the Marine Corps in 2018, he went to school for marketing. He made plans to start his own business, and had even created a website and begun acquiring clients, when COVID-19 came along and turned the whole world upside down.
“All of the clients that I had been working with were like, ‘I can’t go through with this. I’ve gotta save as much money as possible,’” Steffon recalls. “I was like, ‘Well, this is just perfect timing.’ So it kind of just fell apart. But everything happens for a reason, I think.”
What makes Steffon, 26, say that now? Using his GI Bill to attain full funding, he enrolled at the ACI (formerly LeaderQuest) Denver Tech Center Learning Hub for IT training. Just three weeks after finishing classes — and with an ITIL certification in hand — he received an offer for a job in IT.
The role: An entry-level service desk position with a Colorado company called Astonish. It was the first step to a brand-new IT career.
“They told me it was going to take about 90 days for me to get my first job offer after classes. So three weeks was definitely not expected,” Steffon says.
“I’ve always been good with computers. That’s just something that kind of comes natural to me.”
Steffon still remembers the call he got from ACI Learning. He had just moved from San Jose to Colorado with his wife and son. One day the phone rang, and the word “cybersecurity” caught his attention.
“Since I have the GI bill from the military, it wasn’t really a tough decision on whether or not I was going to do it or not,” Steffon says. “So I started.”
Once in class, he was immediately impressed with the quality of the IT training.
“The instructors are really awesome, and they’ll work with you,” Steffon says. “I would touch base with them, like, “Hey, yesterday was kind of rough for me. Do you think we could go over what we talked about, on the side?’ They’ll work with you on the weekend. They’ll give you an hour-long call and go over the stuff you’re missing, or what you’re not understanding. So that was really helpful.”
That above-and-beyond level of dedication was key for Steffon. Training online at home because of COVID-19, he caught himself losing focus from time to time. Having a 7-month-old baby will do that.
But wherever he got lost, he knew he could count on the instructors to get him back on track.
“They definitely have a passion for teaching you the knowledge, which is rare,” Steffon says. “These instructors want you to learn — they’re not just doing it because it’s their job.”
Stellar IT Career Help
So that was the learning process. But what about the whole, you know, getting-a-job process?
Here again, Steffon says ACI Learning came through with flying colors.
“Shannon Travis was really helpful,” Steffon says, referring to an Employment Development Manager on the Career Services team. “She did an amazing job getting me the interview with Astonish. Most universities, they don’t even bother with employment.”
With a mere three-week turnaround after completing classes, it’s hard to argue with the results.
And Steffon is loving his new job in IT.
“I’m getting some good experience,” he says. “I get challenged on a daily basis, which is something I need in order to stay interested in a job. And the company itself is awesome. They have a lot of opportunity for growth. It’s pretty much like, if they have a new project and you let it be known that you want to work on that project, regardless of your experience they’ll let you work on it, and they’ll pay you for it.”
Another plus of Astonish: the chance to move into cybersecurity.
It’s all part of what he enjoys about IT and cybersecurity — what he describes as an “act of constantly evolving” and “figuring out solutions.”
“IT definitely wasn’t in my plans,” Steffon says. “But after going through LeaderQuest and having the opportunity to take these certification exams, that’s definitely in my cards now.”
Could This Be for You?
We’ve written before about how IT can be a perfect next step for transitioning veterans, and Steffon is living proof of that. So many of the skills are transferable. Add VET TEC and other sources of funding, including for military spouses, and there’s practically no downside.
A typical course track is ACI Learning’s Computer User Support Specialist program. It can be completed in just five weeks if attending full-time during the day. If you need to take classes at night, that’s an option too. That takes 10 weeks from start to finish. Either way, graduates leave the hands-on instruction with everything they need to know in order to pass the ITIL, CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+, and CompTIA Security+ certifications — the basics for most any entry-level IT position.
And, as Steffon mentions above, you don’t have to land that entry-level job on your own. Thanks to people like Shannon Travis on ACI Learning’s Career Services team, students and graduates have a plethora of job-hunt tools at their disposal. From resume edits to interview practice, this team exists to make job candidates as prepared as possible. What’s more, they have professional connections established over years and years in the IT and cybersecurity community. Frequently, they make phone calls to employers that result in jobs for ACI Learning graduates.
Whether you’re a veteran yourself or a civilian looking to start a new career, IT is worth considering. And ACI Learning can get you the IT training you need. Fill out the form below to learn more about the opportunities to be had with IT careers.
Mark Emery is the Social Media and Content Marketing Manager for LeaderQuest and MISTI. He is a Pittsburgh native who now lives in Denver, and his previous work experience includes editorial roles at Men’s Health, the NY Daily News, and MLB.com.
When you’re stuck in an unrewarding, underpaying job, getting something better can’t come fast enough. No matter what you want, it can be difficult to break into a new field on the timeline you need. That’s where IT certifications come in.
IT certifications can help you to jump into a new career fast while building a foundation for further specialization. Still not convinced? Here are just a few of the reasons IT certifications are a great way to start a career in IT.
1. They’re a Fast/Low-Cost Way to Level-Up Your Resume
For those who have the time and resources to dig deep into a field of study, the traditional degree has a lot to offer. However, when you want to bump up your skills fast, certifications are a great alternative. The average tuition for a master’s degree program is $60,000 to $80,000 while living expenses, books, and more can easily cost over $100,000. Certifications are vastly less expensive, especially if you can find a third party that will cover the cost for you.
Another benefit is that you get into the meat and potatoes of what you’re studying much more quickly. Certifications are hyper-focused on the skills you need, so there’s no Gen Eds to knock out. Labs and simulations will ensure that you get hands-on experience that employers are looking for.
2. Certifications Validate the Skills You Need to Succeed
From an employer standpoint, every hire is a gamble. It takes time and money to get them registered in the system, trained, and enmeshed with a new team. Of course, there will always be situations where things don’t work out for one way or another, but it still important to get every assurance possible an employee will be a good fit.
That’s where certifications come in. They provide globally recognized, 3rd party (CompTIA, EC-Council, PMI, etc.) verification of a certain skill set. This can be easily understood by employers and technical professionals alike. Whether you’re validating a skill that you already have or taking on a wholly new one, it shows an employer that you definitely know what you’re talking about.
In fact, sometimes getting certifications isn’t a matter of “if” but “when” because…
3. DoD Jobs Require IT Certifications
If you’ve spent any time in the Department of Defense (DoD) arena, you’ve probably heard about Directive 8570/8140. It requires that all users of authorized information systems have a certain level of certification. This is to ensure that people who are working with sensitive information have the knowledge to do so safely.
Whether you’re working for the DoD, or just working with a company that regularly contracts with the DoD like Raytheon, Booz Allen Hamilton, Northrop Grumman, etc., you will need these certifications to operate at different levels. The table above shows what certifications are required for such work.
This creates a huge opportunity for those who get certified, because companies who work with the DoD are always in need of certified professionals to work on their contracts. Thinking about going into DoD work, but not sure which certification is right for you? Luckily, we wrote a blog about that.
4. Certifications are Good For the Whole Company
When it comes to an overall company’s well-being, certifications are the gift that keeps on giving. Studies from CompTIA, Microsoft, IDC, and Novell have confirmed wide-ranging benefits for a company on the whole.
Organizations that invest in certifications for their employees are rewarded with happier and more productive workers who want to stay longer. Not only do they bring a brand new skill set to the table, they’re grateful, excited, and engaged because their company showed faith in them.
Getting employees certified also boosts confidence and peace of mind. On the one hand, workers feel assured in their knowledge. Meanwhile, customers themselves know that they’re getting more bang for their buck.
5. Certifications Help You Stand Out in Interviews
Before you even set foot inside a potential employer’s office, recruiters and resume scanning software will look for key certifications like CompTIA A+, CompTIA Security+, Certified Ethical Hacker, or Certified Network Defender. That means that certifications can make or break even getting a seat at the interview. Once you’re in, certifications can help you stand up against candidates who might have as much or more experience than you.
6. Great Certs Equal Greater Earning/Salary Potential
7. Certifications Could Get You a Head Start at College
Many individuals attain an entry-level certification like ITIL or CompTIA A+ so that they can get a start into a ground floor IT job. Then, they can go back, finish their degree, earn a few more certifications, and put themselves in the best position possible for work in an intermediate or advanced field like networking or even cyber security.
Colleges have even started recognizing certifications as counting toward credit. The American Council on Education gives ACE CREDIT recommendations by reviewing educational institutions and recommending their courses as being the equivalent of college credit at universities and colleges. This is the case for 14 LeaderQuest courses.
IT skills are desperately needed, important, and can have a great impact on the world around you. Taking on these new skills means having an opportunity to enter into a career that will help you develop personally as well as professionally.
There is a Japanese concept known as ikigai which reflects on that which is needed and loved in the world or “the reason for which you wake up in the morning.” In the novel, “The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life,” co-author Hector Garcia has this to say about finding happiness and fulfillment in life.
“Your ikigai is at the intersection of what you are good at and what you love doing,” he says.
You never know where your purpose will come from. However, when it comes to a field as exciting and fast-growing as IT, you just might find yours.
Level-Up Your Career with LeaderQuest
If you want a career you’ll love, IT is a quickly growing field with a number of benefits both personal and professional. IT certifications can help you land that first job or advance to a higher, better-paying position. That’s why LeaderQuest offers some of the most essential IT certifications in the business.
We offer 5 and 10-day classes online, on campus, during the day, and at night with the goal of getting you trained, certified, and hired in the IT world. Once you’ve finished classes, you’ll have the opportunity to work with your own personal Employment Development Manager (EDM) who will help revamp your resume, nail your cover letter, and work with you to practice for behavioral interviews.
If you’re stuck in a job you don’t like, why delay? Contact us today and start a career you’ll love with a salary you’ll appreciate!
It’s a path so commonplace and accepted, you’d be forgiven for mistaking it as the only one.
Go to college after high school. Of course. It’s just what people do. Never mind the four years you give up in time, or the tens of thousands you pay in tuition and room and board. In the long run, these are nothing concerns. Especially when you consider the higher income that a college education all but guarantees.
Actually, maybe not. Four years is a significant period of time to wait before you can start earning money. And the costs? Credit.com puts the average student loan debt at a whopping $31,172. That’s not something you can pay off overnight. If your debt is higher, which is all too possible, it may not be something you can fully pay off ever.
When you also consider that basic employment is far from guaranteed in many fields — let alone that higher income — college starts to look a lot less stable and reliable than we’re led to believe.
Bucking Tradition, Together
Roommates Michael Lim, 23, and Michael-Anthony Shipman, 25, experienced some of these drawbacks firsthand. Both of them tried the traditional college route after high school, and both of them decided it wasn’t for him.
“There’s an overemphasis in my opinion on college degrees,” Lim says. “I don’t want to downplay at all the education you get from college, the social understanding and things you learn outside the classroom. But for the price, it’s a little bloated. A little bit, in my opinion.”
Both of Lim’s parents went to college, as did all five of his siblings. But he didn’t take to his new lifestyle at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He didn’t like the massive classroom sizes, nor was he completely sure of the value of his intended computer science degree.
“It wasn’t really like, ‘Oh, should I go to college and get a degree?’ It was like, ‘When am I going to get it?’” Lim says. “For me personally, just as a life choice, I didn’t want to go to college right after high school — and it kind of showed. Getting out after a year and a half in was my way of saying, ‘Oh, I don’t think the timing is right. I don’t want to be going into this kind of intensity. I just want to figure things out for myself.’”
After Lim left, he wound up in Pittsburgh, where he met Shipman. In addition to his ongoing work with the Army National Guard, Shipman was studying game design at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, which eventually shut down as part of a wave of Art Institute closings across the country.
Together with a couple other friends, the group migrated west to Aurora, Colorado. Some enrolled in a new school, but that turned out not to be exactly what they were looking for either. That’s when Shipman came across LeaderQuest’s Denver campus.
“Just from all the options and the outcomes that I could have from LeaderQuest, it was going to be better than getting a degree in college,” Shipman says. “Especially with being already in the military, having the VA benefits and already having a clearance for jobs for getting out of LeaderQuest is a huge bonus.”
Shipman — a tech guy who built his first computer five years ago — decided to give it a go, ultimately convincing Lim and their roommate Ryan Broadwater as well.
“When [Shipman] started looking into it, he was like, ‘Oh, wow, this is a really, really solid place,” says Lim, who was also attracted to the opportunity to earn college credits. “The idea of me and my two roommates going to school together, as well as getting some certifications and whatnot, it was a very enticing proposition. So it was very hard for me to turn it down.”
“When you’re going to college, you’re spending just literally tens of thousands of dollars, every year,” Lim says. “Coming to LeaderQuest, time-wise, it’s less than a semester. And money-wise, it all just kind of made sense, like lucratively. You’re going to be making a fair amount of money coming out and you’re going into an expanding field. It just makes a lot of sense.”
Whereas before he was one of 300 in classes at UNC-Charlotte, with LeaderQuest Lim learned in classroom sizes of 15 or less. He called that “very refreshing” as he completed his LeaderQuest courses and went on to pass the ITIL exam as his first certification.
Military duties related to the coronavirus, meanwhile, have kept Shipman from wrapping up his coursework just yet. But once his training is finished and his certifications are acquired, he’s looking forward to working with the Department of Defense as a civilian contractor — “to not necessarily be in uniform but work with people in uniform.”
Both Lim and Shipman are fully confident in LeaderQuest’s career services team to help them find full-time employment in IT.
“One of the best things is how ready they are to help you out,” Lim says. “When I connect with my teachers they’re like, ‘Hey, even outside of LeaderQuest, when you’re gone as an alumni, you can contact me. If you need a reference, you can contact me. If I leave LeaderQuest, you can still contact me and I’ll help you out.’ I was like, ‘Dang, these guys are just like all for me.’ It was really nice to hear that kind of encouragement from my professors. I just thought it was top tier.”
Though the young men are closer to the beginning of their professional journey in IT than the end, both feel good about the less-than-traditional route they’ve decided to pursue.
“It all worked out really well for me,” Lim says. “This is an amazing decision in my opinion. Me and my roommates, we were just like, ‘Oh, best decision of our lives, hands down.’ It just makes a lot of sense for us.”
Adds Shipman: “I think this was a great decision. I’ve never regretted doing it.”
Ready to Learn More?
As Lim points out, with LeaderQuest you can get the training you need to pass the certifications necessary for IT positions in less than a semester. Going to school at night, as he did, takes 10 weeks; if you’re able to attend classes during the day, you’ll be done in five weeks. The Computer User Support Specialist program is the most common direction for those with no experience. It prepares students for the ITIL, CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+, and CompTIA Security+ certifications that will help them successfully break into IT.
Our staff of instructors and mentors are there to help every step of the way, even after the course ends. LeaderQuest prides itself on helping students pass their certification exams, and then helping them get jobs. To that end, our career services team is tireless in their efforts to connect LQ alums to IT positions. They’re well-connected in the community, and can often put in that good word with hiring managers that moves our alumni’s resumes to the top of the pile.
Are you a high school student who feels college might not be the right fit? Could you see yourself joining the expanding field of IT and cybersecurity? Fill out the form below to get in touch with LeaderQuest and start talking options, from potentially finding funding for your training to seeing how IT certifications can build the foundation for a fulfilling career.
Mark Emery is the Social Media and Content Marketing Manager for LeaderQuest and MISTI. He is a Pittsburgh native who now lives in Denver, and his previous work experience includes editorial roles at Men’s Health, the NY Daily News, and MLB.com.
As Americans, it’s no secret that we love our military men and women. A few times a year, we come out en masse to thank our active duty military or veterans for their service. Despite this, there are a number of myths about veterans that circulate in our culture.
In the United States, there are 1.4 million people in the military and an additional 22 million more veterans. That’s a sizeable population of dedicated people who have made a tremendous commitment to their country only to sometimes face a backlash born of misunderstandings in the civilian world.
Veterans are sometimes put in a box by those who don’t understand and labeled as villains, victims, or vindicators. Those three categories sweep aside the broad spectrum of veteran experiences and ignore everything veterans have to offer as complex individuals with unique circumstances.
With that in mind, here are the top seven misconceptions that are harmful to veterans, the truth behind the men and women in uniform, and how everyone can fight these myths. Thank you to the LeaderQuest staff and students who have served in the military and shared their experience with us for this piece.
1. All Veterans Have PTSD
“I think one of the most unique situations I was in was when my 18-year-old daughter was giving a report in her high school class that covered my time in the military.
As many as 10% of Gulf War (Desert Storm) veterans
11% of veterans of the war in Afghanistan
20% of Iraqi war veterans
To sum up, don’t assume that if a person is a vet they have PTSD because it’s simply not true. If someone does tell you they’re suffering from PTSD, understand that they’re trusting you with something important and often misunderstood. That brings us to our next big myth about veterans.
2. PTSD Makes Veterans Unpredictable and Violent
“One of the misconceptions is that we all have PTSD. That we’re all going to suddenly explode someday. Or they have a misconception of what PTSD is . . . popular media oftentimes shades people with military service and what they’ve done and what they’ve been through.”
~ James Gross, U.S. Air Force, LeaderQuest Staff
Yes, this is such an important issue that it gets two entries. Merely saying the word PTSD is sure to conjure up images of unbalanced vets about to explode in violent, unpredictable ways. However, this characterization is a gross misrepresentation of the real disorder.
“PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder) is a mental health problem that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, like combat, a natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault.”
What you might not know is that PTSD affects a multitude of people who experience trauma, not just those in the military. Symptoms of PTSD include reliving the event, avoiding situations that remind you of that event, having more negative beliefs because of the trauma, and feeling keyed up/jittery. People with PTSD may have other problems including:
Feelings of hopelessness, shame, or despair
Depression or anxiety
Drinking or drug problems
Physical symptoms or chronic pain
Relationship problems, including divorce
Even for the population that is affected by this, it’s more likely to cause problems for the sufferer than the people around them. Violence is only prevalent in about 7.5% for PTSD sufferers in the U.S. population and 19.5% in post-9/11 veterans. While that is a little higher, it’s important to note that post-9/11 vets are younger (median age = 34) which meaning they’ve got a higher risk of violence anyway.
One of the biggest problems with this misconception is that it often leads to the idea that veterans with PTSD can’t be trusted with firearms. This simply isn’t true. This can be especially harmful because it’s a barrier for veterans who do suffer from PTSD and want to seek treatment. Many veterans chose not to seek treatment in part due to fear that their guns will be taken away. This can be another unnecessary barrier for people who already have to navigate a difficult mental health system to get help.
Next time you hear someone speaking with authority on how PTSD makes veterans violent, you’ll have the knowledge to step in and explain what’s really going on.
3. Veterans Don’t Think For Themselves
“When people think of a soldier obeying orders, they’re thinking of orders like ‘drop and give me fifty’ that they’ve seen in movies and on TV. In reality, those orders are more likely to be a complicated series of dynamic objectives, any or all of which can and will change as soon as plans meet reality.”
We’ve all heard the stereotype. The vet who’s a mindless drone, completely unable to think for herself. While it’s true that basic training is designed to get those that enter the military putting the good of the group first and understanding the importance of obedience, the idea that veterans don’t have original thoughts is untrue and offensive.
Veterans are put into incredibly complex situations and have to think on their feet. Each unit has its own personality which comes out in unique ways, and getting the job done is most important above all else. This means that veterans are often forced into situations where creative thinking isn’t just good, it’s essential.
So, got a complex problem you’re not sure how to fix? Call on a vet for help. You’ll be glad you did.
4. Female Veterans Don’t Exist/Don’t Do Very Much
“The simple fact that I am a veteran. They assume my husband is a veteran but are shocked that I am too.”
Women were officially allowed to serve in the military since the last two years of WWI, mostly as nurses, spies, and support staff, and slowly took on more duties through WWII, the Korean War, and Vietnam War
In 1976, the first women were allowed to enroll in service academies like Westpoint, and during the ’90s women were allowed to fly on combat missions, serve on combat ships, and were deployed to areas like the Persian Gulf. In the last two decades, women have served in more and more positions and Sergeant Leigh Ann Hester became the first woman awarded the Silver Star for combat action.
The lack of awareness of female veterans is especially problematic because of the issues women have to deal with in post-service life. Female veterans are two to four times as likely as their civilian counterparts to experience homelessness and make up the fastest-growing share of homeless vets. Between 20,000 and 40,000 are homeless. Most, especially those with kids or histories of trauma, couch-surf with friends and relatives as opposed to going to shelters.
So the next time someone asks, “but do women really serve in the military?” feel free to educate them on how much women have contributed to the U.S. military.
5. Vets Are Less Skilled/Able Than Their Civilian Counterparts
In a market with such a strong emphasis on degrees, there are times when veterans are looked down upon simply because of their lack of job experience outside of the military. If you had a job fixing aircraft or defusing roadside bombs in the military, there might not be a lot of direct crossover in your skillset.
Veterans often make great employees because they’re honest, notoriously hard workers, candid, and they know how to get things done. The truth is, you’re probably already working alongside great vets right now. Be sure to give them their due and call out their hard work.
6. Some Military Branches are Lesser/Vets Are All the Same
“From an Army point of view, they look at us like, ‘You were in the Army? That’s it?’”
-U.S. Army, LeaderQuest Student
It’s no secret that the different branches of the military like to poke fun at each other, but in the civilian world, certain branches of the military are looked down upon by some. Whether they make fun of the Army,National Guard, or the Air Force, there’s no short supply of shade to be thrown around.
In the end, serving in the military is a huge commitment. Each branch is different because it serves a specific purpose, but each branch also gives members the same loyalty, ability to operate under high-pressure situations, and willingness to do what’s best for the group and get things done.
“I thought I could get a job at the drop of a hat because I was told everyone wanted to hire military. I was unemployed for 6-weeks and was throwing my resume at anything and everything.”
-Aaron Kiewicz, U.S. National Guard, LeaderQuest Staff
Transitioning is never easy. There’s the culture shock to navigate and the sudden realization that you no longer have every hour of your day planned out for you. Perhaps the single biggest fear veterans have to deal with is going from a steady paycheck to an uncertain future for them and their families. Issues like having skills that don’t translate, concern for upcoming deployments, and being swayed by negative stereotypes of veterans, can keep veterans out of jobs they might otherwise excel in. On top of that, going from a culture that uses the f-word in excess to an office environment can be difficult.
Certifications are also becoming an increasingly viable option for vets who need to demonstrate their abilities to get that first employer to take a chance on them. That’s why cyber security and other IT fields are becoming an increasingly attractive option for vets.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to shattering these misconceptions. The men and women of our armed forces have done so much for us. By disarming these myths that can keep vets from jobs where they excel we take the first step in creating a workforce that is open and accepting of veterans. Not to mention the fact that vets are kick-ass workers, and who among us couldn’t use a few more of those on staff? It’s just common sense, really.
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.
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.
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.
Help Desk Tier 1
Help Desk Tier 2
Help Desk Tier 3
Desktop Support Analyst
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.
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.
Wireless Network Engineer
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.
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.
Network Security Administrator
Systems Security Administrator
Network Security Engineer
Data Security Analyst
Information Systems Security Manager
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
aking tests is no fun. There’s a reason it’s a common nightmare for anyone that’s ever been in school, even briefly. This goes double for CompTIA exams which are a big investment in terms of time and preparation.
But just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s impossible. People pass and get their CompTIA certifications every day. While nothing will ever replace diligent studying, these 12 tricks and secrets to help you pass your test are sure to help you show up for test day confident and ready.
1. Avoid “Brain Dumps”
Sometimes it’s not about how much you study, but where you’re getting your materials. Using official CompTIA textbooks or materials from well-established industry pros is a great way to ensure you’re getting quality materials.
As for what to avoid, two words: brain dumps. A brain dump is when someone posts test questions after taking an exam. They often include the answers. While this might seem like the best place to get knowledge, be careful. There’s no quality control, you have no idea if you’re actually getting the right answer, and, while it might help you pass the test, it won’t do you any favors when you’re actually trying to use the knowledge in the real world.
Worst of all, brain dumps can actually get the person posting them in legal trouble since CompTIA exam takers have to sign a non-disclosure agreement. This Reddit thread gives a great summary of why they should be avoided.
While this might seem like a no-brainer, knowing the test objectives does more than just prepare you for the layout of the exam. It’s a roadmap that lets you know how fast or slowly you’re moving through the material.
Time is of the essence in these tests and knowing where you are and how much you have left is vital. Not to mention the fact that studying the objectives means you’re more prepared to take and pass your test in general. Which is a very good thing.
3. Know What Type of Learner You Are
Everyone studies differently. Maybe you need to write things down or use flashcards. Maybe you need silence. Maybe reading voraciously helps you retain knowledge or maybe you need to explain the concepts to someone out loud. It’s more of an art form than an exact science.
Figuring out what works best for you is the best exam trick when you have to do a ton of studying. This article gives you an idea of some of the best ways to study while this quiz can tell you if you’re an auditory, visual, or kinetic learner. It can make all the difference when you’re on your tenth hour of studying.
4. Build a Computer or Set up a Network
This is especially important for the CompTIA A+ exam and the Network+ exam. The CompTIA A+ 901 exam covers hardware while 902 covers software. While it might sound daunting, building an actual computer is a great way to prepare. It will be essential in understanding not just the theory, but the actual practice. The same goes for the Network+ exam. There’s no better way to understand networks than to actually set one up yourself.
It comes down to this: It’s easier to remember which port is which if you just finished interacting with them in real life. If this just isn’t possible, finding a virtual lab is the next best thing. Our CompTIA A+ course includes hands-on experience with building computers, a great component of any I.T. education. As for our online classes, we provide a virtual environment for students to get the experience they need.
5. Practice, Practice, Practice
CompTIA provides practice questions for almost every exam including A+, Network+, Security+, and more. (Scroll down to see the form where you can request a CompTIA practice test, objectives, and more.) In addition to giving you an idea of how ready you are overall, you can hyper focus on the areas you’re having problems with.
When you’re reviewing your answers, figure out what you keep getting wrong and then redouble your study efforts in those areas.
6. Skip Strange Exam Questions
Again, these tests are about managing time and are graded on a pass-fail basis. So, if a question seems too hard, skip it! On a test like Security+, there are actually beta questions, seemingly random questions which are being tried out for a future version of the test. They are not graded, which is good, though it’s hard to tell what is and isn’t a beta question so don’t skip TOO many questions without answering.
While beta questions aren’t a feature of all CompTIA exams, skipping a confusing question will give you more time to answer the questions you do understand. By the time you return to the question, you may see it in a whole new light or have the confidence to answer.
7. Be Prepared for CompTIA’s Performance-Based Questions
Performance-based questions (aka PBQs) ask the taker to perform a task or solve a problem in a simulation. More complex than your standard multiple-choice, these questions take time and can be intimidating if you’re not prepared. However, they don’t have to bring your test to a screeching halt.
First, it’s important to know that most PBQs will come toward the beginning of the test and, while they are a little more complex, they aren’t impossible. The best defense is a good offense, and preparing for these questions with online labs will make it much easier. However, if you reach the question and don’t feel confident, it’s okay to skip it for the moment and come back to it.
8. BEST, MOST, LEAST
One of the simplest exam tricks is if a question contains capitalized words like “BEST,” “MOST,” or “LEAST,” pay attention! This gives you a hint as to what the question is really asking. There could be a number of answers that seem to fit, but only one that corresponds with the capitalized word and will help you pass your test.
9. Join an Online Community for CompTIA Exam Tricks
Finding a CompTIA study group online is a great way to work out your brain. They are a lot of great resources, study suggestions, and more in the CompTIA subreddit, /r/CompTIA which is full of people who have either passed their certifications or who are deep in the process. If you need extra help with a tricky section, ask! They’re always happy to share the secrets to their success and give all the information about the tests you could want. (Without breaking the non-disclosure agreement, of course.)
10. Create a Study Plan to Pass that Test
If you were planning on running a 10K, you wouldn’t start training a week before. Studying for a CompTIA exam is no different. Plan out the time between now and when you’re going to take your test.
Be sure to allow more time for difficult subjects or areas you might need some extra help on. Set aside an amount of time each day to dedicate to different objectives. Then, study, study, study.
11. Know the Multiple-Choice Tricks
While multiple-choice questions can cause you to tear your hair out (all of the above? WHY WHY!?) there are a few ways to even the odds. Always eliminate answers that are obviously wrong. Think of, “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” The odds are always better when you cut it down to 50/50.
Second, recall information related to the question. This can be a surprisingly effective method for remembering the right answer. If two of the answers are related, that probably means that one of them is correct. If all of the answers seem wrong, you might want to re-read the question to figure out what they’re really asking.
And lastly, skipping a question and coming back to it can be helpful. A question later in the test might key you into an answer the question earlier. For more tricks, check out this article on multiple-choice questions. You’ll be glad you did and made this portion of the test a little less daunting when you finally schedule your exam.
12. Treat Yourself Well the Day of Your CompTIA Exam
Last, but certainly not least, you’ll want to show up well-rested, fed, hydrated, caffeinated, and de-stressed (at least, as stress-free as possible). While last-minute cramming can be important, you need to leave yourself enough time to get a full eight hours of sleep. Be sure to eat some protein in the morning (oatmeal is always good brain food).
Making sure you know the testing location is especially important (which is why LeaderQuest offers a Pearson VUE testing center for you to take the exam on-site). If you do have to travel to a new location, make sure you leave yourself plenty of time in case you get lost. Finally, build up your confidence to prepare for the test. Give yourself a pep talk. You’ve done the hard work. You’ve got this.
If All Else Fails, Study with a Professional
It can be easy to get discouraged, especially if you’ve tried and failed once or even twice. With the CompTIA A+ exam cost at $211 for 901 and 902 each, it’s clear that this is an investment you want to make wisely.
While self-study is important, it’s okay to need a little extra help. That’s why LeaderQuest offers tech industry training with expert instructors to help you pass your CompTIA courses, get your certification, and prepare you for your career in I.T.
With classes offered during the day, at night, online, or on campus, we’re prepared to work with any schedule and learning style. First, we’ll help you along your certification career path. Then, we’ll provide career services to assist our graduates in getting hired. That includes helping you optimizing your resume and even setting you up with our employer partners.
As the skills gap in I.T. grows more and more every day, the industry is in desperate need of professionals who are ready to tackle the challenges. Taking CompTIA certification classes can be a great way to get started. If you want to pass your test, get certified your career to the next level, contact us today. ↓
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When you’re standing on the precipice of a new career, taking the plunge can be scary. No one likes being stuck in a job they hate, but getting out takes hard work, grit, and a little luck. You might know that IT is one of the fastest growing industries in the world, but deciding to make it your new career isn’t easy.
Never fear! If you’re thinking about going into information technology, we’ve prepared a list of pros and cons so you can decide for yourself if the world of tech is right for you. This list builds on research from our 2016 article but includes more stats and more considerations for IT professional jobs.
Stress & Constant Complaints vs. Great Salary & Benefits Package
Let’s not beat around the bush about the hardest part of IT. You’re interacting with people whose patience has been ground down until they’re ready to throw their computers out the window. This is especially true for the Help Desk.
What’s more, for people employed in positions such as Systems Administrators, Network Engineers, or anything cyber security related, even a small screw up can mean big problems for a company and its data. With cyber security horror stories floating around, it’s bound to be high pressure.
Fortunately, with big risk comes big rewards in terms of IT professional salary. Even for entry-level Help Desk positions, the salary midpoint is around $38,000 and can go as high as $54,000, according to the Robert Half 2018 Technology & IT Salary Guide. Again, that’s just entry-level. Systems Administrators are in huge demand with starting salaries at $67,000 that can go as high as $113,000 while Network Engineers make anywhere from $90,000 to $150,000.
The real money is in cyber security which has an unprecedented need for new professionals. More and more, companies are prioritizing people who are willing to learn quickly. Many positions garner over $100,000 with the salary for a seasoned, specialized professional such as Data Security Analyst between $100,000 and $170,000.
As you can see, the pay scale for IT professionals is a huge draw. Employers use a number of other incentives and benefits to snag the top talent like signing bonuses, health insurance, generous vacation time, and professional development opportunities. Perks are also a big draw and can include flexible work schedules, social events, telecommuting, onsite/offsite gym access, a compressed schedule, and even free/subsidized meals.
Long Hours vs. Flexible Hours
Unfortunately, tech problems don’t work on a 9 am – 5 pm schedule. They can strike at 6 am or five minutes before you were planning to leave. This is definitely a job that asks much of its employees and that’s no different when it comes to their time.
Fortunately, companies understand that and deeply appreciate and value the time of their IT pros. They want you to be rested, de-stressed, and ready to deal with whatever the servers throw at you.
This sometimes means you can pick your own schedule, work on a compressed schedule, or even telecommute (work from home). This is great for anyone who hates getting stuck in traffic at the end of the 9-5 slog.
No One Understands Your Job vs. Unparalleled Job Security
IT comes with an almost endless number of specializations. Do you want to work on securing networks? Fighting cyber attacks? Or maybe you’re just interested in updating and maintaining systems? No matter what, there’s a field for you.
Unfortunately, that means that people at your company won’t always understand what your duties include. You could be a Systems Administrator, but still get asked to fix someone’s home computer. You’ll be the go-to tech expert, even about stuff that’s definitely not in your job description. What’s next? Fix their iPhone? Debug their Fitbit? Talk about scope creep.
On the flip side, being an IT pro comes with unparalleled job security. Of Business Insider’s list of 26 careers with the best job security, two were IT positions. This is especially true for cyber security. According to the nonprofit group ISACA, there will be a shortage of two million cyber security professionals by 2019.
Meanwhile, the nonprofit group Cyberseek reports that 40,000 jobs for information security analysts go unfilled every year while employers are struggling to fill 200,000 other cyber-security related roles. You will be valued. You will be needed. Most importantly, you will be hard to replace and that’s a good feeling.
People Lie and Lie vs. Challenging and Exciting Work
How did your computer get a virus? Why do all these pop-up ads have the name of a website you shouldn’t be browsing at work? Why is there peanut butter and mustard smeared all over the keyboard? (And why are you eating peanut butter and mustard? That’s just weird.)
Personal snafus with the computer are embarrassing. No one wants to own up to that dumb thing they did. However, figuring out what’s wrong can be frustrating when people aren’t honest about how the computer got messed up.
What’s worse than your coworkers lying to you? Vendors lying to you. In this article from Tech Republic, they discuss the difficulty of debugging software from a third party when their support won’t admit that something’s wrong. (Our software? Buggy? Never!)
You can also expect to be lied to by vendors’ technical support departments. I have lost count of the number of support technicians over the years who have told me that a problem is not related to their software, but rather to the computer’s hardware or to the operating system. And of course I won’t even begin to talk about the number of vendors who have lied to me in an effort to make a sale.
On the bright side, what makes this job difficult also makes it challenging and even fun. IT is all about solving problems and that’s reflected in job satisfaction. A whopping 61% of IT professionals in one poll said they feel appreciated by their bosses and coworkers. And, if you ever don’t feel appreciated, you know you can find somewhere that does appreciate you.
Overwhelming Amount of Choices vs. Mobility and Options
Whether you’re interested in working on hardware, software, networks, databases, cloud security, or more, there’s a niche for you. Picking your career path can be nerve-wracking, to say the least. You can get bogged down in a specialization before you realize that it’s not where you want to be. No one wants to be extra-qualified in something they hate.
Fortunately, that also means qualified professionals have many options and career mobility. Since there’s such a tremendous need, especially for cyber security, more employers are embracing nontraditional paths for employment. IT certifications, which qualify and verify your skills, are one of the best ways to show employers you’ve got the right stuff.
With the ever-widening cyber gap, employers are more likely to invest in someone who shows they’re willing to keep on top of the updates on their own time, even if they don’t have picture perfect experience on their resume. Quick learning and the passion for improvement are invaluable commodities.
And this specialization pays off. Again, the Robert Half Salary guide found that employers may increase salaries between five to ten percent for professionals with sought-after skills and certifications. If you’re interested in getting started quickly, especially with cyber security, IT is a no-brainer.
Ultimately, it’s a matter of personal preference. Some people can’t handle the long hours, difficult work, and stress of interacting with people at their most frantic. However, if you’re interested in challenging and exciting work where you get to solve problems, you could have a long, well-paying IT career ahead of you with salary and benefits.
If you’re interested in becoming an IT pro, but don’t have the time or money for a four-year degree, IT certifications can be a great way to get into the field. At LeaderQuest, we offer 5-15 day courses that get you ready to pass the exam, get certified, and put those skills to use in the working world in no time. We focus on the It professional certifications that employers want the most, like Security+, CCNA and Certified Ethical Hacker.
We know that you have responsibilities. That’s why we offer classes during the day and at night. Whether you prefer to take classes on campus or online, you’ll be getting access to our expert instructors who will prepare you to kick butt on the exam and teach you to excel in your new IT professional career.
Ready to start your IT career? If you’d like to learn more about careers in IT, check out our 2019 IT Career Finder! Choosing an IT career can be a daunting task. You must balance personal experience and aptitude against the likely future of the role, both in terms of earnings and the number of IT job positions that will be available in coming years. We created this guide to help connect the dots between your skills and IT job descriptions and duties to help you find your path to becoming an IT professional!