By Mark Emery
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.”
Hitting the Books
While Shipman was able to secure funding for his IT training based on his military experience, Lim had to take out a manageable loan. Compared to the costs of college, he was happy to do it.
“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.
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.
Learn More About Cyber Security!
Is an IT Career Right For Me?
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!
GET THE GUIDE
Want to learn more about LeaderQuest training?
Cyber security is huge right now. There’s no doubt about that. If you’re thinking about working in cyber security, you’ll probably want to look at the contract world. And, if you’re thinking about the cyber security enterprise world, getting IT certifications isn’t just a good idea, it’s actually required.
The Department of Defense (DoD) Directive 8570.01 lays out a list of certifications that fit the bill to be considered for those roles. This is especially prevalent for companies that regularly work with the DoD, like Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, Booz Allen Hamilton, and others.
Whether you’re coming from a military background and looking to get into cyber security or a cyber security pro looking to make yourself more competitive in the enterprise space, here are some of the best certifications and jobs you can get with them.
DoD Compliant Cyber Security Certifications
You might be surprised to see A+ on this list. It’s an entry-level certification which teaches the basics of personal computer hardware and operating systems including installation, upgrade, repair, configuration, optimization, troubleshooting, and preventative maintenance. However, support is an important part of any business and there are jobs to be had. In a role like Desktop Support Analyst, you can make between $50,000-$85,000.
- Potential Job Roles: IT Help Desk Tier I-III, IT Field Technician, Desktop Support Analyst, IT Support Specialist, and more.
- Salary: Starts at $50,000 (for Desktop Support Specialist).
- Qualifies for: IAT Level I.
Learn More About A+
Like A+, this certification covers the very basic building blocks of cyber security. In this case, keeping a network protected and maintained. Network+ certifies the skills to install, operate, manage, maintain, and troubleshoot a corporate network. It’s good for those who are ready to take on a role building, managing, and protecting a data network. With an unprecedented need for networking jobs, particularly System Administrators, it’s a role that’s important and well-compensated.
- Potential Job Roles: Systems Administrator, Network Support Technician, Network Administrator, Network Engineer, & more.
- Salary: Starts at $67,250 (for Systems Administrator).
- DoD Qualification: IAT Level I.
Learn More About Network+
While A+ and Network+ can you started in the field, Security+ is the certification that really gets you ready to launch your cyber security career. If you are interested in specializing in any type of IT security, this cert is a must. In addition to an overview/introduction to cyber security, it’s also a gateway to more specialized fields like penetration testing or ethical hacking.
- Potential Job Roles: Systems Administrator, Information Security Analyst, Information Technology (IT) Manager, Information Technology Specialist, & more.
- Salary: $81,467 on average (for Security+).
- DoD Qualification: IAT Level II and IAM Level I.
Learn More About Security+
Often considered the gold standard in cyber security, the CISSP commands great respect in the cyber world. It’s a grueling, three-hour exam and intense application process. However, once obtained, it opens up many doors in infosec, architecture, design, management and more.
- Potential Job Roles: Information Security Manager, Infosec Analyst, Penetration Tester, Cyber Security Engineer, & more.
- Salary: $113,820 on average (for Information Security Manager).
- DoD Qualification: IAT Level III, IAM Level II & III, and IASAE I & II.
Learn More About CISSP
Added to the DoD list in 2010, the CEH certification operates under a simple rule. Sometimes to catch a hacker, you have to think like a hacker. Ethical or “white hat” hacking is about taking proactive measures by getting into the mindset of cyber criminals. This could include perimeter defense, policy creation, navigating social engineering, preventing DDoS attacks, and more.
- Potential Job Roles: Information Systems Security Manager, IT Security Specialist, Penetration Tester, Security Network Engineer, Cyber Security Analyst, and more.
- Salary: Starts at $115,610 (for Information Systems Security Manager).
- DoD Qualification: CSSP Analyst, CSSP Infrastructure Support, CSSP Incident Responder, and CSSP Auditor.
Learn More About CEH!
IAT, IAM, & Other DoD Terms – What’s the Difference?
Different certifications can make you officially qualified for different levels in DoD jobs, but what do those words actually mean? We’ll go into that below. It’s important to know that some positions, particularly for Information Assurance Technicians and Information Assurance Management, are divided up by a tier system from level I to level III. This rating, of course, signifies the difficulty of the task at hand, experience needed, and, of course, a difference in compensation.
Here is what a professional might be doing depending on the DoD requirements they meet.
Information Assurance Technician (IAT)
Great for those who love the technical work, these positions are often about keeping an organization in compliance. You’ll have access to sensitive data and need to ensure that networks and systems are up to code. If they’re not, you’re the one who goes in and fixes many of these issues. If you are looking to start an enterprise cyber security career, this is the place to start.
Potential Job Roles: Network Engineer, Junior Software Engineer, Cyber Security Analyst, and more.
Certifications That Meet Qualifications: A+, Network+, and Security+.
Information Assurance Management (IAM)
As “management” suggests, this level often oversees more of the macro problems of ensuring that hardware, software, and networks are in compliance and safe from those who would do harm. If you’ve got an eye toward focusing on the more macro problems and are looking to get into IT management, this could be for you.
Potential Job Roles: Information Systems Security Officer, Infrastructure Engineer, Cyber Information Systems Security Analyst, and more.
Certifications That Meet Qualifications: Security+ and CISSP.
Information Assurance System Architect and Engineer (IASAE)
In the DoD 8570.01M, IASAE positions are responsible for, “the design, development, implementation, and/or integration of a DoD IA architecture, system, or system components.” What does this mean, exactly?
Basically, these roles move into the realm of a cyber security architect. Duties can include overseeing the building of a network from design to implementation to make sure all fronts are functional and secure. This could also include designing record systems and special purpose environments. Bottom line, if you like designing systems from the ground up and solving complex problems, this could be for you.
Potential Job Roles: Information Assurance System Architect and Engineer, Cybersecurity Architect, Information Systems Security Engineer, and more.
Certifications That Meet Qualifications: CISSP.
Cybersecurity Service Provider (CSSP)
There are five different areas of DoD compliance that begin with the title of Cybersecurity Service Provider. Each of those compliance areas covers a multitude of jobs. However, in general, Cybersecurity Service Providers operate on a much larger scale within a company.
They determine policy and work with senior management to ensure that policy becomes reality. This could include making vulnerability assessments, developing and overseeing tracking, or helping with audits, but specific duties vary greatly.
Here’s a quick list of a few of the different CSSP roles.
- CSSP Analyst: Works with a lot of data to figure out where the risks in an organization occur/could occur and make sure the tracking methods are in place to properly assess an organization.
- CSSP Infrastructure Support: These roles are geared more towards maintaining, creating, and designing the infrastructure and the actual systems of an organization.
- CSSP Incident Responder: Relates to responding to real-time threats to cyber security. This could include recognizing and dealing with potential, current, or past intrusion attempts and assisting with the implementation of counter-measures.
- CSSP Auditor: This person takes charge Risk Management Framework or Security Control Assessment and Authorization (A&A) of management, operational, and technical security controls. They could work on detecting, characterizing, countering and mitigating network and system vulnerabilities and managing security events.
Potential Job Roles: Cybersecurity Policy Analyst, Operations Program Analyst, Cybersecurity Policy Analyst, and more.
Certifications that Qualify: CEH.
Learn Cyber Security Fast at LeaderQuest
Cyber security is a rapidly growing field with a real and present need for more qualified professionals. If you’re thinking about starting a career in cyber security, there’s no need to wait. That’s why LeaderQuest provides 5-10 day classes online, at night, or on campus, to fit any schedule and learning style.
LeaderQuest specializes in cyber security training. We’ll cover everything you need to know to get certified in cyber security and excel during your first day on the job. If you get to a point where things just aren’t sticking, don’t worry! You can resit the course for free anytime you want when you need a refresher.
Join the fight against cyber terror. Contact us today!
Any vet can attest that making the transition back to civilian life can be difficult. The skills that make you successful in military life don’t always translate to the civilian world. You’re essentially starting a whole new career. However, many military vets rise to the challenge and pass with flying colors.
Enter Peter Quinones. A tattoo artist, Harley-enthusiast, and U.S. Army Vet, Peter was transitioning out of almost two decades of service when he came to LeaderQuest for assistance.
This is the story of how he was able to land a job in cyber security that made him $50,000 more a year from where he started.
Sixteen Years of Service
June 1999 – January 2015
“I was doing a PhD in emergency management and a lot of cyber was coming up as a critical need so I started looking around. I decided to come into LeaderQuest and talk.”
Peter Quinones left the U.S. Army with an impressive, 16-year service record. He started as a Human Resources Specialist and was later reclassified as Military Police where he aimed to apply real-world practice towards his BA in Criminal Justice.
During his career, he trained military police officers in tactical law enforcement operations that resulted in 100% mission success with zero casualties. While still in the employ of the Army, he also pursued a Master of Arts in Security Management at American Military University.
It’s safe to say, Peter was no slouch. With his military transition coming up he wanted to face the problem head-on. That’s where he first made contact with LeaderQuest.
“I was doing PhD in emergency management and a lot of cyber was coming up as a critical need so I started looking around,” Peter said, “I decided to come into LeaderQuest and talk.”
Joining up with LeaderQuest
January 2015 – March 2015
“LeaderQuest has become more than just a place to take classes. The staff is great and always helpful . . . everyone is helpful and that is why I keep recommending it to people.”
With his background primarily in security-related work, Peter didn’t know much about IT. What he did know is that the field was growing and he wanted to explore his options. Taking classes at LeaderQuest seemed like the perfect way to see if he was interested.
Peter headed to the Colorado Springs campus to learn more. He liked what he saw and before long he was enrolled and hit the ground running during his transition. “The first thing I did upon my transition to civilian life was to take my A+, Net+, and Sec+,” Peter said, “I had no previous IT experience.”
Peter tackled the three CompTIA certifications in January, February, and March. He ended up liking the atmosphere so much that LeaderQuest became more than a school. It wasn’t long before enjoyed coming on to campus just to study.
“It kind of feels like home,” Peter said, “The staff is great and always helpful.”
Interested in our entry-level IT classes such as A+ and Network+? Get more information below.
Cyber Security All-Star
“Immediately upon obtaining my Security+ certification I was offered a position as an Information System Security Engineer, that jumped me up from my previous pay by about $20,000, just shy of making six figures.”
After Peter earned the Security+ certification, which is much sought-after in the Department of Defense and enterprise cyber security world, it wasn’t long before he got the job he was looking for.
“Immediately upon obtaining my Security+ certification I was offered a position as an Information System Security Engineer, that jumped me up from my previous pay by about $20,000, just shy of making six figures,” he said.
By the time Peter was finished, he had accomplished much. He’d made it into the cyber security world. He’d learned valuable knowledge and was even able to re-sit his Security+ class to refresh the information later. All in all, during his time at LeaderQuest, Peter went from making around $40,000 to $90,000.
“If I can make it with little to no experience, anyone can—especially if they have LeaderQuest on their side.”
After getting hired, Peter continued to push his career. Eventually, he partnered with another IT specialist in the field. Today, he’s the Chief Operating Officer of an information system engineering firm that focuses on risk management framework compliance and IT security solutions.
“I’ve recommended numerous individuals to LeaderQuest,” Peter said, “I am proof that if I can make it with little to no experience, anyone can—especially if they have LeaderQuest on their side to assist them with their goals.”
Interested in IT Training?
Looking for a chance to upgrade your career? Or maybe you want to jump into the thriving IT or cyber security industry and you just need your foot in the door. LeaderQuest offers excellent IT training with industry expert instructors. They’ll prepare you to take the certification exams while also giving you the skills and confidence you need to thrive in a new position.
Do you work days? Nights? Would you rather take classes online? LeaderQuest offers classes during the day, at night, online, and on campus to work with any schedule. Getting trained is an investment in your education, but with even starting IT salaries in the $35,000 to $50,000 range, it’s one well worth making.
If you’re exhausted and stuck in a job you hate, don’t worry. Give us a call today and our career advisers can help you find IT training path that’s best for you.
Between cloud computing, increasing automation, artificial intelligence, and more, there’s no doubt that trends in the tech world have forever reshaped the skills professionals need to remain viable in the workplace.
In CompTIA’s most recent series, they’ve been examining the skills that companies value most and have broken them down in a comprehensive research brief. It examines different job titles, skillsets, and how the overall picture of what it means to be an “IT Professional,” looks like in the modern workplace.
Want to know if you have the most in-demand IT skills? Just fill out the form below, and we’ll send you the Future of IT Skills Research Brief and send you emails about local events, cyber security updates, and more.
Already subscribed? Just drop us a line and we’ll send you the research.
Do you have the skills you need to succeed?
When you need to pick up a new skillset, IT certification can get you there fast. Getting certified takes hard work and dedication, but LeaderQuest can prepare you for a number of different certifications including A+, Security+, CEH, CISSP, PMP, and more!
We also offer a number of cyber security training courses which you can day online, on campus, during the day, or at night. We’re here to fit your schedule.
Are you ready to start your best career? Contact us today!
Failing an exam can feel like a punch to the gut. You’ve worked hard, studied harder, and given up your free time only to fall short. If you find yourself in this difficult position, don’t worry! It’s more common than you think, even for seasoned IT professionals.
Each exam costs $200-$400 depending on the test so it’s an investment (even though it’s a drop in the bucket compared to what you could earn long-term.) You don’t want to get stuck taking the exam too many times.
That’s why we’re providing a comprehensive list of study guides, exam prep, and tools to help you succeed at certifications such as CompTIA’s A+, Network+, Security+, and CASP exams. The first time. Read on for the keys to success.
(Know which cert you’re looking for? Jump to A+, Network+, Security+, or CASP.)
When it comes to starting your career, A+ is one of the most recognized certifications in the world. Most major computer software and hardware manufacturers are actually members of CompTIA including Microsoft, Dell, IBM, Compaq, and others. The exam is an hour and a half with 90 multiple-choice and performance based questions.
CompTIA offers a number of resources, both free and paid, for test takers. You can get sample questions and exam objectives for free after signing up via email. They offer a number of alternate media for varying prices in their Self Study and Training including books, online courses, and even arranging training. There are also free flash cards and a low-cost A+ app for your phone or tablet.
While there’s an abundance of other free study materials out there, ensuring the consistency and currency of these sources can be difficult. If you’re concerned about passing the A+ exam, LeaderQuest offers a 15-day foundational training course which includes both A+ and ITIL. The average salary for A+ certified professionals is around $50,000.
If you’re new the IT world, certifications communicate to employers that you’ve got the skills to do the job. Many hiring managers actually require A+ to even be considered. By adding the ITIL certification, you’ll be broadening your skill set and setting a strong foundation to build on if your ambitions are for cyber security, network security, or others.
See our full list of A+ resources below:
Pass the A+ Exam!
Even though it’s an entry-level certification, there’s no shortage of threads around the internet about failing the Network+ exam.
We’ve already covered the value Network+ can have to your IT career and skillset, but as for the exam, Network+ covers the key skills needed to troubleshoot, configure and manage network systems.
Again, there are sample questions and exam details available on the CompTIA website. CompTIA has also published a basic list of what students should do ensure they pass the test. If you’re looking for a way to beef up your knowledge in your free time try out these free flash cards or the low-cost CompTIA app.
For IT professionals who are considering Network+, but may be open to broadening their qualifications and earning potential, LeaderQuest offers a 25-day Computer User Support Specialist courses which cover A+, Network+, and Security+. While we do have a five-day course solely dedicated to Network+, people in computer user support specialists roles can make an average of $60,000 a year. By adding more than one certification, your earning power increases.
See more studying resources below:
Pass the Network+ Exam!
The notoriously difficult Security+ exam recommends that you have at least two years of experience in IT administration. If you’re not sure if Security+ is really the right move for your career, we wrote a whole blog about it here. It’s extremely versatile with employers such as Apple, Dell, HP, IBM, Intel, and the U.S. Department of Defense.
The test includes the following subjects:
- Network Security (21% of exam)
- Compliance and Operational Security (18% of exam)
- Threats and Vulnerabilities (21% of exam)
- Application, Data and Host Security (16% of exam)
- Access Control and Identity Management (13% of exam)
- Cryptography (11% of exam)
CompTIA offers sample questions and an exam overview for free. There’s also an official online app and flash cards for quick studying on the go. Interested in investing some money in some official study guides? This complete list of the best Security+ books is a good place to start.
If you’re getting your Security+ because you’re interested in cyber security, LeaderQuest’s 15-day Information Security Analyst course pairs Security+ with hacking certifications like CND and CEH. From 2015-2017, our Security+ classes boasted a 77% pass rate. This is a great entry point into the cyber world for anyone with at least two years of IT experience.
While a Security+ certification can net you between $40,000 and $90,000, depending on the company and position, an Information Security Analyst’s median income with $90,000 and they can make upwards of $115,000.
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Pass the Security+ Exam!
The CASP is the odd man out in this list because it’s a mastery-level certification. Often compared to the more well-known CISSP, the CASP is Ideal for IT professionals who’d rather stay in the hands-on technical aspect of their careers than go into management.
With around 90 performance-based and multiple-choice questions, this test clocks in at 165 minutes. CompTIA offers Sample Questions and Exam Objectives for free after users fill out a form. You can get free flash cards that cover acronyms or general test prep. CompTIA has also released an official “Certification Guide” which will provide you with the information you need to pass the CASP.
Since it is a newer certification, there are fewer resources available than for other tests. That’s why we offer a 15-day training course to help pros pass the test. The CASP is perfect for Department of Defense jobs because it fulfills DoD Directive 8570.1. This allows you to work for a number of positions some with salaries as high as $120,000 per year.
(Not sure if you want to take the CASP or the CISSP? See the pros and cons here.)
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Pass the CASP Exam!
What Happens if I Fail an Exam?
If you don’t nail your test on the first try, there’s nothing wrong with asking for help. Again, you’re not alone. CompTIA actually has an official retake policy for this very purpose.
No matter how good you are at studying alone, there are always going to be gaps. Even a small misstep on an IT certification exam can mean the difference between getting certified and failing. Not to mention the $10,000 a year in salary.
That’s where we come in. LeaderQuest classes are taught by trained professionals in their field of study. They know the exams inside and out and provide live simulations to help you practice your skills. With our flexible hours, night or day, and online or in person classes to suit your landing style, and we set you up for success. Once you graduate, we also offer resources to help you land a job.
If you need help passing a certification exam, or want to plan the next move in your IT career, contact LeaderQuest today!
Anybody who has ever been out job hunting can tell you first hand that there is probably nothing more frustrating than trying to come up with a compelling resume. The one thing that many people need reminded of is that you cannot expect one resume format to have the same effect in different fields. Different employers under different careers appreciate different values and skills. IT is a field where the way you write your resume will play a major role in determining whether or not you even get to the interview! So after investing your time and money in IT career training and IT certification, you need to make sure that you have one heck of a resume if you plan on making it in the business.
Tips to Write a Compelling Resume for an IT Position
Most employers in the IT business value skill and creativity above other traits in a potential employee. These two qualities quite literally fuel the industry. It is therefore very important to come up with a resume that shines a spotlight on the presence of these two and many other skills that the employer stands to gain from by hiring you. Below are five simple tips on how to write an attention grabbing IT resume that will leave your interviewers in awe.
1. Be Organized and Draw Attention to the Major Points
The people given the duty of reviewing resumes are usually inundated by how many they receive. In fact, research has shown that they can spend as little as 25 seconds on each in order to save time! How much can YOU read in 25 seconds? It is extremely important that you organize your work in such a way that the big points are hard to miss. Short sentences, bullet points, selective bolding, and highlighting can be extremely helpful in making the important points stand out in a short time. Also be sure that your information is well-spaced so it is easy to scan. These simple tips help by creating an illusion that of less work for the interviewer and increase the chances of your resume being read through properly.
2. Quantify Your Accomplishments
In IT, many people applying for the same job as you will probably have similar IT career training. This means that it is not enough to just mention your alma mater and former places of work. However, not all applicants may have IT certifications. Industry recognized IT certifications help to “prove” you have the abilities and skills you say you have. If you have IT certifications, make sure they are prominently featured.
Additional information on your achievements in the world of IT will also help give you an edge over your competitors. For example, if you have ever entered and won in an IT based competition or exhibition, you should definitely mention this. This gives the person reading the resume the impression that you are a go-getter with a healthy competitive spirit which is needed in the industry. Focus on achievements you have accomplished that help demonstrate your knowledge in the field you are applying for. You can also include certificates awarded for non-competitive achievements including short IT course programs and extra training.
3. Be Brief and Concise
As mentioned earlier, the employers do not have enough time on their hands to go through your entire resume, especially if it is a long one. Therefore, ensure that you focus only on what is important and relevant to the job you are applying for. Everything else can be a side note that can be discussed more in-depth at the interview level if they are interested in asking you about non-relevant experience and work. Be sure to highlight your skills, interests and achievements with brief but informative descriptions. This way, the person reviewing the resume gets to see just how amazing you are with a simple sweep over the page.
4. Mention Hobbies and Interests that are Relevant to IT Careers
Since IT industry employers love creativity and open mindedness, the hobbies and interest section of the resume can be important. Almost any hobby or interest can be molded to fit the IT business. For example, creativity can be shown with hobbies like painting, photography, and cooking. Team sports such as baseball, softball, football, hockey, etc. show that you can work as a team member in pursuit of a common goal. Sudoku, chess, and backgammon will highlight your logic skills. Reading and visiting museums can showcase your hunger for knowledge.
5. Use Correct Spelling and Grammar, Use Short Sentences
This might seem obvious but it is a commonly overlooked factor in resume writing. Grammatical errors, long redundant sentences and typos are every employer’s nightmare. If yours has a lot of these you can rest assured that it will not be handled with the seriousness and interest you would want. So make sure that these errors are not anywhere in your resume as you submit it.
The Bottom Line
After all is said and done, no one wants to go through years of IT career training and IT certification only to end up jobless simply because they had an inadequate resume. The tips above will help you come up with something that even the hardest employers to impress will find compelling. However, make sure that above all else, you are honest about your abilities and achievements. This way, you will have no fears or regrets when your amazing resume lands you that amazing IT career.
Are you missing some critical IT career training or IT certifications for that job you’ve been eyeing?
Contact LeaderQuest IT Training today! With free IT career services, we can help you carve out your path to IT career success.
Around the world, there is one overwhelming fact: Computers play a greater role in day-to-day business operations than ever before. In the 1960s, computers were bulky and complex and technology experts were not as widely needed. In the 80s and the decades that ensued, more and more businesses began to rely on computers and the demand for IT professionals began increasing exponentially. With the advent of the Internet in the 1990s and 2000s, knowledge of computers was plainly required to acquire and keep a high paying position in almost any field. Technology skills are needed in just about any industry from the automotive field to aeronautics to even the music industry!
The trend continues into 2016. Professional recruiters are looking for candidates who are knowledgeable about computers–whether it is data analysis, website development and design, or technical support. Here we’ll examine some of the top fields in which information technology experts will be needed, and the IT training to take to prepare for a career in IT in 2016!
Computer Service Technicians / Help Desk and Technical Support
Computer service technicians are valuable for their ability to troubleshoot and repair a variety of consumer devices including personal computers, laptops, mobile devices, and personal assistant devices. Technology is infiltrating our lives more each day. From media to automobiles, lights to security systems, even furniture, appliances and the newest – “wearable tech” …technology is everywhere.
As we all know, technology is great but only when it works. But when it doesn’t, technicians are the ones who save the day! Job growth is expected to grow exponentially as technology invades all aspects of our lives – whether we want it to or not!
For those wishing to begin a career in IT, this type of position is a great starting point. To become a service technician, most companies will require a basic skill set in personal computer essentials, networking, and basic security. CompTIA (Computing Technology Industry Association), founded in 1982, at the dawn of the personal computer age, offers a variety of courses such as A+, Network+, and Security+ that will get you up to speed quickly on these basic requirements. By attaining IT certifications in these courses, it will prove to potential employers that you have a solid understanding of foundational IT concepts. They also have set guidelines of ethics and professionalism. Many CompTIA training and certification courses can be completed in under a month and CompTIA certifications can get you started on the path to working for Fortune 500 companies across the country. The courses and certifications pay for themselves in the long run. No matter which IT career or field you wish to enter, this training and certification looks excellent on a resume.
If you are interested in learning more about this career path, be sure to visit our Computer User Support Specialist IT Training program page!
According to the Computer World website, 39% of their survey respondents said they will be seeking a candidate with project management experience in the next 12 months. This skill has been in the top of desired skills for several years and is not going anywhere! There are so many businesses that wish to move ahead with all kinds of information technology projects. These companies need people who can design such projects and see them through to completion. This line of work requires that its workforce possess not only the ability to create and design projects, but also to lead a team. Recruiters seek leaders who have successfully led a team of IT professionals. Project management positions require several years in the IT field. Once you have the necessary experience, you can enroll in a project management training program that will help you get your PMP (Project Management Professional) certification to prove your skills to potential employers.
This skill is very much in demand today, and that need will increase in 2016. People who can design programs for cars to accomplish feats they were not capable of executing 20 years ago are sought after by recruiters in the car industry, for example. Back in 1995 few people envisioned that a program would be able to speak to a person in a very pleasant voice and give driving directions. Moreover, at that time driverless cars were not even thought of! Yet because of programming and application development, these things exist today.
Web Development / User Interface Design
Web Design and Development continues to score among the top 10 skills that job recruiters in our area seek because businesses understand more every day about the importance of a strong Internet presence and the power of such a presence in building a customer base. A Web designer must be able to build a website that looks professional, has an intuitive and mobile friendly user interface, write and optimize content and tags for search engines, and more. Classes in HTML, CSS, AJAX, jQuery, and search engine optimization will aid in the acquisition of this very much in-demand skillset.
Cyber Security continues to be among the top 10 most needed skills in 2016. Internet and network security breaches are prominently featured on the news all the time. U.S. News estimates that hackers cost companies more than $445 BILLION annually! Someone who is knowledgeable at keeping hackers and other cyber criminals at bay is extremely valuable and well paid at modern IT companies. There are several courses of study available for cyber security, from CEH (Certified Ethical Hacker) to CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional) to Vulnerability Assessment to Penetration Testing. With all of these specialties, talking to an experienced IT career consultant is advised to determine the best cyber security educational path.
The field of IT is rife with opportunity. Computers and the Internet are now integral parts of everyday life. They affect how you read, communicate, drive, check the weather, shop, watch TV, listen to music, and more! Computers have majorly impacted those individuals who work in fields such as health care, finance, retail, and education, just to name a few. Think about a career in IT and start your new future today!
LeaderQuest has campuses in Denver, Colorado Springs, Dallas, and Jacksonville. Contact us today for a campus tour or to discuss your IT career with an experienced IT Career Advisor. (866) 378-0761