Part of the new Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act, also known as the “Forever GI Bill®,” the Veteran Employment Through Technology Education Courses (VET TEC) program was created for Non-College Degree (NCD) schools to help veterans get the technology skills they need to join some of the fastest growing industries in the United States.
What is VET TEC?
VET TEC is a new tuition and housing assistance program designed to help veterans get short term technology training without using their GI Bill® benefits! VET TEC benefits cover classes in five different rapidly growing areas: information science, computer programming, data processing, media applications, and computer software. VET TEC also includes a formula for student success.
The Post-9/11 GI Bill® program was created to provide enough funds for veterans get a traditional degree, generally at a 4-year institution. The GI Bill® allows veterans to train anywhere they see value, but makes them responsible for seeing that their money is well spent.
VET TEC, on the other hand, doesn’t use up any of a veteran’s GI Bill® funding. Schools that participate must show that graduates are able to secure gainful employment as the VA defines it for the school to be fully reimbursed for the student’s tuition. This means that only programs with strong and verifiable employment outcomes can participate in VET TEC.
You just need to ask yourself one question to see if you could be eligible:
Are you a military veteran with at least one day of unexpired GI Bill® entitlement?
Are you a military veteran interested in working in information science, computer programming, data processing, media applications, or computer software? Are you ready to take on the challenge of learning new skills and joining a new industry to start a career? Then VET TEC may be a good fit for you!
You’ll also need to be ready to work hard on training and studying with the training provider you choose. This program is a great way to fund your training, but you’ll need to put in the hours required to learn new skills and prove to employers that you have what it takes to do the job. You’ll also have to gear up for the job hunt. Training providers are not placement agencies. While they can help you with your resume and job search, in most cases they won’t be able to directly offer you a job.
Here are some of the differences and similarities between the GI Bill® and the VET TEC program:
Students training with VET TEC will receive a form of Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA), similar to the GI Bill®.
VET TEC does not deplete your GI Bill® funds. After finishing VET TEC training, you can still utilize your GI Bill® later on.
VET TEC funds training for short-term technology and trade schools, while the GI Bill® can be used for these schools or traditional degree-granting colleges and universities.
Eligibility for these programs is not identical. Active duty service members, Transfer of Entitlement [TOE] spouses, and some others are ineligible for VET TEC.
The VET TEC program has more limited funding (up to $15 million per federal fiscal year.)
Veterans must attend as a full-time student to make use of VET TEC.
For a school to receive the VET TEC student’s tuition reimbursement, the student must graduate and find appropriate employment as defined by the VA. This ensures that schools with verifiable employment outcomes continue to participate in the program, while schools whose training doesn’t result in graduation and employment won’t be eligible to continue accepting VET TEC students.
LeaderQuest offers short-term training for those interested in information technology, cyber security, networking, and IT support. For those with little to no IT experience, we offer a Computer User Support Specialist program that gives students a strong foundation in IT skills. This program includes training for four certifications that are in high demand with tech employers: ITIL, CompTIA A+, Network+, and Security+. After completing our program, students will be well positioned to start a role in IT and move into more specialized positions in cyber security, networking or IT, depending on their interest.
To ensure student success in the classroom, LeaderQuest offers a suite of online resources that students can use to review the material and increase their skills before taking the certification exam. Each campus has an Instructor Mentor on staff, available for 1-on-1 study sessions to help support our students as needed. All of our instructors have years of industry experience and teach not just what is needed to pass the exam, but what students need to know to excel in the workplace.
Finally, LeaderQuest graduates work with our Employment Development Managers (EDM) to make sure they find a great job after their training and exams are complete. Your EDM will meet with you and help you create a killer resume and an eye-catching cover letter. They’ll give you interview tips and advice and practice mock interviewing with you so that you can interview with confidence!
If you’re ready to train for a career in technology, let us know! We can help you navigate the complex and frustrating funding process. Get started now by completing the form below to speak to a Career Adviser and get more information about VET TEC or GI Bill® funded training at LeaderQuest!
GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Quentin Parham wanted to start a career in IT, but he didn’t have a clear path from his experience in the Army to a first job in the industry. Here’s how he was able to combine his previous experience and his training from ACI Learning (formerly LeaderQuest) to start a new career in the industry that he loves.
Quentin is from Chester, Va. He started his Army career in 2005 with basic training in Kentucky. His first duty station was in Hamburg, Germany. From there he went to Tacoma, Wash., then to Fort Carson in Colorado Springs.
“I was stationed here at Fort Carson from 2013 to 2015 and I liked it so much that I had to get back as soon as possible. After getting out of the Army in 2015, I went back home to Virginia. I tried a few things, went to school, and taught for a little bit. I just didn’t feel satisfied. At the end of the year this year I was talking to my wife and we said, ‘Let’s move back to Colorado.’ So we moved back in February.”
When Quentin completed his service, it was time to choose a new career as a civilian. He had some experience with IT in the Army, but initially wanted to follow his passion for history. That led him in a different direction.
“I served as a Field Artillery Surveyor, which I was not too fond of. So then I became a Signal Support Specialist, which is what helped me get into the world of ACI and IT. It’s working with radios and computers and you do some of the more basic networking and troubleshooting stuff in that position.”
“So with the signal support position, I thought initially that this was what I wanted to do when I got out. But I also had a love for history and I wanted to teach, so I wanted to try that out first. That obviously didn’t work out. So after I came to Colorado Springs, Sarah Arnold reached out to me and started talking to me about everything ACI could offer. And it just appealed to me, because this is kind of what I did in the Army. I was at a point where I wasn’t exactly certain what I wanted to do with the next stage of my life, but this was something I was familiar with and I liked it, so I signed up and began my ACI journey.”
IT Training at ACI Learning
Quentin enrolled at our Colorado Springs location in our flagship track, the Computer User Support Specialist Program. This bundle of training takes five weeks (or 10 weeks on an evening schedule) and trains students for four of the most popular, foundational IT certifications: ITIL, CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+, and CompTIA Security+. These certifications are in high demand with IT employers, which is why they form the perfect foundation for an IT career. Once certified, students are poised to move their career in the direction of their choosing after they get some experience in areas such as IT service management, networking, and cybersecurity under their belt.
After completing certification training, our students benefit from our Career Services staff. This team works with students one-on-one to make sure all of them get hired and get their start in the industry. They’ll assist with everything, including resume editing, LinkedIn profile optimization, job-hunting strategies, and even connecting students with local companies looking to hire.
“What made me want to choose ACI? The appearance of the facilities and the professionalism of the staff. Also, when they were going through everything they offered — I know there’s nothing that’s 100% guaranteed, but this seemed like the closest thing to a sure thing. Not only do they prepare you and give you the resources, you’re able to use those resources whenever you want to. Also Shari Carroll and Michelle Martin, the employment staff, are very hands-on with you and work with you. Whether you’re a current or former student, they’ll still work with you on getting a job.“
“They give you a ton of resources, and for me being a veteran I felt like it was custom built for me to transition into the world of IT.”
Landing His First IT Role
One tool that our Career Services staff uses to help students get employed is regular hiring events. We invite Employer Partners to come and meet our students and graduates so that they can fulfill their hiring needs. Quentin attended one of our hiring events and was able to make contact with a recruiter at Tek Experts.
“From the first or second day, the [Career Services] team reached out to us. One of the first things they told us was to make a LinkedIn profile. They had a group of not just students and alumni but also recruiters and people who were working at local businesses. Then, they told us to get on Monster, ZipRecruiter, and so on, and apply to three jobs a day. They also gave us templates and tips on resume writing and would review our resumes with a very quick turnaround. They arranged a virtual job fair with Tek Experts, which is where I’m working now. I think they were very resourceful given that they had to change their approach [because of COVID-19].”
“So, they did a virtual job fair with Tek Experts and I decided to attend it. And I interviewed for a Tier 1 or Help Desk role which is usually how somebody like me would transition into IT. My interview — I at the time didn’t like it. I had other interviews I was doing, and I initially turned it down. But I managed to stay in touch with the recruiter. So they had a second position come up within their Microsoft Office 365 team. And so she sent me an assessment and I did well on it, and she put me in touch with another recruiter who was on the Microsoft team, but he didn’t like me for it. But probably a week after that they called me back and said they’re doing a new program where the MS Office 365 team is taking people with maybe a little bit less technical skills and they are bringing them up to speed with more training. So I am in a training program that started on August 10th. I am now a Level 2 Technical Engineer at Tek Experts.”
Congrats on getting hired, Quentin! We couldn’t be more proud. It’s our mission to create meaningful outcomes that impact lives, and seeing that in action is what we do it all for.
“I’d definitely recommend ACI to anybody that’s trying to get into the IT field. Even if you have some experience, it’s definitely a fantastic program.”
“If I could just say one thing about ACI it would be: impressive. Just the program itself, even given these circumstances it’s just been impressive. They have just gone above and beyond to provide great training to all of us and helped us to find employment even in these trying times.”
If you’re ready to have a conversation about starting a career in IT, we’re here to help. Fill out the form below to get in touch and discuss training options that can help you start a stable, high-paying, lifelong career in information technology, networking, or cybersecurity.
After getting laid off in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Eric decided to focus on a new career in cybersecurity. This is the story of how he made that switch.
“I’ve always been a techie. I’ve got tons of computers at home that I tinker with all the time. And I just love helping people by looking at their current environment. They tell me, ‘We’re having trouble with this, how can we fix it?’ And that’s what I’ve always liked doing with IT.”
Watch the video below, and read on to learn more about Eric’s IT training success story.
Trouble with the Pandemic
Eric moved to Colorado in 2012 and had a great career in IT sales. In college, he had double majored in business and computers and enjoyed having one foot in each world. Eric switched companies so that he could stay in Colorado. Not longer after this switch, his company merged with another. They were struggling when COVID-19 hit, and he was laid off in April of 2020.
Looking for a next step, Eric’s brother reminded him about his passion for cybersecurity. Eric started working on getting some certifications he hadn’t needed for his career in sales, and completed his Security+ in a month of self-study. He was looking for a next step when he met up with Ken Hoerning. Ken is one of the Career Training Consultants here at ACI Learning (formerly LeaderQuest), and was able to advise Eric on a plan of action.
“Ken walked me through start to end, ‘Here’s how we can get you into this class, here’s kind of what it looks like, here’s what the courses are going to be, here’s what you can anticipate,’ all the way through the test.”
“For the CISSP program, I actually took the class both in the day session and the night session. The day session was about 8 hours a day. Everything was remote, so you’re basically on your computer and the instructor is talking about things and it’s very interactive. You have sample questions and group discussion, but mainly it’s going through the book in the best way possible. ACI has their own materials for this. ACI will let you resit as many times as you want so that was a very nice offer.”
“I think ACI did a very good job as far as being able to get in the highlights and provide materials in the time they had. They give you access to several test banks, which is very nice. I worked with some of my classmates and we started a daily training session to share information and go over practice questions.“
CISSPs are information assurance professionals who define the architecture, design, management, and/or controls that assure the security of business environments. The CISSP certification was the first certification in the field of information technology and cybersecurity to meet the requirements of ISO/IEC Standard 17024.
Our CISSP training offers a job-focused approach to the cybersecurity process while providing the basic skills required to prepare for CISSP certification. Get live training, online or in person, from an instructor with industry experience. You’ll also gain access to a plethora of practice tests, videos, and other resources designed to teach you everything you need to know to pass the exam. If you’re not feeling ready, you can resit the course as many times as you’d like for up to 24 months! And when you’re done, you’ll have the full support of our Career Services team to help you find the job that’s right for you.
Career Services Support and Getting a DoD Job After Training
Eric worked with our campus Career Services staff to find his ideal job: working with a DoD contractor. Our Employment Development Managers (EDMs) specialize in helping graduates perfect their resume and online presence, make connections with local people and companies, and get the interviews needed to land their dream job.
“Michelle Martin has been wonderful. She sent millions of things to me per day saying, ‘You should check out this and this and this’ and it was really helpful. So just the energy and the passion that ACI had and their commitment of making sure everything went well, all the follow-ups, everything else, was very helpful.”
Michelle and I talked many times. I was very passionate about finding a DoD position. And so she said you should connect with this person on LinkedIn or this person on Amazon, and talk to these individuals and she made some introductions and it really helped.”
As of early August 2020, Eric has accepted a position as a Cyber Network Architect for SAIC, pending a clearance level approval. Congrats, Eric!
“ACI’s main benefit is the fact that they have a recruitment specialization that will help you locate your new job. You can use that as much or as little as you want. So if you ignore them they will not be able to do much, but if you say, ‘Hey I need some help with this,’ they are very willing to step up, help, make introductions. And the other part is that if you went through the week and you still feel like, well I need some help, ACI is constantly having these classes and you can re-sit these classes as many times as you want. And they’re more than happy to do that.”
Are You Ready to Level Up Your Career?
With classes running weekly for the most popular IT certifications, there’s never been a better time! If you’re ready to have a conversation about training at ACI Learning, just fill out the form below.
Cybersecurity is an exploding industry! Get in now! The pay is great, the possibilities endless! What are you waiting for?! Get started now!
And you know what? It’s all true.
Sometimes even this lowly blogger asks himself: What the hell am I doing writing marketing content about cybersecurity growth when I could easily get certified and experience its benefits for myself?
If I ever think of a good answer, I’ll be sure to let you know.
But back to LeaderQuest and the aforementioned yapping. We can go on and on about the 0% unemployment rate, the half a million job openings, and facts like, “the workforce must grow by 145% to meet global demand.”
But talk is tiring. Rather than continue telling you about all cybersecurity jobs available, repeating all the lines you’ve heard before, this time we’d like to show you.
Cybersecurity Openings, Everywhere You Look!
Thanks to Cyberseek.org, we can do just that. The website, which seeks to “close the cybersecurity talent gap with interactive tools and data,” has a fun, useful map showing the amount of cybersecurity job openings in all 50 states.
Guess what? There isn’t a state in the union that doesn’t have literally hundreds of openings. Most have thousands. Many are in the tens of thousands. See for yourself!
Here are some highlights:
The top five states with the most cybersecurity openings are California (67,915), Virginia (54,432), Texas (46,279), New York (24,431), and Florida (23,629). The five states with the fewest cybersecurity openings are Wyoming (340), Vermont (431), North Dakota (622), Montana (624), and South Dakota (660).
Here’s a full rundown on the stats in table form:
Are you a Vermonter who assumed you’d have to move to Boston to get into cybersecurity? Hopefully after reading this you reconsider.
What Does the Future Look Like?
Now, a large quantity of jobs is one thing. But is the amount shrinking or growing?
With factors like automation and migration, work was already changing before. Throw in a global pandemic and the need for remote employment, and the landscape becomes that much more complicated.
But cybersecurity is one industry you can count on to be there. And in uncertain times, there’s a lot to be said for that.
OK, But How Much Money Is There In Cybersecurity?
Convinced yet? No? Well, let’s take a look at some other statistics. Financial ones.
Check out these entry-level pay rates for cyber roles from Indeed: $38.57 an hour for Project Managers, $51.86 an hour for IT Security Specialists. Extrapolate those numbers over a full year, and you get salaries of $80,225.60 and $107,868.80, respectively!
And that’s just to start. Let’s take a look at the figures later down the career path.
Mondo, too, has a breakdown of high-paying cybersecurity jobs. Here’s a look at the average salary range for six different positions:
Information Security Manager: $125,000 to $215,000
Cybersecurity Engineer: $120,000 to $200,000
Application Security Engineer: $120,000 to $180,000
Cybersecurity Analyst: $90,000 and $160,000
Penetration Tester (Ethical Hacker): $80,000 to $130,000
Network Security Engineer: $125,000 to $185,000
But again, say you’re a Vermonter or a Montanan. How useful are those numbers, when location isn’t factored in?
The folks at ZipRecruiter considered that, too. They put together handy salary figures broken down by state — a perfect complement to the above map from Cyberseek.
Among states with the highest average cybersecurity salaries, New York narrowly leads the way ($123,918), followed by Massachusetts ($122,746), Washington ($121,890), New Hampshire ($119,461), and Hawaii ($117,889).
As good as those top numbers are, the bottom ones aren’t nearly as bad as you might think. North Carolina, the lowest state on the list, still carries an average cybersecurity salary of $90,882.
Maybe this lowly blogger is biased, but who wouldn’t want to make that?
I’m Sold. How Do I Get Into Cybersecurity?
If you’ve read this far and started to evaluate your life choices, don’t worry! One of the great things about IT and cybersecurity is that it’s never too late to start down this path. Plus, cybersecurity training is relatively affordable and speedy.
At LeaderQuest, helping aspirants become professionals is what we do. From top-tier cybersecurity training with experienced instructors to effective exam prep before certification time, we’re with our students every step of the way. Even after they pass their exams and get certified, our all-star Career Services team pulls out all the stops, making every call they can, to help these qualified candidates get started in their fulfilling new 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.
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.
With so many struggling, it’s easy to assume that career prospects in every field are similarly bleak. But there’s at least one sector where people are still being hired, where work is still being carried out.
That field is IT. As companies shift their operations online, the demand – the need – for trained IT professionals and the technical support they can provide has grown to all-time highs. And LeaderQuest grads are living proof. Between March and April, LQ helped place 100 of them in fulfilling new careers, bucking the difficult trends seen elsewhere.
We caught up with three of these student success stories to get the specifics of each one’s journey into IT, from having an initial interest in the industry to receiving that offer letter for a position within it.
Their experiences show that with the right assistance, reinventing yourself doesn’t have to be all that painful, even in a global pandemic.
A New Job and an Instant Promotion
For Chris DeWitt, the sheer amount of IT openings is part of what caught his attention.
“The possibilities absolutely seemed endless,” he says. “There was no shortage of positions to apply for, and that was really exciting.”
DeWitt, 44, spent the first two decades of his career in the U.S. Air Force. It’s what brought him to Colorado Springs, where he has remained with his family since retiring from the service in 2013.
A talented photographer, DeWitt went on to work in creative areas in the years that followed, until last year when a stark realization hit him.
“I kind of plateaued,” he says. “It was my dream job. But I didn’t see an opportunity for growth anymore.”
That led him to IT, which led him to LeaderQuest. After being drawn in by “a bunch of smiling faces” at a job fair, DeWitt got to know some of the Colorado Springs LQ team, including Employment Development Manager Shari Carroll and Career Training Consultant George Winn.
He was thrilled to learn that not only could LeaderQuest provide him with the IT training he sought, it could also help him secure government funding to complete that training for free.
“I just couldn’t believe it,” DeWitt says. “It almost seemed too good to be true, that VET TEC was going to pay for this and then this program was going to assist in job placement. I mean, there’s parts of that that seem too good to be true! And, thankfully, it wasn’t.”
While he had been applying to jobs before taking his exam, his results improved dramatically once he added the new certifications to his credentials.
“The second I said ‘I have my certification,’ my responses immediately went from maybe 25-30% to probably 90% in job applications,” he says. “I was immediately getting responses from companies that I wasn’t getting before.”
The interviews started piling up, so much so that it became a joke in the DeWitt household, how often Dad was in the office with the door closed, talking to another company about another job opportunity.
Initially aiming low because of his limited experience, DeWitt started going after positions of a slightly higher level. He ended up snagging one with Apex Systems, which hired him to be a Mobile Service Center Sr. Technician. After just one week of demonstrating the leadership and management skills he honed in the military, he was promoted to Mobile Service Center Manager.
“Here I am, after one week of work I’m talking with the company about what that (salary) increase looks like,” DeWitt says. “It was validating, because I was just so nervous about making that leap.”
Perhaps the best part: Through a contract with NORTHCOM, DeWitt and his Apex team are playing an active role in the coronavirus fight, helping with backend communications for military medical providers such as the USNS Comfort in New York and USNS Mercy in southern California.
“Those individuals are getting the devices we’re providing them, which allows them that cooperation and collaboration while still maintaining their social distancing,” DeWitt says. “Not only was I able to accept a position during these difficult times, I accepted a position where I’m supporting that effort directly.”
Being Let Go a ‘Blessing in Disguise’
Reggie Landers had long held an interest in IT – for most of his adult life, actually.
“I’ve been wanting to get into it,” he says. “But I had bills to pay, so I couldn’t just leave work and go to school. Because then I would be homeless.”
Landers, 39, had been employed in insurance before. He was unfortunately let go from his job, and he found it difficult to find another one of a similar stature.
Some positions he was unqualified for. Others would pay significantly less than he made before.
A father of one, Landers felt these options weren’t suitable for his circumstances. Amid decreasing responses from places he’d applied to, he vented about his growing frustrations to a friend.
“I kind of let him know the situation,” Landers says. “His girlfriend said, ‘Hey, why don’t you look into IT? They’re massively hiring. I went to this seminar and I got all this information.’ And I was like, ‘OK, cool, absolutely.’”
But the problem of affording IT training, in both money and time, still existed. Or so Landers thought, right up until he got in touch with LeaderQuest.
While the coronavirus pandemic has prevented him from taking his certification exams, it has not stopped him from finding a new job. Landers is now employed as a Level 2 Software Support Engineer Specialist with Tek Experts.
“It’s a right fit for someone that has no experience,” Landers says. “It’s a company that’s growing despite COVID-19, and I ended up getting hired in pretty much right away.”
How soon is right away? Landers applied to Tek Experts on Thursday, March 26. By Monday, April 20 – less than 30 days later – he was in the midst of his first day.
According to Landers, the company bills itself as a springboard to other opportunities. And he’s not the only LeaderQuest alum who’s caught on there.
In fact, from the very beginning, Hoerning pegged it as a possible landing spot for him.
“The LeaderQuest staff has been more than helpful and gracious during this process,” Landers says, “and has really been fighting for me as the student to try to make sure that everything is in place.”
A 37-year-old mother with two teenagers at home, West knew she could better support her family if she left her role as a paraeducator for preschoolers and elementary students.
“That is definitely not a lucrative job by any means,” says West, who was pursuing a bachelor’s degree in education. “Even as a teacher, I mean, starting salary for a teacher is about 36k if you’re really lucky.”
Together with her husband Bobby, who retired from the Navy in November, West began looking into IT. It was something the couple had considered in the past, as she has two brothers who work in cybersecurity.
They started studying on their own, but found it difficult to make progress without formalized training. It was Bobby who came across LeaderQuest.
Going from 8 am to 5 pm, five days a week, West and her husband completed the five-week course over February and the first week of March. She took the rest of March to study for her Sec+ exam, which she passed on her first try. That’s when she called Shari Carroll, the Employment Development Manager at Colorado Springs, who helped with her job search immediately.
“That was on March 27th that she reached out to Valdez,” West says. “I had an interview at noon one day and was called back the next day telling me that I had received a job. So it was a very, very quick process.”
Seemingly overnight, West had an offer letter for a change management position in her possession. Although she can’t start yet due to COVID-19 precautions being taken at Peterson Air Force Base, where the role is located, she has a salary of $51,000 a year to look forward to.
“I’ll be making twice as much as I’ve ever made,” West says. “Just starting off, the very first job that I’ve ever gotten – I don’t have any other IT experience other than what I got from LeaderQuest.”
In describing the LQ process – from recruitment and classes to mentoring, exam prep and job placement – the word West kept coming back to was “phenomenal.”
“They just help out in any way, shape or form they can, from start to finish, to teach you this stuff, then (help you) study for the certs, then take the certs, then get a job,” West says. “Through the entire process, they’re just extremely helpful and encouraging.”
Start an IT Career with Zero Experience
At LeaderQuest, the most gratifying part of the job is seeing — and frequently helping — people get hired. That starts with training, with the most common journey being the Computer User Support Specialist program. There are no prerequisites. If you have basic computer literacy, you can take this course, get your certifications, and be on your way to a new career. All in an average of just three months.
And you won’t have to find work in this new field all on your own. As the above stories show, our career services team is an energetic, well-connected bunch. From helping you craft a top-notch resume and cover letter to directly reaching out to companies on your behalf, these people are dedicated to your employment. It’s their job to get you a job — and trust us, they’re excellent at their job.
When you factor in all the funding options available — especially for veterans — LeaderQuest becomes the obvious choice for anyone looking to enter IT. If that’s you, fill out the form below so we can start a conversation about your specific career goals and how LeaderQuest can help you reach them.
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.
Think about when you first enlisted in the military, the excitement, the nervousness, the fear of the unknown. While these feelings have surely changed since your first deployment, the end of your military career marks the beginning of a new chapter in your life and the renewal of those same feelings. While this may be intimidating, we want you to know that you have a partner in moving forward. Our goal is to help veterans navigate the maze of opportunities ahead of them by means of education and information in order to help them choose a career that will serve them for years to come.
We discussed the advantages of certifications over degrees in Degrees vs. Certifications and in Your Military Transition we discussed how to navigate your transition and assesses your military benefits, but in this blog we would like to explore why exactly entering the IT industry is such a great fit for military veterans and why you should consider a career in IT.
While you were deployed the amount of open IT positions has increased tremendously. From 2014-2018, more than 450,000 IT job openings have been added to the market. The U.S. workforce is desperately trying to keep up with demand, but there are not enough qualified individuals to fill these positions.
The sector that has the hardest time keeping up with demand also happens to be the sector that favors military veterans, cybersecurity. In 2019, the cybersecurity shortage was already at 4.07 million cybersecurity professionals needed worldwide.
What does this mean for you? Entering the IT industry can lead to great opportunities at an accelerated rate. Veteran Christopher Jaskoski was earning $70k just nine months after his separation from the military; read The IT Training Success Story of Christopher Jaskoski to learn more about Chris. At our last check with him in March of 2019, he was earning over $120k. A lot of veterans don’t know this but time in the military can be a significant advantage when seeking a career in IT.
Your Military Experience = Your Advantage
Skills you develop in the military like teamwork, leadership, and problem solving are just a few of the qualities that you can utilize in the IT industry. Exceptional problem-solving skills alone are a great indicator for an entry-level job in IT were troubleshooting and problem-solving are large parts of the job roles. Entry level roles like Computer User Support Specialist are earning on average 53k a year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
On top of basic skills that can help veterans get a head start in IT careers there are also many MOS’s that have direct correlations to jobs in the civilian workforce.
Networking and communications positions are a great example of this. Have you ever seen Cisco equipment in the field? There is a good chance that this equipment has had a large impact on your military career. Many of their devices are deployed all around the world with the U.S. military and are the exact same devices used on the civilian side of things.
From Cryptologists to Network Defenders and Signal Specialist to Systems Maintainers there are hundreds of positions in the military that can translate directly into civilian IT positions. Want to see if your skills and experience would translate to an IT job? Download our Veteran Skills and Interests Assessment below.
Download the Veteran Skills and Interests Assessment
Having a secret security clearance and being in the field of IT can lead to a 5.8 percent average pay increase over time, and top-secret security clearance can lead to a 12.8 percent pay increase over time according to the Human Resource Association of the National Capital Area. Certified individuals with a security clearance are sought out by defense contractors, and generally have a very easy time getting hired.
Are you interested in working for the Department of Defense (DoD)?
Becoming 8570 compliant with single certifications from LeaderQuest can also boost your earning potential as well as make you eligible for a position in the DoD.
What is DoD 8570 Compliance? DoD 8570 establishes the policies and responsibilities of Department of Defense information assurance, including training, certification and workforce management. It is a baseline requirement for employees to access DoD IT systems.
How do you become 8570 compliant with LeaderQuest Certifications?
By combining your Secret Security Clearance with 8570 compliance you can significantly improve your chances of getting hired into an IT position for a defense contractor.
What is the advantage of working in IT for the DoD or a defense contractor?
You get to continue your to serve your country while leveraging your security clearance to make more money, the average base salary for IT specialists in the DoD is around 80k according to glassdoor.com.
How Important are Time and Money to You?
Entering the workforce through a certification path can save you years and help you build the necessary experience to advance your career and make a decent living.
When looking at college degree programs you will find that a bachelor’s degree will typically take around 4 years to complete. This translates to 120 college credits and around about 40 total classes, not to mention the additional time it takes to get hired after completion. After this time you will still be entering the workforce as an entry-level candidate making entry level pay.
In comparison our entry-level certification program, the Computer User Support Specialist program, you are looking at around 3 months from training to hire and a total of 4 certification courses.
The earning potential of these different paths can be illustrated in the table below.
*Salary factored in is based on Robert Half’s technology salary guide. We used Low-End Conservative 50th percentile salaries for years 1-3. Years 4 & 5 are based on the average of 2,250 Cyber Security Analyst salaries from Glassdoor.com.
Training AND Working = +$16,287
(-$12,775 + $29,062)
1st year Tier 1 Helpdesk annual earnings = $38,750
12 months of work – 3 months of training = 8 months of work ($29,062)
Minus Training Costs ($12,775) = +$16,287
Total: +$38,750 (With G.I. Bill Funding)
As in any field, your pay is dependent on your experience and effort to move forward. To make the step from a Help Desk Associate to a Cybersecurity Expert it typically takes 2-4 years of IT experience and can be supported by next level certifications offered by LeaderQuest like the Certified Ethical Hacker certification or the Certified Security Analyst certification.
Why IT Certifications and Why LeaderQuest?
In general, certifications verify that you have specific skills or knowledge. They are a great way to show employers that you have put in the time to learn your craft. While certifications are great, they won’t always land you a job by themselves. Here at LeaderQuest, we have recognized this and have gone to great lengths to bridge the gap from certification to employment.
The LeaderQuest Difference
A large portion of our staff are military veterans, and it has pushed us to go beyond what one might expect from a training facility and inspired us to create a world-class training center that cultivates success for veterans from training to employment.
The LeaderQuest training process includes multiple forms of extra support to ensure the best academic outcomes.
On Campus Instructor Mentors: Each LeaderQuest campus has an Instructor Mentor specifically dedicated to the success of all students. The Instructor Mentors will organize study groups, create personalized study plans, and tutor individual students who need the most help.
Expert Instructors: All of our instructors are required to have industry experience.
Day or Night Courses: We offer day and night courses to fit your schedule. Full time courses run for 5 weekdays at 8hrs/day. Part time courses run for 10 weeknights at 4hrs/night.
Learning Portal: Carefully curated study tools and practice test are included in each course.
The LeaderQuest Learning Guarantee: You may re-sit any course that you have taken at no cost if it’s within 2 years of your course date. (If the certification version has changed you may have to purchase new materials.)
The LeaderQuest Career Services Department offers one-on-one support for students who have completed their courses to help them take the next big step and actually get hired.
Resume/Cover letter writing to help graduates polish their resume to perfection and help them land an interview.
Interview coaching & mock interview practice to help gain confidence and learn the best way to answer common questions.
LinkedIn profile creation and optimization to make sure each graduate’s online presence is working for them.
Application coaching including how, when, and what kind of jobs to apply to.
Meet and greets with industry professionals in the local area to help graduates make valuable connections.
LinkedIn Tech Professionals groups to network and ask questions to LeaderQuest alumni in your area.
Access to LeaderQuest’s job boards curated by the Career Services Employment Development Managers.
Access to LeaderQuest’s employment partners. LeaderQuest has partnered with DoD contractors and other companies across the country to help fill their entry-level to advanced-level positions in a wide array of IT sectors.
Learn more about LeaderQuest’s Employment Services in the video below.
As you can see, LeaderQuest has perfected the formula for a concise education and Career Services support that produces results. That being said, we are continually evolving and are constantly adjusting to the market to ensure a top-level education for anyone who chooses to walk through the doors of LeaderQuest. We listen to our students and support our veterans in and outside of the company.
Is the IT Industry Right For You?
Whether you are looking to continue your service to the country through the DoD or are simply wanting to make money as quickly as possible, the IT industry may be a good fit for you! Your skills from the military combined with LeaderQuest’s proactive approach to training work together to get you employed as quickly and efficiently as possible.
A large portion of LeaderQuest employees are military veterans, and we empathize with what you are going through and want to aid you in this process. This life-altering decision does not have to be one that you make alone. Here at LeaderQuest, our goal is to partner with you in making this decision and guide you throughout the whole process.
If you are interested in transitioning into the IT industry please fill out the contact form below and a Career Adviser will contact you about your future. Thank you for your service and good luck!
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.