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Degrees vs. Certifications: Investing In your Future

Degrees vs. Certifications: Investing In your Future

Like most things in life, getting certified comes at a cost. Yes, there is a financial cost associated with getting certified, as well as the time it takes to study for your certifications. But what about the opportunity cost? What else could you have done with that time, and how does getting certified compare? We’ve already covered some of these differences in a previous blog, but in this one we’ll be focusing on the timeline of return on your investment in education.

In this blog, we’ll be taking a look at the costs and opportunities for certification training as opposed to pursuing a bachelor’s degree.

Part 1: Getting IT Training

First, we’ll take a look at the timeline for these training options.

Bachelor’s Degree

Typically, a bachelor’s degree requires four years of study to complete. In these four years, students will complete 120 semester credits or around 40 college courses.

While this is the longest of any of the four options, it’s also important to mention that a bachelor’s degree program aims to create well-rounded graduates who learn about history, language, math and literature in addition to their chosen area of study. Usually only 30 to 36 credits or 10 to 12 courses will be in a student’s major area of study.

According to collegeboard.org, for the 2017-2018 year, the average cost of tuition for a semester at a public 4-year in-state college or university was $9,410. For four years at that rate, one would expect to pay $37,640 for tuition.

LeaderQuest Training

At LeaderQuest, we recognize that highly employable graduates aren’t created overnight. While each IT certification is a powerful addition to a resume, a single certification is not typically enough to secure employment in the industry. That’s why our Computer User Support Specialist program includes four of the leading IT certifications for entry-level work: CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+, CompTIA Security+, and ITIL Foundation.

The Computer User Support Specialist program takes five weeks to complete the courses (or 10 weeks if taken part-time in the evening). Students will need a few more weeks to study the material, take practice exams, and prepare themselves for their certification exams. Most students will need three months to complete all of their courses and get certified.

Our certification courses cost around $3,000 each (varies by course), with the total cost of our Computer User Support Specialist program coming in at $13,875.

Part 2: Getting Hired in IT

Once you have your certifications and training or degree, how hard is it to get hired in IT?

Bachelor’s Degree

With your bachelor’s degree in hand, you’ll find a large number of entry-level positions that you qualify for. Depending on the focus of your studies, you may be able to get a head start in the specific IT field you’re interested in. However, with more and more high school graduates attending college, the value of a college degree has begun to decrease.

While a degree will help you qualify for more jobs, it’s by no means a golden ticket. As you can see from this Quora thread, you’ll still need to look for internships during college, network with other IT professionals and employers, create a great resume and work on your online presence.

If you can’t show potential employers that you have the hard skills they are looking for, a degree may not mean much to them. They’ll want to know that you worked with the systems and hardware that they’re currently using. In fact, many of our graduates have combined a degree with certifications to help them compete in the job market. For more on this, check out the success story of Michael Cost who got an Information Assurance degree but still wasn’t able to find work until he added a Security+ certification to his resume.

LeaderQuest Training

Certifications like CompTIA Security+ are ideal for employers because they provide third party verification of the worker’s skills. For most IT jobs, skills are far more important than college degrees. Employers want to know that you’ll be able to configure a router, rebuild a computer or help secure the company’s systems. Because of this, the four certifications offered in the Computer User Support Specialist program are an ideal gateway to working in the tech world.

80% of our graduates are hired within six months of completing their studies and certifications. This is because our training is an ideal way to meet the increasing employer demand. According to CompTIA research, nearly 4 in 10 U.S. IT firms report having job openings and are actively recruiting candidates for technical positions. For those who wish to continue their education and expand into the cybersecurity market, they’ll have an even easier time getting hired. In fact, The Cybersecurity Jobs Report predicts there will be 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity positions by 2021.

The final component to our employment rate is one-on-one Career Service support. Each campus has a dedicated Career Services team, ready to help you optimize your resume, polish your LinkedIn profile, and practice your interview skills. When you’re certified and ready, they’ll connect you with local employers that are looking to hire.

Part 3: Where Will You Be Five Years Later?

Bachelor’s Degree

After five years, a bachelor’s degree student would have only been in the working world for about a year, or possibly less given the time needed to secure employment. In an entry-level position like Information Technology Specialist, one could expect an average salary of $48,063. Working for one year in a role like this, the bachelor’s degree recipient would have incurred $37,60 for tuition and would just be able to start to pay that off.

LeaderQuest Training

Assuming three months to complete training and certification, and five months to find a job in the industry, a LeaderQuest graduate would have been working for four years and four months. Considering the average salary of $48,063 for an Information Technology Specialist, the LeaderQuest graduate could have already made as much as $194,398 in the same amount of time that the bachelor’s degree holder was just getting started in the working world! If you factor in the potential for promotions or pay raises, they might even be making more. And they’d be gaining valuable industry experience that can help them get ready for the next move in their career—instead of just starting it.

Timeline Bachelor’s Degree LeaderQuest Training
Year 1 Studying, -$9,410 Training, -$13,875

Working, +16,021

Year 2 Studying, -$9,410 Working, +48,063
Year 3 Studying, -$9,410 Working, +48,063
Year 4 Studying, -$9,410 Working, +48,063
Year 5 Working, +48,063 Working, +48,063
TOTAL Total: +10,423 Total: +194,398

Looking at the table above, the benefits of accelerated training through LeaderQuest are obvious. Get trained, get into the field, and start earning experience and money!

College or LeaderQuest?

You don’t have to choose! The American Council on Education’s College Credit Recommendation Service (ACE CREDIT®) has recommended 14 LeaderQuest courses for college credit. ACE CREDIT® recommendation means you could get trained with entry-level certifications, quickly start a job in IT, and still have college credit if you decide to go back to school to specialize. Really, the only thing better than certifications or a degree is certifications and a degree!

LeaderQuest also has an articulation agreement with Colorado State University-Global Campus (CSU-Global) which makes our Computer User Support Specialist program worth about as many credits as a semester of classes. In addition, LeaderQuest students can take advantage of a 10% tuition discount at CSU-Global. This means you can use the training and job relevant skills you learn at LeaderQuest in high demand career areas of information technology, cybersecurity, and project management, and apply it toward your continued education and career advancement with CSU-Global.

Are you ready to get started on an IT career today?

If you are, it might be time to talk to a Career Adviser and schedule a tour of one of our campuses. During the tour, you’ll get a free career consultation with one of our Career Training Consultants to help you determine if IT is a good fit for you, and what field you might like to work towards. They’ll also talk to you about funding, training timelines, employment rates, and anything else that’s on your mind.

Getting into the IT industry doesn’t have to be time consuming. LeaderQuest can make it easy to take the first steps on a new career path.

Ready to Learn More?

From Teaching to IT: Lauren Wilson’s Success Story

From Teaching to IT: Lauren Wilson’s Success Story

Lauren had been working as a highschool English teacher for a couple of years and was enjoying her job, especially having the summers off. But we can’t always control what’s in store for ourselves or our spouses, and life had a few surprises in store for her.

Check out her story in the video below, or read on to get all the details.

Moving to Colorado Springs

When Lauren found out her husband was going to be stationed in Colorado and they would have to leave Florida, finding a teaching job in Colorado Springs was her first concern. She had about 5 months warning and took all the right steps: she got her teaching certification for Colorado, got references, and applied to every job she could find. But she wasn’t able to find any open positions for teachers in the area, and started to look for other options. 

“There’s not a ton you can do with a literature degree so I was feeling kind of hopeless. And I did not want to go back to college because it’s a lot of extra money, and it’s a lot of extra courses you don’t need that don’t help you in a job. So when LeaderQuest popped up on Facebook, ‘You just need these certifications to be successful in an IT career’ I was like, sign me up!”

“The thing about IT that interested me was the massive amount of opportunities. You can create your own career path. If you’re teaching, you really only have one avenue to go down. And it’s a lucrative career! They pay a lot more than teachers get paid.”

IT Career Training at LeaderQuest

Lauren enrolled in the Computer User Support Specialist program. This program is designed to help those with zero experience gain the skills and certifications needed to get started in the IT industry. It also teaches foundational skills that can be built on to help our students to specialize as they advance in their career, going into areas such as networking, cyber security, or management. 

“The teachers were very knowledgeable, very helpful, and the resources they offered were amazing. Coming in with zero IT experience, it was a bit overwhelming at first. But they give you every resource and every opportunity to succeed.”

“When you enroll, you’re with the same group of people throughout all the classes. We got to network with each other and make new friends. Everyone was there to support one another and everyone had different levels of experience  with IT, so it was cool for me to talk with the gamers or someone who had been in IT for 5 years and just needed the experience.”

There’s no doubt that the material will be challenging for those with no background in IT, but we make it our mission to help anybody who is interested in IT and committed to training complete the classes and get their start. It’s important to pay attention in class and take good notes. Once the class is completed, most students will spend a few weeks studying the material and using the resources provided to make sure they’re 100% ready for the exam. Lauren took advantage of our expert instructors to make sure she learned everything she needed to pass.

“I worked with Greg Gardner a lot and he was phenomenal. When I was feeling super down and overwhelmed by all of the material, he lit a fire in me because he knows his stuff and he wants everyone to succeed. Not only is he a great IT professional, he’s a great teacher. And coming from a fellow teacher, I think that says a lot.”

“He didn’t just present the lessons and go over slides, he dove into it and gave us things to put our hands on, and told us about real life experiences. He’s an author, and I got to look at his books, which as an English person I liked that a lot. You can email him any time, you can meet with him and go over everything before you take the certification exam.”

“It’s hard coming in and sitting down and listening to an instructor talk about IT when you have no clue what he’s talking about. So they give you these labs to do that simulate a lot of things you’re talking about which was easier for me to learn because I can see it in real life terms, I can actually physically do something. So those were super helpful.“

Getting Hired in Entry Level IT

Lauren passed exams for two certifications: CompTIA Security+ and ITIL Foundation v4. She worked with Shari Carroll, the Employment Development Manager (EDM) at Colorado Springs, to look for work in the IT industry in the area. Our EDMs are experts when it comes to job hunting, and offer each of our graduates one-on-one assistance with perfecting their resumes, brushing up on interview skills, and finding jobs that are the perfect fit for their skills and desired career path. 

With help from Shari, Lauren was able to get an entry level IT position at Valdez. 

“I work for Valdez and they contract with the Airforce here. I’m in Change Management. It’s entry level, and it’s easy to do, so I have a lot of time to study and a lot of helpful people who are super willing to train me and help me get to different positions.”

Next Steps: After IT Training

At LeaderQuest, our number one goal is to help individuals get the education and certifications they need to start a successful career in the IT industry. Support doesn’t stop when you complete your last class. You can come back and resit a course any time for the next two years if you don’t feel fully prepared for the exam. We also have an Instructor Mentor on each campus who is available for one-on-one meetings about the material to help you master it front to back.

“Even though I’ve completed the program, I’m still in contact with Greg, Ken, and Shari. They contact me all the time to ask how my job is going, what’s your next step, can we do anything to help you. It’s more than just a mentorship, it’s a friendship because they care about where I’m at and where I want to go.”

“I would highly recommend LeaderQuest to anybody who is willing to put in the work to fight for their dreams to succeed. LeaderQuest is not a cake-walk. You can’t just walk in here and expect to pass the certification exams, especially if you have zero experience. But it can be done. If you put in the work, if you rely on the resources that they have, if you lean on the Instructor Mentor teacher. If you put in the work, you can do it and you will be successful.”

Curious about training at LeaderQuest?

If you’re interested in starting an IT career, we can help. We offer training on the most in-demand certifications in the IT, cybersecurity, and networking industries. Our courses will quickly give you the skills and knowledge you need to pass exams and get hired. Instructor Mentors are on hand to help you with any tricky material. We’ll help you get trained, certified, and hired.

If you’re ready to take the next step in your career, click the link below!

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From Uber to Cyber: Christopher Ogunsakin’s Success Story

From Uber to Cyber: Christopher Ogunsakin’s Success Story

At LeaderQuest, our students come from all walks of life. Christopher Ogunsakin knew from a young age that he was interested in I.T., but it his journey to an I.T. career was not a direct one. Read on or watch the video below to learn about how Chris came to LeaderQuest and found career success.

Watch Chris’s Story

Learning About I.T. in Nigeria

Chris grew up in Lagos, Nigeria, and as a child he didn’t have a lot of access to computers at home. His brother, who was also curious about information technology, brought home a laptop that got Chris interested.

“I’ve always been interested in I.T. from a very young age. Growing up in Nigeria, I didn’t have a lot of computer resources, but my brother was interested in I.T. He bought a laptop, thankfully. And that was how I got started. He would let me play on his laptop.”

He took some computer classes in school in Nigeria. He didn’t have to study like his friends did, and that was when he realized his aptitude for I.T.

Moving to America

Chris moved to Denver, Colorado from Nigeria in 2011. He moved to the United States by himself and had to walk everywhere, pay his own bills, and go to school. He enlisted in the U.S. Army and has been in the reserves since then. Chris also enrolled at Metro State for Computer Science, but wasn’t able to translate that experience into a role in I.T. Instead, he was driving for Lyft and Uber as his main source of income, often for five or more hours a day.

“Before coming to LeaderQuest I was an Uber driver. Before that I was a delivery driver. That was easy for me to do, and honestly it was a great job for me. But the thing is, I knew that wasn’t something I wanted to continue doing for the rest of my life. It had to be temporary.”

During this time, a recruiter came into Chris’ unit during an Army Reserve monthly drill. He gave info about resources that the Army can help with, including educational assistance. When Chris asked about training for I.T., the recruiter referred him to LeaderQuest.

Exploring Training Options

Chris came in to LeaderQuest to learn about our training options at an informational session with a Career Training Consultant. Chris told his Career Training Consultant that he wanted to focus on cyber security. They went over his background in T.T. and the classes he’d need to take. Considering his experience from Metro State, they decided that the best course of action would be to move directly to Security+ and skip some of the earlier courses in our Computer User Support Specialist program.

CompTIA Security+ Training at LeaderQuest

Chris completed his CompTIA Security+ over two weeks, online, in the evening. In this way he was able to continue driving for Uber and paying bills while attending LeaderQuest. Our training courses are intensive and instructor-led, and run either one week full-time (8 hours of instruction per day) or over two weeks in the evenings (4 hours per day).

“Overall, it was a great experience. What I appreciated mainly was just that the instructor was there to answer any questions you have. He would be on before and after class to answer any questions you have.”

CompTIA Security+ is one of our most popular courses. This course teaches students the fundamentals of cyber security. Students will learn to…

  • Monitor the security infrastructure and identify security threats
  • Harden internal systems and services and internetwork devices and services
  • Secure network communications and enforce an organizational security policy
  • Manage a Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) and certificates

Most importantly, Security+ is in high demand with employers in I.T. and cyber security! According to Accenture’s 2019 cybercrime report, incidence of cyber attacks has risen 11% since last year, and the average cost of cybercrime for each company increased from US$11.7 million in 2017 to a new high of US$13.0 million. As companies and organizations look to secure themselves from cyber attacks, more qualified individuals are needed to fill these roles. LeaderQuest is proud to help train the next generation of cyber security specialists to help combat the rising tide of cyber crime.

Career Services & Getting Hired

“If I have to say the most useful resource I got from LeaderQuest, it would probably be Steve.”

After completing his Security+ training, while studying for the exam, Chris started working with our Denver campus’ Employment Development Manager, Stephen Wright. Stephen works closely with our graduates to help them find the kind of jobs they’re looking for, and make sure that their resume and interview skills are top-notch. Stephen also makes connections with local employers who are looking to hire for their I.T. or cyber security workforce.

“I would definitely recommend LeaderQuest, and here’s why. For me it was a big challenge when it comes to: Now I’ve gotten the skills, now I have the certificate. How do I go out there and sell myself to employers as a candidate they want to hire? So, Stephen Wright went above and beyond. Any questions I had about a job, he was there. He was always there. He was my go-to for everything, and I think that was a huge resource. Anybody who needs help in that area would benefit as well.”

Chris kept driving for Uber while he looked for work in cyber security. After a few months, he was able to secure an interview with the Colorado Governor’s Office of Information Technology. He worked with Stephen to prepare for the interview, and he got the job! In May of 2019 he was hired as a Cybersecurity Specialist, and he’s loving his new job.

“A lot of people would look at my story and say I’m very lucky, but I put in a lot of work for myself. When I had interviews I knew I would be asked questions. I couldn’t make it up, I needed to know the answers.”

Start a New Career in I.T. or Cyber Security

“After getting my new job, I only drive for Uber when I want to because it’s something I like to do. When I get off work it’s an option, it’s no longer a necessity. Now I’m using my skills, using my brain, doing what I love to do. I don’t get tired of doing that.”

With some certification training and a lot of hard work, Chris was able to pursue his dream of working in the I.T. field. LeaderQuest is proud to have been able to help him take a few steps along the way, and provide the support he needed to get hired and start his career.

If you’re interested in starting a career in I.T., we can help you too! LeaderQuest training provides the a career jump start for aspiring tech practitioners. We offer:

  • Accelerated training that takes months instead of years
  • Online courses and flexible scheduling to work around your life
  • Live instructors with years of industry experience
  • Instructor Mentors available for 1-on-1 tutoring
  • Career Services support to help you actually get HIRED once training is complete
  • Multiple ways to finance training so that you can start now

If you’re ready to take the next step in your career, contact LeaderQuest today!

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12 CompTIA Exam Tricks and Secrets to Help You Pass Your Test

12 CompTIA Exam Tricks and Secrets to Help You Pass Your Test

aking tests is no fun. There’s a reason it’s a common nightmare for anyone that’s ever been in school, even briefly. This goes double for CompTIA exams which are a big investment in terms of time and preparation.

But just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s impossible. People pass and get their CompTIA certifications every day. While nothing will ever replace diligent studying, these 12 tricks and secrets to help you pass your test are sure to help you show up for test day confident and ready.

1. Avoid “Brain Dumps”

test CompTIA exams pass your test

Sometimes it’s not about how much you study, but where you’re getting your materials. Using official CompTIA textbooks or materials from well-established industry pros is a great way to ensure you’re getting quality materials.

 As for what to avoid, two words: brain dumps. A brain dump is when someone posts test questions after taking an exam. They often include the answers. While this might seem like the best place to get knowledge, be careful. There’s no quality control, you have no idea if you’re actually getting the right answer, and, while it might help you pass the test, it won’t do you any favors when you’re actually trying to use the knowledge in the real world.

 Worst of all, brain dumps can actually get the person posting them in legal trouble since CompTIA exam takers have to sign a non-disclosure agreement. This Reddit thread gives a great summary of why they should be avoided.

 Looking for study materials, exam questions, practice tests, and more! Get them here: CompTIA A+ questions, Network+ questions, & Security+ questions.

2. Memorize the Test Objectives

 While this might seem like a no-brainer, knowing the test objectives does more than just prepare you for the layout of the exam. It’s a roadmap that lets you know how fast or slowly you’re moving through the material.

 Time is of the essence in these tests and knowing where you are and how much you have left is vital. Not to mention the fact that studying the objectives means you’re more prepared to take and pass your test in general. Which is a very good thing.

3. Know What Type of Learner You Are

CompTIA exams pass your exam

Everyone studies differently. Maybe you need to write things down or use flashcards. Maybe you need silence. Maybe reading voraciously helps you retain knowledge or maybe you need to explain the concepts to someone out loud. It’s more of an art form than an exact science.

Figuring out what works best for you is the best exam trick when you have to do a ton of studying. This article gives you an idea of some of the best ways to study while this quiz can tell you if you’re an auditory, visual, or kinetic learner. It can make all the difference when you’re on your tenth hour of studying.

4. Build a Computer or Set up a Network

This is especially important for the CompTIA A+ exam and the Network+ exam. The CompTIA A+ 901 exam covers hardware while 902 covers software. While it might sound daunting, building an actual computer is a great way to prepare. It will be essential in understanding not just the theory, but the actual practice. The same goes for the Network+ exam. There’s no better way to understand networks than to actually set one up yourself.

It comes down to this: It’s easier to remember which port is which if you just finished interacting with them in real life. If this just isn’t possible, finding a virtual lab is the next best thing. Our CompTIA A+ course includes hands-on experience with building computers, a great component of any I.T. education. As for our online classes, we provide a virtual environment for students to get the experience they need.

5. Practice, Practice, Practice

 

 

 

 

 

CompTIA provides practice questions for almost every exam including A+, Network+, Security+, and more. (Scroll down to see the form where you can request a CompTIA practice test, objectives, and more.) In addition to giving you an idea of how ready you are overall, you can hyper focus on the areas you’re having problems with.

When you’re reviewing your answers, figure out what you keep getting wrong and then redouble your study efforts in those areas. 

6. Skip Strange Exam Questions

 Again, these tests are about managing time and are graded on a pass-fail basis. So, if a question seems too hard, skip it! On a test like Security+, there are actually beta questions, seemingly random questions which are being tried out for a future version of the test. They are not graded, which is good, though it’s hard to tell what is and isn’t a beta question so don’t skip TOO many questions without answering.

 

While beta questions aren’t a feature of all CompTIA exams, skipping a confusing question will give you more time to answer the questions you do understand. By the time you return to the question, you may see it in a whole new light or have the confidence to answer.

7. Be Prepared for CompTIA’s Performance-Based Questions

 Performance-based questions (aka PBQs) ask the taker to perform a task or solve a problem in a simulation. More complex than your standard multiple-choice, these questions take time and can be intimidating if you’re not prepared. However, they don’t have to bring your test to a screeching halt.

First, it’s important to know that most PBQs will come toward the beginning of the test and, while they are a little more complex, they aren’t impossible. The best defense is a good offense, and preparing for these questions with online labs will make it much easier. However, if you reach the question and don’t feel confident, it’s okay to skip it for the moment and come back to it.

8. BEST, MOST, LEAST

 One of the simplest exam tricks is if a question contains capitalized words like “BEST,” “MOST,” or “LEAST,” pay attention! This gives you a hint as to what the question is really asking. There could be a number of answers that seem to fit, but only one that corresponds with the capitalized word and will help you pass your test.

9. Join an Online Community for CompTIA Exam TricksReddit CompTIA Exams

 Finding a CompTIA study group online is a great way to work out your brain. They are a lot of great resources, study suggestions, and more in the CompTIA subreddit, /r/CompTIA which is full of people who have either passed their certifications or who are deep in the process. If you need extra help with a tricky section, ask! They’re always happy to share the secrets to their success and give all the information about the tests you could want. (Without breaking the non-disclosure agreement, of course.)

10. Create a Study Plan to Pass that Test

 

CompTIA exam pass your testIf you were planning on running a 10K, you wouldn’t start training a week before. Studying for a CompTIA exam is no different. Plan out the time between now and when you’re going to take your test.

 

Be sure to allow more time for difficult subjects or areas you might need some extra help on. Set aside an amount of time each day to dedicate to different objectives. Then, study, study, study.

 

11. Know the Multiple-Choice Tricks

While multiple-choice questions can cause you to tear your hair out (all of the above? WHY WHY!?) there are a few ways to even the odds. Always eliminate answers that are obviously wrong. Think of, “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” The odds are always better when you cut it down to 50/50.

Second, recall information related to the question. This can be a surprisingly effective method for remembering the right answer. If two of the answers are related, that probably means that one of them is correct. If all of the answers seem wrong, you might want to re-read the question to figure out what they’re really asking.

And lastly, skipping a question and coming back to it can be helpful. A question later in the test might key you into an answer the question earlier. For more tricks, check out this article on multiple-choice questions. You’ll be glad you did and made this portion of the test a little less daunting when you finally schedule your exam.

12. Treat Yourself Well the Day of Your CompTIA Exam

Last, but certainly not least, you’ll want to show up well-rested, fed, hydrated, caffeinated, and de-stressed (at least, as stress-free as possible). While last-minute cramming can be important, you need to leave yourself enough time to get a full eight hours of sleep. Be sure to eat some protein in the morning (oatmeal is always good brain food).

Making sure you know the testing location is especially important (which is why LeaderQuest offers a Pearson VUE testing center for you to take the exam on-site). If you do have to travel to a new location, make sure you leave yourself plenty of time in case you get lost. Finally, build up your confidence to prepare for the test. Give yourself a pep talk. You’ve done the hard work. You’ve got this.

If All Else Fails, Study with a Professional

It can be easy to get discouraged, especially if you’ve tried and failed once or even twice. With the CompTIA A+ exam cost at $211 for 901 and 902 each, it’s clear that this is an investment you want to make wisely.

While self-study is important, it’s okay to need a little extra help. That’s why LeaderQuest offers tech industry training with expert instructors to help you pass your CompTIA courses, get your certification, and prepare you for your career in I.T.

With classes offered during the day, at night, online, or on campus, we’re prepared to work with any schedule and learning style. First, we’ll help you along your certification career path. Then, we’ll provide career services to assist our graduates in getting hired. That includes helping you optimizing your resume and even setting you up with our employer partners.

As the skills gap in I.T. grows more and more every day, the industry is in desperate need of professionals who are ready to tackle the challenges. Taking CompTIA certification classes can be a great way to get started. If you want to pass your test, get certified your career to the next level, contact us today. ↓

Request Info on How We Can Help You Pass Your Exams!

The Ultimate Study Guide for the EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) Exam

The Ultimate Study Guide for the EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) Exam

Let’s be honest, no one likes studying. No matter the subject, it’s tempting to procrastinate. After all, some tests you can take on an hour of sleep and two cans of Red Bull. Unfortunately, the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) is not one of them.

Given the ever-growing importance of cyber security, maybe it’s no surprise that the CEH is rated as one of the hardest exams in the IT world. A four-hour long affair that costs $950 or more, it’s not something you want to do more than once. That means studying smart is everything if you want to learn how to ethically hack.

Fortunately, there’s no need to go it alone. We’ve prepared a list of resources and handy advice so you can pass with flying colors.

Exam Overview

“To beat a hacker, you need to think like a hacker.”
—EC-Council on CEH

The Certified Ethical Hacker is a vendor-neutral certification focused on cyber security and penetration testing. Its goal is to certify that a professional is able to identify weakness and vulnerabilities that a malicious hacker could exploit. In ethical hacking or, “white hat,” hacking, this information is used to help an organization strengthen its defenses.

Here’s the lowdown on the test.

The purpose of the CEH credential is to:

  • Establish and govern minimum standards for credentialing professional information security specialists in ethical hacking measures.
  • Inform the public that credentialed individuals meet or exceed the minimum standards.
  • Reinforce ethical hacking as a unique and self-regulating profession.

If you’re not sure if you want to get your CISSP or CEH, check out our blog on 5 Essential IT Certifications for Cyber Security Jobs.

CEH Exam Quick Facts

  • Exam Voucher Cost: $950 – $1,199 (this is the Certified Ethical Hacker certification price)
  • Number of Questions: 125
  • Duration: Four hours
  • Format: Multiple choice
  • Test Delivery: ECC EXAM, VUE

Source: EC-Council

Though it may seem pricey, CEH-certified individuals make an average salary of $90,000 per year and as much as $126,381. With earning potential like that, the investment is well worth it.

CEH Prerequisites

The CEH program requires the candidate to have two years of work experience in the Information Security domain and should be able to provide a proof of the same as validated through the application process unless the candidate attends official training. If a candidate has completed official EC-Council training either at an Accredited Training Center, via the iClass platform, or at an approved academic institution, the candidate is eligible to attempt the relevant EC-Council exam without going through the application process. LeaderQuest is an Accredited EC-Council Training Center

Free Resources

Of course, everybody wants free hacker training! Fortunately, the EC-Council provides a variety of free resources to get you started. Begin by heading over to the CEH assessment which provides 50 questions that will give you an idea of how prepared you are to dive in. It’ll help you gauge what needs the most attention.

Next, the EC-Council’s comprehensive exam blueprint dives deep into which subjects will be covered in the text, how they are weighted, and even how many questions will be devoted to each topic. Going one step further, the EC-Council CEH Candidate Handbook v2.2 covers not only the nitty-gritty details, but also lays out a CEH career path, discusses the application process, and even outlines a strict code of ethics that white hat hackers must follow.

If you need to study on-the-go, this free EC-Council CEH™ v9 Exam Prep (which includes some in-app purchases) provides you with 600 practice questions over seven different subjects. It’s available for iPhone, Android, and through Amazon. It’s perfect for Certified Ethical Hacker online training.

Lastly, it’s important to stay in the mindset of a hacker and the EC-Council white papers are a great way to do that including the 10 Deadly Sins in Virtualization Security and 5 phases every hacker must follow.

Best Textbooks

Internet resources are great, but they can only take you so far. At some point, putting money into your CEH study is a wise choice. Here are the most highly-rated textbooks and what you can expect to learn from them.

Study with an Expert

No matter how hard you study alone, there’s bound to be gaps. If you’ve hit a wall in your studying, or are worried you’re missing key information that will help you pass, don’t go through it alone. At LeaderQuest, we offer a 5-day Certified Ethical Hacker training course taught by industry expert instructors. They know what they’re talking about because they’ve been there and had years of real experience. They’re ready to help you get certified while also preparing you for the real-life challenges you’ll face during your cyber security career.

LeaderQuest classes come with a CEH VUE exam voucher (value $1,199) and an opportunity to take the test at our onsite location. That way, you don’t have to stress about the details and can focus on passing. You also won’t have to pay the $100 eligibility application fee for self-study students. If you ever feel like you need a refresher, we offer free class resits to all our graduates.

No matter what your schedule, we can work with you. Our classes are available on campus, online, during the day, or at night. We will work with your schedule to get you certified and strengthen your earning potential.

Don’t tear your hair out studying for your Certified Ethical Hacker. Train with the experts at LeaderQuest and kick your cyber security career up a notch. Your next Ethical hacking job is out there today.

Learn more about LeaderQuest training.

 

The LeaderQuest Learning Portal Delivers Superior IT Training

The LeaderQuest Learning Portal Delivers Superior IT Training

We are happy to announce the one-year anniversary of the LeaderQuest Learning Portal!

LeaderQuest invested in a Learning Management System (LMS) in early 2018. Due to our growth, and in an effort to improve the student experience, the investment in an LMS was a no-brainer. Our first classes were rolled out via the Learning Portal LMS in May of last year. Focus groups were held for students that had taken classes without the LMS and then given the opportunity to take a class utilizing the LMS. Another focus group was composed of students new to LeaderQuest and only having the LMS as a reference for their course resources. Both focus groups evaluated the LMS experience and revealed that the LMS has been a total success and solidified that the LMS impacted the student learning experience in a positive way.

What is a Learning Management System?

An LMS is a platform for the delivery of training courses, including course materials, instruction, and interactions between students and instructors. It enables the documentation, tracking, reporting on and administration of those courses.

The LeaderQuest LMS is a cloud based (SaaS) platform, supported by Absorb. There are other LMS platforms, however, cloud-based provides by far the best user experience. All a student needs are a username and password to log in, no installation or downloads are needed. All upgrades and technical updates are handled by Absorb and pushed to the cloud, allowing LeaderQuest staff to focus solely on student experience.

The Learning Portal is an intuitive user interface that hosts all of the valuable curriculum for both the on-campus and virtual courses that we offer. The new LMS benefits students as well as internal processes and best practices as it lends visibility into each learner’s individual experience and facilitates the tracking and reporting of student progress. This allows instructors/staff to be more engaged with students throughout their learning experience, providing the student with additional support when needed.

Who gets access, when?

The LMS is referred to as the “Learning Portal” for our students. All instructors, students and select administrative staff have access to the Learning Portal. The students gain access to the learning portal upon completion of their registration. Providing student access to valuable resources before classes begins allows them to prepare in advance.

What makes our LMS so awesome?

The advantages of an LMS are plentiful. The LeaderQuest Learning Portal is fully customized to support IT technical training and gives the student a “one stop” platform for their training needs. Students simply log into the Learning Portal to find all of the resources and materials for their classes such as the syllabus, ebooks, labs, test prep, and all LeaderQuest policies and best practice information.

Students complete assignments and assessments within the Learning Portal giving instructors insight into student progress and completion. The Learning Portal allows the instructors to proactively step in to support when they see a student struggling or commend students doing well.

The Learning Portal also enables communication for the instructor and students. Instructors can privately communicate with students via an inbox in the learning portal. This helps them stay in touch with individual students when needed. Each class also has a chatboard where students and instructors can post study items, ask questions and compare notes. These lines of communication are incredibly important for creating a full and immersive student experience.

At the end of class, students take a course evaluation via the Learning Platform, making the process of evaluating instructors, curriculum and their personal LeaderQuest experience easy. The evaluation of the learning experience is important as it allows LeaderQuest to make adjustments to the training when needed, to better serve the student’s needs. The student also has access to Course Completion Certificates and Transcripts via their Learning Portal, once courses are completed.

The Learning Portal also hosts LeaderQuest customized resources developed by industry experts, such as Take the Challenge and Boost Your Knowledge. These resources help prepare the students for industry recognized certification exams, such as CompTIA A+, Network+, and Security+.

Take the Challenge

What is it?

Take the Challenge is a supplemental test prep resource created by industry experts and certified, knowledgeable instructors. Take the Challenge prepares our students for their certification exam after the completion of class in a unique way. This test prep includes a 300+ question bank with answers and detailed explanations or rationales. The test prep questions are exam style, are timed, and are broken up into different sets of questions that the student can take or retake as needed for knowledge mastery. Each practice exam is set up to mimic the actual exam the student will take.

Why is this exam prep so awesome?

This test prep is unique as each question is organized and tied into an objective/domain that is covered on the exam. This allows the student to hone in on areas or objectives they may not be excelling in. Once the student has identified their weak areas of knowledge, the student can dive back into the curriculum to strengthen those problem areas they are scoring low on.

Who gets access when?

Take the Challenge is added to the student’s Learning Portal as soon as the student is registered for the actual course. It is most beneficial for the student to begin utilizing this resource after they have completed class, however, they have it from the start if they would like to explore its capabilities. This incredible resource is a free addition to the student’s courseware to utilize after class is completed. All the student resources are in the LeaderQuest Learning Portal making access easy and allowing instructors to track progress.

What classes have Take the Challenge?

Take the Challenge enriches students’ learning experience and improves student preparation for taking the certification exams. Due to popular demand and success, Take the Challenge has already been created and released for ITIL, Network+, Security+, CND, CEH, CHFI and PMP. In the near future you will see other LeaderQuest courses supported by Take the Challenge as we continue to improve the pass rates and learning experience for our students.

Boost Your Knowledge

What is it?

Boost your Knowledge is a resource that contains the official Professor Messer videos. Professor Messer, aka James Messer, is a security, networking, and internet-based multimedia publisher. He is a world leader in free online training videos that have over twenty-five million online views. We give all the credit to Professor Messer, all we have done is made Messer’s videos easily accessible to our students through our one stop, all access, Learning Portal.

Why is this resource so awesome?

To supplement learning, LeaderQuest has aligned the series of comprehensive Professor Messer videos by domain. If/when the student struggles on a lab or with the curriculum, they need to look no further than Boost your Knowledge, making it easy for the students to get to the topics they would like to review in further depth explained by an industry expert. Hosting the Professor Messer videos on the Learning Platform also allows Instructors insight into what resources the students are utilizing.

Who gets access when?

Boost Your Knowledge is added to the student’s Learning Portal as soon as the student is registered for the actual course. It is most beneficial for the student to begin utilizing this resource before they begin class. This incredible resource is a free addition to the student’s courseware to get them acclimated to terminology and exposed to topics that will be covered in the class. Viewing the videos during and after class will help reinforce the information a student learned in the classroom to get them further prepared for exams.

What classes have Boost Your Knowledge?

The Boost Your Knowledge resource enrich’ s a student’s learning experience and improves student preparation for taking the course. Due to popular demand and success, Boost Your Knowledge has already been created and released for the A+, Network+, and Security+ CompTIA courses.

Are You Interested in IT Training?

At LeaderQuest, we’re committed to state of the art IT training for the most in-demand industry certifications. If you’ve been considering a career in IT, we can help you quickly get the training you need to get hired into your first IT role.

Our Computer User Support Specialist program includes four important IT certifications, and most students complete their courses and certification exams within 3 months. By completing their training for ITIL, CompTIA A+, Network+, and Security+, students gain the skills they need to be highly desirable to employers while building a foundation for a career in an IT specialization like networking, cyber security or IT support.

If you’d like to learn more about IT training at LeaderQuest, let us know. Our Career Training Consultants are experts when it comes to choosing an IT training path that works for you.

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10 Pros and Cons of Being an IT Professional

10 Pros and Cons of Being an IT Professional

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

Late nights as an IT ProfessionalUnfortunately, 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

Pros and Cons of an IT CareerHow 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.

-Tech Republic

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!

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Want to learn more about LeaderQuest training?

Your Military Transition: A Career Guide

Your Military Transition: A Career Guide

The transition from the military to civilian life is composed of an array of emotions. From the excitement of having control over your life again and being able to dictate what your days consist of, to the fear of the unknown; this can prove to be a true challenge for many veterans. And, although the military does offer several transitional services such as transitional classes and resume writing, it seems that the majority of this burden falls on the veterans themselves.

Everything from securing transportation, to acquiring housing, to finding a job is the responsibility of the veteran. This is a time when each veteran must take responsibility for their livelihood and their future.  To understand this fully, and what steps you can take to create a strong foundation for your future, let’s explore the transition process from the military to civilian employment.

Making the Transition

If your MOS doesn’t translate directly into a civilian job, it might seem as if you’re completely starting over. Before we discuss that topic, let’s go through the first steps of the transitional period. This is when you’re still in the military but nearing terminal leave, nearing your release date/separation date, or approaching your return date.

  • Terminal Leave Start Date – A final leave just prior to separation or discharge from service consisting of any accumulated, unused time off granted to a member of the armed forces. Some transitioning military members use this time to take classes before their official release date.
  • Release Date or Separation Date – When you officially separate from the military.
  • Return Date – When you are returning “home” or wherever you are settling after the military.
  • Work Date – The date that you must begin working before you run out of money.
To help you nail down your timeline, download our Veteran Transition Timeline Worksheet for free by completing the form below!

*Note: When downloading PDF and printing out, make sure to click the printer icon and then “Fit to page” on the print screen.

Download the Veteran Worksheet Now!


Evaluate

During the transitional period, there’s much work to be done to secure a solid future for yourself. So after determining these key dates, it is crucial to begin evaluating your situation.

Below are some serious questions you should consider during the beginning of your transition.

1. Should you take some time off to focus on your mental health?

This aspect of the transition is often overlooked, typically because many veterans feel the pressure to jump into a civilian career immediately. This mistake is as understandable as it is dangerous. Unfortunately, 10%-20% of veterans suffer from PTSD and 20 veterans commit suicide every day. The side effects of PTSD can be mitigated by allocating the proper amount of time to recover physically and mentally during this transition while utilizing the resources available to you.

*You can also check out our blog on the topic: Get Help, Get Better: Veteran Suicide Prevention

2. Do you have time for an education, or do you need to work immediately?

Everyone’s transition is different. Some veterans can afford the missed time at work and some veterans need to start working immediately. A good way to evaluate your situation is by creating a budget. Mint is a great free way to put together a budget. By putting together a budget, you will be able to see how much money you have to spend on bills and how much money you have in surplus. This will help you determine how much time you have (if any) to get an education, but this is also contingent on what benefits you have available.

3. What military education benefits do you qualify for?

The educational benefits you qualify for will vary depending on: time served, period served, branch, and discharge status. While you may have already known that, did you know that you can also share your benefits with immediate family members? You can even use part of your benefits and still share the remaining benefits with an immediate family member. To help you learn what benefits you may qualify for and the details each benefit, we put together an informative list below.



Tuition Assistance

What is it? Tuition Assistance is a military benefit that pays the cost of tuition and some fees.

Who is Eligible? Virtually all military service members are eligible. However, the criteria for eligibility is determined by each branch.

Benefit: Tuition Assistance covers up to 100% of tuition and fees not to exceed:

    • $250/Semester Credit Hour
    • $166/Quarter Credit Hour
    • $4500/Fiscal Year (The Navy has a 16 credit hour annual limit.)

Post 9/11 GI Bill®

What is it? The Post 9/11 GI Bill® provides up to 36 months (4 traditional school years) of education benefits to eligible service members and veterans for:

    • College
    • Business Technical or Vocational Courses
    • Correspondence Courses
    • Apprenticeship/Job Training
    • Flight Training
    • Licensing & Testing Programs

Who is Eligible? Service members (Active Duty, Guard, and Reserve) and veterans who have served at least 90 days on active duty since 9/10/2001. Survivors of a military member who died on active duty after 9/10/2011 may be eligible for Fry Scholarship program which pays the same as Post-9/11 GI Bill®.

Benefit: Paid tuition and fees, living (housing) stipend and book stipend.

    • Benefits are tiered based on the number of days on active duty.
    • Some limitations apply to those currently on active duty.
    • Benefits can be transferred to a spouse or family member.

Montgomery GI Bill® Active Duty & Veteran

What is it? Montgomery GI Bill® Active Duty & Veteran (MGIB-AD) provides up to 36 months (4 regular school years) of education benefits to eligible veterans for:

    • College, Business
    • Technical or Vocational Courses
    • Correspondence Courses
    • Apprenticeship/Job Training
    • Flight Training

Who is Eligible? Active Duty members who have served at least two years on active duty. Veterans – there are four categories of Veteran eligibility depending on when you enlisted and how long you served on active duty.

Benefit: Up to $1,994 per month for full-time institutional education.


Montgomery GI Bill® – Selected Reserves

What is it? The Montgomery GI Bill® – Selected Reserves is similar to the Montgomery GI Bill® Active Duty & Veteran but at reduced rates.

Who is Eligible? Active duty members who have served at least two years on active duty. For veterans, there are four categories of veteran eligibility depending on when you enlisted and how long you served on active duty.

Benefit: Up to $1,994 per month for full-time institutional education.


Loan Repayment (LRP)

What is it? Your service may partially or fully repay college loans.

Who is Eligible? Generally for enlisted members only. Several factors determine your eligibility, including your branch, your MOS, and terms of your contract. Your loans must be in good standing, i.e. not in default.

Benefit: Learn more about repayment programs below.

There are also specialized loan repayment programs for health professional officers.


Tuition Assistance “Top-Up” Program

What is it? The Tuition Assistance “Top-Up” Program is an additional benefit intended to supplement tuition assistance from the military with GI Bill® benefits.

Who is Eligible? To be eligible for the Top-Up benefit, the person must be approved for federal Tuition Assistance by a military department and be eligible for GI Bill® benefits.

Benefit: Tuition Assistance will pay up to 75% of the cost of classes, the “top-up” program will pay the remainder of the cost.


Survivors’ and Dependents’ Assistance Program (DEA)

What is it? The Survivors’ and Dependents’ Assistance Program (DEA) provides education and training opportunities to eligible dependents of certain veterans. May be used for degree and certificate programs, apprenticeships, and on-the-job training.

Who is Eligible? You must be the son, daughter, or spouse of a service member who died, is missing, or was permanently disabled while on duty or as a result of a service-related condition.

Benefit: Up to $1,224 per month for full-time institutional education.


Work-Study Program

What is it? If you’re a full-time or 3/4-time student in a college degree program or a vocational or professional program, you can “earn while you learn” with a VA work-study allowance through the Work-Study Program.

Who is Eligible? The VA work-study allowance is available to persons training under one of the VA benefits programs:

    • GI Bill®
    • Vocational Rehabilitation (for veterans)
    • Survivors & Dependents Educational Assistance (DEA)
    • Dependents may also be eligible

Benefit: You’ll earn an hourly wage equal to the Federal minimum wage or your State minimum wage, whichever is greater.


Tutorial Assistance Program

What is it? The Tutorial Assistance Program can help you pay for necessary tutoring and is a supplement to your GI Bill® benefit. If you have questions on this program please contact the VA’s toll-free number 888-442-4551.

Who is Eligible? If you are receiving VA benefits at a half-time or more rate, you are eligible

Benefit: VA may provide you with a tutor or with information for finding one.



Choosing a Career & Training Path

Once you have determined if you need to take time off for your health or simply cannot afford to and also what your educational options look like (benefits-wise). You now face the challenge of choosing what career will be best for you and your future

What are you going to do? How are you going to choose? This may seem like a daunting task but luckily we put together a series of questions which can help you determine which career path may be best for you!

1. What kind of experience/skills do you have?

For this question, you should take all of your experience and skills into consideration. Whether they come from hobbies or previous work, you may have experience or skills that will translate into many job roles. For this question, we recommend you write down all the skills and experience you have. Try to identify at least 10-15 things.

Examples: Problem-solving, computer building, management, gaming, communications, networking, building, team building, project manager, logistics, leatherworking.

2. How do my skills lineup with a career I will enjoy?

Once you have listed out all of your experience, you should pick out your three strongest and the three you enjoy most. Next, pick two things you are passionate about. Now combine your two passions with each skill/experience (strongest & enjoy most) and enter them in the My Next Move search engine. From there you can start to get an idea of what kind of career paths might be suitable for you.

*Note: This is a tool to help you generate ideas. Don’t get down on yourself if you don’t like the options you see, there are many other pathways you can choose!

Example:

  • (Problem Solving, Computer Building)-Enjoyed Most
  • (Logistics, Communications)- Strongest
  • (Sports, team building)- Passions

Jobs matched with keywords while also having a positive job demand in the future:

  1. Coaches & Scouts
  2. Computer User Support Specialists

If you’re interested in a career in IT or cyber security, check out our Top 3 IT Jobs for Transitioning Veterans Blog.

3. What type of education matches your situation?

This question depends on multiple factors; timeline, preferred style, benefits, lifestyle, and work position. Contrary to popular belief, your options are not limited to a traditional 4 year degree. You can use your benefits for a wide array of programs; day & night, part & full time, degree & certification, long term & short term. It is vital to know that there are other options available and you can most likely find one that suits your specific situation.

Examples:

  • Traditional college degree plan which takes around 4 years full time.
  • IT certification training that takes around 3 months of night classes after work.
  • *For more information on the difference between these two, check our blog Degrees vs. Certifications: Investing In Your Future

4. How strong is the demand for workers in this field?

When looking into a career this should be one of the main factors you consider. This is because the demand for a particular field can be predicted and will dictate how your career in that field pans out. If the outlook is weak, you will have a tough time not only finding a job but advancing in that field. It the outlook is strong, you will not only have an easier time finding a job in that field but you are more likely to advance and make more money in that field throughout your career.

Examples:

  • Information Technology, there is is a predicted 3.5 million job openings in cyber security alone by 2021.
  • Solar installers demand is set to increase over 105% in the coming years.
  • Leather and allied product manufacturing is set to decline 37.1% by 2022

5. How much money do you want to make?

This may seem like the most obvious of all the questions, but is it one that you have given real consideration?  It comes down to balancing what you enjoy doing and what pays you enough to live the lifestyle that you want. Some people would like to make as much money as possible and work as much as they need to make it happen while others may be looking to lead a more simple life. Understanding what you want from the beginning of your transition can really help how your life turns out in the end.

Examples:

No matter the education path you choose, there are some necessary questions you should ask before committing to any institution.

  1. Does this institution accept military benefits?
  2. Does this program qualify for college credit? Is it American Council on Education credit recommended or otherwise accredited?
  3. What kind of support does this institution offer?
  4. What kind of guarantees does this institution offer?
  5. What is the success rate or “placement rate” for graduates of this program?
  6. What kind of career assistance does this institution offer beyond the program horizon?
To help you evaluate the institutions that you visit, we developed questions worksheet for you to bring with you to each visit and a decision helper to help you compare your different options. Download the worksheet for free by completing the form below!

*Note: When downloading PDF and printing out, make sure to click the printer icon and then “Fit to page” on the print screen.

Military Transition Question Helper
Military Transition Questions

Download the Veteran Worksheet Now!

Why is getting into IT worth looking into for any veteran transitioning out of the military?

  • As an IT practitioner, you’ll have great job security and plenty of room for advancement
  • IT positions from entry level to advanced are well paying and salaries are only expected to rise.
  • Most skills can be translated into an IT position (from hands-on positions to technical positions). There are many areas of IT to get into.
  • Military benefits will most likely cover the cost of the training and most of the time training will only use a fraction of your benefits.
  • Less time training and more time making money. Compared to traditional education, you will spend significantly less time learning which allows you to spend more time making money and gaining experience.

Good Luck with Your Transition!

We hope that the information provided can help guide you towards a fulfilling and lifelong career whether it be in IT or another field. As a veteran who has made it through their time in the military, we applaud you and thank you for your service. We recommend that that you take each question into account and consider all of your options before making a decision.

Considering that a large portion of our employees is military veterans, we empathize with what you are going through and want to aid ease 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 click the button below, fill out a contact form, and a Career Adviser will contact you about your future. Thank you for your service and good luck!

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