Thursday, January 29, 2009

Computer Support Courses

By Scott Edwards

These days, many workplaces couldn't function properly without the help of support workers fixing both computers and networks, while advising users on a day to day basis. The desire for such skilled and qualified members of the workforce is constantly growing, as everywhere we work becomes more and more technologically advanced.

Seeing as the computer market provides some outstanding career possibilities for everyone - what questions do we need to be posing and what elements carry the most importance?

Don't get hung-up, as can often be the case, on the certification itself. Training is not an end in itself; this is about employment. Begin and continue with the end in mind. It's a sad fact, but a large percentage of students commence training that sounds great in the prospectus, but which provide the end-result of a job which doesn't satisfy. Speak to a selection of college graduates and you'll see where we're coming from. Stay tuned-in to what you want to achieve, and build your study action-plan from that - avoid getting them back-to-front. Stay focused on the end-goal and ensure that you're training for something you'll enjoy for years to come. It's worth seeking guidance from someone that understands the market you think may suit you, and is able to give you 'A day in the life of' type of explanation for each job considered. All of these things are essential because you obviously have to know if this change is right for you.

You should only consider learning programmes that move onto industry approved qualifications. There are far too many trainers promoting unknown 'in-house' certificates that are essentially useless when you start your job-search. From an employer's viewpoint, only top businesses such as Microsoft, Adobe, CompTIA or Cisco (as an example) provide enough commercial weight. Anything less won't make the grade.

Traditional teaching in classrooms, involving piles of reference textbooks, is usually pretty hard going. If this describes you, dig around for more practical courses which have a majority of interactive, multimedia parts. Where possible, if we can get all of our senses involved in our learning, then the results are usually dramatically better. Locate a program where you'll receive a selection of DVD-ROM's - you'll learn by watching video tutorials and demonstrations, and be able to practice your skills in interactive lab's. All companies must be pushed to demo some samples of the type of training materials they provide. Make sure you encounter videos of instructor-led classes and many interactive sections. You'll find that many companies will only provide online training only; while you can get away with this much of the time, consider how you'll deal with it if your access to the internet is broken or you get intermittent problems and speed issues. It's much safer to rely on physical CD or DVD discs that don't suffer from these broadband issues.

Proper support should never be taken lightly - locate a good company that includes 24x7 access, as anything else will annoy you and definitely hold up your pace and restrict your intake. Try and find training where you can access help at any time of day or night (irrespective of whether it's the wee hours on Sunday morning!) Ensure you get access directly to professional tutors and not access to a call-in service which takes messages - so you're waiting for tutors to call you back when it's convenient for them. World-class organisations offer an internet-based 24x7 facility utilising a variety of support centres across the globe. You will have a simple interface that seamlessly selects the best facility available at any time of day or night: Support when you need it. If you accept anything less than support round-the-clock, you'll regret it very quickly. You may not need it during the night, but what about weekends, early mornings or even late evenings at some point?

Consider the points below very carefully if you think the sales ploy of examination guarantees seems like a good idea: Everyone knows they're ultimately paying for it - it's not so hard to see that it's already been included in the overall figure from the course provider. Certainly, it's not a freebie - don't think these companies are so generous with their money! Students who go in for their examinations when it's appropriate, paying for them just before taking them are in a much stronger position to qualify at the first attempt. They are thoughtful of what they've paid and prepare more appropriately to be ready for the task. Don't you think it's more sensible to go for the best offer when you're ready, not to pay any mark-up to a training course provider, and to take it closer to home - instead of the remote centre that's convenient only to the trainer? A surprising number of questionable training companies secure a great deal of profit through charging for exams at the start of the course then cashing in if they're not all taken. The majority of companies will require you to sit pre-tests and with-hold subsequent exam entries from you until you have proved to them you have a good chance of passing - making an 'exam guarantee' just about worthless. Exams taken at local centres are approximately 112 pounds in Great Britain. Why spend so much more on 'Exam Guarantee' costs (often covertly rolled into the cost of the course) - when good quality study materials, the proper support and commitment, effort and practice with quality exam preparation systems are the factors that really get you through.

A number of students are under the impression that the state educational path is the way they should go. Why then is commercial certification beginning to overtake it? As demand increases for knowledge about more and more complex technology, the IT sector has moved to specialist courses only available through the vendors themselves - namely companies like Microsoft, CISCO, Adobe and CompTIA. This often comes in at a fraction of the cost and time. Essentially, students are simply taught the necessary specifics in depth. It isn't quite as lean as that might sound, but the most important function is always to concentrate on the fundamentally important skill-sets (with some necessary background) - without trying to cram in everything else (as degree courses are known to do). Think about if you were the employer - and you wanted someone who could provide a specific set of skills. Which is the most straightforward: Trawl through loads of academic qualifications from graduate applicants, having to ask what each has covered and which commercial skills they've mastered, or choose particular accreditations that exactly fulfil your criteria, and draw up from that who you want to speak to. You'll then be able to concentrate on getting a feel for the person at interview - instead of having to work out if they can do the job.

Massive developments are coming via technology over the next few decades - and the industry becomes more ground-breaking every year. It's a common misapprehension that the increase in technology we've been going through is cooling down. Nothing could be further from the truth. There are huge changes to come, and the internet in particular will become an increasingly dominant part of our lives. Should lifestyle be around the top on your goal sheet, then you'll welcome the news that the regular income of a typical IT worker is much higher than salaries in other market sectors. Experts agree that there's a great UK-wide search for certified IT specialists. In addition as the industry constantly develops, it is likely this pattern will continue for a good while yet.

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