Saturday, January 31, 2009

IT Career Courses

By Scott Edwards

What might you expect the best training companies certified by Microsoft to give a student in Britain in this day and age? Undoubtedly, the ultimate in Microsoft certified training tracks, presenting a range of courses to lead you into a selection of professions with IT. Maybe you'd like to talk to industry experts, who could help you sort out whereabouts in industry would be best, and what sort of duties are a good match for someone with your abilities and personal preferences. Once you've decided on your career path, your next search is for a relevant course tailored to your needs. The standard of teaching should leave no room for complaints.

How can we go about making the right choice then? With all these possibilities, we have to know where we should dig - and of course, what to actually be looking for.

Beware of putting too much emphasis, like so many people do, on the training process. Your training isn't about getting a plaque on your wall; this is about employment. You need to remain focused on where you want to go. It's possible, for instance, to get a great deal of enjoyment from a year of study only to end up putting 20 long years into a tiresome job role, as an upshot of not doing some decent due-diligence at the outset. Set targets for earning potential and whether you're an ambitious person or not. This will influence what particular exams will be expected and what industry will expect from you in return. Obtain help from an experienced industry professional that 'gets' the commercial realities of the area you're interested in, and will be able to provide 'A typical day in the life of' synopsis of what duties you'll be performing with each working day. It makes good sense to discover if this is the right course of action for you long before your course begins. There's little point in beginning your training and then discover you're on the wrong course.

It only makes sense to consider study programs which grow into commercially acknowledged exams. There are loads of minor schools promoting unknown 'in-house' certificates that are essentially useless in the real world. Unless your qualification is issued by a conglomerate such as Microsoft, Cisco, CompTIA or Adobe, then you'll probably find it will be commercially useless - as no-one will have heard of it.

Proper support should never be taken lightly - locate a good company providing 24x7 full access, as not obtaining this level of support will severely hamper your progress. Never purchase study programmes that only provide support to trainees with a call-centre messaging system outside of normal office hours. Trainers will give you every excuse in the book why you don't need this. Essentially - support is needed when it's needed - not at times when they find it cheaper to provide it. The best training colleges opt for an online access round-the-clock facility combining multiple support operations from around the world. You will be provided with a single, easy-to-use interface which switches seamlessly to the best choice of centres no matter what time of day it is: Support when you need it. If you opt for less than direct-access 24x7 support, you'll quickly find yourself regretting it. It may be that you don't use it late at night, but what about weekends, early mornings or late evenings?

If you're like many of the students we talk to then you probably enjoy fairly practical work - the 'hands-on' individual. Typically, the painful task of reading endless manuals would be considered as a last resort, but it doesn't suit your way of doing things. You should use video and multimedia based materials if book-based learning really isn't your style. Long-term memory is enhanced with an involvement of all our senses - this has been an accepted fact in expert circles for years now. The latest audio-visual interactive programs with demonstrations and practice sessions beat books hands-down. And you'll find them fun and interesting. Every company that you look at should be able to show you a few examples of their training materials. You should hope for instructor-led videos and a variety of interactive modules. Pick disc based courseware (On CD or DVD) every time. Thus avoiding all the issues associated with internet connection failure and issues with signal quality.

Exam 'guarantees' are sometimes offered as part of a training package - inevitably that means paying for the exams when you pay for the rest of your course. However, prior to embracing the chance of a guarantee, be aware of the facts: These days, we are a tad more knowledgeable about sales gimmicks - and the majority of us ought to realise that of course we're actually paying for it (it's not a freebie because they like us so much!) Passing first time is everyone's goal. Taking your exams progressively when it's appropriate and funding them as you go sees you much better placed to get through first time - you prepare appropriately and are mindful of the investment you've made. Do the examinations as locally as possible and don't pay up-front, but seek out the best deal for you when you're ready. Considerable numbers of questionable training providers make huge amounts of money through getting in the money for examinations upfront and hoping you won't see them all through. Many training companies will require you to sit pre-tests and hold you back from re-takes until you've demonstrated an excellent ability to pass - so an 'Exam Guarantee' comes with many clauses in reality. Splashing out often many hundreds of pounds extra on 'Exam Guarantees' is remiss - when a commitment to studying and the use of authorised exam preparation tools is what will really guarantee success.

Now, why is it better to gain commercially accredited qualifications and not more traditional academic qualifications taught at the state educational establishments? With 3 and 4 year academic degree costs increasing year on year, and the industry's recognition that key company training often has more relevance in the commercial field, there's been a large rise in Microsoft, CISCO, Adobe and CompTIA authorised training programmes that provide key skills to an employee at a far reduced cost both money and time wise. Higher education courses, for example, become confusing because of a lot of loosely associated study - with a syllabus that's far too wide. This prevents a student from getting enough specific knowledge about the core essentials. Think about if you were the employer - and you needed to take on someone with a very particular skill-set. What is easier: Trawl through loads of academic qualifications from various applicants, asking for course details and what commercial skills have been attained, or choose particular accreditations that specifically match what you're looking for, and make your short-list from that. Your interviews are then about personal suitability - instead of long discussions on technical suitability.

Discovering job security these days is very rare. Companies can throw us out of the workforce at the drop of a hat - as long as it fits their needs. Whereas a marketplace with high growth, where staff are in constant demand (due to a big shortfall of properly qualified staff), provides a market for proper job security. Taking the IT industry as an example, the most recent e-Skills investigation highlighted massive skills shortages throughout the United Kingdom around the 26 percent mark. Meaning that for each four job positions that exist in the computer industry, there are only 3 trained people to perform that task. Attaining proper commercial computer accreditation is accordingly a 'Fast Track' to realise a continuing as well as gratifying line of work. Because the IT sector is evolving at such a rate, could there honestly be a better market worth looking at for your new career.

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