Currently in the UK, many workplaces would be severely hampered without assistance from support workers solving problems with PC's and networks, while giving advice to users on a constant basis. As we're all becoming more and more reliant on advanced technology, we additionally become increasingly dependent on the skilled and qualified networking professionals, who maintain those systems.
How long has it been since you considered the security of your job? For the majority of us, we only think of this after we experience a knock-back. However, the reality is that job security doesn't really exist anymore, for the vast majority of people. Security only exists now via a rapidly increasing marketplace, pushed forward by a shortage of trained workers. This shortage creates the appropriate conditions for a higher level of market-security - definitely a more pleasing situation.
The IT skills shortfall in the UK falls in at roughly 26 percent, according to the latest e-Skills study. Basically, we're only able to fill 3 out of 4 positions in Information Technology (IT). This distressing certainty shows the validity and need for more appropriately trained computer professionals across the country. With the market expanding at such a speed, could there honestly be a better area of industry worth investigating for your new career.
How are we supposed to reach a good decision then? With such prospects, we have to know where we should investigate - and what we should be searching for.
Ignore any salesperson who offers any particular course without performing a 'fact-find' to gain understanding of your current abilities plus your experience level. Always check they have access to a generous choice of training products from which they could provide you with what's right for you. Often, the starting point of study for a trainee with experience can be largely different to the student with none. Where this will be your first crack at studying for an IT examination then you might also want to begin with a user-skills course first.
Proper support should never be taken lightly - find a program offering 24x7 direct access to instructors, as not opting for this kind of support could hamper your progress. Find a good quality service with help available at all hours of the day and night (even 1am on Sunday morning!) Make sure it's always direct access to tutors, and not simply some messaging service that means you're constantly waiting for a call-back - probably during office hours.
The very best training providers utilise several support facilities active in different time-zones. An online system provides an interactive interface to provide a seamless experience, no matter what time you login, help is at hand, without any problems or delays. You can't afford to accept anything less. Support round-the-clock is the only viable option for technical training. It's possible you don't intend to study late evenings; usually though, we're out at work during the provided support period.
Often, trainers provide a shelf full of reference manuals. Obviously, this isn't much fun and not a very good way of taking things in. Many years of research has always confirmed that an 'involved' approach to study, where we utilise all our senses, will more likely produce memories that are deeper and longer-lasting.
Learning is now available in disc format, so everything is learned directly from your own PC. Through video streaming, you are able to see your instructors showing you how it's all done, and then have a go at it yourself - with interactive lab sessions. You'll definitely want a demonstration of the study materials from the school that you're considering. The materials should incorporate slide-shows, instructor-led videos and fully interactive skills-lab's.
You should avoid purely online training. Physical CD or DVD ROM materials are preferable where offered, so you can use them wherever and whenever you want - and not be totally reliant on your internet connection always being 'up' and available.
Qualifications from the commercial sector are now, very visibly, starting to replace the traditional routes into the industry - so why should this be? Industry is of the opinion that to learn the appropriate commercial skills, proper accreditation from companies such as Microsoft, CISCO, Adobe and CompTIA most often has much more specialised relevance - for considerably less. Higher education courses, for example, clog up the training with a lot of loosely associated study - and much too wide a syllabus. Students are then held back from learning the core essentials in sufficient depth.
Just as the old advertisement said: 'It does what it says on the tin'. All an employer has to do is know what they're looking for, and then advertise for someone with the specific certification. Then they know that anyone who applies can do the necessary work.
One crafty way that training providers make more money is through up-front charges for exams then giving it 'Exam Guarantee' status. This looks like a great idea for the student, but let's just examine it more closely:
Certainly it isn't free - you're still coughing up for it - it's just been wrapped up in the price of the package. People who enter their exams one by one, paying for them just before taking them are in a much stronger position to qualify at the first attempt. They're mindful of what they've paid and so are more inclined to make sure they're ready.
Find the best exam deal or offer available when you take the exam, and keep hold of your own money. You'll also be able to choose where to do the examinations - meaning you can choose a local testing centre. Why tie up your cash (or borrow more than you need) for exam fees when you don't need to? Big margins are made because training colleges are getting money in early for exam fees - and hoping either that you won't take them, or it will be a long time before you do. Re-takes of previously unsuccessful exams with training course providers who offer an 'Exam Guarantee' are tightly controlled. You will be required to do mock exams until you've demonstrated an excellent ability to pass.
Exams taken at VUE and Prometric centres are approximately 112 pounds in Great Britain. Students should be very wary of forking out hundreds of pounds extra in charges for 'Exam Guarantees' (often hidden in the cost) - when the best course materials, the right level of support and consistent and systematic learning, coupled with quality exam simulation software is what will really see you through.
Be watchful that any accreditations you're considering doing will be recognised by employers and are bang up to date. The 'in-house' certifications provided by many companies are generally useless. From an employer's perspective, only the major heavyweights like Microsoft, Cisco, Adobe or CompTIA (as an example) provide enough commercial weight. Nothing else hits the mark.