Computer and network support workers are more and more in demand in Great Britain, as companies become progressively more dependent on their technical advice and skills. As we get to grips with the multifaceted levels of technological advances, greater numbers of competent professionals are needed to dedicate themselves to the smooth operation of functions we rely on.
Most of us would love to think that our jobs will remain safe and our future is protected, however, the truth for most sectors in the UK at the moment is that security may be a thing of the past. Wherever we find increasing skills shortages and escalating demand though, we generally find a new kind of market-security; driven by conditions of continuous growth, organisations just can't get the number of people required.
A rather worrying national e-Skills analysis brought to light that over 26 percent of all IT positions available haven't been filled as an upshot of a chronic shortage of appropriately certified professionals. Therefore, for every four jobs available around Information Technology (IT), businesses can only source properly accredited workers for three of the four. Fully trained and commercially educated new professionals are thus at a complete premium, and it looks like they will be for a long time to come. While the market is developing at such a rate, is there any other area of industry worth considering for a new career.
As the IT industry offers so many extraordinary advancement opportunities for us all - what questions do we need to be posing and which aspects carry the most importance?
With so much choice, is it any wonder that a large majority of newcomers to the industry get stuck choosing the job they could be successful with. I mean, if you've got no experience in the IT sector, how are you equipped to know what some particular IT person does each day? Let alone decide on what educational path will be most suitable for your success. Generally, the way to deal with this dilemma in the best manner stems from a thorough discussion of some important points:
* Your personal interests and hobbies - often these show the things will provide a happy working life.
* Is it your desire to realise an important objective - for example, working from home someday?
* Is salary further up on your wish list than other factors.
* Getting to grips with what typical career roles and sectors are - and what differentiates them.
* How much time you're prepared to spend on obtaining your certification.
To be honest, it's obvious that the only real way to investigate these issues is via a conversation with an experienced advisor who has experience of IT (and specifically the commercial requirements.)
One thing you must always insist on is full 24x7 support with expert mentors and instructors. So many companies we come across only seem to want to help while they're in the office (9am till 6pm, Monday till Friday usually) and nothing at the weekends. Many only provide email support (too slow), and telephone support is usually to a call-centre which will take the information and email an instructor - who will attempt to call you within 24-48 hrs, at a time suitable for them. This isn't a lot of good if you're lost and confused and have a one hour time-slot in which to study.
Top training companies have many support offices active in different time-zones. By utilising an interactive interface to seamlessly link them all together, irrespective of the time you login, help is just seconds away, without any problems or delays. Seek out a company that cares. As only live 24x7 round-the-clock support gives you the confidence to make it.
Traditional teaching in classrooms, utilising reference manuals and books, is often a huge slog for most of us. If all this is ringing some familiar bells, find training programs which have a majority of interactive, multimedia parts. If we can involve all our senses in the learning process, then we normally see dramatically better results.
Programs are now found on CD and DVD discs, so everything is learned directly from your own PC. Utilising the latest video technology, you can watch instructors demonstrating how to perform the required skill, and then have a go at it yourself - in an interactive lab. Every company that you look at should willingly take you through some examples of their courseware. Make sure you encounter videos of instructor-led classes and interactive areas to practice in.
You should avoid purely online training. You want physical CD/DVD ROM course materials where available, enabling them to be used at your convenience - it's not wise to be held hostage to your broadband being 'up' 100 percent of the time.
Commercially accredited qualifications are now, very visibly, taking over from the traditional routes into IT - so why is this happening? The IT sector now acknowledges that to cover the necessary commercial skill-sets, proper accreditation supplied for example by Microsoft, CompTIA, CISCO and Adobe is closer to the mark commercially - and a fraction of the cost and time. Of course, a reasonable amount of closely linked information has to be learned, but core specialised knowledge in the particular job function gives a commercially educated student a massive advantage.
If an employer is aware what work they need doing, then they simply need to advertise for the exact skill-set required to meet that need. Commercial syllabuses are set to exacting standards and aren't allowed to deviate (like academia frequently can and does).
It's not uncommon for companies to offer inclusive exam guarantees - inevitably that means paying for the exams when you pay for the rest of your course. Before you jump at a course with such a promise, why not think about this:
Thankfully, today we're a bit more aware of hype - and generally we realise that of course we're actually paying for it (it's not a freebie because they like us so much!) Those who take exams one at a time, paying as they go are far more likely to pass first time. They are mindful of their investment and prepare more appropriately to be up to the task.
Why pay the training college in advance for examination fees? Hold on to your money and pay for the exam at the appropriate time, rather than coughing up months or even a year or two in advance - and do it in a local testing centre - instead of miles away at the college's beck and call. Is there a good reason to pay interest on a bigger loan than is necessary because you've paid early for exams when there's absolutely nothing that says you have to? Huge profits are made because training colleges are charging all their exam fees up-front - and banking on the fact that many won't be taken. The majority of organisations will require you to do mock exams and prohibit you from re-taking an exam until you've proven conclusively that you can pass - making an 'exam guarantee' just about worthless.
With the average price of Pro-metric and VUE tests coming in at around 112 pounds in the UK, by far the best option is to pay for them as you take them. Not to fork out thousands extra in up-front costs. Study, commitment and preparing with good quality mock and practice exams is what will really guarantee success.
You have to be sure that all your qualifications are current and what employers are looking for - don't bother with studies which provide certificates that are worthless because they're 'in-house'. The top IT companies like Microsoft, Adobe, CompTIA or Cisco have globally recognised skills programs. These heavyweights will ensure your employability.