Thursday, June 9, 2011

IT Career Retraining Comes in Many Forms

If your career was sidelined during our nation’s economic downturn and you’re looking for ways to retrain, writer Gregory Karp at the Chicago Tribune has detailed the pros and cons of the different avenues you can take for gaining new skills. Community college programs, career schools, and workforce training centers offer opportunity to learn the skills you need to get hired in the IT field of your choice. Understanding the details about each option can help you determine which is best suited to your needs.

For example, a community college may be the most affordable option. Community colleges have campuses scattered throughout each state, and there’s probably one located not too far from you. Most community colleges offer a program in computer technology that allows you to emphasize computer support, networking, or another IT area of emphasis, to work toward a technical certificate or an associate’s degree.

Many times community colleges also offer courses you can take to learn just a particular skill without working toward an entire degree. For example, Steve Bowker is an IT instructor of a non-degree course at Harrisburg Area Community College in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Many of Bowker’s students take the class to train toward one or more IT certifications that will qualify them for a job they want. Bowker utilizes TestOut’s LabSim to give all his students—ranging from young to old and from computer novice to computer near-expert—hands-on IT learning.

Another career retraining route you may take is attendance at a career school or for-profit college such as DeVry University or Corinthian College. These schools tend to make it a priority to offer flexible class schedules and course deliveries to make it possible for people who work full-time or who have family obligations to complete coursework. Unlike community colleges, for-profit schools are private businesses and therefore tend to be more expensive.

Lastly, there are many job training centers whose sole role is to help you gain the skills you need to be employed in a specific job. These centers may be for-profit or government funded. Programs may be brief such as 12 or 16 weeks, and in IT, these programs frequently focus on getting you trained for one or more certifications.

Karp recommends that, no matter which path you take, you do your homework and ask many specific questions about the programs offered and the certifications you’ll be trained for. He points out that volunteer opportunities may also help you learn new skills.

Best of luck to you as you seek the retraining you need for your IT career.

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