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My IT Certification/Continuing Education Saga


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V.T. Eric Layton

This is a composite of a conversation going on at my Pleasant Valley board right now.

 

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Well, I just finished my preliminary application with Tampa Bay's Workforce Alliance to see if I can qualify for a Fed grant to train me and get me certified in my choice of IT categories. This grant will supposedly cover my entire training (schooling, books, materials, etc.) to achieve my goals.

 

There was a little blurb about it in the paper today:

 

From the Tampa Bay Times

Jobless? IT study grants an option

 

Bad news: You're unemployed. Good news: You may qualify for free college programs in information technology. Using a federal grant, the Tampa Bay Workforce Alliance is helping people interested in the IT and telecommunications fields pay for tuition, books and certification fees for some college class­es. The deadline for applying for programs offered through Hillsborough Community College is 9 a.m. Thursday. To see if you qualify and to apply, go to
workforcetampa.com
and click on 'Tampa Bay Hi-Tech Program.'

 

My application is pending. We'll see how this goes.

 

 

=====

 

 

Well, I qualified anyway. I'm scheduled to attend the 2PM orientation on this coming Friday. th_smile.gif

 

 

=====

 

OK, all is set for the orientation tomorrow. I talked with a lady there this AM to get some details. There's even a little technical aptitude test administered. That ought to be interesting. I'll be there for about 2.5 hours.

 

More info...

 

http://www.tampatrai...ils.cfm?ID=1678

 

=====

 

 

OK... that was an interesting afternoon. th_smile.gif

 

It was a packed house. About 75 souls showed up for this seminar/orientation. I don't think they expected that many, even though you had to register to attend. They had to photocopy about 33% more document packets for the extras who showed up.

 

This was basically a presentation by HCC and Workforce Tampa/Worknet Pinellas about the Tampa Bay Hi-Tech Program, a four year government grant program to fast-track out-of-work folks into new IT careers via certification courses.

 

You have six options. You can only choose ONE. They are:

  • Microsoft Technology Associate Certification: Networking Fundamentals - noncredit certification program
  • CompTIA A+ Certification - noncredit certification program
  • CompTIA Security+ Certification - noncredit certification program
  • CompTIA Networking+ Certification - noncredit certification program
  • CISCO Certified Networking Associate (CCNA) - credit and noncredit certification program
  • Information Technology Support Specialist - credit program

Regardless of which one you choose to take, the grant will cover 100% of the costs all the way through the certification phase. The noncredit cert courses are fast-track courses (8 weeks) with the express goal of getting you to pass the certification test and get you hired during or shortly after the course is completed. The credit courses are longer and focus more on the knowledge/continuing education goals; with certification and employment still a priority, though.

 

Here's the kicker...

 

There are limited spaces available. The term of the grant is four years, but each quarter noncredit and each semester credit course has limited student openings: about 15 students for each noncredit course and 30 students for the credit courses. They screen everyone based on their current level of knowledge and their past work experience. They will be performing the screening process for this current batch (to start classes in Jan/Feb) this weekend.

 

We were given a skills assessment test today. It was about 35 questions (multiple guess) of very basic computer and networking knowledge. There were hardware component identification questions, basic questions about data storage methods, some questions about basic networking and network troubleshooting, etc. I believe I ACED the test, actually. It was that simple.

 

Of the six options above, the Cisco certification is where the immediate $$$ are. They went way out on the limb with guarantees for this one, stating that 100% who passed the certification would be employed during the course or just after they actually get their certification. CCNA's are a SUPER-HOT commodity in the IT industry right now, according to an ex-Cisco employ/current instructor for HCC. CCNA is recession proof, OS platform agnostic, in demand worldwide. So, of course, the vast majority of those attending today were interested in the program that can only accommodate about 15 students max (this quarter).

 

I put "undecided at this time" on my app at their advice because I'm unsure which of these to choose from. They said they'd know more about how to advise me after they look at my past experience/assessment score. The Cisco guy said that my 20+ years in component level electronics service would be a huge advantage for me in pursuing this certification. While that's all cool, the sad thing is I was really interested in the A+ cert. However, they tell me the CCNA is the cat's meow and worth at least 10K+ a year over an A+ salary.

 

I'll know more what direction to take once I found out if I've been chosen as one of the lucky few. If I don't get chosen, I think I'm going to visit HCC's Student Services and find out what I can qualify for in the gov grant area regarding a standard IT course of study. Amenditman and another friend of mine have sent me information regarding these grants in the past, so I know the opportunity is there. The downside is that pursuing continuing education will take more time and I'll still have to find a job in the meantime to support myself.

 

Optimally, I would like to qualify for this deal now, get my certification in something, get to work, and then pursue continuing education (possibly paid for by employer).

 

Well, that's the deal. th_smile.gif

 

By the way, as of right now 1/1/2013 all CompTIA certs are no longer lifetime. You have to be re-certified every three years. There are three ways to recertify: 1) take the test again, 2) take a refresher CompTIA certification course), and 3) teach a certification course. Lucky custards who already had their certs were grandfathered in and have lifetime certification.

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Please note my new sigline image...     I passed.

Yup. That alphabet soup needs to add up to $$$ for it to be worthwhile.   I already have A.S. (Associate of Science - Computer Engineering Technology), C.E.T. (International Society of Certified Ele

Aren't we all.

ross549

Eric,

 

I would not take too much stock in the A+ certification. I took a mail order course once a long time ago to prepare for the test. I found it to be far too elementary.

 

One of my guys got his certification, and he found it to be pretty simple. If I were you, I'd simply take the test if the opportunity arose, and skip any classes.

 

Now the Cisco stuff.... yeah, it is hot. The industry really does not have enough folks right now.

 

Adam

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V.T. Eric Layton

I regulary pass the sample A+ tests on the different training websites. If I had the $ I'd just take the darn test and get it over with. But you're right, though. I'm leaning toward the CCNA.

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Guest LilBambi
"Information technology is one of the fastest growing career fields in Florida and across the country. Job seekers with specific IT related training and certifications are in high demand," said Sharon Setterlind, Dean of SPC’s College of Computer & Information Technology. "The HITT program will help create a diverse pool of talented workers to meet the needs of IT employers."

 

In addition to being high-demand, information technology is a high-paid career field. Last year, the median hourly wage for the IT industry in the Tampa Bay area was $29.55.

 

Enrollment into the HITT program is competitive and is based on certain eligibility requirements, such as unemployment status.

 

More info: Federal grant offers free IT to area unemployed - St Petersburg College News Blog

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V.T. Eric Layton

 

Yup. This is the same program I just signed up for here on the Tampa side... at Hillsborough Community College. :)

 

Sounds like it would be a great opportunity. Wish you all the best in your endeavor!

 

Gotta' do something. My bench tech electronics credentials, certifications, and degrees aren't worth spit these days.

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if you ever listen to anything i post, hear this: ccna! if you pass that, you are head and shoulders above the crowd, and the pay is good.

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V.T. Eric Layton

I don't listen to anything you post... ever. However, I do READ all your posts (well, most of them, anyway ;) ).

 

Thanks for this piece of advice. I don't know how this will turn out, but will defintely keep this in mind when pursuing it further. :yes:

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amenditman

CCNA and RHCE are both valuable certs to have. I think the CCNA is the top dog, just never enough Cisco guys. You won't find those tests easy like the one's you've tried before. If you can take Microsoft's MTA's and CompTIA's A+ certs for free or cheap as you go through the classes, definitely do it. They are entry level stuff but they pad out a sparse resume.

I don't think a blank page with your name and a CCNA on it would hurt your employment chances too much, but the others don't hurt.

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V.T. Eric Layton

Well, the promised callback by the end-of-the-week from HCC did not pan out. I may have to call them this coming week to see what happened. I know that one lady must have been overwhelmed processing so many people for so few spots. That can't be easy.

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V.T. Eric Layton

Thanks, abarb!

 

That last is interesting.

 

On this topic... Oddly enough, the woman called me early this AM (Sunday), but she did not leave a message. I just saw the caller ID log on my phone. Hmm? I'll see if she tries again tomorrow. If she hasn't called by lunch I'll call and leave her a message (these people are NEVER "at their desks at this time").

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V.T. Eric Layton

Posted this on my forum earlier...

 

YAY! Some sorta' good news...

 

I was accepted into the CCNA Certification training program by Hillsborough Community College. There's a catch, though... I also have to be accepted by the Tampa Workforce Alliance, which administers this government program. The HCC woman is pretty sure I'll get accepted, but she did not want to guarantee it. She said Workforce will check my qualifications, etc. and let her know in the next couple days.

 

She said that I was one of the top scorers on the assessment exam on the orientation day, which is one of the main things that she based her decision on. HA! That don't mean I'm a smarty-pants, believe me. That test was pretty basic. Most of the computer hobbyists here could probably pass it with a high score, too.

 

If all goes well, classes start on 4 March 2013. They last 8 weeks. Unfortunately, I must remain unemployed until the classes start. If I get a job before then, I'm disqualified from the program. :( I don't know if I can survive another 3 months without an income.

 

Need a small lottery win. ;)

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abarbarian

Great news mate. :clap:

 

You can survive for at least a, month on turkey left overs and stale mince pies. So thats only two months left to worry about. :whistling:

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V.T. Eric Layton

Oh, it's not food that I worry about. It's maintaining the $20K credit card debt that's the problem. That takes at least $600/month, then there's the $400 more for household expenses and food/gas. :(

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abarbarian

Bloomin 'eck.

 

I get me rent paid and local taxes and $666 a month pocket money from Cameron and Clegg. I have to rely on me wits for luxuries. :fish:

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V.T. Eric Layton

Got my acceptance notice today! YAY! I start the CCNA course on 8 January. I don't know why she told me March when I talked to her Monday. Maybe she was talking about the credit course? Anyway, that's the good news.

 

The bad news is that it's at the Riverview/Regents HCC campus, which is about 40 mile round trip from my home. That's going to cost me $12+/day in gas in my old truck; assuming that it will get me there and back for the full 8 weeks. My old truck is in very bad shape these days. I only trust it for driving around the neighborhood (less than 5 miles from home).

 

I could ride the bus if need be, but that's a three hour bus ride with two transfers and approximately 3 miles of walking involved. That means I'd have to leave my house at 8AM and I wouldn't get home till 8:30PM. That's 4hrs to + 4.5hrs class + 4 hrs home. I don't think the bus thing is a very feasible option.

 

I'll figure it out. th_smile.gif

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V.T. Eric Layton

I doubt that, but I'll definitely find some way there... even if it's a bus/walking/bicycling combo of some sort.

 

This is a wonderful Christmas gift. I cannot mess this up. This could quite possibly lead to a decent job that would go a long way to rebuilding my life from all the fractured pieces lying around this past 1/2 dozen years. I've been living at or near poverty level for the past 48+ months. I've only managed to make it this far with help from family (my brother, mostly) and friends... friends from all over the world, not just in town. Without that support, I would have had a much tougher go of it. :yes:

 

My dream is to be able to pay back friends, family, and credit card companies within the next year or so. After the debts are paid, I can begin to live again... and maybe go motorcycle shopping. ;)

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V.T. Eric Layton

When you get your cert... I have a project for you. :lol:

 

Adam

 

Hmm... missed this when I read this thread a moment ago. I guess I didn't notice Page 2.

 

So, a job, huh? You know I'm too old for the Navy, right? ;)

 

Oh, a project. Well, that's different. :yes:

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V.T. Eric Layton

Actually, we were told that we would probably be doing 4-6 hours outside of class each day in conjunction with the classroom training, so that's 4 there + 4.5 in class + 4 home + 4 homework = 16.5hrs, leaving 7.5 hours to eat, bathe, sleep, take care of kitties, etc. I gots to do what I gots to do. ;)

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