Today, many workplaces would be severely hampered without assistance from support workers fixing networks and computers, while advising users on a constant basis. As we get to grips with the daunting complexities of technology, many more IT professionals are needed to dedicate themselves to the smooth operation of functions we rely on.
Don't get hung-up, as a lot of students can, on the training course itself. Your training isn't about getting a plaque on your wall; you should be geared towards the actual job at the end of it. Focus on the end-goal.
Students often train for a single year but end up doing the job for 20 years. Ensure you avoid the fatal error of opting for what may seem to be an 'interesting' course and then spend decades in something you don't even enjoy!
You need to keep your eye on what you want to achieve, and then build your training requirements around that - not the other way round. Stay on target - making sure you're training for a job that'll reward you for many long and fruitful years.
All students are advised to chat with an industry professional before deciding on their learning course. This is required to ensure it contains the relevant skills for the chosen career.
Of all the important things to consider, one of the most essential is always comprehensive 24x7 direct-access support via 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.
Always avoid certification programs which can only support students via a call-centre messaging system after office-staff have gone home. Training companies will defend this with all kinds of excuses. But, no matter how they put it - you want to be supported when you need the help - not at times when they find it cheaper to provide it.
If you look properly, you'll find the top providers who recommend and use online support all the time - even in the middle of the night.
Never make the mistake of compromise where support is concerned. Most students that throw in the towel, are in that situation because of support (or the lack of).
A number of men and women are under the impression that the state educational track is the right way even now. So why is commercial certification beginning to overtake it?
With a growing demand for specific technological expertise, industry has moved to specific, honed-in training only available through the vendors themselves - namely companies such as CISCO, Adobe, Microsoft and CompTIA. This frequently provides reductions in both cost and time.
In essence, only that which is required is learned. It's slightly more broad than that, but the most important function is always to concentrate on the fundamentally important skill-sets (alongside some required background) - without trying to cram in all sorts of other things (as degree courses are known to do).
In simple terms: Accredited IT qualifications let employers know exactly what you're capable of - everything they need to know is in the title: i.e. I am a 'Microsoft Certified Professional' in 'Designing Security for a Windows 2003 Network'. So employers can identify just what their needs are and what certifications are needed for the job.
Getting into your first IT role can be a little easier with the help of a Job Placement Assistance program. But don't place too much emphasis on it - it isn't unusual for their marketing department to overplay it. In reality, the massive skills shortage in Britain is why employers will be interested in you.
Whatever you do, don't procrastinate and wait until you've passed your final exams before updating your CV. The day you start training, mark down what you're doing and get promoting!
Getting onto the 'maybe' pile of CV's is better than being rejected. A surprising amount of junior support roles are bagged by people in the early stages of their course.
Most often, a local IT focused employment agency (who will get paid by the employer when they've placed you) should get better results than any recruitment division from a training organisation. In addition, they will no doubt know the local area and commercial needs.
Just ensure you don't put hundreds of hours of effort into your studies, only to stop and leave it in the hands of the gods to find you a job. Stand up for yourself and make your own enquiries. Put as much focus into securing your first job as it took to pass the exams.
(C) 2010 Scott Edwards. Look at Computer Education or www.cisco-training-london.co.uk.