April 9, 2012 1:58 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
foundational certs becoming commonplace elements in secondary and tertiary education
, increasing convergence of IT education and certification
I’ve been watching and reporting on the increasing tendency for IT education programs to incorporate elements of IT certification for years now, and have noticed the pace of convergence picking up over the last three years. Along those lines, there’s a fascinating story from Ray Kelly, the CEO of entry-level certification program oriented company CertiPort (about which I’ve also reported repeated in that same period, by no coincidence whatsoever) up on GoCertify.com entitled “Foundational IT Skills Certification on the Rise.”
The story caption from GoCertify captures its basic thesis nicely
Of course, the source of the story — one of the biggest purveyors of so-called “foundational” IT certs around, perhaps second only to CompTIA, but perhaps also the biggest in the world thanks to the size and popularity of the Microsoft Office Specialist credentials which program CertiPort operates for Microsoft — means its author clearly has a vested interest in getting the word out about this kind of thing, too. Nevertheless, I’ve observed the same kind of thing happening with the Cisco Academy and the Microsoft IT Academy programs as well, both of which enjoy stellar penetration into North American high school and community college systems, with increasing adoption and uptake outside of North America as well.
What do I think this means? I think it means there’s going to be an increasing IT certification-based component in ALL IT education and training in the not-so-distant future around the globe. I also think that makes the incorporation of ANSI and ISO training-related standards in such programs (already a requirement in the EU for many certification programs and increasingly for certifications deemed acceptable to the US Government, as with the US FISMA and related FIPS-199 and FIPS-200 documents) will make this kind of thing more routine and commonplace as well.
Do I think it means that my 8-year-old son might encounter certification training before he graduates from high school in 2022? Absolutely, yes. In fact, I’m already aware that my local school district operates Cisco and Microsoft Academy programs itself, as do numerous other school districts here in central Texas. And our community college system (Austin Community College, aka ACC) does likewise, and then some.
April 6, 2012 1:36 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
information sector slides slightly from March 2011 to March 2012
, March 2012 Employment Situation Summary continues trend of slow modest improvement
Latest employment summary shows continued slight improvements
Listening to NPR this morning, I got my first inkling about the contents of the latest Employment Situation Summary from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Here’s the gist: 120,000 new jobs added — about half of recent monthly upticks — and employment drops from 8.3 to 8.2 percent. There were also modest gains in many employment sectors, wtih manufacturing, leisure and hospitality, healthcare, and professional and businesses accounting for the vast majority of March gains, surprisingly evenly distributed across those areas (only healthcare had an increase in the 20,000s,; all the others fell between 31-37,000). Financial services also had a slight increase (15,000) but retail suffered a drop of 34,000 jobs.
And what about IT? Even though the numbers of unemployed dropped from March 2011 to March 2012 (from 236,000 to 232,000) dropping employment overall in the sector did the opposite for the unemployment rate in this area. Over the same period, it went up from 7.6 percent (March 2011) to 8.0 percent (March 2012).
What does all this have to tell us? It’s clear that things continue to improve slowly but also slightly, one baby step at a time. But we’re definitely not out of danger yet, and it’s certainly not time to break out the hats and hooters any time soon. The mantra continues “Hunker down. Stay put. Keep waiting for more tangible signs of improvement.” We’re getting good at waiting, but I’m hoping for some kind of pleasant surprise sooner, rather than later. We’ll see!
April 4, 2012 5:51 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
how much extra should you pay to earn IT certs and a degree together?
, how much value is added if a program combines IT certs and college degree?
I’ve gotten a fair amount of response and traffic to my Monday post this week, entitled “University of Phoenix Now Offers ‘CCNA Associate’s Degree.’” As I’ve pondered that feedback and comments, I’ve also looked around to observe that perhaps as many as 1 in 5 degree programs in some IT discipline (computer science, information technology, informatics, management information systems, and so forth) offer either IT certification plug-ins (which may be included in the curriculum at extra cost) or built-ins (which are part and parcel of the program itself). And this occurs not just at the associate level, but also at the bachelor’s and master’s levels as well, particularly for information security and increasingly for healthcare IT specialization.
This naturally raises the question posed in the title of this blog, which might be restated as “Do an IT degree and certification combined add up to more than either one separately?” While the obvious answer is “Yes,” primarily because employers prefer IT staff who combine accomplishments in both arenas, the real question might be better rephrased as “How much more is that combination worth?” or perhaps as “Is it worth paying a premium over the individual costs to get them together, possibly integrated into a coherent and cohesive educational program?”
I raise these issues because the cost of the University of Phoenix “CCNA Associate’s Degree” comes in between $17.5 and $28 K in round numbers by their own reckoning. Figuring the cost of a typical community college AA or AS in IT at around $5,000 and even allowing $4,500 for a CCNA Boot Camp (including travel, lodging and meals), that puts the cost of the UofP’s offering at between 84% and 194% higher than the combined costs of those items. That’s a big premium! Do you think it’s worth it?
As a parent with college bills in my future, and as an IT professional with a deep and profound interest in IT certification, I’m not sure this is a compelling enough value proposition to justify such a huge price differential. As I said in my previous posting, only if you have access to employer support, educational grants, or some other source of “free money” to help pay that bill would I recommend considering such a program seriously. As for financing it with debt I repeat Nancy Reagan’s famous phrase “Just say no!”
April 2, 2012 2:19 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
comparing private for-profit tuition to community and public colleges
, University of Phoenix offers AA IT degree for CCNA coverage
Hmm. Very interesting! In plowing through the usual raft of press releases for blog fodder, I came across an item posted on GoCertify.com entitled “Cisco and University of Phoenix Team Up to Deliver New Network Programs for Students.” The upshot of this piece is that UofP — one of the world’s largest university programs, with a major online training presence — is teaming up with Cisco to create degree programs built around Cisco certifications.
University of Phoenix banner for CCNA Associate Degree
The press release also includes this interesting snippet of data:
Job growth for network administrators, network support specialists and computer network architects is projected to grow by more than 20 percent by 2018 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. With this opportunity comes a need for highly trained workers familiar with the latest networking technology and systems.
In following the UofP link to the program page for this degree plan, I grabbed the following screen capture to illustrate potential program costs:
Some of the financial details for the UoP CCNA Associates Degree
I see numerous interesting things about this offering, over and above Cisco’s partnership with the University to bring a two-year degree forward with a solid concentration on CCNA coverage:
- It looks like the Congress’ investigation into and new regulations on disclosing costs for for-profit colleges is starting to have some effect1. This is a pretty clear and straightforward disclosure of costs, with more details available in footnotes at the bottom of the cited Web page.
- The citation of the growth rate for network admins also explicitly addresses the concerns that Congress has raised about private for-profit programs leading students into debt, but not necessarily into the workforce. Nice to see IT training touted as a ticket to gainful employment, isn’t it? Notice also the median debt entries are listed as Not Available because the program hasn’t been around long enough to generate such numbers. It will be interested to check back in a year or two to see where these numbers settle out.
- At today’s private and public college prices, the overall estimated costs of $17.5K to $28K (in round numbers) for two years of full-time tuition is not cheap (it works out to between $8,750 and $14,000 per year). Community college offerings for CCNA abound, and usually come in at under $100 per credit hour2, with lower or no electronic materials fees (OTOH, students must buy textbooks and often pay lab fees instead, so this particular factor may be a wash–the difference in per-hour tuition rates, however, is substantial).
- It’s important to remember that CCNA is a gateway Cisco certification, perhaps better viewed as a prerequisite for the Cisco professional-level (CCNP, CCDP, and so forth) and specialist credentials rather than as an end to itself, or a “guaranteed ticket” to immediate employment. That said, a quick trip to Indeed.com, Dice.com, and other job posting sites, does show substantial numbers of IT job listings that mention CCNA by name (some portion of which that read “CCNA or better” or with similar language, however).
If you find yourself pondering this program, well and good. But please, do yourself a favor and weigh the costs carefully. If you’re working full-time and can get your employer’s support for such a program, or qualify for substantial grants or support, it’s well worth pursuing. But if you have to pay the costs out of your own pocket, or assume substantial debt to participate in the program, look around for similar offerings at local community colleges and local public colleges and universities. I’ll bet you can find equivalent offerings for less than half the published costs. Only you can decide if attending the UofP justifies paying such a premium for the convenience and careful package that has gone into their program’s formulation.
1. When it comes to for-profit colleges and universities in the USA, the University of Phoenix is a sort of charter member of this group, with long-standing ties to remote campus locations on military bases around the world as far back as the 1970s. As an Army brat myself who spent half his formative years on bases in Germany, and most of his life until college on or near an Army base, I believe the University of Maryland is the only institution with longer-standing and deeper roots in the DoD than UofP (see this listing for the University on MilitaryFriendlySchools.com for independent verification).
2. A 2009 article from www.communitycollegereview.com “Value of an Associates vs. Bachelors Degree” cites a CNN report that draws from the US College Board to state that “…an average two year educational instate costs approximately $2,191 each year.” It goes on further to state that “…an average four year university costs more than twice as much, with an average tuition expense of $5,500″ and “…private four university costs…on average…over $21,200 each year…” Applying 2.5% inflation for the period from 2009 to 2012 (four years), the numbers go up to $2,418, $6,070, and $23,400 respectively. This puts the UoP CCNA AA per-year costs somewhere between an average four-year university and a private four year university, in the bottom half of the overall range between them.
March 30, 2012 2:09 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Cisco provides great learning how to learn info
, great cert learning advice from Stephanie Burns and Keith Barker on Cisco Learning Network
In this case CSL stands for the “Cisco Learning Network,” where you’ll find a peachy item entitled “Get the Secret of Surviving and Thriving as a Self-Study Student.” This features a dandy video from a powerful Cisco training duo–namely:
- Stephanie Burns, who has a PhD in Adult Education, specializes in explaining how adults learn and retain materials best and most easily. She’s even put her methods and theories to repeated “road tests” and has herself learned what the web page describes as “a host of skills” as well as teaching “others to do the same.”
- Keith Barker is a double CCIE who’s chewing on the idea of chasing a third one, too. He’s also a regular contributor to the Cisco Learning Network, a full-time networking trainer, and the guy behind YouTube channel “Keith6783″ that currently features over 70 videos on networking subjects that have garnered over half a million views.
The video is described as “best practices on how to manage and complete your learning goals without giving up your life.” Dr. Burns discusses “learning to learn” and Mr. Barket describes how these principles can be put to work earning Cisco credentials. Definitely a worthwhile 75 minutes’ worth of material.
And if this isn’t enough for you, please visit my IT Certification Success page at PearsonITCertification.com, where you’ll find a section entitled “IT Certification Planning, Preparation, and Training” that includes the following items:
Overall Certification Preparation Overview
Certification and Career Self-Assessment: Can and Should You Do It?
Crafting a Personal Certification Plan
Understanding IT Certification Ladders
Build Your Own Customized IT Certification Ladder
Pros and Cons of Classroom and Online Training for Certification Prep
Using Practice Exams for Study and Preparation
Establishing a Certification Support System
March 28, 2012 2:11 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Private cloud exams are in the chute for a June 2012 release
As the June go-live date for promised MS System Center 2012 private cloud exams approaches, MS Is making progress with its private cloud MCITP certification exams. Thanks to a recent post on the Born to Learn blog entitled “Overview of upcoming certifications for the private cloud” I just learned that the two MCTS exams that combine with the requirements for MCITP Server Administrator on Windows Server 2008 to create the private cloud MCITP now have their own pages up on the MS Learning Website. (For the record those other exams are 70-640, 70-642, and 70-646; add 70-647 and any one of 70-620, 70-680, or 70-681, and you’re also an MCITP: Enterprise Administrator on Windows Server 2008.)
These two exams are:
- Exam 70-246: Monitoring and Operating a Private Cloud with System Center 2012
This exam has a scheduled release date of June 26, 2012.
- Exam 70-247: Configuring and Deploying a Private Cloud with System Center 2012
This exam has a scheduled release date of June 25, 2012.
Both of these exams should therefore be going into beta test soon. That means you’ll want to keep one eye on the Beta Exam Announcements page for more information, assuming this might not be an “invitation-only” exam. That said, you’ll also want to read up on How to become an MS Learning SME so you might still be able to procure yourself an invitation to the beta through “proper channels.” If you’re interested in one or both of these exams, be sure to mention cloud certification as a strong interest in your application materials!
March 26, 2012 2:36 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
CompTIA foundation backs Wounded Warriors Project
, IT certification support for wounded vets
The Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) is a national, non-partisan organization whose mission is to “honor and empower Wounded Warriors,” and whose vision is “to foster the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded service members in our nation’s history.” Recently, they’ve been getting backing from CompTIA and its IT Futures Foundation to offer a path into IT work for returning wounded veterans through providing free testing vouchers to the WWP’s clients. Vouchers were first made available in July 2011, and their delivery will continue until the end of 2014, with a total of up to 5,000 vouchers to be made available (with a value of nearly $400K).
This is an eminently worthwhile organization, with opportunities for volunteer work of all kinds, and a presssing need for donations to help meet the needs of wounded veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq achieve a successful re-entry into civilian life, work, and family. I just made a $50 donation on my credit card to the group, and I urge all of my employed readers to do what they can to help out a terrific organization, and the clients they serve. These people have suffered on our behalf, and we owe it to them to give something back, however small, to express our thanks for their service and sacrifice.
I am contacting the organization to learn more about volunteer opportunities and will report back when I get more information. Stay tuned!
March 23, 2012 6:43 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Austin TX leads the nation in job growth
, Employment situation and economic indicators continue an upward climb
Reading the Austin American Statesman over the past couple of days, I noticed two very interesting items in the business section. Number one (in today’s paper), first-time unemployment claims are down to a level not seen since March 2008 — namely, 348,000 for the week of March 12-16. The tag line on this story reads “Drop coincides with strong hiring numbers; economic indicators rise for fifth straight month.” Number two (from yesterday’s paper) proclaims “Austin leads nation in job creation since 2004, data show.”
If all news is local, does that means what is good for us is good for you too?
Better yet for the readers of this blog, most of that growth has been in IT and technology related jobs. Here’s what I hope: that the economy is turning the corner, and things are looking for IT, and that my own home town can serve as the pivot point around which to rotate from worse conditions into better ones. Goes well with the optimism, warm breezes, and beautiful wildflowers that also grace central Texas around this time of year. Oh yeah…and we’re catching up on our rainfall, too!
March 20, 2012 8:49 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
IT Career JumpStart chosen for INET Top 20 IT Career blogs
I don’t often get the chance to toot my own horn, but I received a very nice e-mail from Randy Brians this afternoon. Randy is the online marketing coordinator for a Website called INE.com, a provider of online training for Cisco certification. They describe their visitors as follows: “Our core audience is made of people looking into certifications and IT careers in general.”
The INE Top 20 Has Its Own Logo
(click the logo to read the story)
They’ve compiled a list of “Top 20 IT Career Blogs,” in which your very own IT Career JumpStart appears, as does my “Making it in IT” blog for Tom’s IT Pro. It’s kinda cool to find my work getting a nice fillip of recognition from an outside source, and even more gratifying to have two of my blogs selected for this collection of cogent, crafty, and courageous career advice.
In thanking Randy at INE for the recognition, I couldn’t help but also ask: “What about my IT Certification Success blog for PearsonITCertification.com?” Just goes to show, not only is it true that “you can’t win them all” but also that “all of them can’t win!” I would have still liked to boost my tally in this list from 10 to 15% anyway. ROFL!