IT job training question

Discussion in 'IT and Computer-Related Degrees' started by Kizmet, Oct 15, 2018.

  1. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    Imagine a high school grad with good intelligence, no special training/skills. They want to try IT helpdesk/support type stuff. Entry level with a chance to move up if they like it. What advice would you give re degree program, collecting certs, etc. Where would they start? What would be a good progression through training? (Thanks, it's for a nice kid who doesn't get a lot of support in these things)
  2. nyvrem

    nyvrem Active Member

    if location and finance permits, sign up at a local community college for an applied science in IT program. Yes, i know it can be done online, and i know this is forum is really dedicated to online learning. but i think it's good to have some hands on at a local college with a teachers support. Especially when you're going to study stuff like the CCNA, networks and routers.

    Education wise to be job ready, i think it would go something like this


    - AAS in IT (Eventually move onto a BS/BA once they've found their niche)

    Some Entry level Certification to consider

    - CompTIA A+ (This ones the PC trouble shooting cert)
    - CCENT (networks and routers)
    - ITIL foundation (framework for service management, skip it maybe. im not sure)
    - MCSA Windows 10 (once he gets abit of experience on the job, he can start working towards this)
  3. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member


    TEKMAN Semper Fi!

    I would recommend to get the Microsoft Professional Programs ( . Then attend college to earn a Bachelor degree in Computer Science.
    - It is perfectly getting a degree while working because the IT professions require experiences over a degree. Usually a degree just a check mark requirement for most of the IT jobs. What can you bring to the organization is more valuable.
    SteveFoerster likes this.
  5. ITJD

    ITJD Active Member

    Depends on your starting company. Where you start factors into a lot of where you end up - but the question was what you need to get a Helpdesk gig.
    - HS diploma
    - A+ cert.
    - HDI Customer Service cert.
    - Willingness to make around 28k-32k a year.
    - Clear speaking voice with minimal regional accent.

    Job will appear on first attempt if you're applying to lesser known firms. Now if you're looking to start at something like a major outsource provider then I'd add the Associates in IT. If you're looking at something like Deloitte - you're not getting in without a full undergrad.

    ITJD - Guy who ran service desks for almost twenty years
  6. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    Thanks guys. The kid I'm thinking about is interested in getting a job ASAP and then using employer assistance to further her education after that. She's a smart kid, already has a lot of basic computer knowledge and is pretty motivated. I just wanted her to has some tangible goals along a career path. She has a chance at working in the IT dept of a large hospital system and wants to begin to prepare before she finishes high school.
  7. dlbb

    dlbb Active Member

    I would hope she does not settle into helpdesk, which has very low pay relative to other jobs in IT or computer science. That is very low level, and I would not encourage a high school student to aspire to that, when they have a world of opportunity.

    There are many diverse jobs in the area, and she may be well-suited to some, but not to others. Certainly helpdesk would be easier, but rather restrictive. She could consider becoming a system administrator, which could pay somewhat reasonably well. In that case, the courses recommended by Tekkman would be useful, and she could do that with just an AA. There are specialized applied associates of arts degrees, but be advised a lot of that may not transfer over or be the same level of quality at a four year, so if she knows she wants to attend a four year, she should just get a general associate's to maximize transferability and avoid taking courses that are too level that she might have to take again. Over all, she would be better off with a bachelor's that is specific to what she wants to do--not just computer science. She might want a Network Administration bachelor's degree. Maybe she is interested in databases? Maybe she wants to become a programmer, in which case she would want a computer science degree. Much of a computer science degree deals with programming and theoretical concepts. Of course it is doubtful she has any idea if she is in high school. Finding out what exactly she wants to do would be useful; she doesn't want to waste her time learning programming languages in a CS degree if she wants to do IT. There are not a lot of females that pursue these careers, and some of the ones that do end up being very good.
  8. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    A lot of people in IT start out in help desk, and I think it's a great job to have while in college. You're getting experience, and if you choose the right company, you might get tuition assistance/reimbursement. I don't know about everyone else's region, but in my region, there aren't a lot of system administrator positions that don't require experience. Most of the jobs in my area want desktop support or help desk experience.

    When you're young and your living expenses are low, it's the best time to work low-paying jobs so that you can have the experience to land a high-paying job after graduating from college.
  9. dlbb

    dlbb Active Member

    I had written about internships, but apparently I must have deleted it. It is important that she tried to get internships, so that she can gain that necessary experience to be able to secure desirable jobs. Internships are available widely, both paid and unpaid, that can bridge that gap and give the necessary experience to make her more likely to be employed. It's always hardest to get first experience, so if she can meet that through an internship, it will be beneficial. Without experience, it will be hard for her to get the first job. Help desk is a great job to have while in college, but I was thinking more as a career it would be a poor choice for a high school student to aspire to. Help desk will not teach her to be a system administrator, but there are various educational programs that could assist with that.

    Not relevant to this student, but would like to point out both online and b & m students can pursue internships.
  10. ITJD

    ITJD Active Member


    1. The student in question has an opportunity to work in the IT department of a major hospital provider - that's better than an internship. She's getting paid.
    2. The hospital providers in this area of the world (last I knew Kizmet and I were in the same area of the world) have fair to good tuition reimbursement.
    3. As someone who started out in Helpdesk making 25k a year and ended a 20 year career in Helpdesk a few years back making 110k a year... it's a viable career path if you're open to management opportunities and you have the personality for it. Aside from the CIO chair, it's the only department that sees and hears everything if it's properly run.

    That said - you sure can accelerate your earnings by jumping off the customer carousel and moving into a tech specialty with a comp sci degree after a couple years in chair. If I had to do it over again, I would do exactly that. However, I'm pretty happy within infosec, at this point and I wouldn't change a thing. Especially since I also work in healthcare, it's a great environment :)
  11. dlbb

    dlbb Active Member

    That would be good if it is permanent and if the work was such that it prepared her for whatever it is specifically that she wanted to do, if it is outside a helpdesk. There may not be a correlation, but there could be, and if so, it might be a good fit and make an internship unnecessary.
    I am not sure moving into a leadership position is quite the same as working in the helpdesk. Not everyone is cut out for that or enjoys it.
  12. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    Most low-level jobs won't teach you everything you need to know for mid-level jobs; you just learn as you go. Helpdesk is just a step in career progression. A lot of systems administrators are self-taught, and they just added to their helpdesk skillset. I don't think traditional systems administration has much of a future because of cloud computing, so it's a good idea for people to start preparing for those jobs, which will mostly be done outside of college.
  13. dlbb

    dlbb Active Member

    There are formal networking degrees available, but a degree is not necessary for this job. They could obtain certifications, take coursework at community college, or take Cisco CCNA. The CCNA certification can carry weight if a person lacks other qualifications. The certs can be self-taught or through a college program. They would likely need some certification or coursework to get hired first, unless they somehow get on the job experience. Helpdesk will not provide this background.

    Cloud computing may reduce the number of jobs, but some will still remain.
  14. ITJD

    ITJD Active Member

    On cloud computing vs. monolithic sysadmin job futures.

    I doubt that you'll see much in the way of job loss due to cloud. You'll just see movement in the market. Those who are into monolithic infrastructure will still find jobs at data centers or working for firms where the nature of the data doesn't translate well to cloud for compliance reasons. The cloud administrators will need to have good command of python, json, and CI/CD pipelines (devops) and security (devsecops) and you'll see a greater need for computer science where IT degrees and programs were common place.
    dlbb likes this.
  15. cookderosa

    cookderosa Resident Chef

    Kizmet- whatever happened?

    My son just got an unpaid help desk internship (it's worth 1 college credit) at the community college. He's still in high school, and it is amazingly organized and structured. He can do it up to 3 times (max 3 college credits) that will apply towards an IT degree at the CC should he enroll (he will). The only downside, which maybe isn't a dealbreaker for some, is that if he's logging 10 unpaid hours per week, that's 10 hours per week he isn't working, and at our house, our kids are expected to pay 100% of many things- so this has taken some negotiation. BUT, an excellent experience for him- and I love that he's getting to pay some of his dues now rather than later. I tell that to culinary students and prospective culinary students alike- you're going to wash dishes and chop garlic...but you get to decide if you do it now or when you have a student loan payment, either way, it's happening.
    sanantone likes this.
  16. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    That's great! If I had decided to go into the IT field earlier in life when I was still living with my mother, I would have started out in help desk. But, I was older and couldn't afford to take such a big pay cut, and there's no way I'm going homeless to do an internship. I wanted to do systems administration, but there was no one who would hire me without help desk or similar support experience.

    Washing dishes and chopping vegetables doesn't teach you everything you need to know to become a chef, but you're getting the kitchen experience employers might be looking for, and you get to be around cooks and chefs. I worked low-paying unarmed and armed security jobs. They didn't teach me everything I needed to know as a corrections officer or parole officer, and they definitely didn't earn me a jailers' license from the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement. I needed a degree and to go through an academy to become a parole officer and academy training to become a corrections officer, but I can tell you that the interviewers liked that I had experience with carrying firearms, dealing with difficult people, and defensive tactics training. I knew how to answer situational interview questions because of my work experience. At one sheriff's department I applied to, I was one of three people who were selected out of a group of over 20 people. The department needed more than three people, but they were highly-selective and would run job ads repeatedly instead of just hiring anyone.
  17. dlbb

    dlbb Active Member

    There are many IT internships that will pay, so no need to go homeless or work in an unrelated area. But this will vary based on various factors, such as geography. Some have competitive pay; some do not. Start the search early. If it is not available locally and someone is unable to relocate, that can be a hardship. Some do find internships outside their immediate geographic vicinity, e.g. summer internship. Some may allow remote as well. For a system admin job, relevant internship experience would be a good deal more important than unrelated help desk work. A student will want experience as they transition from student to employee.

    ITJD brings up some good points: the distinction between computer science and IT. Within each, there are different areas of specialization. Once a student realizes what they want to do, they should focus in developing in that area, through the education they undertake, through internships, and through the entry level jobs they may take.
  18. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    The job ads in my area ask for one to five years of experience. Many of them specifically ask for help desk or desktop support experience because it gives you exposure to troubleshooting. You can't get direct experience in a job that requires experience. Most internships are very low-paying. There aren't many sysadmin jobs that require no experience. Even the jr. sysadmin jobs require support experience.

    I'm in my 30s and can't afford to work for $12 per hour in an internship. Plus, internships are way too short to give me the necessary experience. I've talked to many people in the field, and most of them started out in help desk or technical support. Even in the cybersecurity field, most people's first jobs were in help desk.

    I had a coworker who said that some of her friends without degrees got hired by Border Patrol because of their security guard experience. Does being a security guard make you qualified to work as a police officer the next day? No, but the experience meets the minimum requirements to get hired, and that's all that matters. Everyone knows that additional training is required; Customs and Border Protection just wants to know that you have been exposed to and can handle that type of work.

    System administration is not a computer science job. Bachelor's degrees in networking aren't numerous, and they're terrible degrees to get because they're too narrowly focused. One of my ex-boyfriends had a networking degree and ended up working retail.
  19. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    Now that I think about it, I can't even remember the last time I've seen an opening for a sysadmin internship, and my metropolitan area has a huge tech industry with Google, Dell, and Apple being in town.
  20. dlbb

    dlbb Active Member

    I assume he lacked experience, which could include an internship. Experience is critical--relevant experience--as well as the skills and ability to do it--not just book learning. As with any specialized job, one needs to be willing to relocate if necessary, even if temporarily for a summer internship. These internships are open to all walks of students, online or on-campus. Some do only accept current students or those in a relevant bachelor's/graduate program, but as with anything there is variance. If you are not in a program or have not been, it will be harder as many may not consider you.

    It is not always easy to get an internship and can take effort. One needs to be proactive and pursue it vigorously. Some IT / computer science internships pay significantly more than $12 (some do not), and again nation wide there is a fairly decent amount available. I would urge you to be careful not to discourage students from internships since it will make it much harder for them to get hired without experience. I am not sure why you are going off against internships.

    I found several system administrator internship opportunities near me, and that is not a large city. Internship are common, and system administrator is just one area a student could pursue. Have you tried searching in Google for system administrator internship or IT internship? Then click Jobs, and if it can detect your location, it will show those for your area--if not, enter a city.

    Correct, as I mentioned a couple times, this is the case. This thread is originally about young people seeking IT opportunities and has expanded more broadly to encompass computer science and related areas, given that the young people very likely do not know what they want. System administrator internships will accept students who are in a computer science bachelor's program.

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