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     Volume 1 Issue 1 | August 6, 2006 |


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IT education: A boost in career path

Nafid Imran Ahmed

In 1995, some 30,000 students sat for the Dhaka University admission test. Only 1250 were selected for the science unit and most of them wanted to study computer science. But back then, the Department of Computer Science offered only 20 seats and each of top 50 went for those. Even now, when almost all the private universities offer computer science degrees, it is not enough to quench the IT thirst. But, what if one didn't graduate from college with a degree in computer science and still wanted to become an IT professional? What if someone didn't have years to go back to college to earn a degree in computer science? One should not worry; there is another way to start a brand new career in IT. Get certified!

In the country, there are many IT training centres offering hundreds of courses. Some of them are affiliated with foreign companies and some with local roots. Most of these institutes are very expensive. But are they providing quality IT education? Are these just certificates with colourful logos, nice bag packs, digital diaries, etc? The skill of their Students will prove it all.

Many hardware and software vendors have introduced individual certification examinations all over the world. This has given the students a chance to prove their skills and become IT professionals in their desired fields. One can choose from two types of certifications: those offered by professional associations such as the Computer Technology Industry Association (Comp TIA) and those sponsored by vendors, such as Cisco Systems Inc. or Microsoft Corp. Vendor certifications are considered more rigorous and valuable, and vendor companies usually update their tests as they introduce new technologies. People who pass the required exams can attach a string of alphabet-soup-like initials after their names. The Microsoft Certified Professional certification is the most popular certification today. There are nearly one million MCPs world wide.

There is no catch-all IT certification. Rather, certifications are specific to certain technologies and job descriptions. Certifications exist for everything from relatively simple tasks such as installing operating systems on personal computers, personal computer maintenance to programming in various languages such as Java, system and network administrative skills, database development, security analyst, website development and trainer.

The certifications are granted by hardware and software vendors such as Microsoft Corporation, Sun Microsystems, Oracle Corporation, Cisco Systems, Red Hat Corporation, Citrix Systems Inc. and Novell Inc.

There are many ways to train for certification exams.
You can do it yourself and study using CD-ROM learning packages - or go to a local bookstore and buy a relevant textbook to help you prepare.

But the best way to prepare for certification exams may be to take a formal class. A growing number of companies sponsor training for IT certification exams offered by product vendors and non-vendor certifying organisations.

For example, New Horizons offers training for CompTIA's A+, Linux+ and all products of Microsoft certifications and Base Limited for vendor certifications such as Oracle Certified Professional (OCP), Oracle Database Administrator (DBA), etc.

Formal classes can also be taken through distance-learning organisations via online training websites, and also in actual classroom settings.

Each training company and textbook has its own spin on the training process, so there is a wide range in price tags for various types of training, and the time needed to complete them.

The next step is to actually sit for the exam. Often, the training centres are authorised to administer an exam by the organisation granting the certification. There are also independent testing centres that administer exams to people who want to retake a test or have studied the course on their own. Probably, the most popular company offering such testing is Sylvan Prometric, which has testing centres across the United States. In this country, there are almost a dozen testing centres. Most of these centres are controlled by Sylvan Prometric and VUE (Vertual University Enterprise) testing services.

After getting prepared one needs to go to a testing centre, pay the exam fees, collect a voucher containing exam dates with details and then sit for the exam.

Computer certifications will definitely keep you competitive in your current position and are considered jewels on your resume. As a result of these certifications employers also have the luxury of demanding very specific skills. Employers are looking for those people who have proven that they are dedicated, committed and have a strong knowledge base. If you are considering becoming an MCSE, SCJP, OCP, CCNA or other certified professional, now is the time.



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