6 Tech Certifications That Boost Your Earning Potential

IT certifications
IT certifications can help boost your income and benefit your career in other ways.

According to a Network World survey, earning an IT certification led to a new job or a raise in 50 to 60 percent of instances. Other sources like Monster.com and CIO have confirmed that a salary gap exists between the certified and those that lack IT certifications as well. Here are some tech certifications that will boost your earning potential.

1.  CompTIA A+

Although it is a common certification, the fact that it is vendor-neutral and shows that you know how to install, configure, protect, and troubleshoot software on a computer makes it a high-demand certification for many employers. The CompTIA A+ certification can help you command a higher salary as an IT technician or help desk support staff.

2. CompTIA Network+ 

This certification is similar to the previous one, but deals with entire networks rather than just individual computers. Most businesses with more than a handful of employees need a network to communicate and handle their IT needs, making network administrators and technicians an essential part of IT departments today.

3. Certified Information Systems Security Architecture Professional (CISSP)

Network and server security is an exploding field within IT, and there is a severe shortage of qualified security professionals that seems like it will only get worse. CISSP certification can even help IT security professionals earn a six figure salary and is required for most upper level IT security jobs, according to Network World.

4. Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)

Cisco certifications were rated most valuable by Network World study participants, and this basic Cisco certification can be a stepping stone to more advanced certifications that will be even more in demand for high-paying positions.

IT certifications
Your earning potential can skyrocket with the right IT certification.

5. Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE)

The CCIE certification is listed by multiple sites as a certification that can bring higher-paying job opportunities your way and boost your salary significantly. Monster.com reports that systems engineers with a CCIE certification could earn up to 27 percent more than their uncertified counterparts.

6. Microsoft Certified IT Professional or Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer

Microsoft certifications are generally desirable, and these two, in particular, have been known to boost salaries and generate promotions, so they are definitely worth the time they take to prepare for.

More than three-quarters of IT professionals surveyed by Network World said they thought IT certifications were valuable for increasing salaries and earning promotions. The best way to prepare for IT certifications is in the classroom, with an instructor who knows the exam and can guide you in what to study.

PC AGE offers preparation courses for many of the certifications listed here, with top-notch instruction that will not only help you pass certification exams but will also give you the skills you need to progress in your IT career. Contact us about our programs today.

The Essential Guide to the CHFI Certification

IT certifications
A computer hacking forensic investigator studies cyber crimes and collects evidence about them.

IT professionals with certifications have an easier time finding jobs, and they often make higher salaries than those in the field without certifications. IT certifications demonstrate proficiency in particular skill areas and show that a professional is capable of doing a job in that area of the IT field.

What is CHFI Certification?

The Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (CHFI) certification prepares tech professionals for jobs in law enforcement and with companies that have a need to investigate computer hacking within their organizations.

Computer hacking and data breaches are on the rise, and many different situations present themselves that lead to a need for investigations into the circumstances that caused the hack. Disloyal employees might use their inside access for profit or to undermine the company, or other companies may conduct industrial espionage to prevent your company from increasing market share.

Jobs for CHFI Certified Professionals

CHFI certification can lead to jobs in law enforcement or the military, systems administration, or IT team or department management. Forensic investigators research computer systems to find information about cybercrimes and network intrusions. They might gather electronic evidence as they investigate hacking and intrusion incidents, examining hard drives, images, and other digital data.

Skills involved in CHFI Certification

CHFI certification teaches professionals how to conduct investigations correctly so that evidence will maintain its integrity and be useful during prosecution of cybercrimes. Professionals will also learn how to recover deleted files and access hidden information on Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems.

Another aspect of a forensic investigation is the recovery of lost information, which can happen because of sabotage or equipment failure. Forensic investigators also need to be able to analyze the information they find in order to understand the impact of a hack and the extent of a data breach.

In some cases, the cybercrime involved isn’t a data breach but involves possession of illegal materials like pornography. CHFI skills can be used to detect the possession of pornography and collect evidence for prosecution.

IT certifications
Computer forensic investigators may work for a police department or other governmental agency or private company.

Threat intelligence can lead to proactive steps that will prevent future breaches and hacks, although other cybersecurity certifications deal more definitively with keeping servers, networks, and computers secure from threats.

As with most anti-hacking jobs, it is sometimes necessary to use the same techniques hackers use, like cracking passwords and intruding on networks, but like ethical hackers, forensic investigators use these techniques to catch hackers, not to commit cybercrimes themselves.

The end result of a computer hacking forensics investigation is the acquisition of legal evidence that will lead to the prosecution of those who committed cybercrimes like hacking or theft of data. Not all cybercrimes lead to prosecution, but when evidence can be obtained, it can lead to prevention of future breaches and intrusions.

PC AGE offers preparation for the CHFI and other IT certifications that can lead to careers in the tech field. Contact us for more information about our programs.

Why Building Relationships May Be the Only Soft Skill You Need

In a recent survey of the millennials, asking them of their most important life goals, over eighty percent responded: getting richer. Fifty percent of those very respondents said that another major life goal for them was to become famous. Contrary to these results, Robert Waldinger, the director of a 75-year old study on adult development at Harvard, observes that the clearest message from their wide-ranging study rather concludes: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier.

In a nutshell, the ultimate goal of all the soft skills we need to learn should be building good relationships.

Good relationships are built by truly caring about people who put their trust in you. This is possible only if we listen with open mind and open heart, have a clear awareness of ourselves, the people around us, and the world, and work by connecting to the highest future possibilities.


What we see is not the Reality

MIT Professor, Peter Senge teaches us: World of relationships is a world of conflicts by its very nature. Different systems with different realities are interacting and sometimes interacting in very problematic ways. It is important to be aware of the fact that we do not perceive the world we see, we see the world we perceive and our perception is a reflection of our history. It is characteristic of a living system. Unlike nonliving devices, like a camera, for example, we create our own reality. Men see this world different from women. So telling someone what is reality, is like making a demand for obedience. None of us can see actual reality because we are not a recording device. And understanding “Love is an act of allowing others to be a legitimate other” by the prominent Biologist Humberto Maturana is essential to truly caring about people.

So imposing our opinions on others will only damage relationships. Understanding that you cannot change the thinking of people but can only provide them tools to do it themselves; and that you cannot control people, but can only influence them, may keep the relationships healthy.
Wisdom and the Fog

Tim Urban, famous blogger and TED speaker, tells us how to improve our awareness and understand the big picture that may help to build relationships and gain happiness. He says in his blog (I am paraphrasing it here):

The goal of human development should be: gaining wisdom. This means being aware of the truth. The truth is a combination of what we know and what we don’t know. Awareness of knowing, and its absence, is the key to being wise. So what is in our way: The fog.

A human is the combination of the Higher being (brilliant, big-thinking, and rational part of our brain) and the lower-level, Animal being. These lower-level instincts are the remnants of our animal past and still a prominent part of our brains, creating a turbulent zoo of small-minded emotions and motivations (such as fear, pettiness, jealousy, greed, instant gratification, etc. and the fog) in our heads.

The battle of the Higher being against the animals—of trying to see through the fog to clarity—is the core internal human struggle.

The most glaring example is the way the fog convinces us, time after time, that certain things will make us happy that in reality absolutely don’t. The only real way to improve happiness in a lasting way is to make progress in the battle against the fog.

So if it were not because of the fog, is there any point for developing a reputation for being cheap, a liar, selfish, greedy, dishonest, or rigid or someone with a bad attitude or bad work ethics?

Being aware of our biases, shortcomings or weaknesses and continuously trying to overcome them is a major struggle for all of us. A major key to achieving this is to develop our listening skills.

Four Levels of Listening
According to MIT Professor Otto Scharmer, there are four levels of listening:

i- Listening from Habit: You listen only to what you already know. You reconfirm your opinions and judgments.
ii- Factual Listening: Listening with an open mind. Listening to what contradicts your own opinions and judgments.
iii- Empathic Listening: Listening with an open heart. Listening with feelings and seeing the situation from eyes of another. Listening with an emotional connection with another.
iv- Generative Listening: Listening with a connection to emerging future possibilities. Noticing arrival of your highest future possibilities.

We cannot improve our awareness unless we really listen with an open mind and open heart. Not listening with an open mind and open heart is one of the major causes of conflict or troubles in the world.

A study conducted by Harvard University noted that 80% of achievements in career are determined by soft skills and only 20% by hard skills.

Here it’s worth it to remind ourselves of the famous quote of Aristotle: “What is the essence of life? To serve others and do good.”

Whether it is for career success, happiness or a good life, it makes all the sense to let go of short-term benefits or instant-gratification and keep improving ourselves to build good relationships.

Top ten soft skill attributes for business executives
Following is a list of soft skills compiled by Eastern Kentucky University.
1. Communication – oral, speaking capability, written, presenting, listening.
2. Courtesy – manners, etiquette, business etiquette, graciousness, saying please and thank you, being respectful.
3. Flexibility – adaptability, willingness to change, lifelong learner, accepting new things, adjusting, teachable.
4. Integrity – honest, ethical, having high morals and personal values, doing what’s right.
5. Interpersonal skills – being nice, personable, friendly, nurturing, empathetic, patient, sociable, having self-control, sense of humor, warmth, social skills.
6. Positive attitude – optimistic, enthusiastic, encouraging, happy, confident.
7. Professionalism – business-like, well-dressed, appearance, poised.
8.  Responsibility – accountable, reliable, gets the job done, resourceful, self-disciplined, wants to do well, conscientious, common sense.
9. Teamwork – cooperative, gets along with others, agreeable, supportive, helpful, collaborative.
10. Work ethic – hard working, willing to work, loyal, takes initiative, self-motivated, on time, good attendance.

Religion for the Nonreligious

Professor Otto Scharmer Presentation on Youtube.com

Can You Earn a Six-Figure Salary Without a Computer Science Degree?

IT certifications
A six-figure tech career is possible even without years of schooling.

Wondering if you can earn a high salary without an expensive degree? The answer is yes! Many tech jobs do not require a bachelor’s degree in computer science if you have the right experience and skills. You can even earn a high five or six-figure salary without a degree if you know the right career path to take.

Here are some jobs that have six-figure earning potential without requiring a degree.

Systems Administrator

According to the job site Paysa, 56 percent of recent job postings for systems administrators did not require applicants to have a degree. While pay varies widely for these positions, which mainly require thorough knowledge of the system being used and troubleshooting/analytical skills, some listings were above six figures, particularly when counting signing bonuses. Certifications may be required or be an advantage for a systems administrator position.

Network Security Specialist

Paysa also reports that 65 percent of recent job postings for network security specialists did not require a degree, and salaries for this position were well into six figures for many jobs. Skills needed include knowledge about how to protect the security of computer networks, Cisco experience (since networks often use Cisco technology), and possibly some web development skills to be able to get into the online system and fix it when necessary. Short-term courses and certifications can give you this background.

Web Designer/Developer

IT certifications
A lucrative tech career may start with the right certifications rather than a four-year degree.

If you can design great websites, no one will care about whether you have a college degree or not. Quality web designers are in high demand, either working exclusively for a single company with one or more complex websites, or as a freelancer or entrepreneur designing and supporting sites for various smaller companies.

UI/UX Designer

These positions are focused on user experiences, so web design knowledge is a must along with the ability to test out how users will react to the designs.

WordPress/PHP Developer

Many companies use WordPress for their blogs or even for their entire site design—there are over 60 million WordPress sites to date. If you can navigate all the complexities of this platform and make it easy for companies to use WordPress to meet their needs, you can command a six-figure salary even without a degree.

Mobile App Developer

Even high school kids are developing apps these days, but it is a rapidly expanding field that can sometimes encompass other web technologies like CSS and JavaScript as mobile technology gets ever more complex. Mobile app developers that can provide quality applications that are easy to navigate and user-friendly will easily be able to make six figures whether they have a bachelor’s degree or not.

QA Engineer

Quality assurance engineers test out software and applications to make sure they adhere to quality standards—in other words, that final products work correctly, well, and as intended for consumers. Only slightly more than half of job postings screened by Paysa required a bachelor’s degree for QA engineers, and the mid-range salary for these jobs was in the six-figure range.

Note that many of these jobs do not start out as six-figure positions, but with some time and experience, there is definite six-figure potential in certain tech jobs even without a bachelor’s or advanced degree. PC AGE provides courses that will develop skills in these areas along with certification preparation courses that can show employers you have the necessary skills for a given position even without a degree.  Contact us to see if a tech career might be within your reach.

How IT Professionals Use the MCSA Server 2012 Certification

Microsoft certification training
Working on a company’s servers requires specialized information that the process of certification can provide.

Unlike a more general degree in information technology, IT certifications show that professionals have specific knowledge in a particular area or with particular software programs. MCSA Server 2012 certification is useful because it shows that an IT professional has knowledge and experience with Microsoft Server 2012 system software.

In the real world, otherwise known as the IT field, MCSA Server 2012 certification may lead to one of several jobs within a company. Demand for these positions will likely be high because many (if not most) companies use Microsoft as their operating system and to power their computers, their network, and their server (or sometimes servers).

Computer/Network Support Specialist

One position an MCSA Server 2012-certified individual can get is that of computer or network support specialist. Networks are tremendously useful to companies to centralize their operations and provide ways to communicate easily within the company as well as outside it. Computer and network support specialists are needed to help keep the network and server running efficiently so that the company can function as well as it should.

Network Engineer

If you think planning, implementing and supporting a company’s computer networks sounds like an interesting job, the MCSA Server 2012 certification could land you a job as a network engineer with a company that uses Microsoft servers. The certification will prepare you to handle every aspect of a network, from understanding how it functions to dealing with the inevitable problems that come up with company servers.

Microsoft certification training
Maintaining a company’s servers is an important job that requires expertise and know-how.

Systems Engineer

A systems engineer is a more comprehensive position than a network engineer and requires someone who can look at the big picture of a company’s entire operations system to ensure its optimal function. Systems engineers work with program managers to meet the needs of different departments and sectors of the company. They also deal with risks to security or functioning so that company data remains safe and secure.

Network Administrator

This position is more supervisory in nature and may lead to the supervision of others with the same certification but with less experience. A network administrator may also be the sole IT professional for a given network when a company is smaller and doesn’t need a whole team to handle its network. Network administrators often come into play when companies use different operating systems or software platforms and need someone who can make everything work together.

Windows Migration Specialist

Migration specialists are needed when a company wants to move all its systems to Microsoft from other operating systems or platforms, or when upgrading from one version of Windows to another. Both upgrading and switching to Microsoft can be complex processes for companies with large networks, and professionals who are aware of what can go wrong and how to help things go smoothly will be in high demand for companies undertaking that process.

PC AGE offers courses to prepare students for the MCSA Server 2012 and other IT certifications that can help them get started in a career in information technology. Contact us for more information about our programs and courses.

Interested in an IT Career? Here’s How to Get Started

IT career
An IT career doesn’t necessarily have to start with a degree.

Getting started in the information technology field may not be as difficult as you might think. While many employers do require college degrees, there are ways to break into the field at an entry level or maybe try out the field without first spending years getting a degree.

Coding and Web Design

Some professionals choose to teach themselves HTML or other coding languages or to take a brief course to gain skills in this area. While some web designers and coders have a great deal of knowledge and extensive education, it is possible to build a basic website or write a basic program with self-taught skills or a brief course.

If you try out web design or basic coding and find it enjoyable, you can always take more courses, pursue a degree, or even get a job with a company that is willing to train you on the job to advance your skills.

Support Desk or Technician

With just a few certifications and a high school degree, it may be possible to start out in the IT field as a desk analyst, network technician, or desktop support representative. Some software companies may also hire support professionals and train them in the specific software they will be supporting, without much other IT background.

The benefit to starting out in the IT field without a college degree is that in many cases, you can go to college part time while working, and even get your employer to pay for your education through tuition reimbursement programs. Not only have you avoided the typical crushing college debt load, but you will be able to move up in your job once you get the degree, all while working and earning a living.


IT career
Network technicians may only need a small certification to get started working in the IT field.

Online Courses

Taking courses online can make it possible to keep going with your education even when the rest of your life may be hectic with family obligations or other interests and responsibilities. Online courses can typically be completed when you have time during the day rather than needing to show up for class at a set time, and online courses may mean that you can attend a school of your choice, even if you don’t live nearby.

Furthermore, online courses may be the only option for some rarely offered courses or for obscure certifications that most schools don’t offer. Keep in mind that some students do need the structure and face-to-face interaction that on-site courses offer, but with a moderate amount of motivation and self-discipline, online courses can be a good option.

PC AGE offers coursework that can lead to a tech career, even without a full degree. PC AGE courses can also supplement a degree when more specific skills are needed, and partnerships with local schools can culminate in a degree if one is required. Contact us about our programs to find out what we can offer.