What Is the Linux+ Certification and Why Is It Valuable?

IT certifications
The Linux operating system is widely used in many products and applications.

The CompTIA Linux+ certification prepares IT professionals to work with servers and devices that use the Linux operating system. Linux is an open-source operating system that uses the same type of programming concepts, files, and commands as UNIX, which predates it. Linux operates everything from Google, Facebook, and your in-car GPS to Android smartphones and the smart devices (refrigerators, media centers, etc.) used in many homes today, while UNIX operates Mac computers and iPhones, along with many devices and systems used by businesses.

It stands to reason that knowing how to administer Linux systems would open up many opportunities in the IT field, since it is so widely used. Also, knowledge of Linux and how it operates also qualifies someone in many cases to administer UNIX systems as well, since they are so similar in how they work.

IT certifications
Linux runs the Android operating system for smartphones, among many others.

The Value of Linux+ Certification

The open source nature of Linux means that there are lots of different variations available, which makes the system fairly complex. Because of the complexity of Linux, many employers require certification to ensure that their new hires have a good working knowledge of Linux.

Certifications demonstrate that your skills are verified by an independent body, which gives employers confidence in your skill level beyond what could be demonstrated through the typical job interview process. Some employers that require Linux certification include Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Dell, and Xerox.

One benefit of CompTIA Linux+ certification is that passing the two exams required for this certification enables the IT professional to get two other certifications without any additional preparation or exams. The information is the same for those exams: the LPI (Linux Professional Institute) Level 1(LPIC-1) certification and the Novell SUSE Desktop Support Technician designation.

What Is Involved in the Certification Process?

Because the CompTIA Linux+ certification requires students to pass two exams, preparation can be intense. Preparing in a classroom setting allows students to collaborate and help each other study the material, as well as providing ample practice and help with areas of struggle and difficulty.

The certification can usually be achieved in less than a year, and with intensive coursework, that time can often be shortened to just weeks or months. Another advantage to taking preparation courses is that it forces the IT professional to set aside other responsibilities or activities to make time to study adequately, which increases the chances of passing the exam.

While the CompTIA Linux+ certification demonstrates knowledge about all of the basic concepts and tasks involved in Linux, advanced certifications are available as well for those who need them. Many employers consider the Linux+ certification adequate for positions in their companies and don’t require further certifications unless more specific knowledge is required for a particular position.

CompTIA—A Cut Above

There are several Linux certifications available, but only the CompTIA Linux+ certification offers other certifications when students pass its exam, and CompTIA has the finest reputation among employers for its certifications as well.

PC AGE offers comprehensive preparation courses for many of the most sought-after IT certifications including CompTIA Linux+. Contact us for more information about our programs and the certification preparation courses we offer.

Debunking 7 Myths about IT Certification

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IT certifications can help your career. 

The IT certification process has been much discussed by those in the field, employers, and students who want to enter the field. As with most topics, misinformation and myths can sometimes take the place of the truth about IT certification.

Here are some of the most common myths surrounding IT certification and the truth behind them.

1. IT certifications are too theoretical.

While no one certification can completely prepare an IT professional for most positions in the field, certifications do provide a thorough background in systems like Microsoft, UNIX, Linux, and others. Furthermore, IT certification exams increasingly incorporate performance-based testing, which simulates working through an actual problem or situation. Some exams even have takers interact with offsite servers in real time.

2. IT certifications have a short life cycle.

The fact that IT certifications are frequently overhauled and require recertification every few years is actually a positive rather than a negative, because it means certifications are more relevant and incorporate new technologies and advances. The IT field moves extremely fast, and technology that is used today may not be used next month or next year. IT certifications need to keep up in order to remain relevant, and they do this through overhauls and recertifications.

3. IT certifications aren’t worth the money.

IT certifications are not cheap—there are costs for preparation courses, study materials, and the exam itself. These certifications are an effective way to keep skills updated and can take the place of a degree (or supplement it) so professionals have the skills they will need to work productively in the IT field. Can you really put a price on the ability to do your job?

4. IT certifications have become too common.

If many IT professionals are obtaining certifications, are they even worthwhile anymore? Yes, they can be worthwhile when employers want them and are willing to pay more to hire those that have them. One way to look at the fact that many people have certifications is that all those people valued them enough to spend the time and money to get them. Additionally, employers require them for many jobs and expect them, so why shouldn’t more and more people be earning them?

Many advanced skills can be learned through IT certifications.

5. It’s impossible to tell which certifications are most desired by employers. 

As you get further into a specialty or specific position, it will become clear to you which certifications will be beneficial. If you have to get a few to work towards the one you end up needing most, you will benefit from the breadth and depth of knowledge and information you gain from them. Looking at job descriptions for positions you want will give you a good idea about which certifications will be needed for those positions.

6. Companies won’t pay more for IT certifications. 

Salaries for those with certifications continue to increase. Data shows that various certifications can give you an 8 to 16 percent boost in pay, including many common certifications from vendors like Oracle and Cisco as well as vendor neutral certifications.

7. IT certification prep courses are too expensive.  

When certifications are responsible for premiums of thousands of dollars in salary, spending a little money for prep courses is well worth the hands-on assistance you will get. Those who take prep courses are much more likely to pass the exams the first time, which saves money because they won’t have to retake the exam when they don’t pass the first time. And some jobs can even be had with just certification and no degree, which will save you thousands of dollars and years of preparation if you have the right skills.

PC AGE provides preparation courses for many of the most in-demand certifications to help you get your IT career off the ground.  Contact us to learn more about all the courses we offer and how you can benefit.

How to Become a Senior Systems Administrator

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Senior systems administrators are responsible for all things IT.

A senior systems administrator is usually responsible for all of the networks, servers, and IT equipment used by a company. When something goes wrong within the IT department, employees and supervisors will look to the senior systems administrator to fix it or make sure it is fixed as soon as possible so the company can function.

Senior systems administrator is not an entry-level position, but typically requires a great deal of knowledge and experience in the field. Some entry-level positions, like IT technician, systems engineer, or systems administrator can lead to a senior systems administrator position with enough time, experience, and education.

Skills Needed for Senior Systems Administrator Position

Senior systems administrators must know a lot about all aspects of IT in order to do their jobs well. They typically have knowledge of all the programming languages used within the company as well as the hardware and software being used, the Unix operating system, backup and recovery processes, monitoring tools for system performance, and management and supervision practices. Although these positions are not primarily focused on cybersecurity, knowledge in this area is also helpful.

This position also requires the ability to design and organize complex systems, to configure those systems to work well together and conform to a company’s policies and procedures, and to be able to communicate about these systems with others in writing and verbally. The ability to multi-task and respond effectively to emergencies is also needed.

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Work Environment of Senior Systems Administrator Position

The work environment of a senior systems administrator can be pressure-filled at times, especially when there are problems with the system. Night and weekend work is sometimes required in order to resolve problems promptly and perform updates while the system is not being used.

Effective senior staff will be able to delegate some of these tasks to the staff they supervise, but in the end, the senior administrator will always be expected to know what is happening in the department and will be held responsible for the outcome. Many senior staff members are also expected to be on call during their off hours in case a problem comes up.

Although senior administrators have a lot of responsibilities, they also make a considerably higher salary than entry level employees. According to Glassdoor, the national average salary for a senior systems administrator is $105, 290.

A Path to a Senior Systems Administrator Position

Entry level positions for systems technicians, engineers or administrators often don’t require a degree if you can demonstrate that you have the skills for the position. Many senior positions do require degrees, however. Starting with an entry level position and taking courses as you gain experience is one way to get a senior position.

You should also earn certifications in the network and server areas to demonstrate your skills. PC AGE offers coursework that can help you earn certifications and even be used toward a degree through an agreement with Thomas Edison State University. Contact us to learn more about all our programs and how they can help you get a senior systems administrator position.

5 Best Practices for Building Your Tech Resume

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Building your resume is a major step in your tech career.

Building a strong tech resume can help you land the IT job you want rather than having to settle for something less than fulfilling. Here are some best practices for building your tech resume quickly so you can have a successful (and short) job search.

1. Think outside the box.

As companies become more tech savvy, they are able to appreciate unique approaches to the resume submission process. Some tech professionals are beginning to use mediums like Facebook or Instagram to create their digital resumes and attract the attention of companies that want the best and most creative people on their payroll.

2. Get points for style. 

Business Insider showcased some creative thinkers who formatted their resumes to look like a Google search page, an Amazon product page, and other familiar (but not for resumes) formats. There’s always a chance that an employer will think a resume like this is over the top, but a little bit of creativity may also get you noticed.

3. For entry level positions, format your resume for applicant tracking software.

If you haven’t yet reached the ranks of top talent that can command attention by being different, it might be a good idea to keep your formatting simple and compatible with applicant tracking systems (ATS) that will reject your resume from the system altogether if you don’t set it up correctly. ATS look for keywords and accomplishments, and can even require your information to be in a particular order to be accepted, like date first or position first.

If you aren’t sure which keywords to use, check out job listings for the same position on Monster and incorporate the ones that pop up frequently.

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A tech professional needs a top notch resume to get the best possible job.

4. Focus on how you’ve made things work.

Having completed projects or led a team isn’t enough anymore. A resume screener, whether computer or human, is more likely to be impressed by how the results of your work impacted your organization. If you can quantify your impact — you increased profits 8 percent, or completed projects 15 percent faster — prospective employers will get a better picture of what you are capable of than through more vague descriptions.

5. Increase your demonstrated skills with certifications.

When it comes to building your resume, adding skills can be just the thing you need to make your resume stand out from others with similar work experience. Certifications show that you were able to pass an exam on the relevant subject matter, which indicates that you have mastered the knowledge base and skills covered in the exam. Certifications are difficult to achieve independently, so there are often courses available to teach the material that will be covered.

PC AGE offers courses that prepare students to pass certification exams and earn certifications that can help to show potential employers that they have the expertise to meet their tech needs. Contact us about all the programs and courses PC AGE has to offer.

7 Signs an IT Career is Right for You

IT career
An IT career requires several different skills and interests.

You may be interested in information technology and wonder if you’ve got what it takes to have a career in a tech-related field. If the following signs seem to describe you, then you might be well-suited to a career in IT.

1. You have a persistent fascination with technology and how it works.

Maybe you work on computer problems even when you don’t have to—you just can’t let it go. Maybe you learn about new technologies just for fun. If you have a job outside IT, but you find yourself doing more and more IT-related tasks, you may be just the thing a company’s IT department needs.

2. You get excited about solving problems.

Most people see problems as a negative aspect of the job, but good IT employees see problems as exciting opportunities to learn new things or practice skills. Being excited about—and good at—solving problems will be an important ingredient of success in your IT career.

3. Everyone asks you to help when they have computer problems. 

You may want to consider an IT career if your friends and family constantly ask you to help them when they have computer problems. If you think fixing people’s computers is more fun than having a social life, then you might want to start preparing for an IT career right away.

4. You love strategy and games.

Many IT-related tasks require strategizing and can, at times, have similarities and parallels to playing a game. Having a love of games, especially the strategy part, can be an indicator that you would be well-suited to an IT career where strategy is needed to keep networks safe or to figure out how to use technology to benefit a company in the best possible way.

IT career
Being passionate about tech-related tasks could be a sign you should pursue a career in IT.

5. You are creative.

The IT field requires creativity in many areas: cybersecurity specialists must find creative ways to keep networks safe from hackers, many jobs require the employee to create a network or software program before they can implement or maintain it, and creativity is also used in coding and making apps that others can use.

6. You can win an argument.

You don’t want to argue with your co-workers, but the logical part of you that could win an argument will get heavy use in many IT careers. The basis of all programming and coding is logic, and logic is needed for many other IT-related tasks as well.

7. You can work with a team.

Most IT positions now involve working with a team to accomplish goals and complete projects. It isn’t enough to have computer skills like coding or cybersecurity—you often need to have teamwork skills and show that you know how to participate in the give-and-take that teamwork requires.

PC AGE offers courses that can get you started in your IT career in just a few months. Contact us to find out more.

7 Tips for Growing Your Professional Network

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Networking can be vital to a professional career.

You know that having a strong professional network can be beneficial when you’re searching for a job. If you’re ready to build your network, here are some helpful tips to help improve your chances of finding a great job in IT.

1. Be present and visible. 

Professionals are often reluctant to draw attention to themselves, but part of networking is being noticed. While over-the-top tactics are likely to backfire, posting on social media and attending meetings are two ways to be visible, and it doesn’t hurt to let your network know when you achieve a new certification or accomplish something else significant.

2. Include online and offline events.

Conferences and organization meetings are prime networking events, but online opportunities can be more ongoing and flexible to build relationships with contacts between face-to-face events and meetings. LinkedIn groups and Twitter chats are two popular options that include a larger number of options for networkers rather than some others that are more one-on-one.

3. Frequent the right places.

Going to places where your networking targets hang out can lead to networking opportunities. Relationships often form when people are in close proximity, whether it’s a coffee shop, a happy hour event, or even a particular online group that will allow you to introduce yourself to the people you want to get to know.

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Networking over food can be fun and beneficial.

4. If you want to get—give.

Helping others is always the right thing to do, and it usually comes back to you even more than your initial efforts. Doing favors for people and being generous will build goodwill that you may need as you build your career. You never know when an opportunity might come up, and having existing connections can help you get your foot in the door.

5. Ask for what you want.

In many cases, you won’t get what you want unless you ask. No one likes to be told no, which keeps many from asking in the first place. But you are unlikely to hear no every time you ask, so asking means you will be ahead even if you hear no most of the time. Besides, people like to do favors and give advice in most cases, so you may hear yes more often than you think.

6. Follow up.

Follow up goes two ways—it’s important to follow up by making good on your promises and doing what you say you will do, and it’s also important to be persistent in following up when someone has promised to do something for you or when one of your emails gets ignored. Follow-up will directly impact your reputation as a professional and will impact the way your colleagues and peers view you.

7. Think long term.

You may be able to get what you want without long term thinking, but it’s always best to think long term anyway. When you think long term, it’s less likely that you will have one of your previous actions or choices come back to bite you. Integrity and reputation are both enhanced with long-term thinking, and the results will also be enhanced over time.

PC AGE can help professionals get IT jobs through coursework and certification preparation classes. Contact us  about our programs to find your path to an IT career.

The Top 5 Reasons to Pursue IT Certifications

IT certifications
IT certifications can help you advance in the IT field.

IT certifications offer many benefits to those who earn them, from enhanced knowledge to higher earning potential. If you’re thinking about pursuing an IT certification, here are some of the best reasons to start.

1. To prove to potential employers that you possess needed skills.

It’s one thing to tell a potential employer that you have the skills to do a given job, but it’s another thing entirely to be able to prove that you have those skills. Students only earn certifications after they pass a rigorous exam, showing that they have the skills and knowledge they need to get that job done right. 96 percent of HR managers in larger companies use IT certifications as a screening tool when hiring.

2. To earn more money at a given job.

Those who have IT certifications are often paid more than those who don’t. Part of this is because they are more qualified and educated, and part of it is that employers know they will be getting someone with proven skills (see #1), and they are willing to pay a higher price for that peace of mind.

3. To move up to a higher level position.

Many times, certifications lead to promotions, so if you want to move up in your company or get a higher level position at another company, certifications will help you get there. Another great thing about certifications is that there are often several levels of certifications that teach more and more advanced skills, so you can start with the basics and move up to the next one without having to learn all new skills in a completely different area.

IT certifications
If you want to continue learning after your degree, certifications are helpful in keeping skills up to date.

4. To do a better job in your current position.

Maybe you feel like you need to fill some skill gaps before you can really be competent in your current position. If so, obtaining a certification can be a great way to fill those gaps, and may even lead to a raise or a promotion along the way. Certifications can also help you keep your current job if you’re struggling to do it well because you lack skills.

5. To continue learning after earning a degree.

Those who think they know everything they need to know after earning a degree would be wise to understand that, particularly in the IT field where technology grows exponentially and at a rapid rate, you start to go backward as soon as you stop learning. No matter how advanced your IT degree is, certifications can update stagnating skills and teach you what you need to know to thrive as new technologies are continually developed.

There are PC certifications for many different specialty areas of IT, including some of the fastest-growing specialties that are in the greatest demand right now: cyber security, networking, and Windows Server certifications. Most companies are in need of skilled personnel in all of these areas and more. Gaining new skills with certifications will show that you are ready for anything that comes your way.

PC AGE offers courses that prepare IT professionals for all kinds of certifications. Contact us about all of our programs and the certifications we support.

6 Things to Expect if You’re Pursuing a Career in Systems Administration

IT certifications
A systems administrator may work with a large team or be the only IT professional in a smaller company.

A career in systems administration can be satisfying and rewarding for hardworking individuals capable of managing a complex workload. Systems administrators supervise the maintenance of a company’s networks and servers, software, and hardware. Whether a company’s systems are simple for just a few employees or complex to meet the needs of hundreds or thousands of employees, systems administrators are responsible for it all.

Here are some things to expect if you’re pursuing a career in systems administration.

1. You’ll always be busy.

The complex nature of a systems administrator’s job means that there is always something to do. Systems administrators need to handle all of the company’s servers and networks, software, and hardware, which means managing any problems that come up, keeping everything running smoothly, making frequent updates and upgrades, and constantly trying to make everything work even better than it currently does.

2. You may be supervising a team.

For companies with larger systems, there will probably be a team working to keep everything going. In addition to understanding the technology related to the systems, you will also need people skills to help you manage the team and make sure they work effectively to maintain the system.

3. The buck will stop with you.

Like with most things in life, people may not notice when everything is working well. But when there’s a problem, they will notice and you’ll be responsible for getting it fixed fast. Even if you have a team working with you, the systems administrator is usually the point person to communicate to company leaders what is going on and what efforts are being taken to fix the problems when they do occur.

IT certifications
Being able to solve problems will serve you well in a systems administrator career.

4. You will get paid well for your efforts. 

Systems administrators with experience in larger companies can make six-figure salaries, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for this position is about $84,500. By comparison, the average annual wage for all jobs is about $49,500. Salaries can vary greatly depending on the size of the company and the cost of living in the area the company is located.

5. It won’t be too hard to switch jobs or find another job.

The job outlook for systems administrators is good. Most companies now need a systems administrator in order to function. About 8 percent annual growth is expected as companies continue to grow and need to hire more help in their IT departments.

6. You will need to continue your education.

The IT field is constantly changing, and to keep up with the changes, you will need to keep learning constantly. Many systems administrator jobs require a bachelor’s degree in computer science, and some only require IT certifications that provide the skills you need.

While you can learn some of what you need to know outside the classroom, other skills will be best taught by seasoned instructors like those at PC AGE, which provides courses to prepare you for IT certifications that can land you a position as a systems administrator. Contact us about our programs including certifications that could help you get started in a career as a systems administrator.

A Day In The Life of a Network Administrator

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Network administrators run computer networks and keep them functioning well.

Network administrators are responsible for maintaining computer infrastructures for companies and organizations, with special emphasis on networks. Network administrators may be college educated or have certifications like CompTIA Network + or MCSA that provide the training needed to handle the tasks of a network administrator.

A network administrator’s day may be spent in a number of different ways. If the network isn’t functioning like it should, the network administrator might need to troubleshoot, investigate, and figure out the problem so it can be solved. This can take hours or days, depending on the problem.

For serious problems within the network, administrators may have to work together with security techs or other professionals to get things up and running again. Most days for network administrators are probably the typical eight hours, but on days where the network is down or malfunctioning, overtime may be required.

On days when the network is working well, a network administrator’s day may look something like this:

9:00 a.m.—Check updates that were run the previous night while no one was online, making sure the updates were completed and that the systems continue to be operational.

10:00 a.m.—Conduct a training on an updated software program so that sales reps are aware of the new capabilities of the software and how it will make their jobs easier.

11:00 a.m.—Sit in on a meeting of the board to present a report on the network’s functionality over the previous month, and discuss how the board members would like to see the network upgraded to help achieve goals and objectives over the next 3 months.

12:00 p.m.—Lunch with a colleague to hear concerns and mentor the colleague, who is looking to get promoted.

1:00 p.m.—Look at reports to determine how to improve future network functioning.

2:00 p.m.—Brainstorm applications and software that can be used to make the improvements indicated by the data collected.

3:00 p.m.—Research ways to implement those improvements, looking at possible options and solutions.

4:00 p.m.—Meet with your team to share ideas and get input on more possible options for the improvements you want to make; begin planning a timeline for implementation of the solution you and the team eventually decide on.

5:00 p.m.—Everything is working as it should be, so it’s time to go home for the day.

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Network administrators need technical and people skills.

One of the great things about the being a network administrator is that there’s a balance between routine tasks (like updating, running tests, and gathering data) and creative tasks like solving problems, making improvements, and conducting trainings.

It’s not far from the truth to say that no two days will be exactly alike, although there will be enough familiarity to develop a routine at least some of the time. In larger companies with robust networks, network administrators will have to juggle many tasks simultaneously, as well as deal with people’s concerns and questions about the network. Contact us about our programs that prepare IT professionals to be network administrators.

5 Ways You’ll Use Your CHFI Certification at Work

IT certifications
Computer forensics and hacking skills are growing needs for many industries and careers.

How would a computer hacking forensics investigator certification be useful in a typical workplace? It seems like something out of an episode of CSI where people need to find the bad guys through their computers or phones.

Believe it or not, CHFI certification can be useful in many different jobs to enhance your skill set so you can meet your employer’s constantly evolving needs. Here are some ways you might use a CHFI certification in your IT job.

1. To figure out whether your network was breached.

IT security professionals and systems administrators can use the skills gained from a CHFI certification to help detect network breaches, should they occur. In many cases, they can also work toward determining who was behind the breach and help law enforcement identify them so they can be prosecuted.

Instead of your company having no idea its security was breached or that customer data was compromised, CHFI-certified staff will have the skills to identify a breach, or hopefully, to prevent or stop it before any information is compromised.

2. To augment law enforcement training.

For police and other law enforcement personnel, CHFI certification can help them investigate cybercrime and catch cybercriminals. Cybercrime is on the rise and law enforcement training has lagged because it is fairly new and constantly evolving.

CHFI certification could help you get promoted to detective or other supervisory positions where greater expertise about cybercrime and data breaches is necessary.

3.  To build a criminal or civil case against hackers, or defend accused cybercriminals.

The CHFI certification may be useful for lawyers, both prosecutors and defense attorneys, who may come across more and more frequent cases involving cybersecurity and data breaches. In order to properly prosecute or defend these cases, a thorough understanding of hacking and computer forensics may be needed.

IT certifications
Computer forensics involves gathering evidence to prove that cybercrimes were committed.

4. To ensure that disloyal employees don’t steal information or resources, or to gather evidence that they did so in order to prosecute them.

Disloyal employees could use their access to company servers and networks to steal corporate secrets or give other people access to corporate data and networks. Obtaining a CHFI certification can ensure that your company remains safe, or that disloyal employees who have already damaged company data can be brought to justice.

5. To be sure dismissed employees don’t disrupt the network or any part of the server. 

After employees are dismissed, they may want to strike back at the company by stealing information, data or money from the company. They may also attempt to destroy data or systems. CHFI certification can prevent these attacks or enable the collection of evidence to prosecute them after the fact.

PC AGE can prepare people for the CHFI certification through thorough, interactive courses. PC AGE instructors know just what will be on the exam and how to best prepare professionals for a successful performance. Contact us about programs for CHFI and other certifications that today’s jobs demand.