Training for a position in a technology field could be a smart move

Published 8:49 am Wednesday, September 29, 2021

College is a wonderful thing, but it may not be for everyone. Last week the American Press explored the Acadian Ambulance paid training program. This article focuses on technology jobs and IT support in particular.

Richard “R.B.” Smith, Southwest Economic Alliance VP, Business and Workforce Development said right now there are technology jobs available in the local area — and more are on the way. Some of these jobs can be done remotely.

“You may not have to move to or go to where the job is, yet still take advantage of certain benefits,” Smith said.

The pandemic has closed work places and ushered in a new era of remote work for millions. Pew Research Center conducted a study of 5,858 adults to better understand how the work experiences of employed adults have changed since spring of 2020. More than half of those surveyed say if they have a choice, after the coronavirus outbreak is over, they want to continue to work at home.

The necessity to maintain social distancing during the pandemic is one of the reasons Google introduced Grow with Google.

“Grow with Google offers training in four areas,” Smith said. “IT support, data analytics, project management and UX design. This training would get an individual to entry level and allow those who didn’t want to pursue a four-year degree to explore this career path. No prior training or experience is required.”

This training is also affordable. The subscription cost for the online learning platform is $39 per month. A student may work at his or her own pace.

IT support involves troubleshooting and problem solving to help computers and networks run smoothly. Some of the jobs available after training might include database administrator, IT specialist, tech support specialist, systems analyst, network engineer, help desk technician, IT support specialist, IT technician, computer use specialist and IT assistant.

Pay is based on many factors. Larger metropolitan areas generally pay more. However, some job openings that require these skills and advertised for the Lake Charles area start at $35,000 to $45,000. Google lists average entry-level salary in IT support at $50,800. Zip Recruiter lists the annual pay for a computer support specialist in Louisiana at $38,701 a year.

Toby Leger been involved with two tech companies: InfoTech and Server at Work. He agreed a four-year degree is not essential for an IT support role. However, he did note that an IT support tech can never stop learning, even after they get that first job. Whether that learning is acquiring online certifications, college or trade school courses or learning on his or her own is up to the person.

To be a good IT support person, it’s essential to be excited about technology and able to communicate with those who do not share that level of excitement, knowledge and skills. IT techs understand they don’t know everything (even those with four-year degrees), but they do know where and how to get answers, whether that’s from getting a new certification, reading a manual or learning something on the job from someone with different training or more experience. Rapid change is an inherent characteristic of information technology. Being successful in IT support means staying on top of those changes.

Leger’s suggestion for certifications are CompTIA, especially A+ and Network +.

According to CompTIA A+ certified professionals are proven problem solvers trained to support today’s technologies from security to cloud to data management and more. The Network+ certification teaches the technical skills needed to securely establish, maintain and troubleshoot the essential networks that businesses rely on.

Leger said he’s seen starting salaries in the $30,000 to $32,000 range in this area, more in places like Baton Rouge, for instance. Those who advance their knowledge advance in to second and third tiers. At the third tier, pay is around $55,000 and can go up.

“If I were going to do it all over again, I would learn process control technology or maybe instrumentation because of all the industry, including pipeline work in this area,” Leger said.

Bruce Hamilton works at Louisiana Radio Communication. Not all the jobs at this local company require a four-year-degree. Training is available. However, during this time, the hourly wage is around $12 per hour.

“Running cable and communications lines in buildings make it possible to run cameras, computers and other devices,” said Hamilton. “It’s a massive undertaking. We have teams of people who do this.”

These workers are able to read blueprints to know where to make drops.

“It’s as much physical as mental,” Hamilton said. “It doesn’t require any school whatsoever. We teach you what to do from the get go.”

Hamilton said many in the company have made a 20- or 23-year career of doing this type of work and they “make a great living.” It’s called cabling and Hamilton said it’s a great segue to the IT world.

“If they’re good, the salary range can go up to $75,000,” he said. “It’s not a matter of tenure. It’s the willingness to go to work and to perform well.”

Cable technicians or fiber technicians do not have to sit behind the desk all day, and generally, every day is different.