WTC photo for tech classes 1016

Jeremy Bell, Cody Tharp and F.W. Irvin in an information technology class at Withlacoochee Technical College.

Technology is a fact of modern life. It’s here to stay, it’s changing all the time, and those who have tech skills are well-positioned for the future.

Careers in information technology (IT) are in high demand — they’re complex, interesting, fulfilling and definitely mainstream.

They also provide a good living. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, median pay for entry-level IT jobs is between $35,000 and $55,000 annually. Job outlook overall is positive, as well, with the IT industry expected to grow faster than average. Starting pay and job outlook for a network administrator or cybersecurity specialist is even higher.

The best news is that a college degree is not required to enter the field. Instead, get started with an industry certification and hands-on experience, available at Withlacoochee Technical College (WTC) in Inverness. You can even take your industry certification exams in the college’s onsite assessment center. Leave the program with certification, not student loan debt.

WTC’s information technology programs are highly successful, measured in part by on-time completion and placement rates. On-time completion refers to the percentage of students who complete the program within a specified time frame. Placement rate refers to the number of program completers who go on to work, further their education, join the military, etc. WTC has a 100% placement rate for those who complete its IT program courses.

WTC offers three programs in the IT career cluster:

Technology Support Services (TSS)

This is an information technology starter program. Students build solid background knowledge of computer systems and hardware, operating systems, and troubleshooting techniques. Typical employment is as a help desk technician assisting non-IT users with technology either remotely or in person.

WTC’s program runs for 600 hours, or one full-time semester. The industry certification exams offered at WTC are CompTIA 220-1001 and CompTIA 220-1002 (both earn a CompTIA A+ certification).

This program has an 89% on-time completion rate and a 100% placement rate.

“Students in TSS get hands-on experience in a cool and ever-changing technology field,” said TSS instructor Andy Dillersberger. “Whether it is personal, business, medical or social, technology is what links us all. We all use personal computers, tablets, phones (mobile phones) and printers in everyday tasks in home, office or mobile locations. All technology devices need setup and service — and that is what we do.”

“The A+ certification is an important gateway to this field,” Dillersberger said. “It also opens opportunities for further studies in the technology field like Networking System Administrator (NSA), Cyber Security (ACS) and other IT-related courses.”

Network Systems Administration (NSA)

The next step in the IT progression at WTC is the Network Systems Administration program. Students learn advanced techniques in troubleshooting, operating systems, and configuring systems. This leads to employability in positions where they install and maintain network hardware and software, evaluate system performance, and identify and solve problems for users.

WTC’s program runs for 1,050 hours, or two full-time semesters. The industry certification exams offered at WTC are CompTIA Network+ and CIW Network Technology Associate.

The on-time completion rate is 100% and the placement rate is 100% for this program.

Applied Cybersecurity (ACS)

This capstone program offers a rigorous curriculum on security vulnerabilities, system hardening, intrusion detection and prevention, and recovery, in addition to database security, planning and analysis, and web security. Because of the increasing threat of cyberattacks, employment in this area of the IT industry can be in computer systems design, finance and insurance, and information security management, among others.

WTC’s program runs for 750 hours, which is slightly longer than one full-time semester. The industry certification exams offered at WTC are CompTIA Security+ and CIW Web Security Associate.

This program’s on-time completion rate is 100%, with a 100% placement rate.

“Students in the field of cybersecurity have multiple job opportunities,” said NSA and ACS instructor Keith Consol. “They can go into ethical hacking, forensics, and protecting corporations from cyber threats. The career opportunities are widely varied in the IT field. You can work from home, in an office, or even travel. Jobs available suit any personality type, from the outgoing to the introverted.”

Competency-based approach

WTC teaches the IT programs in a competency-based structure. Hands-on experience is vital, as is having instructors who are professionals in the field.

Stuents appreciate this approach. As F.W. Irvin, a recent graduate, said, “IT instructors Mr. Consol and Mr. Dillersberger were invaluable. One can only learn so much through academic study. They filled in the blanks and made information technology/security make sense through instruction, practical application, and real-world projects. I credit them with preparing me for a career in information security and instilling confidence in my skills.”

Common activities include fixing computers and smartphones and setting up and repairing computer networks (wired and wireless). Simulated learning experiences

(computer-based learning) are offered in the programs’ labs as are hands-on experiences with industry equipment and tools.

According to recent Applied Cybersecurity graduate Jeremy Bell, “The program helped fill in the gaps in the training I received from the Army. It prepped me for the industry certification exams that are necessary for employment as an IT professional.”

Instructors note that program completers have secured career positions locally with such employers as the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office, Citrus Cardiology, Technology Conservation Group, Citrus Networking Solutions, Spectrum and Applied Technology Resources.

Interested in learning more about the IT programs at Withlacoochee Technical College? Schedule an appointment with a WTC career counselor — call 352-726-2430.

Get a closer look at program opportunities at the WTC open house from 12:30-2:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 31. Not just IT, but all programs will be available for visiting by those who want to see classrooms, labs and shops, meet the instructors and learn more about WTC and what it has to offer.

Jeane DeFelice is career and media specialist for Withlacoochee Technical College.

(1) comment

CitrusCo Citizen

How about solar and wind energy technology? Florida, the Sunshine State is last in the nation for switching to sustainable, renewable energy, but at least we'll be training our young men and women to make good salaries and careers with these certificates earned at WTC so that they can find good work in solar and wind in other states. Maybe they can even come back to FL when Florida wakes up.

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