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Ramblings about the world of technology and certification.

You’ve Earned an IT Certification — Now What?

0 December 14, 2017 in Uncategorized by

You studied hard, left sweat on the testing center mouse and BAM you passed your certification exam. You are officially certified as an IT pro now what? Beyond the social high-fives, like telling your friends, there are some strategic moves you can make to get the most traction from your new technology certification. Here are four ways to take immediate action.


1. Tell Everybody Online and in Real Life

Update the certifications section of your LinkedIn profile and plug your new credential into the education and certification sections of Indeed and Monster. Spell out acronyms like the CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP) certification and include the abbreviation in parenthesis.

There are a lot of searches being done out there that aren’t going to be looking for a specific person, but a specific set of skills. Recruiters have a better chance to find you if your certifications are on your profile and your profile is up to date.

CompTIA alumni use the hashtag #CompTIACertified to announce the news and connect with hiring managers. If you’ve already got a job, tell your boss about your new cert. Print it out and hang in on the wall. Advanced skills could lead to more money and power.


2. Search for Jobs Asking for Your Specific Certification

A certification shows your commitment to technology and builds instant confidence in people looking to hire. By earning a certification, you’ve ticked the right box for some people. If you’ve earned your CompTIA A+ and find an ad reading Education: A+ preferred, you’re ahead of the curve go find out who wants your skills.

Search Twitter for the name of your certification or try #CompTIACertified to find posts related to IT job openings. Scroll IT job boards for your cert and start looking for patterns. What kinds of jobs require the IT certification you have?

Work with recruiters, find hiring managers and talent scouts online, and use tools for the IT job hunt to start navigating the landscape.

Even if it’s not the position you think you’re qualified for, it’s worth linking up with those posting firms. Look for what they post next. It’ll probably also be something you’re interested in.


3. Meet Up with IT Pros and Recruiters

Use the momentum of your new certification to contact recruiters directly, and open with the news that you’re now IT pro certified.

Maybe when the next opportunity comes up, they reach out to you directly instead of posting the job, or suddenly you’re on the short list of people who are competent and who they’d like to trot out for a job. Even if you don’t get a position through that recruiter, you can go back to them and say, Hey, we talked a while ago, and now I’ve been doing this for six months and I have all these skills.

You can also meet up with other IT pros in your area, certified in the same skills. Try online groups or IT professional groups like the CompTIA Association of IT Professionals (AITP), with chapters all over the country. You can also find online gatherings for IT certifications, like the CompTIA Certified Professionals LinkedIn group.

Make relationships. Relationships are how things move forward.


4. Mark Your Calendar

Circle the date you passed the exam on your calendar to celebrate your success, and then flip three years into the future, when the exam recertification time comes around. Set a calendar reminder for that far-off date so you won’t be caught off-guard and can give yourself plenty of time to refresh and renew your certification.

Continue learning. Start studying for the next higher certification. This will keep you current on technology, improve your resume and keep your current certifications up to date.


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The CompTIA Cybersecurity Career Pathway

0 October 18, 2017 in Uncategorized by


IT Fundamentals > A+ > Network+ > Security+ > CSA+ > CASP

With the increase in cyberattacks and the number of new connected devices, the need for skilled cybersecurity professionals is growing at a rapid pace. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the number of information security jobs will increase 18 percent from 2014 to 2024, making it one of the fastest-growing fields. Employers, from government to Fortune 500 companies, value CompTIA as an authority in cybersecurity certifications.

How to Get into Cybersecurity

The CompTIA Cybersecurity Career Pathway helps IT pros achieve cybersecurity mastery, from beginning to end. The centerpiece is the CompTIA Security+ certification. It establishes the core knowledge required of any cybersecurity role and provides a springboard to intermediate-level cybersecurity jobs.

Next month, we’ll release an update to CompTIA Security+ (exam code SY0-501). The new version continues to validate the foundational skills necessary to perform core cybersecurity functions. With performance-based questions, it emphasizes the hands-on practical skills used by junior IT auditor/penetration testers, systems administrators, network administrators and security administrators.

After earning CompTIA Security+, cybersecurity professionals can take the next step by pursuing CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst (CSA+). It assesses the skills needed to apply behavioral analytics to networks to improve the overall state of IT security. The certification covers tools such as packet sniffers, intrusion detection systems (IDS) and security information and event management (SIEM) systems. After the seminal Target attack of 2014, the security analyst job role has gained more importance, making these skills essential for most organizations.

The progression from CompTIA Security+ to CompTIA CSA+ is logical because Security+ assesses the knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) an IT professional demonstrates after two years of cybersecurity field work, and CSA+ assesses three to four years of cybersecurity field work.

After CompTIA CSA+, IT pros can pursue CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP) to prove their mastery of cybersecurity skills required at the 5- to 10-year experience level. CASP is the pinnacle of cybersecurity certifications and includes performance-based questions. It is intended for those who wish to remain immersed in hands-on enterprise security, incident response and architecture, for example, as opposed to management of cybersecurity policy and frameworks.

The Building Blocks of Cybersecurity

But how do you get into cybersecurity with no experience? If you aren’t quite ready to start with CompTIA Security+, then you’ll need to start earlier on the pathway.

If you are new to IT, start with CompTIA IT Fundamentals. It provides a broad understanding of the IT profession. It helps answer the question, Would I enjoy a career in IT?

If you already know that IT is right for you, begin with CompTIA A+. It validates understanding of the most common hardware devices and software technologies in business and certifies the skills necessary to support complex IT infrastructures. Consider the large number of devices connected to networks that must be supported by IT help desks, including smart phones, internet of things (IoT) devices and laptops.

That fact makes CompTIA Network+ the next logical step. It validates the essential knowledge and skills needed to design, configure, manage and troubleshoot wired and wireless networks. To best support devices that exchange information on your network, you must understand how the network functions.

The progression is logical because CompTIA A+ assesses the KSAs that an IT professional demonstrates after six months of field work, and CompTIA Network+ assesses nine months of field work.

CompTIA Network+ is also an important recommended prerequisite to CompTIA Security+. Before you can secure a network, you must understand how it functions. In other words, you shouldn’t skip algebra to start with calculus. Otherwise, you are learning security skills and applying them to a network you don’t understand.

Total Seminars has video courses, lab simulations and practice tests to prepare you for each of the Cyber Security Pathway certifications. Click here to learn more.

Now that we’ve covered the certifications in the cybersecurity pathway, let’s explore some of the common questions surrounding it.

Questions About the CompTIA Cybersecurity Career Pathway

Where should I start on the CompTIA Cybersecurity Career Pathway?

The pathway is intended to help people get into the field of cybersecurity. IT pros can enter at any point, depending on their IT experience, existing certifications or course of study. There are no required prerequisites for these CompTIA certifications. For example, if you have two years of IT security experience or equivalent knowledge, you can jump into the pathway at CompTIA Security+ to prove your knowledge. If you already have CompTIA Security+, you can jump in at CompTIA CSA+, etc. See the CompTIA Cybersecurity Career Pathway graphic to find your place on the pathway.

Do I need to take these certifications in order? Do I need to take all of them?

No. This is a recommended pathway, but it’s not a requirement. Some people may skip CompTIA CSA+ and go directly to CASP if they aren’t looking for IT security analyst skills. It depends on your job needs or interests. Some people will take CompTIA Network+ before CompTIA A+ because thats the way their class schedule worked out. In general, the pathway follows a hierarchy of skills needed for IT security; each certification builds upon the skills from the previous one.

Can I take these exams with no IT or cybersecurity experience?

Yes, you can. Many academic institutions base their IT courses on CompTIA certifications, which are part of diplomas, associate, bachelors and even masters degrees. CompTIA certifications mirror the current job roles of IT professionals, so it makes sense to earn these certifications to gain the knowledge and hands-on skills currently being used in the workforce, whether you have job experience or not.

Do these certifications replace on-the-job experience?

If you are an IT professional or an employer, you understand the value of on-the-job experience. IT certifications are a great place to start, but they do not replace hands-on experience. If you have CompTIA certifications and on-the-job experience, you have the best of both worlds. In summary, the recommended CompTIA Cybersecurity Career Pathway offers guidance for IT pros, employers, instructors and students. You can start wherever it makes sense, depending on your personal background, job requirements or course of study. The pathway is unique because it offers vendor-neutral skills for IT professionals to achieve cybersecurity mastery, from beginning to end.

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IT Career Path <-> Certification Path Map

0 April 12, 2017 in Uncategorized by

IT Career Path <-> Certification Path Map

An IT Career is all about validating your skills, staying current and always learning more. No matter what IT Career you choose you need to continue to add certifications to your resume. Check out my blog: More Certifications = More $$.

The biggest question is where to begin? Start by deciding What IT Career is right for you. The next question is What Certifications Do I Need to succeed in the Career Path I have chosen? Below is a detailed Certification MAP that lays out a series of certifications you should consider as you build your skills towards each specific IT Career Path.

IT-Certification-Roadmap960

2017-it-certification-roadmap

Click for a more details about the Certification Map from CompTIA.

Make sure you are ready to pass the CompTIA exams with the A+ Total Sims and  Total Tester bundle or the Network+ Total Sims and Total Tester bundle .

Total Tester; is an interactive practice test software with over 1000 practice test questions. You can create custom exams by chapter in Mike’s book or by exam objective. TotalSims; prepare for CompTIA’s performance-based questions and learn more about technical concepts covered on the exams.

You can also save on the cost of the exams with CompTIA Discount Vouchers.

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CompTIA Raises Exam Prices – Buy at last year’s prices while supplies last.

0 January 3, 2017 in Uncategorized by

Effective January 1, 2017 CompTIA is raising the price for all their exams. A quick summary of the old and new full retail prices:

Exam               Old Price         New Price

A+ (each)         $199.00           $205.00

Network+         $285.00           $294.00

Security+          $311.00          $320.00

Total Seminars (www.totalsem.com) sells discount vouchers (priced below the CompTIA web store retail prices) for these CompTIA exams. We are holding last year’s prices until our inventory runs out. Purchase yours now while supplies last.

If you plan on taking your exams this year be sure and purchase your vouchers now before we have to raise our discount voucher prices to reflect the higher CompTIA prices!

Act now before we have to raise our prices!

Here’s how it works: CompTIA member companies like Total Seminars are able to purchase vouchers for the CompTIA exams and resell them to students at a discount to the full retail price you would pay when you register with VUE or buy at the CompTIA web store.

Before you register for your CompTIA exam, go to Total Seminars web site and purchase a Discount Voucher. Your order will be processed and you will receive an email with your voucher number.

When you register for your CompTIA exam online at the VUE web site, you have an option to pay by credit card or by voucher. Select “voucher” and type in the voucher number you received by email when you purchased the Discount Vouchers from Total Seminars.

When you purchase a discount voucher it is good for up to 11 months (the exact date the voucher expires is included in your email). You must register for your exam online with VUE before the date the discount voucher expires.

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Never Pay Full Price for CompTIA Exams:

0 July 19, 2016 in Uncategorized by

You can save on the cost of your CompTIA exams by purchasing Discount Vouchers from our web site.

Here’s how it works: CompTIA member companies like Total Seminars are able to purchase vouchers for the CompTIA exams and resell them to students at a discount to the full price you would pay when you register with VUE or buy at the CompTIA web store.

Before you register for your CompTIA exam, go to Total Seminars web site and purchase a Discount Voucher. Your order will be processed and you will receive an email with your voucher number.

When you register for your CompTIA exam online at the VUE web site, you have an option to pay by credit card or by voucher. Select “voucher” and type in the voucher number you received by email when you purchased the Discount Vouchers from Total Seminars.

Example: you can save over $40* on the cost of the two CompTIA A+ Exams.

When you purchase a discount voucher it is good for up to 11 months (the exact date the voucher expires is included in your email). You must register for your exam online with VUE before the date the discount voucher expires.

* prices change from time to time, at the time of this blog the savings sighted in the example were available on the Total Seminars web site when purchasing the “Two VUE A+ Certification Vouchers” bundle.

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CompTIA A+ 801/802 Exams to Retire June 30th

0 June 13, 2016 in Uncategorized by

CompTIA A+ 801/802 Exams to Retire June 30th

CompTIA will be retiring the A+ 801/802 exams June 30th. If you have been studying for the 80x series of exams you need to complete BOTH exams before the deadline. You cannot mix and match one 80x exam with one 90x exam.

The new A+ 901/902 exams were released December 2015. CompTIA allows a 6 month overlap between launching a new series of exams and retiring the previous version. Either set of exams qualifies you to be CompTIA A+ Certified.

Make sure you are ready to pass the A+ exams with Total Seminars Total Tester and TotalSims bundle. Total Tester; is an interactive practice test software with over 1000 practice test questions. You can create custom exams by chapter in Mike’s book or by exam objective. TotalSims; prepare for CompTIA’s performance-based questions and learn more about technical concepts covered on the exams.

You can also save on the cost of the exams with CompTIA Discount Vouchers.

The new 90x exams have dropped coverage of Windows XP and added Linux and OS X coverage. There is also more mobile technology, configuration and troubleshooting. Finally, there is more coverage on security and cloud computing issues.

A+ Certification Overview:

Held by over 1 ​million IT professionals worldwide, CompTIA A+ is the most essential IT certification for establishing an IT career. If you’re new to the IT industry, this will help you put your best foot forward. And if you’re already an IT professional, the CompTIA A+ certification validates your skills and can boost your career.

A+ is comprehensive and vendor-neutral A+ certified professionals have mastered the technologies found in today’s extensive and varied IT environments, from mobile to traditional devices and operating systems. They can confidently handle the most challenging technology problems more efficiently. Learn more with this infographic.

A+ validates foundational skills A+ establishes best practices in troubleshooting, networking and security across a variety of devices to set the stage for IT careers. The certification also matches professional tech skills with communication skills.

A+ is trusted by employers As businesses and governments worldwide continue to adopt mobile and cloud technology, they trust A+ certified professionals to keep their devices running and organizations working smoothly.

A+ is globally recognized and accredited CompTIA A+ is compliant with ISO 17024 standards and is approved by the U.S. Department of Defense to meet directive 8570.01-M requirements.

A+ is industry supported A+ is developed and maintained by leading IT experts. The A+ exam content stems from a combination of industry-wide survey feedback and contributions from our team of subject matter experts. Learn more about the people behind the CompTIA A+ exam development and the CompTIA A+ Advisory Committee.

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Testing Strategies for CompTIA Exams

0 February 15, 2016 in Uncategorized by

CompTIA now includes performance-based questions on their exams to make them more practical and keep up with trends in certification testing. Knowing what to expect and how to approach the new question types is key to your success in passing the exams. First, let me fill you in on some facts about the exams.

Exam facts:

There are several different types of questions that may be included in your CompTIA exam:

  • Multiple choice – the standard question, pick the right answer
  • Multiple response – question, pick all that apply with more than one correct answer
  • Fill in the blank – question, fill in the answer to the question
  • Drag and drop – image or question where you drag answers to match the image or text
  • Exhibits – answer questions relating to an attached picture or diagram (variation to Multiple choice)
  • Performance-based – detailed question, open dialog boxes or other configuration windows and configure as needed.

CompTIA is adding more of the newer Drag and drop and Performance-based questions to their exam pool. You may get as few as 2-3 or as many as 10-12 of these newer type questions depending on which exam you are taking. The more new type questions you get the fewer of the traditional multiple choice, multiple response or exhibit type questions you will have, depending on the difficulty of the performance-based questions you get.

How new question types are graded:

Two important pieces of information about the new drag and drop and performance-based questions that you need to know:

  1. Partial Credit; Scoring credit may be offered if a candidate answers only part of a question correctly.
  2. No Negative Credit; CompTIA does not employ negative scoring on exam questions. In other words, scoring credit is not taken away for incorrect answers. A candidate should answer every exam question, even on the ones where they are not sure of the answer.

Testing Strategies:

The new question types like drag and drop and performance-based questions will be presented at the beginning of the exams. These questions can be more complex and take longer to answer than traditional multiple choice questions. DON’T GET BOGGED DOWN WITH THE PERFORMANCE-BASED QUESTIONS. You can skip questions and come back and answer them at the end. Here are some strategies to use when taking the exams:

  1. Skip the Performance-based questions and come back at the end to answer them so you don’t get bogged down and run out of time.
  2. Count the performance-based questions as you skip them so you know how many you have to do when you come back to them at the end.
  3. Read over all the performance-based questions and answer the ones you are most comfortable with first. Leave the ones you are less confident about until last.
  4. If you are not sure about some of the steps in the performance-based or drag and drop questions, give it your best guess. You may receive partial credit. Since CompTIA does not employ negative scoring a wrong answer does not hurt you any more than an unanswered question. Make your best guess, it can’t hurt you.

CompTIA provides information that may be helpful in preparing for the exams at the following links:


Total Seminars’ TotalSims and TotalTester products will help you prepare for your CompTIA exams and make sure you are ready to pass. TotalSims help you prepare for the performance-based questions and let you do hands-on exercises to reinforce the concepts you learn while studying for the exams. Total Tester provides hundreds (A+ and Net+ have over 1000) of questions to create practice exams. You can create custom exams that focus only on objectives or chapter content you are having trouble with.

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More Certifications = More $$

0 February 4, 2016 in Uncategorized by

IT Certifications have value both in the knowledge you learn and the credential you can show employers. Studying for a certification alone adds a whole new skill set to your tool box. Learning these new skills keeps you sharp and drives interest in “what’s next”. This attitude is necessary in a field that requires lifelong learning. The IT field is rapidly changing and you must keep up by continuing to study and learn. Certifications are the way you show others that you are leaning.

Turning that learning into Certifications is how you show employers that you are constantly growing and gives a method to verify your current level of knowledge. The proof is in the paycheck and the opportunities those additional skills provide.

The data from the Certification Magazine Salary Survey for 2015 shows the value of IT Certification. More importantly it shows the value of continuing to learn and add additional certifications to your resume.

The most common foundational certification is CompTIA’s A+ Certification. Most techs begin with A+ then advance to Network+ and Security+ certification. The salary survey shows how quickly the addition of more certifications leads to rapid jumps in salary. More Certifications = More $$:

  • A+ Certification with no other certifications = $47,500 / year
  • A+ Certification with 1 or 2 other active certs. = $84,250 / year
  • A+ Certification with 3 or 4 other active certs. = $92,080 / year
  • A+ Certification with 5 or 6 other active certs. = $97,310 / year
  • A+ Certification with 7 or 8 other active certs. = $105,150 / year

The knowledge you gain builds one certification upon another. More importantly your income potential grows right along with it. If you stop at A+ your earning potential is likely to be somewhat limited. Adding even 1 or 2 additional certifications (such as Network+ and Security+) rapidly opens a whole new world of opportunity to grow your career and your earnings.

Mike Meyers and Total Seminars has the bestselling and most comprehensive study materials for CompTIA A+ Certification and beyond. Mike’s #1 selling A+ Certification All-in-One book now in its 9th edition has sold over 1 million copies. The video training, simulations and practice test software offer a complete set of resources to prepare you to pass your CompTIA certification exams.

Check out all of Mike’ study materials for A+ / Network+ / Security+ Certification at www.totalsem.com.

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CompTIA Raises Exam Prices – Buy vouchers before we raise our prices.

0 January 6, 2016 in Uncategorized by

Effective January 1, 2016 CompTIA is raising the price for all their exams. A quick summary of the old and new prices:

Exam               Old Price         New Price
A+ (each)         $194.00           $199.00
Network+         $277.00           $285.00
Security+          $302.00          $311.00

Total Seminars (www.totalsem.com) sells discount vouchers for these CompTIA exams. We have decided to hold last year’s prices until the end of January 2016.

If you plan on taking your exams this year be sure and purchase your vouchers now before we have to raise our discount voucher prices to reflect the higher CompTIA prices!

Act now before we have to raise our prices!

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Turbocharge your career with CompTIA Network+ Certification

0 August 11, 2015 in Uncategorized by

At a time when some industries are shedding jobs, IT offers a wider range of entry-level positions and career advancement opportunities than just about any other field.

    Consider these facts:

• There are currently over 500,000 job openings for IT professionals in the U.S., according to CompTIA, the Computing Technology Industry Association.

• U.S. employers are expected to need 140,000 network system and data communications analysts, a 53% increase, over the next decade, according to the U.S. Department of Labor..

• Industry observers are sounding the alarm about a growing networking and security skills gap. That’s good news for Network+ certified techs with these much needed skills.

• 91% of hiring managers indicate that CompTIA certifications are valuable in validating expertise.

• The average salary of a network engineer is $91,000

Think of an IT career as a lifelong learning path. Earning certifications is how you show employers you’re advancing your skills and are ready for the next step. A typical certification path would include:

CompTIA A+ Cert. => Network+ Cert. => Security+ Cert. => Microsoft or Cisco Certs.

The Network+ Certification exam covers a lot of material. The list price for the exam is $277. You want to make sure you’re ready to pass the exam the first time so you don’t have to pay for a retake.

Studying for the Network+ exam: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
Here’s the best way to learn the concepts, memorize the material, and make sure you’re ready to pass the exam:

Learn

Step 1; whether you’re an experienced network tech or just starting out, you need to make sure you know all the concepts covered on the exams. With so much to learn the best way to start is to find a good textbook or video training course. Don’t try to learn everything at once. Start with bite sized pieces. Take a first bite; read a few chapters or watch a series of videos that cover a related group of topics.

Practice

Step 2; Take a break from learning new concepts and practice what you have learned in the first group of topics. I recommend setting up a home lab. You will need several computers, routers, switches, cabling and a simple server to start. You can usually get some used equipment to start with and build from there. You will need to set up a network in your home lab and add functions as you cover topics in your studies. You can also purchase a set of Network+ simulations. Try to find simulations that track chapter by chapter the book or videos you are using to study. This will allow you to get hands-on experience that will reinforce what you have learned and help you commit the information to memory. These types of simulations can also help prepare you for the performance-based questions you will see on the CompTIA Network+ exam.

Take a practice test

Step 3; Get a good set of practice test questions; preferably one that works with your study materials and allows you to test on groups of chapters or topics. This way you can test yourself only on the topics you have studied so far, see where your weak areas are and go back and review them before you go on to the next group of topics.

Repeat

Step 4; Repeat this process one bite size set of topics at a time. Keep the amount of material you try to master at one time small, practice and test yourself until you are confident before you take the next bite. Pretty soon the elephant doesn’t look so big. Finally, once you have covered all the material for the entire exam use the practice test software to covering everything and find any last weak areas for review.

This step-by-step study methodology will help you tackle the large amount of material covered on the CompTIA Network+ exam in a systematic way that makes it easier to remember everything and make sure you are ready to pass the exam the first time.

The key to this approach is to find training videos, simulations and practice test software that work well together and allow you to use them in matching bite size pieces. Total Seminars offers videos, simulations and practice test software that all map to Mike Meyer All-in-One book. The author Mike Meyers offers Video training plus TotalSims, Network+ simulations and Total Tester, Network+ practice test software on his Total Seminars web site. Both these products track chapter by chapter with the videos. Total Seminars also has discount vouchers that will save you on the cost of the CompTIA exam.

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