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BLOG POST (see all posts in 'Occupations')

Do you need more computer education for your next job?

computer training for jobs image It's been called the "information age" and for good reason! Old-world memorization and education seems almost irrelevant in a world where Google can serve any answer within seconds.

Information is one thing, but this knowledge content is served by the ongoing technology advances beneath it.

As technology becomes more sophisticated, the information it serves becomes more and more niche -- in both content and functionality. Restaurant management software does not behave the same as, or offer similar content to, oil production engineering robotics programs -- nor should it. Business is business, and today there is a keen awareness that business is all about saving time and research via targeted technologies.

So if the power, the business, the jobs and the "money" are in technology, many of us feel pressure to go back to school. But what kind of schooling, skills, and tangible, post-education certification or degree is best to get the work and drive our future? In other words, "I know I need computer training for a job, but what kind? What should I look for?"

One big thing to remember is that traditional education isn't always the best way. Starting over with a four-year bachelor's degree in Computer Information Systems from a traditional, major university may not be a results-driven spend of your time or money. And may not even get you the best job afterwards!

Let's say you already have 25 years experience in managing medical offices. Since today's technology programs offer more and more targeted content, the emphasis becomes not only computer-focused business, but industry-specific-technology focused. For example, more and more digital marketing technologies produce website and marketing models targeted exclusively to the needs of existing industries. Medical service providers have large web-based systems such as ZocDoc or DemandForce built around their patient services, web-based appointments, reviews, etc.

So what's the right path for education? Or, what are some important considerations for your institution when it comes to computer training for jobs?

  1. Hands-on training is key. Sure, everybody has computers today. But for any computer training, there will be specific software required. If your training is classroom-based and not online, having computers fully equipped with the necessary software is the right way to start the class. If you have to find and install the software yourself on your own computers, these could be red flags. Or if it's an online course, do the course requirements clearly indicate your technology requirements, software, purchasing and add-ons? What are the expectations, who pays for what, and are these standard?
  2. Supplemental software resources. Dictionary of terminology, documentation of basic how-tos: these are important assets to inquire about to pre-qualify the class. But it's one thing to have in-class supplements; access to support materials even after the class is over is gold.
  3. How well do the instructors know the software? It's amazing how frequently instructors are assigned to teach certain courses and technologies without knowing anything about them. How can you identify this in advance? Well, has the instructor ever taught this class before? Or similar classes? Or any hands-on technology classes? If the instructor has a full background of teaching only yoga, it might be time to pick a different course or instructor.
  4. Industry applicability. 15 years ago, web designers needed to know software like Dreamweaver for coding HTML. Times have changed. Websites have changed. There are varied, and specific, website technologies which tailor to whole industries. Know this before you just assume that "Dreamweaver" is the right class for you.
  5. What's the measure of achievement? And who cares? Sure a diploma is good, but what if your industry is advertising, where a strong portfolio beats a diploma any day? Or maybe there are certifications for code programming in your field that you just can't achieve with a college degree? Look at the technology requirements for job listings in your field that will tell you if certifications or degrees are important or not.

These are just some of the considerations for matching your education needs with industries and training at hand. But at the end of the day, it's about knowing the best industry and job roles for you to work in. Want more on that? See additional info on our career testing across multiple touch points.

POSTED: 7-12-2015 at 2:51 PM (EDT)

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