A+ for Adaption in Times of Adversity
~Certification helps Students Pursue Careers in IT
Locating the motherboard or graphics card inside your computer. Troubleshooting when your computer runs super slow. These are tasks and so much more that people with disabilities in Ryan Sargent’s Comp TIAA+ class take on every day as they train to pass the test for certification. The Comp TIA A+ Certification consists of two parts: 1001 which covers mainly hardware and networking and the 1002 which focuses on software and operating systems. Beacon’s program allows students to take as much as a year to complete and includes an internship component onsite at an IT-related business.
Even though it’s recommended that students have a year of general IT or computer experience beforehand, many of the students come with very little of these skills, and Ryan works to adapt the curriculum for each student. “What makes our program different than the other A+ programs that people go through whether that be through a grant program or pay a few thousand dollars on their own is that the course is usually just 9 weeks. I give them as much time as they need.” So far since beginning in January 2019, three students have achieved the certification with three more scheduled to test this month and next. Beacon Group recently was authorized as a CompTIA A+ Academy Partner which allows Beacon to offer the most current curriculum available for learning CompTIA A+ and discounted testing vouchers.
Max Ingram earned his Comp TIA A+ Certificate in early May after preparing for the exam for 8 months while completing a 4-month Computer Repair Internship with Safe Planet Recycling in Phoenix. He had to pass two major exams to become certified. One covering hardware proficiency, and the other covering software proficiency. Max, who is staying busy with his own home-based business during the COVID-19 crisis, says “I am using my new skills to service, repair, and refurbish home computers to help fill the needs of stay at home students and workers.”
Daniel Sexton is completing both his GED and CompTIA A+ certification at the same time. He has behavior health-related and learning disabilities. After starting his GED, his instructor recommended that Daniel also consider further training in IT since he expressed interest in technology in general. “I want to learn more about computers and be able to work on my own computer gaming equipment,” Daniel says.
For Tailor Delong, prior to starting his certification program, he had a basic knowledge of computers but has expanded his knowledge exponentially. “During my time in this program, I have been able to learn and understand a lot of different aspects dealing with computers. Ryan has always been helpful and makes sure that everyone in the program has what they need to be able to succeed in this field of study.”
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent stay-at-home order proved initially challenging for the class, but then Ryan adjusted course materials and set-up, even creating a more efficient learning environment. Ryan explains, “the people in the course were able to adapt very quickly in the comfort of their own homes or in a place of their choosing. In their own safety, they were able to access these resources and interact with them in a new way for the first time ever.” Additionally, many of the people with disabilities in the course could also log more time because they did not have the transportation time or constraints that they had before the pandemic.
Looking to the future, many in the class aspire to work in the IT industry. Some potential jobs include; Help Desk Technician, Desktop Support Administrator, Field Service Technician. Many people who achieve certification earn at least double or triple minimum wage, which is a sizeable increase for many of the students who previously would have been earning minimum wage. For Tailor, he plans on finding, “a job in either a networking role or dealing with servers.”
CompTIA A+ certified individuals are professionals with greater work opportunities. Beacon students who are continuing to learn through the pandemic and becoming certified at a greater rate than before, prove that even in tough times, great accomplishments can still be achieved.
Check out our Skills Training page to find out more about programs that prepare people with disabilities for employment.