What is a computer training center?
At the rate technology is advancing, measuring a computer professional's work experience in lifetimes instead of years isn't much of a stretch. Technology is developing at what Ray Kurzweil, recipient of the National Medal of Technology and dozens of other honors, describes as "exponential" and accelerating at a rate that takes a few formulas to calculate. The result? "Progress will ultimately become so fast that it will rupture our ability to follow it," claims Kurzweil.
Until that day arrives, information technology professionals are tasked with the challenge to stay up-to-date on advancements in their fields and to learn new skills as their job duties grow, career lifetime after lifetime. Computer training centers can streamline the solution.
But what exactly is a computer training center? Any facility that offers technology education classes can be classified as a computer training center, though public libraries, educational institutions and some job training resource centers typically have computer labs and offer basic computer skills and software training as well. Those who are already working in IT, however, will most likely need a computer training center that offers advanced training and preparation for professional or vendor certifications.
Where can computer training centers be found?
Some computer training centers are located within universities, community colleges or vocational schools; other training facilities are technical schools in and of themselves with the primary objective of short-duration technical classes, some of which can lead to certification. Most facilities offer instructor-led training in an up-to-date computer lab. Some training centers come to their students -- the Sierra College Center for Applied Competitive Technologies, for example, has a 15-station mobile computer lab that is uses to provide training to groups of individuals enrolled in the same course.
Many of the same well-known schools that offer a variety of online associate and bachelor's degrees offer online computer training courses that can lead to vendor certification. Specialized computer training schools may offer a wider variety of courses and offer several methods of instruction, though the mode of delivery varies by course. One such school is New Horizons, which offers several ways to attend classes:
- Mentored learning provides audio and video demonstrations, a simulated production environment and a certified instructor to give students in-person, one-on-one help
- Online live learning also provides one-on-one help from an expert instructor, but in an online computer lab that meets in real time
- Instructor-led training allows students to see concepts explained and demonstrated by an instructor and then have the opportunity to practice
- Online anytime learning is a self-guided online course that uses the same curriculum as the instructor-led training
What training do these centers provide?
In a 2005 academic paper for the Information Systems Educators Conference, Garry L. White, Ph.D., of Texas State University-San Marcos proposed that a four-year college degree be based on vendor certifications so that graduates would be exceptionally qualified to meet employers' demands for certifications. Current curricula at several schools reflect this approach.
But if a tech professional doesn't have the advantage of a degree that emphasizes certifications or already has a bachelor's degree, is retraining in another IT field, or just wants to shore up his or her resume, computer training centers can plug the gaps. Course topics are often arranged by vendor and then further by product and version, with the right course sequence and experience leading to vendor or product certification. Individual courses vary in length between a few hours, a few days or longer and are offered for just about any area of IT:
- Information security
- Multimedia and design
- Operating systems
The highest value individuals in the computer and information industry will be those certified and credentialed, according to the Institute for Certification of Computer Professionals. The first step toward certification is knowing where to receive the training that can help professionals keep up with exponentially advancing technology.