Bucks County Herald

MBIT offers continuing education courses for adults

New CompTIA classes pave the way for potential IT careers

REGINA YOUNG

““WWW.”

To many, this ubiquitous abbreviation stands for the “World Wide Web.”

Ask Thomas Omerza, however, and that answer may be different.

“Some people call it the World Wide Web; I call it the ‘Wild, Wild West,’” the Middle Bucks Institute of Technology instructor quipped.

“There are some savvy people who are really out there to steal your information,” the networking and operating systems security instructor said during a recent conversation at the Jamison technical school, “and the best offense is a great defense.”

This message often bears repeating, considering what is the primary cause of most security incidents and data breaches: human error.

“You can be an 80-year-old person and understand that you don’t know various things and not protect yourself because you don’t know how,” added cybersecurity expert and educator Kip Lynch, “but you can also be a Millennial these days and not have any ‘time’ to try to protect yourself and do things every day that are not protecting yourself.”

With cybersecurity affecting every demographic, a growing need has emerged for knowledgeable technicians who can mend breaches and mitigate risks – a trend that shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

According to a projection from the nonprofit organization (ISC)², there will be a global shortfall of 1.8 million cybersecurity workers by 2022, a vacuum MBIT hopes to help fill through its adult education program, which is offering two new evening courses that prepare adults for entry-level certification exams administered by CompTIA, one of the industry’s top trade associations.

Omerza will teach the CompTIA Network + Certification course and Lynch, in his first semester at MBIT, will lead the CompTIA Security + Certification course. Classes meet Tuesday and Thursday evenings – CompTIA Network from 6 to 9 p.m. and CompTIA Security from 6 to 8:30 p.m. – for 12 weeks beginning Sept. 26.

Incorporating instructor-led training, a simulation program and hands-on exercises, the CompTIA courses cover the basic, fundamental skills needed to manage networks, detect risks and trouble shoot in the information technology (IT) field, where command of one skill set is a steppingstone to another.

“Once you fix the box, anything else after that is networking, so now you got to get out there,” Omerza explained, “and now that you’re out there, guess what, now you have to set up security ‘cause now you’re out there in the ‘Wild, Wild West.’”

Just as the “wild” World Wide Web has evolved over the years, so too have the professional standards for working in the IT industry, where accreditations and certifications have become valuable assets to have on a resume.

“When computers started coming out, people would fix their computer and they’d throw a plaque up and say, ‘Ok, I can fix computers now.’ And they’d have no credentials, no certifications,” Omerza explained. “... And now it’s flipped. Now you need to have certification because that says you know the basic fundamental skill set.”

“The reason these certifications are so relevant and important to employers is because not only are you coming to them saying, ‘I am an employee with a skill set, but I cared enough to go back and get continuing education and I wanted to learn and I value that,’” said Marjorie Devlin, MBIT’s adult education coordinator.

Perkasie resident Tom Pruss is among the adult learners who have returned to the classroom. The 42-year-old CNC machinist earned his CompTIA A+ certification after enrolling in MBIT’s adult evening program and has signed up for the CompTIA Network course this fall, reuniting him with his CompTIA A+ instructor.

Describing Omerza’s classes as enjoyable and informative, Pruss said he is looking forward to continuing his education under the longtime MBIT instructor.

“He makes you a detective in how to figure out what’s wrong with a computer,” Pruss elaborated over the phone. “He really goes into depth, step by step.”

In addition to the instructor, Pruss also endorsed TestOut, a simulation program that MBIT students have access to 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“Between the two, it pretty much hammers it right home,” Pruss said.

Although his job can require nine- to 10-hour work days, Pruss said the twice-weekly class schedule is manageable, and for anyone contemplating enrolling, his one piece of advice is to take the CompTIA courses in order (he started with the security course at a different institution before enrolling at MBIT).

“It’s continued learning – one on top of the next one, on top of the next one,” said Pruss, who hopes to transition to a career in network administration.

As the growing demand for skilled workers suggests, employment opportunities are definitely opening up in the IT field, Lynch noted.

“And that’s the key,” Omerza added. “The jobs are out there for the people who are interested, but they’re not getting in the door unless they have their certifications.”

MBIT students who pursue CompTIA certifications are offered the exams at a reduced rate. Those who do not wish to take the exams – they too will find the courses valuable and relevant, Lynch said.

“We are teaching them the basic skills so if they want to get a certification, which we encourage if they want to be in IT, they can do that,” Lynch said. “But if they’re learning it because they just want to help out at their company or for their family or their friends, they’re learning the basic skills, whether it’s networking or security. ... So everybody will come away with something from these courses, something really important.”


Evening courses at a glance

Adults who are interested in updating their computer skills and improving their employment marketability can register for one of the many computer courses at MBIT.

Courses such as Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Office are targeted to both the first-time user as well as to those who are advancing their skills. New courses include CompTIA Network + Certification, CompTIA Security + Certification and Social Media for Small Business.

Adult evening courses are also available in construction, HVAC and plumbing, automotive, drafting and design, human services and culinary, and manufacturing and welding.

For information, a complete class schedule and registration, visit mbit.org or call 215-343-2480 x108.

ryoung@buckscountyherald.com

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