CompTIA Exec: IT is ´┐ŻNot That Hard'

Don Tennant
Slide Show

10 Tech Certifications That Pay

Dice Learning surveyed nearly 17,000 IT pros to determine the technical training and certifications that help them command higher salaries.

Terry Erdle, senior vice president of skills certification at CompTIA, the IT trade association best known for its certification programs, doesn't appear to have much patience for people who steer clear of pursuing an education and career in technology because they see it as too difficult. His advice: 'The books are written in English, folks. You can get them, you can read them, you can figure it out."

When I spoke with Erdle last week, he said there are 300,000 to 500,000 IT job vacancies in the United States. When I asked him to respond to IT workers who complain that so many of these jobs are being filled by 'cheap labor,' a term that tends to be a reference to people from India, he said not only can we match the expertise of those people, but surpass it, if we'd just put in the effort:

I think there's an opportunity for us to get to that same level of technological expertise, and more. Those people do offer a great solution for a level one kind of support. But there are a lot of higher-end IT jobs in this country that are open. So get on the train and start adding credentials to what you can do. It is not a secret language; it's not that hard. One of the things we have seen is a lot of people moving away from the sciences-mathematics and computer science-because they think it's a difficult major, it's a difficult career. Quite frankly, it's not that hard. The books are written in English, folks. You can get them, you can read them, you can figure it out. It takes a little bit of study, but I think it's more within the grasp of people to get to a high level of IT credentials than they think.

I told Erdle that in my experience, I haven't heard people blame the difficulty of the subject matter for steering clear of IT, but rather the notion that it's a dead-end career because the jobs are being taken by people from overseas, especially India and Asia. His response:

I would say the lowest-level jobs are. The higher-level jobs are not. There are high-level folks in India and China as well, don't get me wrong. But there is still a predominance of network support, routing support, VoIP support-things that have to happen on the ground, in the building. Those cannot be outsourced. Yes, a lot of low-level jobs are going across the pond. But if you jump on board and get to that next level up, there's still a tremendous amount of support that's still needed right here on the ground. I hear about it every day.

My own take on all of this is that there does tend to be a certain sense of entitlement that pervades the IT profession in the United States (and other professions, for that matter), and that families from India and Asia tend to place a greater emphasis on academics than we do. Until we're able to match that emphasis, we shouldn't be surprised when the harder workers get the jobs.

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