There are a lot of different paths one can follow to embark on a career in information technology (IT). Many successful IT professionals don't even start out working in IT, instead crossing over from different career realms, often after completing a relevant training and certification program.
Many who eventually take jobs in IT, of course, follow a more traditional educational path, studying computers and information technology at various levels of public and private education, up to and including completing an advanced degree such as a master's degree or Ph.D. You don't have to get a degree, however, or even attend a community college, to gain valuable IT career training.
High schools, career academies, and training centers, options widely available to learners between the ages of 14 and 18, in the United States and elsewhere, have become a strongly viable point of entry to IT careers. Career and technical education (CTE) programs typically include strong options for learners with an interest in computers and technology.
Indeed, CTE programs at high schools, career academies, and training centers have shown so much promise as an IT proving ground in recent years that tech industry association CompTIA announced this week the formation of the CompTIA National Career and Technical Education (CTE) Advisory Council. The group is intended to promote the acceleration of IT career development already occurring in CTE programs across the United States.
CompTIA already has a strong presence in many CTE programs, where students frequently prepare for and pass CompTIA's core IT certification exams, A+, Network+, and Security+. Now that presence will become more formal, with individuals representing 22 states already taking seats on the new advisory council.
CompTIA believes that career and technical education can play a strong role in rebuilding the U.S. economy, which suffered devastating job losses in the early stages of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As CompTIA executive Angel L. Piñeiro Jr. said in a statement announcing the new advisory council, "We strongly believe that CTE will play a critical role in our recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, which has devastated household finances and changed educational plans for many families.
"With the help of an elite group of educators and other leaders we intend to raise national awareness of CTE as a creator of opportunities for careers that will provide a better way of life for multiple generations to come and to do so in a way that addresses digital inequity head-on."
CompTIA's announcement comes in the midst of Career and Technical Education Month, sponsored by the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE), to promote awareness of and engagement with CTE programs. The CompTIA National CTE Advisory Council will promote the growth of grants and other educational funding, as well as improved interaction with IT employers.
Moving forward, CompTIA hopes to recruit three representatives from every U.S. state, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, to participate in the advisory council's mission of designing more effective IT curriculum for CTE learners and promoting diversity in the overall IT workforce. The council will also focus on professional development for IT educators and IT education best practices.
Educators, school administrators, and others who are interested in volunteering to fill a two-year term on the CompTIA National CTE Advisory Council are invited to apply online.