Alumni on Technologist Talk Podcast

Gaining Financial Security & Career Passion with a Tech Job

By R.C. Dirkes

In a recent chapter of the Technologist Tales podcast, three graduates of CompTIA Tech’s IT-Ready Technical Support program share stories about launching successful tech careers after their help desk training. In each case, jobs working with technology have provided continuing professional growth opportunities and sustainable personal financial stability – despite the pandemic’s economic challenges.

“The pandemic has opened up companies to being remote as a thought process now. So, if anything, it's made the job market even more open for people like me,” says Theo Hysell, a senior IT security analyst for TCF Bank.

“I'm not really affected by the pandemic to a certain extent,” Hysell adds. “Because I switched jobs in the middle of the pandemic… I got married in the middle of the pandemic… My wife and I just closed on a house in the middle of the pandemic.”

This type of sustained personal financial stability during a national crisis may be attributed, at least in part, to the technology sector’s resistance to general economic slowdowns. Per an analysis by CompTIA’s research team, the unemployment rate for IT occupations stood at 2.4% in November, which is below the national unemployment rate of 6.7%.

After graduating from IT-Ready in 2013, Hysell, who attended courses in the Twin Cities, worked his way from an entry-level help desk position to specializing in cybersecurity.

“I've been in cybersecurity for eight years now,” he recounts. “In those eight years, I've increased my salary fourfold. So, I went from making $28,000 a year to making over six figures now.”

Hysell continues, “It wasn't that long ago that I was struggling to figure out how to pay rent for next month while eating. So, it's a contrast that not many people are fortunate enough to have. You just won't forget what got you there. You're always grateful.”

 

Technical Support Jobs Can Connect Personal Passion with Professional Opportunity

Like Hysell, Angela Curtis graduated from the IT-Ready course in Minneapolis / St. Paul. And like Hysell, Curtis has seen her personal financial stability bolstered by her tech career.

“Before I entered the IT-Ready program I was making about $30,000 [annually],” she says. “After the IT-Ready program, now I'm at about $52,000 a year.”

“So, I get to buy all the tech gadgets that I want to get,” she continues. “[The pay] frees me up to further play around with tech. And then, I get to spoil my nieces a lot and be able to do more things with them.”

As noted in an earlier blog post, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that someone serving as an entry-level computer support specialist — usually on a company help desk — earns a median of $26 an hour, even during a time of economic turmoil. In fact, entry-level computer support specialist roles are expected to grow 8% between now and 2029 — twice the 4% growth expected in all other occupations.

Today, Curtis is a technical user support analyst for Medtronic, an international medical technology company based in Minnesota. She stresses that, while better pay is a great benefit, what motivates her most in her role are her personal passions.

“I've always been a person that likes to get to the bottom of things,” Curtis explains. “I always like to solve and figure things out. So, I just fell in love with the technology as a whole and how it transforms, how it makes our lives better.”

Her work satisfies her these days, Curtis confirms, because “I've had jobs that I did not like. I did not look forward to going… or I did the job because it was just solely to be able to pay the bills. But to be able to do a job that you love… it's like a dream come true for me.”

 

IT Support Specialist Training Can Deliver Professional Rewards for Personal Sacrifices

Nate Perkins graduated with the IT-Ready class in Chicago in 2019.

Before landing his current position as a help desk contractor for Chicago Public Schools, Perkins worked manual labor jobs, eventually finding a position as a field technician with a major cable company. He enjoyed the hands-on work – until he was laid off.

“After that, I knew I needed a job where the company itself did not feel like I was an interchangeable cog, easily replaced, easily train someone else to do it,” he says. “And I needed to do something that I love because, if you're going to work, you want to work with things that you like.”

Committing to the full-time, 8-week, IT-Ready training regimen required Perkins to make short-term personal and financial sacrifices. At first, he quit his day job to devote all his attention to classes. Then, after a few weeks, he felt compelled to take a nighttime position to generate income.

“I went to school during the day, did whatever research homework we had to do,” he recalls. “And then, I went overnight to make bread at Panera and got up in the morning after four or five hours of sleep and went right back to it, while also keeping my son on the weekends.”

Now, with an annual salary and bonuses of about $40,000, Perkins feels the financial growth was worth the personal exertion.

“Before, I never made enough money to really take care of us, and then do the extras that I know my son wanted to do,” he attests. “So, now he's in karate. He's doing sports. I have him in Huntington to help his reading move along faster. [The] house that we're in now, I didn't have that before… I've paid off a car and have a second one. It's comfortable. It allows me to be comfortable.”

Are you -- or someone you know -- considering changing careers during the pandemic? Consider launching a technology career with CompTIA Tech. 2021 classes are open for applications. Apply now and you could be launching a new career working with technology this year.

Meantime, to hear the rest of the comments from Hysell, Curtis and Perkins, click here:  Chapter 45 – Technologist Triumphs: 3 CompTIA Tech Graduates Share Career Success Tales.

 

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