How IT-Ready Helped a Diligent Technician Grow into a Well-Paid Technologist

By R.C. Dirkes

Can certified tech skills– such as CompTIA’s A+ certification – increase your salary?

Recent research from Dice Insights, the information service from the technology careers website, shows they can. The latest Dice study reveals that workers who hold IT skills certifications can earn as much as $20,000 a year more than those who do not.

Nate Perkins, a graduate of the inaugural IT-Ready Technical Support program in Chicago at the El Centro Campus of Northeastern Illinois University, can testify to this potential. His decision to switch careers from a cable installation technician to a technologist trained by the CompTIA Tech Career Academy delivered professional growth opportunities for himself and sustainable financial stability for his family.

Perkins shared his “technologist triumph” in-depth on Creating IT Futures’ award-winning Technologist Tales podcast as part of this week’s programming celebrating Black History Month. In today’s podcast, Perkins tells CompTIA’s Andrea Rios McMillian how graduating from IT-Ready altered the trajectory of his career and his family’s financial prospects to new heights in less than a year’s time.

“With yearly bonuses, we make between $35,000 and $40,000 a year. And that's just entry-level,” Perkins elaborates for McMillian, a guest interviewer, who hosts her own motivational podcast, Tuesdays with Andrea. “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.”

“So, now he's in karate. He's doing sports,” Perkins continues. “I have him in Huntington to help his reading move along faster. And these are all things that I'm able to afford now with the type of pay that I receive at the job that I have now. [The] house that we're in now, I didn't have that before. A lot of great developments have come along. I've paid off a car and have a second one.”


How CompTIA Tech Spurred Perkins’ Professional Development as a Technologist

During the podcast conversation, Perkins recounts for McMillian that, before landing his current position as an IT help desk contractor for Chicago Public Schools, he worked manual labor jobs, eventually landing a position as a field technician with a major cable company. He personally enjoyed – and professionally thrived – in this role 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,” Perkins elaborates. “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… and want to do.”

Perkins cites Anderson Lee, CompTIA Tech’s Midwest senior manager for career services, as a tremendous motivator and mentor who “promised me, as long as I put effort into it, we would be okay and everything would work out.”

He also credits his passion for service and problem-solving – a core trait Perkins shares with other successful technologists –as an attribute drawing him to IT-Ready: “All of my jobs have mostly been customer service jobs. And that gives me a great sense of pride to know that someone brought a problem to me, I gave them my best effort, and attention, and we found a solution.”


IT-Ready’s Balance of Technical Training with Cultivating Business Acumen Can Accelerate Placement

After graduating from IT-Ready, Perkins went forward to earn more technical certifications and land an internship working with Cisco products. This accumulation of credentials, he says, accelerated placement into a tech job.

“The very first place I applied… I got the job, flying colors, no questions asked,” he recalls. “They saw what I had done [in about seven months’ time and said] ‘when can you start?’”

And since launching his new career, Perkins says his IT-Ready training continues to deliver benefits – even in the face of the pandemic crisis:

“I've been blessed with the ability to work from home and still do the exact same job that I was doing from the office… I talked to the company and asked them if they could just create permanent positions because we've been able to, not only meet the demand, but exceed the demand from home instead of going to the office.”

“The IT field is just booming with the need for individuals who take it seriously and want to make this their living and have a career and move further,” he concludes. “The IT field, the way that it's structured, the technology we have today, [without it] it would be very hard to maintain the lifestyle and work ethic and the income and everything the way that we have.”

Are you -- or someone you know -- considering changing careers? Consider launching a technology career with CompTIA Tech. 2021 classes are open for applications. Apply here.

Meantime, hear the rest of the conversation between Nate Perkins and Andrea Rios McMillian here: Chapter 50 – Nate’s Tale: From Technician to Technologist.


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