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What Should I Look For?

Given the large number of training organizations, it can be a challenge to choose the one that best suits you and your style of learning. Here are some tips and considerations:

Assess your needs

  • Identify your preferred method of learning: Are you a visual learner? Do you prefer hands-on instruction or to learn things on your own at your own pace? Schools offer a range of learning methods - group versus individual study, for instance. Before you select the course or school you have your eye on, be sure you know the teaching format and that it is the one that is best for you and how you learn. 
  • Determine where you want to be at the end of your training: If you know the type of work or career you want, then start looking at iT job ads online or in the paper. Call people in the industry to set up short informational meetings so you can ask questions. Attend a college information seminar or speak with an admissions counsellor who can provide an overview of career types.
  • Decide how much time you have for learning:  How quickly do you need that degree or certification? Some schools offer full-time studies, while others offer part-time studies for those who also hold jobs or want to spread their education over a longer period of time. Private career colleges allow students to become certified experts in specific disciplines within a relatively short period of time - often one year or less. This also means they graduate with less debt - and also enter the workforce and begin their careers earlier.
  • Do you want an applied or broad education? At public colleges/universities, iT studies are part of a curriculum that covers broader subjects such as arts, science and business. Students learn more theoretical foundations and less applied knowledge. At private career college, students learn applied subject matter.

Assess schools

  • Reputation: Determine how long a school has been in business, what graduates say about their experience and whether employers are pleased with the graduates they’ve hired. Most reputable schools will be happy to put you in touch with graduates and employers. Also, many schools give potential students the opportunity to visit and possibly sit in on a class.
  • Entrance requirements: Find out whether the school’s entrance requirements are sufficiently stringent to ensure that your future classmates are equally qualified for the rigorous course of study. Reputable schools screen students by doing personal interviews, resumé reviews and entrance testing.
  • Vendor authorizations: Check whether a school offers iT certifications and courseware approved by the major software vendors (e.g., Microsoft and Cisco) or developed by an internationally recognized training organization (e.g., CompTIA). Institutions with ongoing relationships with vendors will be in a better position to offer certification training to students.
  • Quality of career services: Quality schools have full-time career services staff who often have ongoing relationships with HR personnel at companies and learn about jobs before they are publicized.
  • Key performance indicators: It's also worth investigating a school's key performance indicators – such as graduation rates (the percentage of students who successfully complete a program) and placement rates (students' success in landing jobs after graduation).
TIP!
Find out whether a school's courses are Ministry-approved. Ministry-approved courses have met high training standards established by the government with industry assistance. Private career colleges are required to post their Ministry certificates of recognition in their lobby.
The iT Career Guide has been developed through the co-operation of the following sponsors:

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