Want a Career in IT Support? Google is Making Training Simple (and Cheap)

If patience is a virtue, the people who work in IT support are, well, perhaps the most virtuous among us.

I mean, I tried teaching my grandma how to use her new smartphone once (and then about 10 more times after that). That experience was all I needed to understand I would never make a career for myself in tech support.

But some people out there are made for the IT support life, and Google wants them to lean into it.

That’s why, as the need for qualified IT support professionals grows, Google is offering an accelerated course designed to get people into the workforce in a matter of months.

IT Support Professional Certificates

Recently, Google began offering an online IT support certificate course.

The course is part of the Grow with Google initiative, which was created to provide people with tools, education and events to help expand their skills and grow their careers and businesses.

Over the span of several months, the IT Support Professional Certificate program trains workers to troubleshoot tech issues using realistic scenarios, interactive assessments and hands-on labs. By the end of the course, participants are expected to be ready for an entry-level job in IT support — no degree necessary.

Throughout the course, students will learn the fundamentals of IT support — everything from customer service and networking to operating systems and security.

The online course costs $49 per month, and learners should expect to commit about eight to 10 hours per week over eight months — although it looks like you can skip ahead to the graded assessments if you’re already experienced in parts of the course content, so you may be able to complete the certificate in a shorter time frame.

Google is also offering need-based financial assistance to more than 10,000 people to ensure greater access to the program.

After the course is completed, participants will be given ongoing support as they search for a job, and can opt to share their information directly with employers hiring for IT support positions — (companies like Hulu, Bank of America, Sam’s Club, GE Digital and, of course, Google).

Prefer a Classroom Setting?

Beginning this fall, Google will also offer for-credit IT support certificate classes at more than 25 community colleges in California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Texas and Wisconsin. To facilitate the process, Google is giving a grant to JFF, a workforce-development nonprofit, which will help community colleges integrate this course into their usual IT offerings.

The course will be offered at community colleges as either a new standalone course or as a part of an existing IT course. A few of the colleges will also offer the course through their continuing education or noncredit programs. The colleges may choose to offer the course online or in a hybrid format that combines classroom and online learning.

Students can expect to pay the same as they would pay for similar courses at their local college, and the certificate will be provided at no extra cost.

The primary advantage to taking the course at a community college is that you’ll receive college credit, said Deborah Kobes, a director at JFF.  

In addition, students will receive academic support and more hands-on instruction.

In the college course, in addition to the hands-on teaching, instructors may utilize the Coursera platform in place of a textbook and may use the assessments or tests from the online component to evaluate students’ progress.

“On the other hand,” Kobes said, “a student who enrolls in the certificate on their own would watch the Coursera videos and complete the assessments in the platform independently, without supplemental instruction and/or support from a college.”

Whether you choose to take the fully online course through Coursera or an in-person class at one of the participating community colleges, the IT support certificate and skills learned will be the same, Kobes said.

While not all of the community colleges have announced their involvement publicly yet, here are the ones we know are offering the IT support certificate course this fall:

California: Las Positas College, Cabrillo College and Diablo Valley College

Michigan: Grand Rapids Community College, Macomb Community College and Jackson College

New York: LaGuardia Community College, Monroe Community College and Mohawk Valley Community College

Ohio: Zane State College, Lakeland Community College, Eastern Gateway Community College, Stark State College, North Central State College, Cuyahoga Community College and Lorain County Community College

Texas: Lone Star College and Collin College

The Need for Experienced IT Support Professionals

Forty thousand students have already enrolled in the online program, but Google estimates there are 150,000 open IT support positions waiting to be filled. These positions come with median salaries of about $52,000, and most don’t require a college degree, according to the company.

What they do require is a little bit of experience, and that’s what this certificate course aims to provide.

Tech association CompTIA projects 1.8 million new tech jobs will be created between 2014 and 2024 but says there aren’t enough people with computer-science degrees entering the workforce to keep up with that high demand.

Companies are growing increasingly frustrated with the lack of IT support workers graduating college and the delay in getting qualified professionals into the workforce. To combat this, many are creating their own courses to accelerate the process and provide trainees with more job-specific training and real-world skills. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation recently launched its Talent Pipeline Management Academy, which seeks to equip more people with usable skills more quickly.

If you’re interested in going through the course and becoming a tech-support professional, you can go here to get more information about the program and sign up.

Grace Schweizer is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.