Find schools that offer these popular programs
Several schools offer online training in information technology that prepares individuals for professional information technology (IT) certification, which is available through organizations or companies like CompTIA and Cisco. Schools may offer their own online IT certification preparation courses through extension or continuing education programs. Other IT certification prep classes are offered through partnerships between third-party online education providers and accredited postsecondary schools.
If a school offers its own IT training courses, students may be able to apply the course credit toward a formal degree program in a related subject down the road. Students who enroll in a distance education class that's offered by a third-party provider generally earn only a certificate of completion; however, these are not typically for-credit classes. In some cases, continuing education units may also be available to online learners.
Training courses may take anywhere from six weeks to several months to complete. Some courses can be started at any time, while others have set start dates. Online students typically learn asynchronously, although coursework and assignments may have to be completed by specific dates or regular intervals. Online course materials can include text-based lessons or tutorials, plus graphics, illustrations and streaming audio or video content. Students can also participate in virtual labs to obtain hands-on experience in a distance-learning environment.
Common Courses and Topics
In many cases, training courses are highly specialized toward a particular vendor's computer hardware or software solutions or a specific IT-related topic. Courses may concentrate on networks, such as network hardware, cabling, connectivity, troubleshooting, switches, routers, LANs, WANs and network security. Others focus on server administration and may cover topics like network planning, design and implementation, plus Internet and firewall security, authentication, server installation and administration, file recovery and file management.
Still others can concentrate on PC troubleshooting and cover the nuts and bolts of computers and how they work, including configuring parts like input or output devices, motherboards, power supplies, expansion buses and microprocessors. In addition to concrete knowledge and skills development, the program can include formal test prep and guidance for corresponding professional IT certification exams offered by vendors.
Certification and Continuing Education Information
There are numerous different IT certifications available; students typically enroll in the training course(s) that serves to prepare them for their desired certification(s). Certification involves taking and passing an exam. Certification exams cannot typically be taken online; exams are administered at testing centers authorized by each specific credentialing organization or company. Most IT certifications require renewal after a certain amount of time; continuing education credits can usually be earned online and applied towards recertification.
Students who want to earn professional certification in a particular aspect of IT must pass an exam. In order to prepare, it can be helpful to complete an online training course that focuses on related topics, including networks, cabling, routers, and troubleshooting.