Research Your Education Options for IT Help Desk Jobs

By Tyler Regas

When you work an IT help desk job, your education options should coincide with your long-term goals. One of the most important factors when considering an education program is accreditation. Not all programs are accredited, so it will require some extra research to determine whether a program is accredited. Surprisingly, some so-called organizations claim to offer accreditation to educational programs, but they are not recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

The DOE offers a useful tool to verify schools called the College Navigator:

Simply enter the name of the institution you want to check, click on the name of the correct item in the list, and expand the Accreditation section.

The College Navigator is also helpful for a wide range of other information that you’ll want to look at. One of those items is graduation rates. Your choice college should have a relatively high graduation rate. A high graduation rate indicates that students are engaged and pleased with the college’s services and facilities and that the teaching staff is effective.

You should also contrast graduation rates with average salary for degreed persons. An institution with high numbers in both graduation rates and average salaries combined with reasonable tuition rates are the sweet spot you are seeking.

Another important aspect to investigate when selecting a program, aside from the curriculum, is how a school handles credits. The transferability of credits is directly associated with accreditation, as accreditation indicates an institutes ability to meet academic standards. As soon as a school tells you that you cannot transfer credits, you should find out why. It’s either that your original school or the new school you are investigating lacks the appropriate accreditation.

It is unfortunate, but some of you may have to deal with the very real problem of having accrued credits in a school that isn’t generally recognized as accredited by the appropriate authorities. It’s not that your education lacked any form of validity, except in the eyes of the accreditation boards. You did learn, right? Of course you did, and that should count, but that is not always the case.

Fortunately, most schools offer a way of transferring credits from non-accredited institutions, but you won’t always be thrilled with what is offered. Some schools require you to prove that you did, indeed, learn from your courses by maintaining a set GPA for a period of time (like a semester or two) and will then grant you some of your credits.

Others have stricter requirements and limit the transfer to a small percentage, generally around 25 percent. Then there are the schools that evaluate your teachers from the previous school and then base their decision on certain requirements. Even more look at your ACT or SAT scores. Some, but not all, will even charge a fee to test you for life experiences and grant you credit based on the results.

This process is not easy, and it can be terrible to find out that your old school wasn’t up to the snuff expected by your new alma mater. Then again, there exists a vast array of accreditation bodies, and not all schools are accredited with everyone. Many schools are even accredited for portions of their programs and not the entire school.

So, make sure to take some time to verify your current school’s accreditation status and match that up with the requirements for any schools you are considering a transfer to. You never know. It could save you a load of trouble.