Northeast Alabama Community College (NACC) will offer the Google IT Support Professional Certificate starting in January. This certificate serves as a credential that can be used on the pathway to acquire a job as a Computer Specialist, a field in which there are an estimated 215,000 openings in the United States.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for a computer specialist is $53,470. No experience or college degree is required to enter the IT Support Professional Certificate Program nationally or at Northeast. The program is part of Grow with Google, the tech company’s initiative to create economic opportunities for all Americans.
“We are very pleased to work with Google to be able to offer the IT Support Professional Certificate,” said NACC President Dr. David Campbell. “Google as a company is very good at providing opportunities and benefits to the communities in which they are located, and they are making a special effort to assist us here at Northeast to assure that we are able to offer this certificate. We are one of just 100 or so community colleges in the United States that have been designated to offer this opportunity. There are approximately 1,200 community colleges in the nation.”
Google is building a data center campus in Jackson County in the college’s service area – the Google Widow’s Creek Data Center. The data center represents a $600M capital investment in Jackson County. Other companies, such as Facebook, are establishing data centers in the Huntsville area.
“We’re excited to bring the IT Support Professional Certificate to NACC as part of our Grow with Google initiative,” said Brenda Standridge, Site Operations Manager for Google’s Data Center at Widow’s Creek. “At Google, we strive to be good neighbors and to create economic opportunities in the communities we call home.”
The Google program introduces learners to computer troubleshooting, customer service, networking, operating systems, system administration, and security. Those who complete the program have the opportunity to share their hiring information with top employers who officially recognize this certificate, including Bank of America, PNC Bank, MCPc, RICOH, Intel as well as Google.
The certificate is also designed to help learners gain employment with any company needing computer specialists, or it can be used for professional development and career advancement for those already employed. Google states that “84 percent of learners report a career impact within six months, like getting a raise, finding a new job, or starting a new business.”
The Google IT Support Professional Certificate at Northeast will be delivered through the Coursera learning platform and is taken online and self-paced with interactive assessments and videos. The program will consist of five, two-hour credit courses. Google created and established the curriculum and topics of study in these courses. NACC computer science instructors will serve as the facilitators for the courses.
“The five courses will total ten academic credit hours,” said Interim NACC Dean of Instruction Chad Gorham. “Students may complete the credential on their own pace, but the average time nationally that it takes to complete this certificate is around six months.”
Tuition will be the same as that for other courses at Northeast - $160 per credit hour. There are no other fees, and the tuition will cover the monthly ($49) student payments to Coursera.
“We do want potential students to know that they may take these courses on their own, but Northeast will provide facilitators to help students complete the program, and students will receive credit hours that may be counted for the computer science component of most associate degrees at the college,” said Campbell. “We will guide and advise students through the entire process.”
Campbell added that the students may use NACC on-campus computer labs and internet connections to conduct their work. NACC Instructors will also provide additional instructional materials to help students as they progress.
Once established, the college plans to make the Google IT Support Professional Certificate Program available to Dual Enrollment students at area high schools. High school students could then graduate with a highly recognized IT credential which can be the key to employment as computer specialists in many fields.
“We are very excited about this opportunity,” said Campbell. “Brenda Standridge, the Operations Manager at the Google Widow’s Creek Data Center, has worked closely with us and has provided us with great insights and support. We very much appreciate what she has done to serve our community. Her help has been indispensable.”
Campbell added that at Northeast Gorham, Dr. Mike Kennamer and Patricia Falk have been heavily involved in working out the details for the college to offer the Google certificate.
In October, Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, announced that the IT Support Professional Certificate will be available in over 100 community colleges through a $3.5 million grant from Google.org, Google’s philanthropic arm, to JFF, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the economic advancement of all.
For more information about the Google IT Support Professional Certificate, see www.grow.google.