University of IT

When Nancy Davis started taking a certification class in Web design last year, she wasn’t thinking about becoming part of a growing trend. She was thinking about making a career change from landscape design into something more exciting and rewarding.

Davis, now 30, took the certification course through the Boston University Corporate Education Center (BUCEC) rather than through a commercial training centre because she thought she would learn better in a course taught during a period of several months rather than one that lasted just a few weeks. Doing so made Davis part of a movement that finds more colleges and universities globally offering IT vendor and professional certification classes that have been largely the province of commercial training centres.

Davis finished the class in May 2000 and started work soon after with EG&G Technical Services, an IT contractor with various companies and governmental agencies, which has currently contracted Davis as a Web designer and analyst to the John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center in Cambridge, Mass.

Although the freshly certified Davis was hired before the economy went sour and news of IT layoffs became commonplace, the downturn has affected workers and trainers. Even so, executives at the Computer Technology Training Industry Association (CompTIA) aren’t worried.

“I don’t know of many engineers and programmers who have lost their jobs,” says Rachel Cheeseman, CompTIA’s vice-president of IT training. Based in Lombard, Ill., CompTIA develops vendor-neutral standards in e-commerce, customer service, work force development, and training certification.

The economic slide has led to a noticeable dip in the number of students taking IT vendor certifications, says Lutz Ziob, CompTIA’s vice-president of certification. But he expects that to change, whichever way the economy turns.

Employees who want to advance their skills to get a new or better job often are not willing to fork over the thousands of dollars it can cost to take a vendor certification course when the economy is in doldrums, experts say. Likewise, IT vendor certification tends to be one of the initial areas cut by companies at such times.

Even with a slower job market, IT newbies such as Davis can get jobs, bolstered by the presence of IT certification on a r