Looking for an in-demand job with good prospects and decent pay? You could do a lot worse than become an IT support person. Skills matter more than prestigious (and expensive) degrees, median pay is a decent $52,000, and the need for IT specialists is set to grow 10 percent in the next ten years, according to the BLS. There are 150,000 unfilled tech support positions across America right now.
So if you're sold that this is the right career track for you, how do you get the skills to land your first gig? Online resources abound but require the ability to hunt down and process information without support, and also offer no formal credential. If you need more hand-holding or are looking to get a piece of paper to prove your skills, there are also plenty of certification programs, but many are pricey.
Helpfully, a new option is now available. Google just announced it has partnered with online education leader Coursera to offer an online IT Support Professional Certificate. And better yet, if you're struggling financially, they may even pay your way to earn it.
How to get in-demand job skills for zero dollars
Created and taught by Googlers and aimed squarely at tech beginners, the eight to twelve month online course covers six key areas necessary for landing and excelling in a role in IT support: troubleshooting and customer service, networking, operating systems, system administration, automation, and security.
Offered only in English, the course normally costs $49 a month, but if that's a financial burden for you, Google might be able to help. The search giant has pledged to pay the way of 10,000 Americans who apply before February 20th, as well as offering financial aid through non-profits like Per Scholas, Year Up, Student Veterans of America, and Upwardly Global to support particular groups like veterans and refugees.
After you successfully finish the course, Coursera will also provide a way to showcase your new skills to its network of partner companies like Bank of America, Walmart, Sprint, Infosys, and (of course) Google who might be interested in offering you a job (though the program comes with no guarantee of employment upon completion).
The new joint Google-Coursera offering will help both companies fulfill their previously stated aim of helping more folks get good jobs. It might just help a fair number of struggling Americans getting training for a promising gig of the future too. You could be among them.