NC-Expert Apprenticeship Program

Why We Do It

NC-Expert’s mission is simple and straightforward: IT Training Made Easy! Our company tag line says it all we are Experts creating Experts.

We are a group of seasoned engineers and trainers that want to be different from the rest of the education market. We simply want to make sure we can pass along our experience and knowledge to others in a way they will be able to become more efficient in their daily tasks, better engineers and ultimately change the companies they work for and continuously progress forward in their careers and success.

We feel all training should produce a Return on Investment. We price our courses and structure our programs around this concept. We know 40 hours of training on highly technical topics crammed into a single week is efficient for the corporations doing the purchasing but difficult for the engineers consuming the training.

We try to make things a bit easier on the engineers by augmenting all our courses with individual coaching, group mentoring, live webinars and unlimited re-sits of the lectures until our engineers comprehend and master all of the topics covered in their discipline. We call the engineers “our” engineers because, unlike a lot of other training companies, we actually care about their individual success.

We have long supported veterans, because we are also veterans. We provide scholarships and other opportunities to allow those veterans that are struggling to take a firm hold on IT with the belief that excellent training in an ever-growing career field can still change lives.

We look forward to growing this approach in a formal and scalable model to provide the IT Apprenticeship program to as many transitioning veterans as possible. As veterans we are frustrated with the sub-standard programs being funded through today’s veteran benefit programs such as the GI Bill and Voc Rehab.

We know we have the programs that are sought by the organizations that would ultimately hire the vets and will fight hard to ensure our programs can be offered alongside these outdated and under-skilled alternatives currently offered, in the hope that we can make a difference in the lives of our veterans.

In our own way it is an attempt to truly thank them for their service by enabling them to realize success after their sacrifice.

The NC-Expert Apprenticeship Approach

NC-Expert Perspective

The executives at NC-Expert have been working in this industry as engineers, architects, executives, trainers and advisors directly to vendors such as Cisco, CWNP, EC Council, Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers, UBS and many others in addition to being veterans themselves for over 25 years. Collectively we have over 200 years of experience in modern cutting edge technologies and approaches.

We focus on providing bleeding edge training to thousands of corporations daily and regularly write and design the courses that Cisco and other large vendors use. In addition, we are regularly called upon to develop internal programs where we “train Cisco on how to sell, design and deploy Cisco”. They trust us to write the courses and to train their internal employees so we feel we have a unique perspective on the state of the market.

Based on our unique perspective, expertise and experience we wouldn’t recommend veterans pursue the very low level certifications and skills associated with CompTIA A+, Microsoft, Network+, Cisco CCNA Routing & Switching or other such certifications that are in low demand but high concentrations within the market. We are not saying that the skills learned in these programs are obsolete, we are simply saying that alone they will not create the opportunity or return on investment we feel is needed to get the veterans off to a good start.

Go with a Program that Produces a Return on Investment

NC-Expert believes all training should produce a definitive return on investment (ROI) and we have created our model assuming a 32-month, multi-part program costing roughly $55,000. The skills and certifications chosen are designed to create the skillsets that are normally compensated in the $70,000-$150,000 salary range with a ten-year ROI of potentially >$1 Million in salary for the $55,000 investment.

We seek out and qualify program nominees based on a wide range of factors that align directly with DOL requirements as well as the criteria we find corporations actively search for. Our vast network of corporate executives, hiring managers and recruiters consult with us regularly to make sure we are identifying both the hard IT skills as well as the soft skills needed for the transitioning veteran.

(2017 Salary Guide-Robert Half Technology)

Current State of the Union – Industry Overview

Server/PC Market

There are many people throughout the market serving in senior roles in the server field that began as CompTIA A+ or Microsoft MCSA but at the entry level there is far more competition and less job security. Many large corporations have moved their helpdesk operations outside of the US. Today there is very little need for an employee that can put together a PC from parts, because most corporations have large purchase agreements with vendors such as Dell and Lenovo to provide complete systems. In addition, the emerging trends for corporations today are described in what the industry calls BYOD (bring your own device). BYOD began about 5 years ago with the introduction of the iPad as a predominant employee end device. Since most corporations can’t fight this trend they are openly embracing it.

For example, over the past 4 years Cisco has almost completely stopped issuing laptops to employees. Now the employee can get a stipend to purchase their own. At the same time the predominant devices in Cisco have rapidly become Mac laptops and iPads, interestingly enough at the same time Cisco began a policy of having no official helpdesk for Apple products. They let the employees purchase the Apple Maintenance plan when they purchased their devices. This same trend is happening everywhere throughout corporate America and is growing at a rapid pace.

Within the server world, the trend is moving towards heavy virtualization. This began in mid-2008 with the introduction of VMware and required that a server engineer needed to be skilled in multiple operating systems such as Microsoft, Linux, VMware and Citrix to stand out and remains true today. From a skill set perspective the more hirable skill in this market is to be a well-rounded server admin that is familiar with multiple enterprise systems. As part of the BYOD and Virtualization trends, many companies are rapidly expanding their support of Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI); you buy your own laptop and then connect to VMware/Citrix where you will load a corporate version of Windows.

This is an attempt to merge the wild west BYOD world with the traditional corporate owned device. The other major trend in this world is that Cisco is now the leader in many sectors of server sales, which occurred as a result of a launch in 2008 of the Cisco UCS server family. Here they changed the paradigm completely by merging server hardware with networking and storage into a single converged system. Today the engineer responsible for that system must be cross skilled in multiple server technologies, networking and storage. The same applies to IBM and HP where all three major players are doing the same thing.

So, in short, a person trying to get an entry level job as a server admin will find it much harder if they chose the older generic certifications to go with their limited experience. The jobs these older certifications qualify you for are not there anymore and they will continue to diminish over the next 10 years. All major PC and Laptop manufactures have authored studies showing they have less than 5 years of sales left before these products cease to exist. Hence the dominance of the Apple Mac Air and Microsoft Surface products. Tablets that look like laptops.

Network Infrastructure Market

The network infrastructure market is undergoing a similar evolution to the server and PC markets, since they are tied together. The evolving trend in the market that has developed over the past 5 years is virtualization and convergence of networking, server and storage as well as software defined networking (SDN). Essentially this is the next generation of the virtualization that has been taking shape in the server world now moving into the network world.

Today an engineer must be well versed in all aspects of networking to fill the gaps and needs of most modern corporations. This area is evolving fastest in the datacenter and cloud disciplines. Additional skills beyond collapsing each of these three main silos, that have traditionally each dictated a separate career path, are programming skills such as Python.

The network engineer of the next ten years will have to know the core technologies well enough to be able to interact with them all as a system. SDN allows corporations to build application centric infrastructures that are dynamically programmed to adjust to an application’s needs on a sub-second basis.

Within the enterprise another major trend rapidly creating gaps and needs with sustained growth predicted over the next ten years is wireless and Wi-Fi. Today the trends of BYOD discussed earlier are forcing corporations to rapidly expand and optimize their infrastructures to compensate for the explosion of devices. In the early 2004 timeframe the norm was that an employee was assigned a PC within a permanent cubicle. Today that same employee works from the office, home, or on the road and is always “on”. The devices used now are exclusively connected via wireless technologies.

Add to this, enormous strides in capability such as location based analytics, where a retail store, for example, can track a customer as they walk through a store and predictably offer advertisements and coupons based on previous purchases and specific location within the store in real-time with accuracy measured in inches. You can imagine that the adoption of this enormous new revenue stream is pushing companies to invest heavily.

The last area where all of the above evolutions have opened previously untouched networking opportunities is with devices not traditionally considered network attached devices. This area is referred to as the Internet of Things (IoT) and the Internet of Everything (IoE). Both of these areas represent a double digit trillion-dollar emerging market that is expected to be fully adopted as mainstream within the next ten years. Everything from wearable clothing, glasses and watches to red lights, cars and appliances fall into this arena. The potential benefit to the average corporation is unlimited, driving it to become far more impactful than even the internet was on corporate America in the mid-nineties.

The entry level transitioning veteran looking to enter the IT market today should be fully ready to present themselves as someone who has begun the journey these hiring companies are trying to embrace.

Security Market

The last major area that has rapidly evolved since 2004 is security. In the 2004 timeframe, it was simple enough to understand the basic tenets of security to be useful to a corporation. Most companies at that point considered basic firewalls and virus protection to be a valid security approach. Today, the landscape is far more complicated than that. Firewalls and virus protection are still involved but are well known technologies and approaches; both by the intruders and the companies trying to protect their assets.

Large vendors such as Cisco, IBM, HP, etc. have gone through several years of heavy development and acquisition to modernize their security portfolios. Today Cisco includes malware, intrusion detection, anomaly detection and mitigation and programmable policies into single appliances. This has created multiple disciplines within security, from policy engineer, through infrastructure security engineer to security analyst. Today the highest growth sector in security is cyber security, the art of analyzing the threat. No longer are companies taking a purely reactive approach they are now taking a proactive approach. Cisco for example has recently announced a brand new cyber security certification track for these individuals.

Keep in mind all of these BYOD devices require a complex and jointly owned personal and corporate policy strategy. Wired and wireless security differs in approach and technologies used and the combination of now protecting all of the billions of devices being connected through IoT/IoE will make this an in-demand field over the next ten years.

How is Our Apprenticeship Program Different from Other Veteran Programs?

Our team has been where you are today, our CEO separated in the late 90’s and was faced with the same decisions as you. He has risen through the ranks from a Special Operations veteran with essentially no IT skills to holding some of the most senior positions both in engineering and at the executive level. Through all of this he never used a single penny of his GI Bill. No advanced degree or university courses. He is not alone less than 11% of veterans ever use their benefits. One of the reasons why, specific to IT, is that while employers respect a candidate with a degree, what they need above all is skilled and trained engineers that know more than the theory you learn in the generic university degrees. They want engineers that know the technologies and products they are investing millions of dollars in.

A fundamental role of an engineer in most corporations is to keep the environment running: down time means lost revenue. This is why IT engineers earn great salaries; companies are paying to prevent the loss of business. This means the engineer needs to know the ins and outs of the specific technologies and products being purchased.

The Problem with the University Model and Veterans

Most veterans leaving the military after 4 or more years are in their mid-20s, if they then enroll in a 4-year college program they finish at close to 30 years old. Most are separating with families so they can’t afford to live and go full time in college, this pushes the completion date even further out. The result is a very small percentage ever actually complete their degrees. They go after any job when they separate assuming they will get the good job after their degree but in reality they end up getting stuck in a bad career.

From a civilian employer’s perspective, they often see this as strange, why has a 30-year-old person not been employed for the past 4 years? Combine this with the absolutely terrible misconceptions about PTSD and the military and you can imagine why many employers still hesitate to hire vets.

Even if you can afford to dedicate yourself fulltime to your degree, many often choose degrees that do not help them in their careers. Today, the 4-year degree is much like a high school diploma was 10 years ago, it’s simply a check box on an application. It gets your resume seen by the hiring manager but when they see there is nothing else there you move to the bottom of the stack. Experience is the key, you have to combine real-world experience with the skills and, no, most civilian employers do NOT consider your military experience as real world, it’s too different from their world to count.

Our Solution

NC-Expert has focused our company on being the top supplier of very high-end technical vendor training. We sell training to the same companies you want to work for, we train their existing staffs. We work with the vendors you are trying to get skills in, directly, to help them develop programs and write many of their courses for them. We know what these skills are, in many cases months before the courses are ever released to the public.

We put our heads together with the Department of Labor, Department of Veterans Affairs, our Vendors and our customers, to create a unique program that was designed to help veterans best utilize their educational benefits, without the fear of being taken advantage of, as is all too common in the industry today.

In short, our program gives you a good job, one where you will get the real world experience while earning a better-than-average salary. We ensure the employers we approach on your behalf hire you, assign a mentor to you and guarantee that you are rewarded with 10 wage increases throughout the program after you master the new skills and certifications. At completion you will have almost 3-years of real world, cutting-edge IT engineering experience, 10-12 of the most desired IT certifications in the market, resume proof of being a good hire and a formal US Government credential signed by both NC-Expert’s CEO and the Secretary of Labor.

With this program we specifically reduced the costs involved to be able to give veterans that absolute maximum amount of training we could in the areas that are in the most demand. From an employment perspective you not only want to get a certification that is recognized but you want to get the ones that are in demand. Specifically, in areas of technology that are growing. The veteran must consider where this gets them in 10 years from when they earn the certification. Choosing the wrong certification or technology will end up being a waste of time and money that may start you on a path that is hard to reverse.

For example, CompTIA A+, a very commonly advertised certification that is presented by many programs to vets, but is a very low end certification that hundreds of thousands of people have. If most corporations would view that certification as very low end and not likely spend training dollars to invest in their existing engineers pursuing this why would they hire you because you have it? Since so many people have it, nothing about it makes you stick out during the interview process. Training companies often don’t take the time to pursue this train of thought, their thinking is simply it’s listed in a government bulletin, it qualifies for GI Bill and the vet doesn’t know the market. They have no responsibility to get you hired, they just get to cash in the benefit. We hate this! As veterans ourselves this disgusts us.

So we had multiple people even outside our team scrutinize our program to ensure we only include training from companies that are leading in their respective markets and hiring managers that were investing corporate money in the classes we included already to better their existing teams. We had a simple goal: we want our vets to be the envy of the team they are joining because they are getting the training they want but haven’t been able to get funding for.

NC-Expert IT Apprenticeship Program Flow

Getting the Veteran Hired

Our unique position within the IT industry and market allows us to leverage existing and new relationships with companies looking to hire veterans and IT workers with the skills we provide in the program. NC-Expert will find, screen and enroll the veteran into the apprenticeship program. During this process we will partner with a local employer and negotiate a salary for the veteran. NC-Expert will enter into an Apprenticeship Employment Agreement with this company that will outline requirements and conditions of hiring a veteran as an apprentice.

The agreement between NC-Expert and the company will include available paid time to complete the training along with a structured plan for interaction to ensure the OJT competencies are jointly addressed. Areas that are typically included in the employee’s job role such as workplace safety will be executed by the company and verified and signed off by NC-Expert. Other areas that are included in the OJT Apprenticeship program but are not normally part of the company’s training will be provided by NC-Expert.

Regular meetings with the veteran’s supervisors and management team will be conducted to ensure the veteran is progressing through the apprenticeship, the veteran is being provided ample opportunity to exercise their skills and grow their experience and lastly to ensure the company is happy with the veteran as a contributing member of their team.

At the completion of the program NC-Expert will work with the company and the veteran to help secure an ongoing full time position with the company and will transition the graduating veteran from the apprenticeship program.

This opens the doors for many more opportunities for both veterans and companies alike to participate in the IT Apprenticeship programs without the headache of the administration of the program.

Gaining Government Approval for the Veteran

Our approach of acting as a Managing Entity, an IT Training Company and a Content Provider ensures we have relationships within the DOL and Veteran Affairs offices. NC-Expert’s pre-packaged applications ensure the process is streamlined and executed consistently for all veterans. This single point of contact ensures all parties involved will be able to progress through the process in a more efficient and timely matter.

We feel that for the program to be successful we need to remove the headache for the two parties with the most to lose or gain through the apprenticeship; the veteran and the hiring company.

Training the Veteran

NC-Expert was established as a strategic authorized learning partner for Cisco, CWNP and EC-Council. We also provide authorized CompTIA training through a strategic relationship. This is a vast difference from many of the other companies and colleges that typically provide veteran funded IT certification training. Many of these companies use on staff instructors to write non-authorized versions of the certifications.

The apprenticeship program was created to ensure participants would gain the latest and greatest training from the vendor. Choosing a provider that presents their own version creates a situation where the participant may not be getting the best or most updated version.

As a strategic partner to the vendors we not only provide their most current authorized and endorsed content we are often the company that develops and writes the content for the vendors either under our own name or that of one of our partners. In addition to this, our executives have maintained longstanding relationships with the execs at these vendors and many of their internal engineers that create the very products represented in the training. We are occasionally privileged to inspect technologies prior to them being released. As part of this we are the go-to partner to train these vendors’ entire engineering, sales and executive staffs on their own products as they are going to market. In short, with our program the veteran is learning directly from the source.

Classes are taught by seasoned instructors, we choose the individuals that are at the top of their careers, most have achieved numerous Cisco CCIE expert designations in multiple fields. We do not use instructors that are at the same level as those graduating from the apprenticeship program. Typically, our instructors have 10-20 years not only in the field but as top level engineers and architects responsible for very large enterprise environments. Several have designed some of the largest networking environments in the industry.

All our classes are delivered as live instruction. We offer both an in-person attendance option as well as a virtual attendance option. At no point will the veteran be left to learn on his own with second rate videos. They will always have the ability to ask questions and be taught by someone that has first-hand knowledge of the topic. The virtual attendance option is executed via cutting edge video conferencing which allows live, full interaction of both instruction and the all too valuable hands-on lab exercises that accompany most of our courses. The only thing missing is the extra costs associated with travel.

Additional webinar events are offered multiple times each month on topics that are typically harder to learn and leverage the same virtual attendance platform. These allow the veteran to pack in even more training during after-hours.

In addition, we extend our practice of group and individual mentoring with all apprenticeships. This prevents the veteran from ever getting into a situation while learning where they get stuck without having someone to explain the topic. We know from years of experience that no one comprehends every topic and our enhanced program gives the veteran the extra help on those topics that are proving more difficult to grasp.

We also know the certification process itself is a daunting task so we offer workshops on test taking techniques and study habits to aid in this aspect as well.

In addition, we do not run dedicated classes for just veterans, we mix the veterans from the apprenticeship program with our normal customers that consist of established engineers already working in companies today in the same positions the veteran is seeking. This allows us to provide the veteran another invaluable aid at the start of their career - networking opportunities .

Why Choose NC-Expert for IT Apprenticeship

NC-Expert is an established and proven leader in cutting edge IT training. The company is owned and managed by career engineers and trainers. We recruit only the highest talent in the market and have years of experience designing, deploying and managing some of the largest IT environments on the globe.

NC-Expert’s relationships within the IT industry extend from senior executives from the largest vendors in the industry through to training many Fortune 50 sized companies’ IT engineering staff. We have a long tradition of business, technical, communication and written work spanning many decades.

NC-Expert is a registered C Corporation based in Pleasanton, California in the heart of Silicon Valley. However, its services and courses are delivered globally. The executive staff is diverse and many of our key stake holders are veterans. The corporate name is NetCertExpert, Inc. DBA NC-Expert; corporate registration number C3394974.

Return on Investment for The Veteran

*Price is the MSRP of the technical certifications only, typical market price for Cisco, CWNP and EC-Council 5-day 40 hour courses fall between $3500-$4500 per course. This is the pricing regularly advertised on publicly available advertisements and marketing. This price only covers a one-time attendance of the course. NC-Expert offers a travel-free virtual attendance option also saving from the average additional travel costs of approximately $2000 per person to attend training. In addition, NC-Expert offers other services such as mentoring, tracking, employment, benefits, etc. as part of the program that are not offered by the typical training company.

**NC-Expert prices our standard public offering well below the average MSRP, with the goal of driving ROI as high as possible and enabling individuals to pursue more training and higher skill sets through our programs. All of our courses allow for unlimited re-sits (some restrictions apply) in addition to mentoring, webinars and exam vouchers (CWNP only).

***The NC-Expert IT Apprenticeship program offers the lowest priced IT certification training in the market to our veterans, in many cases savings of well over $2000 per course are realized. The program includes our unlimited re-sit and webinar add-ons as well as veteran career counseling, OJT soft skill training and several customized courses on topics that go beyond the vendor sponsored certification programs being referenced here.

Details of the Program

Industry Certifications Earned During the Apprenticeship

Wireless Technology Specialty Tract

  • Cisco CCNA Routing & Switching
  • Cisco CCNA Wireless
  • CWNPs CWNA
  • CompTIA Security+
  • Cisco CCNA Cloud
  • Cisco CCNA Cybersecurity
  • EC Council CND
  • CWNPs CWDP
  • CWNPs CWSP
  • CWNPs CWAP
  • Cisco CCNP Wireless
  • PMP

Data Center Technology Specialty Tract

  • Cisco CCNA Routing & Switching
  • Cisco CCNA Wireless
  • CWNPs CWNA
  • CompTIA Security+
  • Cisco CCNA Cloud
  • Cisco CCNA Cybersecurity
  • EC Council CND
  • Cisco CCNA Data Center
  • Cisco CCNP Data Center
  • Cisco Network Programmability Design and Implementation Specialist
  • VMware VCP
  • PMP

Security Technology Specialty Tract

  • Cisco CCNA Routing & Switching
  • Cisco CCNA Wireless
  • CWNPs CWNA
  • CompTIA Security+
  • Cisco CCNA Cloud
  • Cisco CCNA Cybersecurity
  • EC Council CND
  • Cisco CCNA Security
  • Cisco CCNP Security
  • CISSP
  • EC Council CEH
  • PMP

ALL Courses are Authorized Official Courses

Get Started Today

The first step is to fill out our online application, we collect needed information to determine the feasibility and fit for you in the program. This step is not a formal application into the program it simply helps us help you determine if this is something that you would both be interested in and be successful in. We don’t want any veteran to hear anything from us other than the straight story both good and bad. Once we all feel everything is in place we move to the second step.

The second step is identifying a company and position in your area and fine tuning your resume and interview skills. We then approach the company hiring manager directly and sell them on the benefits of considering you and the apprenticeship program. It’s important for you to know that we offer them discounts on training for the rest of the team and other perks to help entice them to consider you.

You would then go through an interview process with the company, likely we will have you doing this with multiple companies to give you the most opportunity as possible. While this is happening we will be working with you and your local DOL and VA offices to get all of the forms completed to enroll you on that side as well. Once both pieces are complete you will have a scheduled start date for your new job.

From that point on the communication will be constant between NC-Expert, your new employer and yourself. We will start scheduling you right away for training and you will be on your way to a new career.

To get started click the button below and fill out the form, once we receive your information our team will do some basic research on your background from the resume and information you submit and we will explore the job market in your target area. Once we have a good picture we will reach out to you to have a detailed discussion where you can ask any questions you may have about the program or process. You do NOT need to wait until you separate. We can start this process while you are transitioning and still on active duty.

Download a PDF version of the program overview with detailed topics and courses outlined.
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