NC-Expert California Veteran Apprenticeship Programs

Our Mission

NC-Expert’s mission is simple and straightforward: IT Training Made Easy! Our company tag line explains our purpose which is that we are Experts creating Experts.

NC-Expert is a group of seasoned engineers and trainers that are different from the rest of the education market. We want to pass along our experience and knowledge to others, in a way that will enable our students to become more efficient in their daily tasks, better engineers and, ultimately, enhance the companies they work for, while continuously moving forward in their successful careers.

We believe 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 engineer/students consuming the training.

We try to make things a bit easier on our students by augmenting our courses with mentoring, webinars, and re-sits of the previously attended class lectures (in most of our classes), until our students comprehend and master the topics covered in their discipline. We call the students “our” students because, unlike a lot of other training companies, we truly care about their individual successes.

We provide scholarships and other opportunities to allow those students who are struggling to take a firm hold on IT with the belief that excellent training in an ever-growing career field can change their lives.

We look forward to growing this approach in a formal and scalable model to provide our Veteran IT Apprenticeship programs to as many veterans as possible.

Our programs are sought by the kinds of organizations that may ultimately hire veterans and we will work hard to ensure our programs can make a difference in the lives of our veterans.

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

The NC-Expert Apprenticeship Approach

NC-Expert Perspective

The executives at NC-Expert have been working in this industry as executives, managers, advisors, architects, engineers, and trainers directly to/for vendors such as Cisco, CWNP, EC-Council, and many others for decades. We have vast experience in modern, cutting-edge technologies and approaches.

We focus on providing "bleeding edge" training to thousands of corporate students 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 for large household-name companies. They trust us to write courses and to train their internal employees so we feel we have a unique perspective on the state of the market.

Choose Program that Produces a Good Return on Investment

NC-Expert believes that all training should produce a definitive return on investment (ROI).

We have a number of options:
3-Year.Our 3-year model assumes a 32-month multi-part program costing roughly $55,000. The skills and certifications chosen are designed to create the skill-sets 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.
2-Year. Our 2-year model also provides for multiple certifications to be earned over a 24 month period. Each year costs $25,000 and should earn the apprentice 4 salary increases during the first year alone! This apprenticeship model is laser-focused on Cyber Security and has an additional 3rd year option for those apprentices who wish to pursue advanced certifications and aim for C-level goals.
In addition, we have also created shorter 1-year options, which assume 12-month multi-part programs. Each of these programs is designed to provide the veteran with a number of useful technology-focused industry certifications.

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 that 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 ideal employee.

The following table illustrates a selection of possible salary ranges for professional engineers:

Current Industry Overview

Network Infrastructure Market

Over the past 5 years, the network infrastructure market has been undergoing an evolution: that of virtualization and convergence of networking, server, and storage, as well as that of software defined networking (SDN). Essentially, this is the next generation of the virtualization that has been taking shape in the server world (see description below).

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 the fastest in the data center and cloud disciplines. Additional skills, such as programming in Python, are now becoming desirable.

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 unified 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 that is rapidly creating gaps and needs, with sustained growth predicted over the next ten years, is Wireless/Wi-Fi. Today, the trends of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) are forcing corporations to rapidly expand and optimize their infrastructures to compensate for the explosion in the number of devices brought into the workplace. In the early 2004 timeframe, the norm was that an employee was assigned a PC within a permanent cubicle. Nowadays, that same employee works from the office, home, or on the road and is always “on”. The devices used today 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 mall and predictably offer advertisements and coupons based on previous purchases and specific location within the mall 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 apparel, glasses, and watches, to red lights, cars, and appliances fall into this category. The potential benefit to the average corporation is unlimited, driving it to become far more impactful on corporate America, than was the Internet of the 1990s.

The entry-level veteran looking to enter the IT market today should be fully ready to present themselves as someone who has begun gaining the skills that these potential employers are actively seeking.

Security Market

Security, is a major area that has rapidly evolved since 2004. Back in 2004, 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. Firewalls and virus protection are still used, but are understood to have exploitable weaknesses.

Large vendors such as Cisco, IBM, HP, etc. have gone through several years of heavy development and acquisition to modernize their security portfolios. Today major offerings include malware protection, intrusion detection, anomaly detection and mitigation, and programmable policies combined into single appliances. This advance has created multiple disciplines within security, from policy engineer through infrastructure security engineer to security analyst. At this time 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.

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 requirement to protect all the billions of devices being connected through IoT/IoE will make this an in-demand field for at least the next ten years.

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 cannot fight this trend they are openly embracing it.

For example, over the past 4 years one major, world-leading technology company has almost completely stopped issuing laptops to its employees. As a result, the employee can get a stipend to purchase their own. At the same time, the predominant devices in this company have rapidly become Mac laptops and iPads. Interestingly enough, this same company initiated a policy of having no official helpdesk to support Apple products. However, they allowed the employees to 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 desirable skill in this market is to be a well-rounded server admin, who 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 of BYOD with the traditional corporate-owned device. The other major trend in this area 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. They changed the paradigm completely by merging server hardware with networking and storage, thus creating 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 choose the wrong certifications, or none at all, to go with their limited experience.

How Are Our Apprenticeship Programs Different from Other Veteran Programs?

We understand where the veteran is coming from. 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 really need, above all else, are skilled and trained engineers who know more than the theory that can be learned from a generic university degree. They want engineers who know and understand the technologies and products into which the employer is investing millions of dollars.

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 pay to prevent the loss of business. This means the engineer needs to know the ins and outs of the specific technologies and products being used within the corporate environment.

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 will graduate at close to 30 years of age. Most separating veterans have families, so they can’t afford to live and go to college full time. This pushes their completion date out even further. As a result, a very small percentage complete their degrees. Veterans tend to go after any job when they separate, assuming they will get the good job after they get their degree but, in reality, they end up stuck in a dead-end career.

From a civilian employer’s perspective, they often see the resulting resume timeline 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 post-military PTSD and you can imagine why many employers still hesitate to hire veterans.

Even if the veteran can afford to dedicate themselves to a full time degree, many veterans choose degrees that do not help them in their careers. Today, the 4-year degree is seen much like the high school diploma of 10 years ago: it is simply a check box on an application. It gets a resume seen by the hiring manager but, when they realize there is nothing else of substance on the page, that resume is moved to the bottom of the stack. Experience is key: you have to combine real-world experience with degree theory and, unfortunately, most civilian employers do not consider military experience as "real-world", because it is too different from their field of experience to translate.

Our Solution

NC-Expert is a top supplier of very high-end technical vendor certification training.

We provide training to the same companies veterans want to work for: we train their existing staff. We work with the vendors veterans are trying to get skills from, directly, to help them develop programs and write many of their courses for them. We know what the upcoming courses will include, in many cases, months before they are 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 unique programs that are designed to help veterans best utilize their time and resources without the fear of being taken advantage of, as is all too common in the training industry today.

In short, our programs give you the potential for a good job, one where you will gain real-world experience while earning a salary. We ensure that a mentor is assigned to you and that you will be rewarded with wage increases as you progress through the program, mastering new skills and earning the required certifications. At completion of our 3-year program, for example, you will have almost 3 years of real-world, cutting-edge IT engineering experience, more than 10 of the most desired IT certifications in the market today, resume proof of being a good hire, and a formal US Government credential signed by both NC-Expert and the Department of Labor

With our programs we specifically reduced the costs involved to be able to give veterans the absolute maximum amount of training possible, in the areas that are most in demand. From an employment perspective, veterans not only want to get certifications that are recognized, but they also want to get the ones that are in demand - specifically, in areas of technology that are growing. The veteran must consider where this will place them 5 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 difficult to reverse.

We have had multiple people scrutinize our programs to ensure we only include training from companies that are leading in their respective markets, and followed the lead of hiring managers who were investing corporate money into the classes we already included, to improve their existing teams.

We have an additional aim: we want our veterans to be so well-trained that they will become the envy of the IT team they are joining!

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 our programs.

NC-Expert will screen and enroll the veteran into our apprenticeship program. During this process we will partner with a local employer.

NC-Expert will enter into an Apprenticeship Employment Agreement with the potential employer 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, an agreement for set pay raises upon successful attainment of set certifications, and a structured plan to ensure that OJT competencies are 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, such as interpersonal communication and team leadership, will be provided by NC-Expert.

Regular meetings will be held with the veteran’s supervisors and the NC-Expert team will be conducted to ensure the veteran:
is progressing through the apprenticeship,
is being provided ample opportunity to exercise their skills and grow their experience, and
to ensure the employer 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.

Gaining Government Approval for the Veteran

Our approach of acting as a managing entity and an IT training provider ensures we have ongoing relationships within the DoL and Veteran Affairs offices.

NC-Expert will work with the veteran to help streamline the apprenticeship process. As a single point of contact we can ensure that all parties involved will advance through the process in a more efficient and timely manner.

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 is an established, authorized learning partner of Cisco, CWNP, EC-Council, and other providers. In addition, we also provide authorized CompTIA training through a strategic relationship. This is a vast difference from many other companies that use on-staff instructors to write non-authorized versions of the certification training classes.

Our apprenticeship programs were created to ensure participants would gain the latest-and-greatest training from the vendor. Unwittingly selecting a provider that presents their own version of training courses creates a situation where the veteran may be receiving substandard or even incorrect training!

As a strategic partner to "brand name" vendors we not only provide their most current authorized and endorsed content, but we are often the company that develops and writes the content for those same 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 executives at these vendors, and many of their internal engineers who create the very products represented in the training. We are trusted such that we are even occasionally privileged to inspect technologies prior to their release onto the market. We are the "go-to" partner to train these vendors’ engineering, sales, and executive staff on these products as they are going to market. We could say that, with our programs, the veteran is learning directly from the source.

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

All of our classes are provided with live, real-time instruction. We offer both an in-person attendance option as well as a virtual attendance option. Most people, because of travel costs, elect to attend virtually and are able to utilize our state of the art delivery platform, which allows live, full interaction with the instructor and other students. Our students are not left to learn new technologies, on their own, with second-rate self-study videos. They will always have the ability to ask questions and be taught by someone that has first-hand knowledge of the topic.

Additional webinar events are offered on topics that are typically trickier to learn and leverage the same cutting-edge virtual attendance platform. These webinars allow the veteran to pack in even more training at no additional cost.

In addition, we extend our practice of group mentoring with all apprenticeships. This helps to prevent the veteran from 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 programs give the veteran 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.

We do not run dedicated classes for veterans only. We mix the veterans from the apprenticeship programs with our regular student body that consists of established engineers already working in companies 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. 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 privately-held C-corporation based in Pleasanton, California. The company was established in 2011 and its services and courses are delivered globally. The corporate name is NetCertExpert, Inc., with the legal dba of NC-Expert.

Return on Investment for The Veteran

We care about our students getting a good return for the investment they make in themselves and the trust they give us in training them. We price ourselves lower than most of our competition as a way to give our students a good head start in getting that great return on their investment. In addition, we include a lot of "value adds" that our competitors do not.


 *Average Market Price is the MSRP of the technical certification training class only - with no added extras. Typical market price for Cisco, CWNP, and EC-Council 5-day/40-hour courses falls between $3,500-$4,500 per course. This is the pricing regularly advertised on publicly accessible marketing and covers a one-time attendance of the course. NC-Expert offers a travel-free virtual attendance option which saves approximately $20,000 per person in travel costs over the duration of the program. In addition, NC-Expert offers other services such as employment mediation services, as part of the programs, that are not offered by the typical training company.

**NC-Expert prices its standard public offerings 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. Our courses typically allow for free lecture re-sits (some restrictions apply) in addition to mentoring, webinars, and exam vouchers (CWNP only).

***The NC-Expert IT Apprenticeship programs offer the lowest-priced IT certification training in the market to our veterans. In many cases, savings of well over $2,000 per course are realized. The programs include our free re-sit and webinar add-ons, as well as veteran employment support, soft-skill training, and several customized courses on topics that go beyond the vendor-sponsored certification programs being referenced here.

Details of the Program

Overview - How the Program Works

Our program is, in essence, very simple and is three-pronged:

[1] You
You get a job. You attend technical training classes (with us). You put the things you learn in class into practice while you are doing your job. You sit certification exams, and pass. As you progress through the program and earn certifications, you will get a pre-agreed, incremental wage increases from your employer.
As you progress through the program, you will attend further classes, put your new knowledge into practice, then sit/pass more exams, thus earning additional industry certifications and making yourself more valuable to your employer.
By the end of the program, you will have gained experience and will possess industry certifications to prove your skill-set.
By time of your graduation from the program, we expect that your employer/sponsor will find you so valuable that they will agree to retain you, permanently, in your position.

[2] Employer
The employer agrees to take you on as an "Apprentice". This can be in a temporary role, or a permanent one (this depends entirely on the employer's discretion).
The employer employs you as an "Apprentice" - meaning that you do not yet possess the expected skill-set and/or experience for the position.
Your employer will mentor you and will work with NC-Expert to help provide you with requisite experiences to broaden your knowledge and strengthen your skill base. Your employer will also agree, from the outset, to release you from work to attend your required training classes.
As you earn certifications, your employer will provide wage increases at a pre-agreed amount. This will continue as you progress through the program up until graduation.
At the end of the program your employer may offer you a permanent position with their company.

[3] NC-Expert
NC-Expert will work with you and help you secure a job. Please note, NC-Expert is not an employment agency. However, we will work with you and assist in your job search and can explain the program, and its benefits, to your prospective employer. We will help craft your resume. We will provide you with training in interview techniques. We will work behind the scenes to help you find a suitable job.
Once you are set up with an employer, we will begin the training portion of the program. NC-Expert is a world-class provider of training programs and classes. We will provide technical and soft-skills training and will be available to act as mentors and guides as you progress through the program.
We will offer you training and support - but, for your part, you will be expected to work hard and study hard. :)

Option-Select Program

In this program, all candidates will undertake the same Foundation year (year 1) training and will sit the same exams during their first year. Upon successful completion of the Foundation year, candidates will be invited to select their option for their Specialization year (year 2).

If candidates decide to exit the program at the end of year 1, they will have gained a good foundation in technology and would be able to secure employment using the skills and certifications gained during year 1 training.

The Specialization year (year 2) focuses on the specific technology selected and provides more advanced certification training in those technologies.

Graduation from the program is achieved following successful completion of the Specialization year.

Example industry certifications to be gained during year 1:

~ Cisco-Certified Entry Network Technician (CCENT)
~ CWNP Certified Wireless Technology Specialist (CWTS)
~ CWNP Certified Wireless Network Administrator (CWNA)
~ Cisco CCNA Routing & Switching
~ Cisco CCNA Wireless
~ CompTIA Security Plus (S+)
~ EC-Council Certified Network Defender (CND)
~ Cisco CCNA CyberSecurity
~ Cisco CCNA Cloud

Note: Courses listed are not in specific order and additional technical and/or soft-skills courses may be provided. Multiple classes and/or examination passes may be required to earn one certification (i.e., Cisco CCNP level).

Get Started Today

Step 1: complete and submit our online form ("Learn More" link at bottom of page).

We collect required 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 to help you determine if this is something that you would be interested, and successful, in.

Step 2: telephone interview to discuss the program and talk about your goals for employment.

We want our veterans to be treated with respect and will be open and honest regarding the program and the veteran's suitability for it. Once we all agree that this program would be a worthwhile investment of your time and energy, we would move on to the next step.

Step 3: acceptance into the program.

If you can commit to being willing to enter the program, if you satisfy all the DoL and VA requirements, and if the NC-Expert assessment team feels that you would be a good fit for the program, you would receive a notification that you have been accepted into the program.

During this step, together, we would then determine what you are interested in and identify possible employment opportunities in your area. We will help fine-tune your resume and hone your interview skills. We will also work with you to find and approach company hiring managers and sell them on the benefits of considering you and the apprenticeship program. You should expect to go through an interview process with potential employers just like a regular candidate. It is likely that you will be doing this with multiple companies to give you as much exposure as possible.

While this is happening, we will be working with you and your local DoL and VA offices to get all of the required forms completed and enroll you on the benefits side as well (if you have not already done this). Then, once you are successful in your interview, you will have a scheduled start date for your new job.

Step 4: From that point onward, the communication will be constant between you, your new employer, and NC-Expert. We will be a three-way partnership and will start scheduling you, right away, for classroom training and you will be on your way to a new career!

To get started click the "Learn More" link below, then fill out and submit the form.

Once we receive your information, 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.

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