Contact: Debra Dennisddennis@dcccd.edu; 214-378-1851
For immediate release — Dec. 5, 2017
(DALLAS) — Mihai Stanciu’s love for computers began when he was just a child, but at age 22, he wants to convert that passion into a career that can take him around the world.
Stanciu is studying computer technology or PC support at Brookhaven College, where he already has earned one certificate and hopes to add another.
“It started at a passion. As a kid, I always messed around with tech devices. After high school, I wasn’t on a solid career plan. I wandered into this (field) with my arms open. I love technology and wanted to learn more about it.”
Brookhaven College and the other six colleges in the Dallas County Community College District offer courses, degrees and certificates in computer technology. The field is gaining renewed interest as cyber thieves target social media, bank accounts and even elections.
Stanciu likes the challenge that Brookhaven’s program provides.
“This is a field where you have to practice,” Stanciu said. “You have to understand how the commands work and how they all connect and work together — which actually goes into trouble shooting. If you don’t understand how things work, you’ll be going around in circles. That’s why we spend so much time reviewing.”
Stanciu wants a job where he can travel to other countries and work on their computers.
“I see myself as a contractor,” he said. “I’m pursuing a CCNA certificate (Cisco Certified Network Associate). I hope it will get me more noticed in the job field by more companies. It’s the entryway into good IT jobs.”
He is required to memorize many command codes, too. “In the real world, you have to carry a composition book with all of the codes, all of the command lines and the troubleshooting instructions,” said Stanciu.
Viruses, mischief and theft go hand-in-hand with learning about computers, said Mohammed Alshantaf, who also is studying computer technology at Brookhaven College. He wants to pursue a job in cybersecurity.
Alshantaf’s interest in cybersecurity started when he found out his server had been hacked. “When I was 15, I got hacked,” said Alshantaf, who is now 22. “They shut my website down. I didn’t have it at all. They jacked the domain. That left me with nothing. I felt like I couldn’t do anything. I didn’t know what was going on. It’s not fun to hear ‘you’ve been hacked.’”
Alshantaf fought back with knowledge and learned the tricks that cyber criminals use.
“There’s a lot of tools online. You can learn in five minutes how to hack a computer. I had to learn what they knew. Now I can teach others how to protect themselves,” he added.
Privacy and safety cannot be guaranteed online, but it helps to have a computer-literate expert on your side, said Charles Cadenhead, who teaches networking and PC support at Brookhaven College.
He knows a lot about fraud and the types of phishing expeditions which cyber thieves commit — and he teaches his students how to excel in detection.
Cadenhead has sage advice for computer users. “Never click on a link in an email. That’s hard not to do, but if you get an email like that and you fall for it … well, you’re in a lot of trouble,” he said.
And he tells his students and others to use a password manager program such as LastPass.
“You know Chrome can remember your password. These third-party applications can do the same thing. They are secure. Most people don’t use these, so you’re at the mercy of computers,” he added.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, tech support scammers routinely send pop-up messages offering free “security” scams to convince you that your computer has been infected. They offer to fix the problem and sometimes pretend to be from a well-known company like Microsoft. Then they ask for access to your computer.
Consumers are especially vulnerable during the holidays when thieves are working full time. Unsuspecting consumers often miss clues that someone has been tampering with their computers, Cadenhead said.
He offers sage advice for computer users:
“Cyber criminals are shopping early and using computer-stolen data to acquire their goods,” Cadenhead said. “They’re stealing passwords and accessing online accounts like Google, Target and Equifax — and they are making a nightmare of our lives. If you don’t trust them, ask to call them back. Then call your credit card company and ask for the fraud department.”
The good news is that software technology experts are in demand, and the future is promising for anyone who chooses this career field.
“We always need networking professionals. Right now, there are more jobs than there are people training in security. We’ve seen (the number of students in) our security classes go up. The more dependent we become on computers, the more we need security experts,” Cadenhead said.
Students who are considering a degree or certificate in computer information or PC technical support can be sure of many things: televisions, smartphones and computers all need service, and many problems can be accessed and managed remotely. That means a technician can complete a task as harrowing as deleting a virus and never come to a customer’s house or office.
However, most companies will not outsource their computer experts, which can mean long-term job security. “Companies do not want to trust their corporate secrets to people outside the company,” he explained. “They’re going to want people in-house.”
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a faster-than-average job outlook for this field through 2024. The median annual wage for computer-user support specialists was $49,390 in May 2016. The agency lists computer network support jobs among the most lucrative tech professions for individuals who don’t have a four-year degree.
According to the agency, employment in this field is projected to grow 12% from 2014 to 2024 – faster than the average for all occupations. Career paths in computer fields include networking/security, PC support, programming and web/internet service — not typical 9-to-5 jobs because computer specialists may be called on at any time to help resolve a problem or provide support.
For more information about the PC support program at Brookhaven College, contact Charles Cadenhead at 972-860-4178 or send an email to him at
email@example.com. For information about the computer information technology programs at the colleges of DCCCD visit dcccd.edu/CIT.
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