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Googling their way into IT

Students earn valuable credential

Interested in working in the Information Technology field but not sure where to start? Google IT!

That’s what Abigail Lopez did. She is among the first five students – and the first woman – to earn the Google IT Support Professional certificate through Grand Rapids Community College, which began offering the tech giant’s online program this fall. Also, GRCC is the first Michigan school to have Google IT graduates, said Julie Parks, executive director of workplace training.

Lopez, 33, is enrolled in GRCC’s 18-week Computer Support Technician Job Training program, through which students are now able to earn the Google IT certificate. She will also earn the valuable Comptia A+ certification, making her even more IT career-ready.

Google IT launched online in January to train those with no prior experience to be IT support professionals in about eight months. It is part of the Grow with Google program, an initiative to help people obtain skills they need to find a job.

Lopez, however, cruised through Google IT’s five courses in just one month, thanks to GRCC’s intensive, fast-paced computer support program, which requires students to put in 34 hours of seat time each week for 18 weeks. Completion also earns students 12 credits toward an associate degree in computer support.

Parks said it’s exciting to offer students Google IT.

“We like to have opportunities to give our students the chance to get more  national certification to validate their learning so employers know the skills they have,” she said. “Google is such a nationally known company. and we are pretty excited to see how this helps our students with their employment opportunities. We are going to be watching closely.”

Jobs are Waiting

Moss Ingram, GRCC computer support technician associate professor, said eight more students are now working to earn Google IT certificates. “The brand of Google is ubiquitous. The level of recognition and verification of knowledge and skills is huge.”

The IT industry is projected to grow 11 percent between 2016 and 2026 — faster than the average of all other occupations. Median salary is $52,000, according to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

“West Michigan is now paying technicians better than before,” Ingram said. “The demand is so great we have had students get hired over the phone before they graduate to $38,000 to  $42,000-a-year jobs.”

Ingram said his students eventually go on to all kinds of jobs, from working at small repair shops to to joining IT departments at Fortune 500 companies. “I get them to engage in ‘anything is possible,’” he said.

Tuition for GRCC’s computer support technician program is $6,273. The Google IT certification is included in that cost.

Looking Forward to the Future

Lopez, of Wyoming, said stacking her IT credentials is a great way to work toward her dream job of working in IT for a hospital or for local government. Lopez emigrated from Cuba in 2013 and has also trained in IT in Cuba and Spain.

She hopes to eventually teach IT in Hispanic communities.

“For me, taking this class was still a challenge because of using English. Spanish is my first language,” she said. “I can share with the community that it is not impossible. If you want it, you can do it.”


U.S. Colleges offer credit for Google’s online IT support certificate

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio or email Erin.


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