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I launched my business Norm’s Computer Services at the beginning of 2016. I consider my primary function to be in IT support (IT stands for ‘Information Technology’), although many people use some variation of the term ‘computer repairs’ when searching for a business like mine on the internet. With a Masters degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering and plenty of experience with computers, my business took off right from the start and has been extremely successful.
After running the business for four years I decided it would be good to get some sort of professional IT certification. Doing so would fill in any gaps in my knowledge, and give me a credential that I could point to as justification for doing what I do. I came across Google’s IT Professional Certificate and devoured the material. It’s a course which should take 3-6 months to complete but I completed it in a few short weeks. I highly recommend this course. Let’s take a look at what it comprises.
What is the Google IT Support Professional Certificate?
The course is an entry-level course in IT, the purpose of which is to prepare you for job readiness in a few months. You take the course at your own pace and, after completing all the modules, you earn a professional certification credential. Almost half a million people have enrolled for this course to date. The course currently costs $49 per month which is really not much at all. You can take the suggested 3-6 months to complete it but if you complete it more quickly it will reduce the cost.
The course consists of watching videos, reading supplementary material, and taking quizzes and assignments. It’s presented by Google professionals and consists of five distinct modules. You can take any module on its own however the certification can only be achieved by successfully completing all five modules. The course is 100% online and you can interact with other course participants through forums.
One thing that really grounds this course is that it’s interspersed with short video segments from Google employees talking about how they got started and came to be where they are today. The human element comes through very clearly and you’re left in no doubt that, with appropriate dedication, anything is possible.
During the course, you work in both Microsoft Windows and Linux and many of the assignments require you to use both operating systems to accomplish tasks. The assignments are typically one hour in length and involve the use of a virtual machine to complete assigned tasks. Each virtual machine is spun up at the beginning of the assignment and spun down at the end. Depending on your level of experience you may find some of the assignments to be rather straightforward and I must admit I was able to complete many of these in 10-15 minutes.
Let’s take a look at the five modules.
Course 1: Technical Support Fundamentals
This course is your basic introduction to the world of IT. I found it refreshing to get right back to the basics and cover some concepts I hadn’t considered for years. The course includes assembling a computer from scratch, installing an operating system, and understanding the internet and how it works.
Course 2: The Bits and Bytes of Computer Networking
This course is a comprehensive introduction to networking. You’re introduced to all the standard networking protocols and learn all about how computers communicate with each other. You learn how to describe computer networks in terms of a five-layer model, and gain an understanding of the standard protocols involved with communications, as well as cloud computing.
Course 3: Operating Systems and You: Becoming a Power User
This course was probably my favorite of the five as it was all about using the operating system on your computer. It covers both Windows and Linux and you learn both how to use a graphical user interface (GUI) and the command line to carry out tasks. Topics covered include installing, configuring, and removing software, configuring disk partitions and file systems, and gaining an understanding of how system processes work. Having been working with individual computers on a daily basis for years, this course equipped me with some concepts and tools I hadn’t considered or utilized previously.
Course 4: System Administration and IT Infrastructure Services
Another of my favorites, this course covered everything involved in systems administration. Whereas the previous course was about configuring and troubleshooting a single computer, this one is all about working with an entire fleet of computers. You learn about the infrastructure services that keep organizations up and running. The course covers cloud computing in some depth so that you’ll be able to understand everything from typical cloud infrastructure setups to how to manage cloud resources. You also learn how to manage and configure servers and how to use industry tools to manage computers, user information, and user productivity. Finally, you learn how to recover your organization’s IT infrastructure in the event of a disaster.
Course 5: IT Security: Defense Against the Digital Dark Arts
This final course of the five covers a wide variety of IT security concepts, tools, and best practices. I must admit that I found it to be the most dry and difficult of the courses and I’m glad it was the final one. Whereas I had already had significant experience with many of the concepts covered in the previous four courses, I found that much of what I was learning in this course was new to me and that I hadn’t had to know about many of these concepts in my practical experience in IT up to this point. I suspect this may also be the case for others like me and it’s not entirely necessary to understand the concepts in quite the level of depth in which they are covered unless you want to specialize in security.
I must admit that I thoroughly enjoyed this course and I cannot recommend it highly enough. After working in IT support for a number of years without any professional certification it feels good to now be able to say that I am certified by Google. You may be a total newbie to IT, or you may have some experience like myself. Whichever situation you’re in, I’m absolutely sure you would get something useful from this course. Whether as the gateway to a career in IT, or to supplement your existing knowledge and skills, why not enrol and start the course today?
This review was written by Norm McLaughlin, founder of Norm’s Computer Services, a local computer repair and IT support business in Brisbane, Australia.