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Computer Systems Institute

Trainer provides professional guidance.

Training and certification in information technology can be a tricky endeavor–standards and areas of job demand change quickly, and getting a degree is oftentimes not a sure ticket to finding a job. But Chicago-based Computer Systems Institute is trying to change all of that, by guiding students based on long-term trends and the instructors’ own past professional experiences. We recently spoke with CSI cofounder Ella Zibitsker about the school’s offerings.

What does CSI do?

CSI teaches non-IT as well as IT professionals the computer skills that lead to either the jobs opportunities or significant career improvements. We train people in Web, A+, MCSE, Java, Cisco, Oracle, Linux, and many other areas.

You’re one of the few schools in the area that offers e-learning. Can you talk about the school’s online courses and how your services differ from other distance-learning programs?

CSI’s e-learning courses are interactive and time-flexible. Each course provides ample time to learn the material, do interactive labs assignments, test new skills and knowledge, and prepare for certifications. The courses are designed for IT professionals by education professionals and are accepted by major corporations nationwide. What makes our courses so attractive to the students is a live e-tutor, who is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And, of course, CSI offers to all of its students career advising and job placement assistance. The cost of the courses varies from $699 to $3,500. CSI graduates should inquire about discounts.

The current offering includes C#, all levels of Java, WebSphere, CCNA, CCNP, and more. We will continue to add new courses to satisfy the growing demand for new skills, whether in programming, networking, or wireless technologies.

What areas of the IT industry are still seeing a high demand for workers?

Today, companies’ brand of Web developers–those who can create more than a Web site and who can develop enterprise-strength Internet applications that integrate with legacy systems–are in high demand.

No doubt, times are tougher for Web developers. Gone are the hiring frenzies of upstart dot-coms and interactive design companies. But major corporations still need to integrate a spectrum of legacy systems into the Web-based applications that are reaching their customers, business partners and employees.

And while salaries for IT positions in areas such as the help desk and e-commerce have remained flat, compensation for security positions has grown 2 percent to 3 percent overall this year, according to a survey by Foote Partners LLC, in New Canaan, Conn.

But security manager hopefuls, consider yourselves forewarned: While many may want the job, only those with experience in the trenches are getting hired.

Networking experienced the hottest growthÑat 24 percentÑof any job category in the 2002 Salary Guide survey of 1,650 CIOs by tech recruiting company RHI Consulting, in Menlo Park, Calif. And out of the 133 categories of IT skills and certifications, salaries for networking jobsÑspecifically, engineering and operations jobsÑwere the two highest-growth areas.

Finally, the sellers’ market for IT skills may be over for some, but for certified DBAs with the right skills, there’s been little if any drop-off in demand or career opportunity. Why? The recession hasn’t altered the fact that, as enterprises continue to become increasingly dependent on enterprise resource planning and e-commerce systems, they are relying on the smooth running of the databases that underlie those systems in order to stay in business.

Which areas are saturated with IT workers?

Cobol, Visual Basic, entry-level Java, Oracle (development and database administration), and A+ job markets are pretty much saturated. But the problem with those is not the skills themselves, it a lack of the right combination of skills. Knowledge of PC and Web development tools; operating systems and languages; and databases and object-oriented technology is essential for programmers. In addition, they have to be business-savvy.

What’s next for CSI?

More online course and degree programs. And of course, we’ll continue providing the Chicago community with excellent education.

do you know a local company we should cover? Let us know about it. Send your local profile candidates to [email protected]

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