IT Pathways instructor David A. Czuba — otherwise known as Mister Scuba — teaches Washington State’s next generation of health care and technology workers about the computers and software they’ll use on the job. Students at Cascades Job Corps College and Career Academy show up in his classes to learn how to take apart computers, study computer networking and use practical applications, like surgical robots.
He decided to get CompTIA A+ because so many of his students came to him with questions while preparing for their own exams, and he saw it as a teachable moment.
“I realized I’m at the point where I’m teaching it on a daily basis and the students are always coming with questions,” Czuba said. “‘Why does color coding have to be like this? Why can’t we just stick the wires in and crimp them down and go on with life?’”
You also never know when a certification will come in handy.
“This might not be the final destination in your career, and having that certification, whether it looks good to my current employer, it looks like a validation for those who might tap me for something else,” Czuba said. “It says, ‘I have done beta testing of software.’ If that’s visible in my LinkedIn profile, which it is, then I might get tapped for something of that nature.”
CompTIA A+ After 30 Years In Technology
Czuba worked for 30 years in the fast-paced digital printing world and can draw on his experience to answer students’ questions.
“For instance, if you download data from a Cisco server, it’s going to come over in comma to limited format. How do you read that? You pull it into Excel, and it formats in a way that makes it easier to read. You don’t have to look at it like raw text output,” Czuba said. “There’s always an example to show them. It’s a blessing that in 30 years of work, I’ve seen a lot.”
Czuba considers the CompTIA A+ certification both a validation of his 30 years of computer experience and a credential valued by the academy’s networking program students. He’s installed, maintained and repaired computers and office equipment, and all that hands-on experience helped. Things like book study, practice tests and memorization provided him the knowledge to pass the certification exam.
In the corporate world, clients want things fixed as soon as possible. As a teacher, he’s learned a different kind of patience when he’s helping people with technology.
“I’m not looking to fix people so much as assist them,” Czuba said.
A Push For IT Certifications
Cascades Job Corps College and Career Academy is focused on getting people to work with IT certifications like CompTIA A+.
“We push certification so they can at least get those on their resume and go out into their careers,” Czuba said.
Czuba teaches event-driven programming language, professional skills and computer terminology in office administration classes. The campus also has a makers’ garage and provides web experience with printing objects in 3D.
Each student may have a different path to take, but each one needs computers at some point. In some classes, nursing students are learning how to take apart computers, while others are using the Adobe suite to develop compelling graphics.
“We even have health care students who are taking a specific subset of the office administration,” Czuba said. In his classes, he trains health care students in computer technology and networking students in hands-on practice toward IT certification, a conscious step away from college prep.
“I’ll have students in my class working on Blender, which is a way to model things in 3D, and then they’ll take the output and send it to the 3D printer if it’s compatible. It’s incredible for them,” said Czuba, who can relate to students who realize their real interest is in computers.
“I know one person in particular switched over and got her [CompTIA] A+ and, not in a short order, but in a few months, by looking at the books and going through the expertise and taking apart computers,” he said. “It’s fascinating to see people actually change their minds about what they want to do and have the opportunity to pursue it.”
IT Certifications Widen Your View
Czuba believes IT certifications are valuable at all points in a career, from entry level to more advanced positions. Having an IT certification is a shortcut to explaining who you are.
“They can look at you and say ‘This person knows X,’ and they should know networking, so I can rely on them for the answer to my problem,” he said. “Especially if you’re doing something that is technical on a daily basis that you do all the time it makes sense to get the certification, completely.”
In addition to attracting other job opportunities, IT certifications give skilled IT pros a chance to go deep and wide on their skills.
“You’ll find that you’ll probably enjoy learning your job more in-depth in preparation for that certification and it will widen your view of the tasks that you’re doing,” Czuba said.