Career Path With CompTIA’s TechCareer Compass

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CompTIA, the Computing Technology Industry Association, is helping IT professionals and others work through the maze of information on careers in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) with a free Web tool. The new TechCareer Compass is a user-friendly resource that names ICT job roles and drills down into the skills and certifications that support these job roles.




With input from industry experts like IBM, Intel and Cisco, plus direction from academia and government sources such as the Department of Labor, the TechCareer Compass attempts to address the mismatch between job skills and skill requirements in the workplace, offering guidance for those new to the profession as well as existing professionals, employers, career advisors, training providers and curriculum developers. 




I was lucky enough to get a hands-on tour of the tool from the folks over at CompTIA. Neill Hopkins, vice president of workforce development and training at CompTIA, and Tara Manzow, product manager, walked me through the site, and this tour helped illustrate what a powerful career tool the TechCareer Compass can be. Job roles are broken down into seven job categories: database development and administration; digital media; network devices; network infrastructure; programming; technical writing; and Web development and administration. Once you choose your category, you can drill down even further into more specific job roles for entry-level, intermediate and advanced professionals.




“The industry itself is defining these concentrations and the skills required and the knowledge required, which makes sense because they’re the ones selling the product,” said Hopkins. “In addition, the Department of Labor said, ‘We have to validate that the people using your IT products have those skills and are indeed doing those tasks,’ and that’s the piece that we’ve incorporated now into the TechCareer Compass. So we think we’ve got a very powerful and well-researched set of concentrations. In other words, the job concentrations defined by the TechCareer Compass are defined and endorsed by industry, mapped to and endorsed and validated by government, and we incorporated academia as well. Academia are going to use this when it comes to defining the standards. So we’re very pleased that we’ve got the three legs of government, industry and academia to buy into these standards.”




Each job role is further broken into a list of specific skills required for that job and pointers to certification and training to support those skills. There are more than 100 job descriptions on TechCareer Compass, and those are mapped to more than 750 industry certifications, both high-stakes certs (with secure testing) from vendors like Microsoft, Cisco, Novell and CompTIA itself and low-stakes certifications from online assessment companies like Brainbench.




It works in reverse too. If you’re already certified, you can plug in your certification and see what specific job roles your certification maps to. This is extremely helpful if you’re job-hunting and you’re not sure what alternate positions you might be qualified for.




“We have in this site mapped not only the skills and knowledge required to be an ICT professional, we’ve mapped it to the certifications already out there. That’s unique in our industry,” said Hopkins. “This data, these standards that are housed in the TechCareer Compass, are extremely valuable when you think about it. This is what the industry has identified as the job concentrations.”




And as if that weren’t enough, the site also offers other tools and resources, including pointers to training that are searchable by certification, language and training type, job boards, articles and more.




“One of the main goals for the TechCareer Compass was to standardize the language and really make it easy because there are all these different sites out there and the language used between and within the sites may differ depending on the job role, and so we really made a point of defining the language that we’re going to use and really standardize it across all the job roles,” said Manzow. 




To check out the tool yourself, go to

Emily Hollis is associate editor for Certification Magazine. She can be reached at 

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