By: Wanda Campbell “In November, Governor Kay Ivey, announced that the state's preliminary, seasonally adjusted October unemployment rate is 3.6 percent, down from 3.8 in September, which tied the previous record. A year ago, Alabama's unemployment rate was 6.1 percent.” (Thornton, William. “What Alabama’s Dropping Unemployment Rate Means.” AL.COM, Nov. 20, 2017) With the unemployment rate so low, the job market has become much more competitive. How can you stand out? William Draves, of Learning Resources Network, says professional certifications are becoming more valuable in today’s workplace because employers value the standardized set of skills and qualifications to perform the job – especially in the fields of IT and healthcare. Research from CompTIA found that high school graduates with professional certifications have earnings 22% higher than high school graduates without certifications. “A certification is more than a gold star. It’s more than a pat on the back or a ‘job well done.’ Obtaining a professional certification is an indication that you’re an expert. It is proof to employers, peers, and even yourself that you speak and think in a specific language.” (Day, Ryan. “18 Certifications Worth Having.” Globalknowledge.com, Feb. 12, 2018) At Athens State’s Center for Lifelong Learning, we offer many of the “18 Certifications Worth Having,” according to Ryan Day of Global Knowledge. Online courses are a great way to succeed when you can’t find the time to go to class. We are currently offering two programs in both formats. You can come to class or take the class online. Threats and Vulnerabilities in Cybersecurity is offered on Friday, April 20, from 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. at the CyberProtex Training Center in Madison. You can also take Cybersecurity for Managers online March 5-30, May 7-June 1, or July 2-27. These courses are an introduction to understanding the basics of threats, vulnerabilities, and attacks. The courses are designed for IT personnel, administrative staff, management, and other professionals. The other course we are offering in two formats is CompTIA Security+ 5-day Exam Preparation Boot Camp. This course is Monday, March 5-Friday, March 9, from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at the CyberProtex Training Center in Madison. This course will prepare you to sit for the exam and includes the workbook, study guide, and access to the online practice tests. Also included in the course is the exam voucher to register and take the exam. The online course lets you gain hands-on expertise in CompTIA Security+ certification exam by course and performance-based labs. Performance-based labs simulate real-world, hardware, software, and command line interface environments and can be mapped to any textbook, course and training. The class is available on demand and you can access the classroom 24/7. Another popular online course is the Certificate in Data Analysis, which is a three part program. The first course Introduction to Data Analysis starts April 7-27, Intermediate Data Analysis is May 7-June 1, and Advance Data Analysis is June 4-29. Project Management Professional is another popular online course. We offer introductory courses and exam prep courses online to meet your needs. Check our website – www.athens.edu/CLL -- for specific session dates and other available online and classroom format certification programs. If you have questions, please call 256-233-8260. There are over 400 online course offerings available. By: Wanda Campbell Center for Lifelong Learning - 121 South Marion Street, Athens, AL 35611 - 256-233-8262

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