Daniel Greenspan is an enterprise training consultant and the founder of ITCareerFinder. Over a decade of collaboration with IT professionals, world-class trainers and technology executives has afforded him a unique perspective into the IT job market and the skills and credentials that modern computing specialists need to succeed.

The Best Free Online Computer Courses

The Internet boasts a wealth of free computer training for those who know where to look. Here are some of the best free online courses available right now.

This article will be updated continually with the latest and greatest schools and courses.

Rankings are unbiased; ITCareerFinder receives no compensation from links to the best free online courses.

best free online computer courses

Nonprofit organizations, technology companies, and educational institutions provide free computer courses across all IT subjects and skill levels. Some do this to expose more people to their software or hardware, while others strive to make top-notch education more accessible. Regardless of the training provider’s mission, self-motivated learners can capitalize on this massive cache of free online computer training to grow their skill set, earn certifications to validate their expertise to prospective employers, and gain exposure to new IT careers.

To compile our list of the best free computer courses, we looked at numerous factors including relevance of curriculum, ease of accessibility, course quality, and provider reputation. We also endeavored to represent the top training options across multiple categories and skill levels.

In no particular order, here are our favorite online training providers and their best free computing courses:

Continue reading

Jobs You Can Get with a Computer Science Degree

ITCareerFinder breaks down the most sought-after information technology jobs you can get with a degree in computer science. Delve into each role for marketable courses and electives, salaries, recommended degree programs and insider tips.

computer science degree jobs

There’s never been a better time than now to pursue a career in IT. The proliferation of emerging technologies in mobile and cloud computing, soaring demand for data science, programming and cyber security skills, and the increased automation (for better or worse) of legacy roles in retail and manufacturing, are just some of the factors driving a golden age for tech employment. There are infinite paths to the IT job of your dreams, but whichever road you choose there’s a good chance that earning a degree in computer science (CS) will be your first step.

CS curricula and the jobs you can land with a computer science degree vary widely, but there are some core subjects shared by most undergraduate computer science programs. The core curriculum in a CS associate or bachelor’s degree typically includes programming and software development, data structures and algorithms, operating systems, and applied mathematics. There are many CS specializations that dive deeper into one or more of these core areas, and plenty of computer science majors designed to prepare you for a specific IT career path. Your personal passions, resources like time and money, and the job you’re shooting for will dictate the computer science program that’s right for you.

The curriculum in a graduate computer science program builds on the undergrad coursework above. Generally, a computer science master’s degree dives deeper into the technical skills you learned as an undergrad, with a greater focus on a specific career track and potential management roles. MBAs in computer science concentrate on the business side of things; here you will learn to use computing skills to set and achieve organizational goals. Doctoral and PhD degrees in computer science tend to focus on research and scientific advancement; these programs are geared toward jobs like computer research scientist and CS professor.

This article will lay out some of the best jobs you can achieve with a computer science diploma (“best” in this case means top-tier salaries, an aggressive hiring forecast, and a high rate of upward mobility). We'll also highlight the courses and electives you should pursue to maximize your job prospects in each role, recommended degree levels, and earnings.

Here are the best jobs you can get with computer science degree:

Continue reading

Top 10 Technology Skills in Demand for 2016

Technology Skills In Demand 2016

For this year's breakdown of the most sought-after skill sets in the IT workforce, we're once again drawing data from ComputerWorld's annual hiring forecast. In addition, we'll analyze a range of trusted sources (see links at the end) and provide expert commentary to prognosticate about the hottest technology skills through 2016 and beyond.

For its latest forecast, ComputerWorld surveyed 182 IT managers and decision makers. With over one-third (37%) of respondents planning to grow their rosters in 2016 - up from 24% in last year's survey - the technology job market is certainly heating up. This spells good news for existing tech pros looking for a new career path, as well as job seekers new to the IT space. Of course, capitalizing on this growth is contingent on possessing the right expertise, so without further ado, here are the top ten IT skills in demand for 2016:

Continue reading

Top Paying IT Certifications for 2015

Top Paying IT Certifications 2015

In the rapidly shifting IT landscape, certifications are the most reliable tool employers have to validate your skills in the latest computer systems and IT job roles. These ten certifications will have the greatest impact on your salary in 2015 and beyond.

Technical training leader, Global Knowledge, and respected industry publication turned online community, Windows IT Pro, recently published their 2015 IT Skills & Salary Report -- featuring a comprehensive salary survey of more than 16,300 IT professionals -- giving us valuable insight as to just how much the leading IT certifications can increase your earnings.

Most remarkable this year is the dominance of information security credentials, sweeping the top three spots and representing half of 2015’s top 10 highest paying certifications. Certificates in network design and administration, as well as those that demonstrate knowledge on the business side of IT, in areas like project and service management, are also hot right now.

To reduce statistical anomalies, this list only includes certifications with at least 100 salary survey responses.

Here are this year’s highest paying technical certifications:

Continue reading

Top 10 IT Skills In Demand for 2015

IT pros and executives break down the most sought-after technology skills for 2015.

Computer Skills In Demand 2015

As technology continues to become an increasingly vital part of how we do business, the race is on to secure top-notch talent in IT skill positions that will not only keep the organization running through 2015, but lay the groundwork for secure and successful expansion in the coming year and beyond.

In its annual IT Forecast report, Computerworld surveyed 194 technology executives about the technical job roles they’ll be looking to fill in 2015 – here we present their findings, identify the hottest IT skill sets in each domain, and explore some of the key trends driving workforce demand.

Here are the top 10 IT skills in demand for 2015:

Continue reading

Infographic: Big Developments in Big Data

It's hard to deny the fact that "big data" is a ubiquitous buzzword today, and every now and again someone suggests that it's just a passing fad. The fact of the matter is that, while this trend may be experiencing some hype now and will likely eventually plateau (in the distant future), it's going to be a major player from here on in no matter how you slice it. This is because the insight brought forth from analyses of vast quantities of relevant data eliminates assumption and guesswork from the business decision-making process. In large businesses especially, this directly equates to mitigated risk, colossal savings and accelerated growth.

Data from the staffing industry indicates that people aren't just talking about big data; medium and large businesses are spending a great deal on — and exhibiting a lot of interest in — the scouting and hiring of data scientists and developers in the big data space.

The demand speaks for itself: for every one developer looking for a job in big data there are 3.6 job postings available in the United States. Additionally, as of 2014, developers who work with big data languages are the highest paid in the space. R, the statistical analysis programming language tops the list with an average salary over $115,000. Other languages and frameworks designed for dealing with large data sets, such as NOSQL, Apache Hadoop and MapReduce, boast six-figure salaries as well.

Even small businesses reap benefits from big data: although they don't often have the need to substantiate hiring in-house big data developers, they gain an advantage through externally managed analytical dashboards that help them visualize data and spot trends that can influence smarter businesses decisions.

The bottom line is that big data isn't simply an over-hyped term in the tech space and business world. The infatuation with big data is supported with fiscal interest in this new field because of the marked difference it's already making for SMBs and enterprises, and the vast potential it has to impact the way do business going forward. Take a look this infographic to see some of these trends visualized:

big data development infographic

Continue reading

Hot IT Skills in the Internet of Things

internet-of-things-home

The Internet of Things is one of the most revolutionary technology trends of our lifetime -- and it’s poised to explode. These skill sets will maximize your salary and marketability in the proliferating Internet of Things.

Hot Computer Skills IoT

Simply put, the Internet of Things (IoT) is the merger of the physical world with the digital. In the IoT, everyday objects are embedded with technology – such as Wi-Fi and sensors – to acquire a unique online identity and gain the ability to interact with their external environment. This infinite network of “smart” devices promises a range of benefits for businesses, individuals and society at large, including reduced waste, increased safety, greater convenience and improved quality of life.

The vanguard of the IoT revolution is here: Smart objects ranging from fitness wearables and home appliances to connected factories and even whole smart cities are coming online daily, but this is only the beginning. As broadband and hardware costs continue to fall, innovations in mobile and cloud abound, and society continues to embrace an increasingly connected culture, the Internet of Things will explode -- Gartner (conservatively†) predicts 26 billion devices on the Internet of Things by 2020, when by IoT product and services will be generating $300+ billion per year.

Big business is all-in: Tech-giants like Cisco, IBM and SAP are launching internal business units and spending billions to grow the infrastructure of the Internet of Things, while major consumer and industrial manufacturers like Ford, General Electric, Bosch and Philips are working overtime to develop the next generation of intelligent devices. And it's a feeding frenzy on IoT startups; myriad VC firms alongside IT trend-setters like Google and Intel are rapidly acquiring promising hardware and software suppliers in the Internet of Things ecosystem.  

As the Internet of Things continues to expand, forward-thinking IT professionals will enjoy a variety of challenging and lucrative job opportunities. These IT skill sets will be especially sought-after in the age of IoT:

  1. Business Intelligence

    With so many devices consuming and sending exabytes of raw information, the true potential of "big data” will be realized. Organizations will endeavor to collect, store, and analyze smart device data streams for actionable intelligence -- business intelligence specialists with skills in sensor data analysis, data center management, predictive analytics, PaaS (Platform as a Service), as well as programming chops in popular big data platforms like Apache Hadoop and NoSQL, will be ideally positioned to meet these needs. Strong business acumen will also be a key differentiator, particularly for BI executives tasked with divining additional opportunities in the burgeoning Internet of Things.
  2. Information Security

    Already home to one of the largest talent gaps in the IT workforce, cyber security specialists will be even more sought-after as the influx of IP-enabled devices increase the complexity – and with it the potential exploits and privacy concerns – of networked devices. Will someone be able hack into your smart-fridge and gain access to your entire network? IT security pros skilled in vulnerability assessment, PKI (public key infrastructure) security, ethical hacking, and wireless network security are already being scooped up to evaluate and mitigate risks like these. Knowledge of data ethics and privacy policy will further help you advance your information security career in the IoT.
  3. UI / UX Design

    PC, smartphone and tablet screens are rectangles. Objects in the Internet of Things will come in every shape and size; some will have very small screens, and others will have no visual display at all. Talented user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) designers will be a hot commodity as IoT providers strive to develop effective, user-friendly interfaces despite this shift in paradigm. Marketable skills for UI/UX designers in the IoT include Responsive Web Design (wherein visuals dynamically adjust to screen-size, platform and orientation) and Service Design (human-centered design approach that intuitively guides users through complex services).
  4. Mobile Development

    Many of our smart objects will be controlled with mobile devices, i.e., smartphones, tablets, and wearables, driving additional demand for the white-hot mobile application development job role. Platform-wise, Apple iOS and Android application developers will garner the most demand, as these two platforms account for over 90% of mobile devices in U.S. circulation (currently neck-and-neck at about 45% market share each). Digging a little deeper, those with experience developing mobile apps that communicate with external hardware and sensors will be especially sought-after in the proliferating Internet of Things workforce.
  5. Hardware Engineering

    Computer hardware engineers design and build the actual electronics at the heart of the Internet of Things movement. Engineers who can develop and install Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and other connectivity solutions will be in great demand. Other valuable hardware skills in the IoT include AutoCAD drafting, micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) engineering, wireless sensor design, and quality assurance. Hardware technicians will also benefit from razor-sharp soft skills, such as effective verbal/written communication and conflict resolution, which they’ll need in spades to successfully collaborate with design and manufacturing teams in the IoT.
  6. Networking

    Smart devices wield a variety of sensors and applications to communicate with their environment. Getting these devices to interact effectively demands a wide array of networking tools and techniques. Network pros will need top-notch skills in designing, maintaining and optimizing large-scale traffic across secure, reliable and redundant backbones. Working knowledge of WiFi and other wireless (3G/4G/5G) connection methods will be in high demand, along with the ability to support Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and Near Field Communication (NFC), and wireless protocols that don't consume a lot of battery power - such as Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and ZigBee. Providing for diversity of content and understanding the underlying application flow will also be vital for IT pros supporting this critical data network.
  7. Programming & Software Development

    With the industry still in its infancy, the IoT development landscape is very diverse. There are various platforms to choose from and it'll take more time before industry standards are stabilized and set in stone. Nonetheless, some programming skills are more in demand than others. Python is a choice language. It is popular with Raspberry Pi, the single-board computer that is widely used in IoT projects of all sizes. Also crucial to IoT is Node.js, a low-resource server platform that manages connected devices. Node.js is based on the JavaScript programming language. If you want to dig deeper and get into more advanced scenarios such as programming microcontrollers and Arduino boards, knowledge of C/C++ will be a must. These platforms will give you a great jumpstart in programming the IoT.

The list of marketable skills in the Internet of Things will continue to grow as new business challenges and tech breakthroughs arise. I will continue to update this post with the latest & greatest IoT skill sets as they emerge.

Gartner predicts 26 billion devices on the Internet of Things by 2020 (excluding PCs, smartphones and tablets). International Data Corporation (IDC) forecasts 30.1 billion autonomous devices on the IoT in 2020, while Cisco and Ericsson each say 50 billion (but keep in mind they have a horse in this race). Personally, I wouldn't be surprised if the scope of the Internet of Things surpasses all four predictions by decade's end.

Continue reading

Top Paying IT Career Paths for 2014

In addition to education requirements and marketplace demand, salary is a key factor in choosing your ideal IT career. These tech jobs have the greatest earning potential in 2014.

Highest Paying Technology Careers 2014

Finding a job you love that also pays the bills can prove a challenge in today’s economy. Luckily, those of us in the rapidly evolving IT space have a range of challenging and lucrative career paths to choose from. Most of the top paying tech careers for 2014 require years of schooling, but the expense of education will pay dividends upon joining the workforce. Unsurprisingly, many of this year’s top paying positions are in the C-suite – in addition to training, these careers demand an experienced technologist with high business acumen and a proven record of success.

IT staffing firm, Robert Half Technology, recently published its 2014 Salary Guide, featuring salary and employment trends for this year’s hottest job roles. Here we take a deeper look at the top 10 highest paying IT careers for 2014:

Continue reading

Online IT Schools