Texas State Technical College's Computer Networking and Systems Administration program and Cybersecurity program at the North Texas campus will move to an all-online format this fall.


For the 2020-21 academic year, TSTC's health protocols have caused changes in how many classes are delivered. Some programs are moving to a hybrid format combining online classes and in-person labs, while others will only be taught online.


"The benefit to our students can potentially be great," said Jacob Usery, an instructor in TSTC's Computer Networking and Systems Administration program. "They will already have been practicing current standard operating procedures for remotely managing a network throughout their education."


Usery said network administrators, systems administrators, help desk technicians and other people in the information technology field have managed remote environments and users for years.


"The ability to successfully work on remote equipment and systems is vital to becoming a valuable technical asset for any organization," Usery said. "If we are able to start our students on that journey at the academic level, we will produce graduates who have a leg up on their peers in the working world."


John McGinnis, an instructor in TSTC's Cybersecurity program, said the move online will give students flexibility to work on their own schedules but still maintain deadlines.


Both programs will offer Occupational Skills Awards for the first time. The OSAs are designed for students to take quickly in order to gain new skills for the workforce. Classes can be completed in less than a semester.


The Basic Computer Networking and Systems Administration OSA will include Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) classes focusing on automation, networking, routing and other topics.


"This is good for career changers and people that are working in the industry and need that extra bump to break through the ceiling," Usery said. "Also, (it is good for) young people entering the workforce that need to tap into a skill that can provide immediate job prospects upon successful completion."


The Basic Cybersecurity OSA focuses on information technology security and networking technologies.


Additionally, students have a great reason to be optimistic about the current job climate, as indicated by information from Workforce Solutions North Central Texas.


The Workforce Solutions office covers 16 counties, including Ellis County. Some of the employers with the largest number of openings for computer and information systems managers, computer network architects, and software and application developers include Wells Fargo with more than 600 jobs, and JPMorgan Chase & Co. with more than 500.