Minnesota West Community and Technical College offers a variety of majors in Information Technology. Computer and networking technology, AAS, Information Security and Assurance and PC Maintenance and Repair Certificate are some of our more popular majors.

Job opportunities in IT today are incredible. Many times, when I am meeting with prospective students, they are unsure of the area they want to focus on. All of our majors have a common core of classes taken the first semester. After the first semester, I meet with students to make sure they are in the correct major.

With the common core of classes taken, if a student decides to change majors, they can easily change without losing any credits.

IT industry certifications can be an excellent way for students to prove to prospective employers what their skills are. At Minnesota West, courses are offered to help students to prepare for CISCO Certified Network Associate (CCNA), CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+ and CompTIA Security+. Students who take PC Maintenance and Repair Hardware and Software classes can take the TestOut PC PRO Certification test for free, and students taking Introduction to Security class can take the TestOut Security PRO certification for free.

Minnesota West IT students will learn and use industry leading tools. VMWare for Virtualization is provided to all IT students. Students will also have access to operating systems software free for installation.

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For example, during operating systems class, students will install VMWare, then install Windows 10 in a virtual machine created in VMWare. As technical as it may sound, it really is easy; or at least it is after a student has been taught how to complete the task.

These tools also help students to practice tasks needed to be successful on the job and to take certification tests.

I was the Information Technology Specialist at the Jackson campus before I started teaching. I actually set up the first IBM PC the Jackson campus purchased, and set up one of the first modems the campus purchased connecting to the internet.

When I tell that story to my online students, I am sure they think I am 110 years old! I tell the story to have students think about how things have changed at a rapid pace, which is one of the reasons a career in IT is so attractive. There is never a dull moment!

I am so fortunate to feel like I am going to work to play. IT can be challenging, but it is also fun.

Minnesota West offers a post-secondary enrollment option (PSEO) opportunity for high school students in grades 10 through 12. I offer a section of the class, CST 1101 IT Exploration, specifically for high school students. Many times, high schools cannot offer a course in IT because they may only have three or four students interested. Combining students from several schools, they can take the course.

The Information Technology Exploration class will give the students the opportunity to explore careers and learn about computer hardware maintenance and repair, software development including gaming, network administration, telecommunications, data analytics and cyber security. This is a free, online curriculum developed by the Minnesota State Information Technology Center for Excellence.

Minnesota West Community and Technical College offer this two-credit course with minimal time away from the student’s local high school. The students will earn college credit, which can be further used for a degree in Computer and Networking Technology at Minnesota West or transfer to a college of their choice.

Some students that have taken this course are not computer majors and take the course to learn more about Information Technology and all of the jargon that goes with it.

Because this course is a contracted PSEO class, normal PSEO rules do not apply. If a student is in grades 10-12 and are interested in technology, most likely they would be allowed to take the class, there is not a minimum GPA requirement.

Fall semester classes start Aug. 23. Please contact me with any questions you have about the Information Technology majors at Minnesota West at terri.pelzel@mnwest.edu or (507)847-7931.

Have a wonderful and safe rest of summer!