NC-Expert California Veteran Apprenticeship Programs

Our Mission

NC-Expert’s mission is simple and straightforward: IT Training Made Easy! Our company tag line says it all: we are Experts creating Experts.

We are a group of seasoned engineers and trainers that are different from the rest of the education market. We want to pass along our experience and knowledge to others, in a way that they will become more efficient in their daily tasks, better engineers and, ultimately, enhance the companies they work for while continuously moving forward in their successful careers.

We believe all training should produce a Return on Investment. We price our courses and structure our programs around this concept. We know 40 hours of training on highly technical topics crammed into a single week is efficient for the corporations doing the purchasing but difficult for the engineers consuming the training.

We try to make things a bit easier on the engineers by augmenting all our courses with individual coaching, group mentoring, live webinars, and unlimited re-sits of the lectures in most of our classes, until our engineers comprehend and master all of the topics covered in their discipline. We call the engineers “our” engineers because, unlike a lot of other training companies, we truly care about their individual successes.

We provide scholarships and other opportunities to allow those veterans that are struggling to take a firm hold on IT with the belief that excellent training in an ever-growing career field can change their lives.

We look forward to growing this approach in a formal and scalable model to provide our Veteran IT Apprenticeship programs to as many veterans as possible.

Our programs are sought by the organizations that would ultimately hire veterans and we will work hard to ensure our programs can make a difference in the lives of our veterans.

In our own way it is an attempt to thank them for their service by enabling them to realize success after their sacrifice.

The NC-Expert Apprenticeship Approach

NC-Expert Perspective

The executives at NC-Expert have been working in this industry as engineers, architects, executives, trainers, and advisers directly to vendors such as Cisco, CWNP, EC-Council, and many others for over 25 years. Collectively, we have vast experience in modern, cutting-edge technologies and approaches.

We focus on providing "bleeding edge" training to thousands of corporate students and regularly write and design the courses that Cisco and other large vendors use. In addition, we are regularly called upon to develop internal programs where we “train Cisco on how to deploy Cisco”. They trust us to write the courses and to train their internal employees so we feel we have a unique perspective on the state of the market.

Choose Program that Produces a Good Return on Investment

NC-Expert believes that all training should produce a definitive return on investment (ROI) and we have created our first option, a 3-year model, which assumes a 32-month multi-part program costing roughly $55,000. The skills and certifications chosen are designed to create the skill-sets that are normally compensated in the $70,000-$150,000 salary range with a ten-year ROI of potentially >$1 Million in salary for the $55,000 investment.

We have also created shorter 1-year options, which assume 12-month multi-part programs costing roughly $18,500 each. Each of these programs is designed to provide the veteran with a number of useful technology-focused industry certifications.

We seek out and qualify program nominees based on a wide range of factors that align directly with DOL requirements as well as the criteria that we find corporations actively search for. Our vast network of corporate executives, hiring managers, and recruiters consult with us regularly to make sure we are identifying both the hard IT skills as well as the soft skills needed for the ideal veteran.

(2017 Salary Guide-Robert Half Technology)

Current Industry Overview

Network Infrastructure Market

Over the past 5 years, the network infrastructure market has been undergoing an evolution: that of virtualization and convergence of networking, server, and storage, as well as that of software defined networking (SDN). Essentially, this is the next generation of the virtualization that has been taking shape in the server world (see description below).

Today, an engineer must be well versed in all aspects of networking to fill the gaps and needs of most modern corporations. This area is evolving the fastest in the data center and cloud disciplines. Additional skills, such as programming in Python, are now becoming desirable.

The network engineer of the next ten years will have to know the core technologies well enough to be able to interact with them all as a unified system. SDN allows corporations to build application-centric infrastructures that are dynamically programmed to adjust to an application’s needs on a sub-second basis.

Within the enterprise, another major trend that is rapidly creating gaps and needs, with sustained growth predicted over the next ten years, is Wireless/Wi-Fi. Today, the trends of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) are forcing corporations to rapidly expand and optimize their infrastructures to compensate for the explosion in the number of devices brought into the workplace. In the early 2004 timeframe, the norm was that an employee was assigned a PC within a permanent cubicle. Nowadays, that same employee works from the office, home, or on the road and is always “on”. The devices used today are exclusively connected via wireless technologies.

Add to this, enormous strides in capability such as location-based analytics, where a retail store, for example, can track a customer as they walk through a mall and predictably offer advertisements and coupons based on previous purchases and specific location within the mall in real-time with accuracy measured in inches. You can imagine that the adoption of this enormous new revenue stream is pushing companies to invest heavily.

The last area where all of the above evolutions have opened previously untouched networking opportunities is with devices not traditionally considered network-attached devices. This area is referred to as the Internet of Things (IoT) and the Internet of Everything (IoE). Both of these areas represent a double digit trillion-dollar emerging market that is expected to be fully adopted as mainstream within the next ten years. Everything from apparel, glasses, and watches, to red lights, cars, and appliances fall into this category. The potential benefit to the average corporation is unlimited, driving it to become far more impactful on corporate America, than was the Internet of the 1990s.

The entry-level veteran looking to enter the IT market today should be fully ready to present themselves as someone who has begun gaining the skills that these potential employers are actively seeking.

Security Market

Security, is a major area that has rapidly evolved since 2004. Back in 2004, it was simple enough to understand the basic tenets of security to be useful to a corporation. Most companies, at that point, considered basic firewalls and virus protection to be a valid security approach. Today, the landscape is far more complicated. Firewalls and virus protection are still used, but are understood to have exploitable weaknesses.

Large vendors such as Cisco, IBM, HP, etc. have gone through several years of heavy development and acquisition to modernize their security portfolios. Today major offerings include malware protection, intrusion detection, anomaly detection and mitigation, and programmable policies combined into single appliances. This advance has created multiple disciplines within security, from policy engineer through infrastructure security engineer to security analyst. At this time the highest-growth sector in security is cyber security, the art of analyzing the threat. No longer are companies taking a purely reactive approach: they are now taking a proactive approach. Cisco, for example, has recently announced a brand new cyber security certification track.

BYOD devices require a complex and jointly owned personal and corporate policy strategy. Wired and wireless security differs in approach and technologies used, and the requirement to protect all the billions of devices being connected through IoT/IoE will make this an in-demand field for at least the next ten years.

Server/PC Market

There are many people throughout the market serving in senior roles in the server field that began as CompTIA A+ or Microsoft MCSA but, at the entry level, there is far more competition and less job security. Many large corporations have moved their helpdesk operations outside of the US. Today, there is very little need for an employee that can put together a PC from parts, because most corporations have large purchase agreements with vendors such as Dell and Lenovo to provide complete systems. In addition, the emerging trends for corporations today are described in what the industry calls BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). BYOD began about 5 years ago with the introduction of the iPad as a predominant employee end-device. Since most corporations cannot fight this trend they are openly embracing it.

For example, over the past 4 years one major, world-leading technology company has almost completely stopped issuing laptops to its employees. As a result, the employee can get a stipend to purchase their own. At the same time, the predominant devices in this company have rapidly become Mac laptops and iPads. Interestingly enough, this same company initiated a policy of having no official helpdesk to support Apple products. However, they allowed the employees to purchase the Apple Maintenance Plan when they purchased their devices. This same trend is happening everywhere throughout corporate America and is growing at a rapid pace.

Within the server world, the trend is moving towards heavy virtualization. This began in mid-2008 with the introduction of VMware and required that a server engineer needed to be skilled in multiple operating systems such as Microsoft, Linux, VMware and Citrix to stand out and remains true today. From a skill-set perspective, the more desirable skill in this market is to be a well-rounded server admin, who is familiar with multiple enterprise systems. As part of the BYOD and Virtualization trends, many companies are rapidly expanding their support of Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) - you buy your own laptop and then connect to VMware/Citrix where you will load a corporate version of Windows.

This is an attempt to merge the wild west of BYOD with the traditional corporate-owned device. The other major trend in this area is that Cisco is now the leader in many sectors of server sales, which occurred as a result of a launch in 2008 of the Cisco UCS server family. They changed the paradigm completely by merging server hardware with networking and storage, thus creating a single converged system. Today, the engineer responsible for that system must be cross-skilled in multiple server technologies, networking, and storage. The same applies to IBM and HP where all three major players are doing the same thing.

So, in short, a person trying to get an entry level job as a server admin will find it much harder if they choose the wrong certifications, or none at all, to go with their limited experience.

How Are Our Apprenticeship Programs Different from Other Veteran Programs?

We understand where the veteran is coming from. Less than 11% of veterans ever use their benefits. One of the reasons why, specific to IT, is that while employers respect a candidate with a degree what they really need, above all else, are skilled and trained engineers who know more than the theory that can be learned from a generic university degree. They want engineers who know and understand the technologies and products into which the employer is investing millions of dollars.

A fundamental role of an engineer in most corporations is to keep the environment running: down time means lost revenue. This is why IT engineers earn great salaries - companies pay to prevent the loss of business. This means the engineer needs to know the ins and outs of the specific technologies and products being used within the corporate environment.

The Problem with the University Model and Veterans

Most veterans leaving the military after 4, or more, years are in their mid-20s. If they then enroll in a 4-year college program they will graduate at close to 30 years of age. Most separating veterans have families, so they can’t afford to live and go to college full time. This pushes their completion date out even further. As a result, a very small percentage complete their degrees. Veterans tend to go after any job when they separate, assuming they will get the good job after they get their degree but, in reality, they end up stuck in a dead-end career.

From a civilian employer’s perspective, they often see the resulting resume timeline as strange: why has a 30-year-old person not been employed for the past 4 years? Combine this with the absolutely terrible misconceptions about post-military PTSD and you can imagine why many employers still hesitate to hire veterans.

Even if the veteran can afford to dedicate themselves to a full time degree, many veterans often choose degrees that do not help them in their careers. Today, the 4-year degree is seen much like the high school diploma was 10 years ago: it is simply a check box on an application. It gets a resume seen by the hiring manager but, when they see there is nothing else there, that resume is moved to the bottom of the stack. Experience is key: you have to combine real-world experience with degree theory and, unfortunately, most civilian employers do not consider military experience as "real-world", because it is too different from their world to translate.

Our Solution

NC-Expert is a top supplier of very high-end technical vendor certification training. We provide training to the same companies veterans want to work for: we train their existing staff. We work with the vendors veterans are trying to get skills from, directly, to help them develop programs and write many of their courses for them. We know what the upcoming courses will include, in many cases, months before they are released to the public.

We put our heads together with the Department of Labor, Department of Veterans Affairs, our Vendors, and our customers to create unique programs that are designed to help veterans best utilize their educational benefits, without the fear of being taken advantage of, as is all too common in the industry today.

In short, our programs give you the potential for a good job, one where you will gain real-world experience while earning a salary. We ensure the employers we approach on your behalf, once they hire you, will assign a mentor to you and will guarantee that you will be rewarded with wage increases throughout the program, after you master the new skills and earn the required certifications. At completion of our 3-year program, for example, you will have almost 3 years of real-world, cutting-edge IT engineering experience, 10-12 of the most desired IT certifications in the market, resume proof of being a good hire, and a formal US Government credential signed by both NC-Expert’s CEO and the Department of Labor.

With our programs we specifically reduced the costs involved to be able to give veterans the absolute maximum amount of training we could in the areas that are most in demand. From an employment perspective, you not only want to get certifications that are recognized, but you also want to get the ones that are in demand - specifically, in areas of technology that are growing. The veteran must consider where this will place them in 10 years from when they earn the certification. Choosing the wrong certification or technology will end up being a waste of time and money that may start you on a path that is difficult to reverse.

We have had multiple people scrutinize our programs to ensure we only include training from companies that are leading in their respective markets, and followed the lead of hiring managers that were investing corporate money into the classes we already included to better their existing teams. We have a simple goal: we want our veterans to be the envy of the team they are joining, because they are getting the training the team wants but for which they cannot obtain funding.

NC-Expert IT Apprenticeship Program Flow

Getting the Veteran Hired

Our unique position within the IT industry and market allows us to leverage existing and new relationships with companies looking to hire veterans and IT workers with the skills we provide in our programs. NC-Expert will screen and enroll the veteran into the apprenticeship program. During this process we will partner with a local employer. NC-Expert will enter into an Apprenticeship Employment Agreement with this company that will outline requirements and conditions of hiring a veteran as an apprentice.

The agreement between NC-Expert and the company will include available paid time to complete the training along with a structured plan for interaction to ensure the OJT competencies are jointly addressed. Areas that are typically included in the employee’s job role, such as workplace safety, will be executed by the company and verified and signed off by NC-Expert. Other areas that are included in the OJT Apprenticeship program, but are not normally part of the company’s training, will be provided by NC-Expert.

Regular meetings with the veteran’s supervisors and management team will be conducted to ensure the veteran:

  • is progressing through the apprenticeship,
  • is being provided ample opportunity to exercise their skills and grow their experience, and lastly
  • to ensure the company is happy with the veteran as a contributing member of their team.

At the completion of the program NC-Expert will work with the company and the veteran to help secure an ongoing full-time position with the company and will transition the graduating veteran from the apprenticeship program.

This opens the doors for many more opportunities for both veterans and companies alike to participate in the IT Apprenticeship programs without the headache of the administration of the programs.

Gaining Government Approval for the Veteran

Our approach of acting as a Managing Entity, an IT Training Company, and as a Content Provider ensures we have relationships within the DOL and Veteran Affairs offices.

NC-Expert will work with the veteran to help streamline the enrollment process. As a single point of contact we can ensure that all parties involved will progress through the process in a more efficient and timely matter.

We feel that, for the program to be successful, we need to remove the headache for the two parties with the most to lose or gain through the apprenticeship: the veteran and the hiring company.

Training the Veteran

NC-Expert is an established, authorized learning partner of Cisco, CWNP, and EC-Council. We also provide authorized CompTIA training through a strategic relationship. This is a vast difference from many of the other companies and colleges that typically provide veteran-funded IT certification training. Many of these companies use on-staff instructors to write non-authorized versions of the certification training classes.

Our apprenticeship programs were created to ensure participants would gain the latest-and-greatest training from the vendor. Choosing a provider that presents their own version creates a situation where the participant may not be getting the best or most updated training.

As a strategic partner to the vendors we not only provide their most current authorized and endorsed content, we are often the company that develops and writes the content for the vendors either under our own name or that of one of our partners. In addition to this, our executives have maintained longstanding relationships with the executives at these vendors and many of their internal engineers that create the very products represented in the training. We are occasionally privileged to inspect technologies prior to them being released. We are the go-to partner to train these vendors’ entire engineering, sales, and executive staff on their own products as they are going to market. In short, with our program, the veteran is learning directly from the source.

Our classes are taught by seasoned instructors. We choose the individuals that are at the top of their careers, most of whom have achieved numerous expert designations in multiple fields. We do not use instructors that are at the same level as those graduating from the apprenticeship programs. Typically, our instructors have 10-20 years, not only in the field, but as top level engineers responsible for very large enterprise environments. Several have designed some of the largest networking environments in the industry.

All of our classes are delivered using live instruction. We offer both an in-person attendance option as well as a virtual attendance option. At no point will the veteran be left to learn on his own with second rate videos. They will always have the ability to ask questions and be taught by someone that has first-hand knowledge of the topic. The virtual attendance option is executed via cutting edge video conferencing which allows live, full interaction of both instruction and the all-too-valuable hands-on lab exercises that accompany most of our courses. The only thing missing is the extra cost associated with travel.

Additional webinar events are offered each month on topics that are typically harder to learn, and leverage the same virtual attendance platform. These allow the veteran to pack in even more training after hours.

In addition, we extend our practice of group mentoring with all apprenticeships. This prevents the veteran from ever getting into a situation while learning, where they get stuck without having someone to explain the topic. We know from years of experience that no one comprehends every topic and our enhanced programs give the veteran extra help on those topics that are proving more difficult to grasp.

We also know the certification process itself is a daunting task, so we offer workshops on test-taking techniques and study habits to aid in this aspect as well.

In addition, we do not run dedicated classes for veterans only: we mix the veterans from the apprenticeship programs with our normal customers that consist of established engineers already working in companies in the same positions the veteran is seeking. This allows us to provide the veteran another invaluable aid at the start of their career: networking opportunities.

Why Choose NC-Expert for IT Apprenticeship

NC-Expert is an established and proven leader in cutting edge IT training. We recruit only the highest talent in the market and have years of experience designing, deploying, and managing some of the largest IT environments on the globe.

NC-Expert’s relationships within the IT industry extend from senior executives from the largest vendors in the industry through to training many Fortune 50 sized companies’ IT engineering staff. We have a long tradition of business, technical, communication, and written work spanning many decades.

NC-Expert is a registered C corporation based in Pleasanton, California. The company was established in 2011 and its services and courses are delivered globally. The corporate name is NetCertExpert, Inc. doing business as (DBA) "NC-Expert".

Return on Investment for The Veteran


*Price is the MSRP of the technical certification training class only. Typical market price for Cisco, CWNP, and EC-Council 5-day/40-hour courses falls between $3,500-$4,500 per course. This is the pricing regularly advertised on publicly accessible marketing. This price only covers a one-time attendance of the course. NC-Expert offers a travel-free virtual attendance option which saves approximately $20,000 per person in travel costs. In addition, NC-Expert offers other services such as mentoring, tracking, mediation, etc., as part of the programs that are not offered by the typical training company.

**NC-Expert prices our standard public offering well below the average MSRP, with the goal of driving ROI as high as possible and enabling individuals to pursue more training and higher skill sets through our programs. Our courses typically allow for unlimited re-sits (some restrictions apply) in addition to mentoring, webinars, and exam vouchers (CWNP only).

***The NC-Expert IT Apprenticeship programs offer the lowest-priced IT certification training in the market to our veterans. In many cases, savings of well over $2,000 per course are realized. The programs include our unlimited re-sit and webinar add-ons, as well as veteran career counseling, OJT soft-skill training, and several customized courses on topics that go beyond the vendor-sponsored certification programs being referenced here.

Details of the Programs

Option: 32-month Program

Example Industry Certifications Earned During 32-month Apprenticeship Program, Dependent on Track Selected

Wireless Technology Specialty Track

  • Cisco: CCENT
  • Cisco: CCNA Routing & Switching
  • Cisco: CCNA Wireless
  • CompTIA: Security+
  • EC-Council: CND
  • Cisco: CCNP Wireless
  • Cisco: CCNA Cybersecurity
  • Cisco: CCNA Cloud
  • PMP

Security Technology Specialty Track

  • Cisco: CCENT
  • Cisco: CCNA Routing & Switching
  • CompTIA: Security+
  • EC Council: CND
  • Cisco: CCNA Security
  • Cisco: CCNA Cybersecurity
  • EC Council CEH
  • Cisco: CCNA Wireless
  • Cisco: CCNA Cloud
  • Cisco: CCNP Security
  • PMP

Data Center / Cloud Technology Specialty Track

  • Cisco: CCENT
  • Cisco: CCNA Routing & Switching
  • CompTIA: Security+
  • EC-Council: CND
  • Cisco: CCNA Wireless
  • Cisco: CCNA Cybersecurity
  • Cisco: CCNA Cloud
  • VMware: VCP
  • Cisco: CCNA Data Center
  • Cisco: CCNP Data Center
  • Cisco: Network Programmability Design and Implementation Specialist
  • PMP

Note: Courses listed are not in specific order of delivery.
Additional courses may be provided.

ALL Courses are Authorized Official Courses

Get Started Today

The first step is to fill out our online application. We collect required information to determine the feasibility and fit for you in the program. This step is not a formal application into the program, it simply helps us to help you determine if this is something that you would be interested, and successful, in.

We want our veterans to be treated with respect and will be open and honest regarding the program and the veteran's suitability for it. Once we all feel everything is in place we move to the second step.

The second step is identifying a company and position and fine-tuning your resume and interview skills. We then approach the company hiring manager directly and sell them on the benefits of considering you and the apprenticeship program.

You would then go through an interview process with the company. It is likely that you will be doing this with multiple companies to give you as much exposure as possible to the available opportunities. While this is happening, we will be working with you and your local DoL and VA offices to get all of the forms completed and enroll you on the benefits side as well. Once both pieces are complete, you will have a scheduled start date for your new job.

From that point onward, the communication will be constant between you, your new employer, and NC-Expert. We will be a three-way partnership and will start scheduling you, right away, for classroom training and you will be on your way to a new career.

To get started click the button below and fill out the form. Once we receive your information, our team will do some basic research on your background from the resume and information you will submit, and we will explore the job market in your target area. Once we have a good picture of the available opportunities, we will reach out to you to have a detailed discussion where you can ask any questions you may have about the program or process. You do not need to wait until you separate from the military. We can start this process while you are transitioning and still on active duty.

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