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Community college students at five Microsoft Datacenter Academies around the country have a new requirement to test their tech skills: CompTIA certifications.

Three CompTIA certifications will become required components of the existing IT curriculum at the schools:

  • CompTIA A+
  • CompTIA Network+
  • CompTIA Server+

The Datacenter Academy trains students for entry-level jobs at data centers. Training covers infrastructure cabling, copper and fiber optic testing, and computer network connectivity. Courses range from eight weeks to 20 months.

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The Datacenter Academy program is a part of Microsoft’s Datacenter Community Development initiative, which works to build partnerships that deliver economic, social, and environmental benefits in communities where Microsoft operates datacenters. This initiative brings together nonprofits, governments, educators, and businesses to improve computer science education and support business development.

“CompTIA is an important partner for the Microsoft Datacenter Academy program, which develops IT skills for the community workforce in locations where Microsoft operates datacenters,” Utaukwa Allen, senior director, Microsoft Datacenter community development, said in a press release. “Skills learned through the CompTIA curriculum prepare workers for jobs in the digital economy, including working in a Microsoft datacenter.”

Participating schools also can add the CompTIA Security+ certification, which covers baseline cybersecurity skills, to their programs. Classroom instructors at the five partner schools will have the opportunity to join the CompTIA Instructor Network.

Currently, five community colleges around the US have Microsoft Data Center training programs, including Southside Virginia Community College, the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center, Des Moines Area Community College in Iowa, Laramie County Community College in Wyoming, and Big Bend Community College in Washington.

Earlier this spring at the Des Moines Area Community College, the datacenter academy opened a virtual learning lab, which features virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies that will give students the opportunity to navigate the Microsoft data centers located throughout Central Iowa via a simulated environment.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, datacenters were deemed essential businesses by most jurisdictions due to the reliance on cloud services by businesses, schools, and government agencies, including many first responders.

Cloud certifications, security certifications and project management programs are other popular ways to quantify professional experience and increase earnings potential.