RALEIGH, N.C. — How does this sound? A tech training course that doesn’t cost you a dime and could radically change your career.

Earlier this year, the national nonprofit NPower graduated its first class in North Carolina. The group comprises young people looking to break into tech.

What You Need To Know

  • NPower, a national nonprofit, is offering a free IT job training program in North Carolina
  • The program is open to 18- to 26-year-olds from the state’s underserved communities, as well as veterans and their spouses
  • Classes help students earn certifications and jumpstart an IT career

“We’ve got some big companies moving into the Triangle, and I would also say the Triad,” said Dr. Christy A. Walker, a career placement manager with NPower. “We need tech for pretty much everything we do. I see it broadening out to different areas more.”

The 20-week program is open to those 18 to 26 years old. Students meet virtually three days a week. Students learn skills for IT certifications and entry-level tech jobs.

There’s also a day of in-person professional development each month, where they can receive help with job leads, interview tips or resumes.

“It exceeded my expectations,” said Fatima Salcedo, a recent NPower program graduate who currently works as a barista. “They put us in positions that gave us an opportunity to grow.”

Salcedo has already earned several certifications and has had a few interviews as they looks to pivot into a career in tech. Through the program, Salcedo says they’ve also learned to be more confident in pursuing their goals.

“One of the instructors would say you don’t make mistakes. Mistakes are only a first attempt at learning,” Salcedo said.

While there have been high-profile tech layoffs, things may turn around. Analysis by CompTIA, a top trade association in IT, finds employment is growing and is expected to continue for the rest of the year. The unemployment rate for tech workers fell from 3.5% in February to 2.8% in April.

According to NPower, over 10,000 people have worked their way through its programs nationwide, and graduates have landed jobs with companies like Tesla, T. Rowe Price and Microsoft.

Salcedo hopes they can be the next to join that list.

“I’m excited to have finished this program, but I’m also nervous about not finding that job or that one opportunity,” Salcedo said. “But that’s all it takes, just one opportunity. That’s all I need.”

Its classes in North Carolina are getting bigger. While Salcedo’s inaugural class was made up of 18 people, the current group includes 43.

The next cohort gets going in August. NPower accepts applications on a rolling basis from its website

Clarification: This article has been updated to reflect that in-person professional development happens monthly.