A+ & Network+, now what..?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by someguy, Feb 21, 2009.

  1. someguy macrumors 68020

    someguy

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    #1
    Hey everyone, I'm looking for a bit of guidance. Hope someone can help!


    I've recently passed the exam for obtaining CompTIA's Network+ Certification and I'm not really sure where I'd like to go from here. I'm concerned about the following:

    • Cost and/or cost-effectiveness; I'd like to put my time and energy (and money!) into something that will be both impressive to potential employers, and prevent blending in as much with the other 49 resumes on his/her desk.

    • Outdatedness; I know that most certifications never expire, but they do become outdated as technology advances. I'd like to know I'm working toward something that will still be an asset to my success in 3-5 years, or longer if possible. Should I avoid the current MCDST (XP) because of this?

    • Usefulness; By that, I guess I mean that the next step I take should help me become more qualified for something that I'd actually be able to find a job doing!


    I've been considering the following as a next step:

    CompTIA: Security+, Server+, Linux+ (I feel the Linux+ credential would help me stand out a bit, plus I have a strong interest in learning more about Linux itself).

    Microsoft: MCDST, MCSE, MSCA, MCDBA, MCITP, MCTS

    Cisco: Any Associate-level certification relavent to a field with a high demand for employees. These expire after three years though, so I don't know if I really want to work to keep a certification valid unless it's absolutely necessary.

    Note: I know that my current CompTIA certs count as an elective toward certain Microsoft Certifications, so if it makes sense, I'd like to go with one that qualifies for this program.


    I guess it'd be helpful to know what it is I'd like to do for a living. That I don't know at this point. I currently work as a PC Repair Tech at a very small shop near where I live. I love the job, but not the pay, and it's kind of a dead-end job. It looks good on my resume though! I think I'd like to be an IT Director, System or Network Administrator, or something to that effect.

    Thanks to anyone who actually took the time to read all of this. :cool:

    What do you think?
     
  2. shfreelance macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
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    Eustis, FL
    #2
    I would get the MCSE next, as your current two certificates. Can be used toward the elective for the MCSE. So in a way you completed part of the MCSE.

    Also, you have the two base CompTia certifications that are somewhat worth something. So either work on Microsoft or Cisco. Maybe even Apples?
     
  3. Zombie Acorn macrumors 65816

    Zombie Acorn

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2009
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario
    #3
    Go get a bachelors degree, I had the a+ and my ccna before I left high school, certs alone won't work as effective as a degree unless you have experience
     
  4. maestro55 macrumors 68030

    maestro55

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2005
    Location:
    Goat Farm in Meridian, TX
    #4
    First off congratulations on the A+ and Network+ certifications, I took classes my first year in college that taught material designed to lead one to getting those certifications and while I could probably pass the cert exam I never have gotten any certifications. Though obviously it would look good on a resume.

    As for what your next logical step should be, if you really want to go into Networking or Systems administration I would suggest going to school for that. I will second Zombie with his remark to get a Bachelor's degree. But I know sometimes money is an option and you need to finish school and get a job. I would highly suggest though looking at maybe getting an Associates degree and then getting a job.

    It might help to know where you are and so to get a better idea what some of your options might be. Also, don't expect to start out with a job as "IT Director" or "Network Administrator". Doing those tasks require a lot of experience. I am struggling in my current position because I got hired on at a non-profit as the ICT Support Analyst but we don't have anyone else so apart from the everyday support tasks I have to maintain all the servers and the network. We are in the process of overhauling the network, too. And while I understand the concepts I have little experience in the design of networks. Which is a big part in the life of a network administrator or IT director.

    Good luck tough, you are on to a great start.
     
  5. someguy thread starter macrumors 68020

    someguy

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    #5
    Thanks. :)

    I am in Flint, Michigan. The only schools I could afford to go to around here are Baker and Mott Community College, neither of which I am very excited about. I'd like to go to ITT or take online courses but it is really expensive. I was hoping to avoid college by obtaining certifications and as much job experience as possible. I know a lot of companies only interview those holding a degree in something, and that's a shame, IMO.

    I'm not expecting anything of the sort. Right now I am 1 of 2 PC Repair Techs at a local shop and I considered myself very lucky to even get that job in the first place. I wasn't Network+ Certified when I started this job, and I was thinking if no experience and just an A+ Cert got me this job, then maybe a year or two of experience, a Network+ Cert, and maybe an MCSA or other higher level certification would be enough to get me to the next level. :cool:
     
  6. maestro55 macrumors 68030

    maestro55

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    #6
    The difference is, the PC Tech market is flooded, and as I am sure you know the money isn't all that great. You could certainly move up in that realm with experience but it would take several more years of experience (even with more advanced certifications). What you would spend on those certifications could pay for a few classes as the local college (or I would assume, not sure what a credit hour is there at a community college). If you began working towards a degree in an IT related field, just having a few credits and showing that you made an effort will go a long way.

    Why don't you apply to work at one of the community colleges doing IT work? You could go to school part time and get hands on experience doing more than just fixing PCs. It is one thing to having machines on the bench all day troubleshooting them and getting them going. That is great and there is a market for people who can do that. However, there is a greater market for people who can create networks and design and maintain systems to benefit an organization.

    Right now I am working for a non-profit and mind you this is my first job out of college, I am responsible for a VOIP phone system (we have three asterisk servers, one in Dallas, one in Meridian, and one in up state New York. The servers are trunked together and so depending on where a user is they connect to the appropriate server. 7 months ago when I started no remote users had phones connecting to the system, that was my first task and I had never even used Asterisk before.. talk about great experience) a back-up system, development servers, media servers, all the desktop and notebook computers that are used by our people around the world.

    My point of saying this is, even with all this experience that I have gotten and even if I put in 20+ years with this non-profit, I would be hard pressed to become an IT director somewhere else without a Bachelor's degree. Experience sadly sometimes loses to the paper.
     
  7. someguy thread starter macrumors 68020

    someguy

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    #7
    That's an idea. I could visit them sometime and at least drop off a resume. I see them hiring from time to time for various positions, never really paid too much attention.

    Unfortunately that is true. My sister works for a big accounting firm with a very well paid tech staff. She's tried several times to get me an interview and without a degree, they won't even look in my direction. I understand the logic that someone with a diploma would be better suited for the position, but it'd be nice to at least have a crack at a temp position or something.
     
  8. 63dot macrumors 603

    63dot

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    norcal
    #8
    I worked with corporate networks, desktop support, and individual machines. There are three prevailing theories for techies out there:

    1) Get any Associate's or Bachelor's degree, especially tech related as companies like this. But even a non-techie degree shows an employer you possibly have long term commitment.

    2) Get an industry respected Microsoft, CompTIA, Cisco, or similar certification, and yes, A+ and Network+ are good ones.

    3) Teach yourself and get competent with different areas around hardware and software, and this is what will make you either keep the job or lose it. In the end, you have to be helpful to them, even if it's for the most banal of tasks. And the larger the company, the more the work is spread out and the more banal it can be, but the pay won't be banal.

    In ten years of doing this as a supplementary income, I found any of the three work in real life. The best, of course, is two or three of the above options. Degrees and certifications may not teach you competence, but if you become competent, you can have an edge on IT management, which often ends up doing very little with high tech, computers, or networks. The highest end IT people I have ever met are accountants who deal with managing, buying, renting, and discarding within large IT infrastructures within large organizations with cost-benefit analysis in mind.

    It is never bad to have a business degree, particularly something accounting related, if not a full on CPA, to add to your high tech resume if you ever want to climb to the Chief Information Officer position. On the highest level in high tech, you are about the bottom line and meeting a budget. The nation's third or fourth largest bank has a CIO who knows absolutely nothing about computer hardware or software even to the level of how to install a new printer with included CD ROM disk. Yes, he's a customer of mine. :)

    When Apple needed to find a CEO to bring it up to a company that reached further than San Jose, they didn't hire a programmer or hardware tech, they hired an experienced money manager in the form of Pepsi's former CEO. While he didn't make the decisions all Apple fans wanted, what he did do was extend the reach of Apple Computer Company beyond Silicon Valley and some US research universities.

    ..................................

    An ideal, very long term high tech career goal can look like this if it's straight shot:

    A+
    Network+
    MCP
    CCNA
    MCSE
    AS or BS in Computer Information Technology, Computer Science, or Business
    accounting classes which can qualify you to sit for the CPA exam

    .............

    A much more typical IT person may have a resume that looks like this:

    High school diploma or maybe even an undergrad humanities degree
    Membership in a computer club with years of tinkering at home
    ...getting hired as a bench tech or help desk technician
    A+ or MCP a few years into the job
    climbing the ladder and learning the hard way but still reaching CIO

    This model is what is more akin to reality, but the earlier scenario is the "ideal" path which people aspire to, like hitting .400 in the majors, after a glorious 4 year college baseball career.
     
  9. someguy thread starter macrumors 68020

    someguy

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    #9
    This model describes me perfectly.

    I was just talking with my brother about this, and he had mentioned that if I were to get anywhere without enrolling at any tech schools or universities, I'd probably have to get the best Entry Level position I can at a company that will eventually provide me a path to move up. In other words, a position similar to what I have now, only with the added possibility of promotions and that sort of thing. The problem I have at the moment is that there is nowhere for me to go with the job I currently have. There is no ladder.

    So, if I were to take this route (which I suppose is most like #3 in your post), what do you think the best course of action would be for me (aside from college) to get my foot in the door of a bigger organization?

    Thanks for all the info, by the way. :)
     
  10. 63dot macrumors 603

    63dot

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2006
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    norcal
    #10
    The A+ is the industry-wide certification, where MCSE is as good as a bachelor's degree, or better, with CCNA being good if you work with routers and switches. Yes, A+, Microsoft, and Cisco sound boring as does an AS or BA/BS, but HR people, like I was with my bachelor's in it, only typically know general stuff like Microsoft, Cisco, and A+. Cool stuff like expertise in J++, writing one's own database apps, and algorithms, while hard to achieve, don't really stand out on a resume to a mere business HR person, who are usually computer illiterate.

    As much as we like or hate the mega companies like Microsoft and Cisco, and love the smaller companies like Apple and some of the cool iPod accessory companies we hold dear to our heart, HR people usually only recognize the big names.
     

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