Would this be a realistic/valuabe/focused cert path?

thatguy67thatguy67 Posts: 344Member ■■■■□□□□□□
I recently took a VoIP class at my community college and found it pretty interesting. My instructor recommended that I get certified in networking, an operating system and virtualization. I would like to have a specialization for the most part but I want to be broad enough for an entry-level job.

I was thinking of pursuing the MCSA: 2012, VCP5-DCV and CCNA: Routing and Switching this year. Next year I would pursue the CCNA Voice early in the year, then get the MCSE: Communications track and possibly CCNP: Voice if no BS shows up in my life. I will also be taking a Linux course in the spring so maybe the RHCSA/RHCE. Possibly the Wireshark certification as well.

Overall, by June if everything goes right I would have the following: CCNP:RS, CCNP:Voice, MCSE: Communication, RHCE, WCNA, and VCP5-DCV. Is that assortment of certs overkill for a student who hasn't gotten into the field yet? I would not expect some job title like "VoIP Engineer" starting out at 80 grand, but I want to get the testing/certification process out of the way while I have the time/effort/resources available. My college has a pretty nice Cisco lab with phones and a killer ESXi setup. The main motivation for me doing those tests is to gain confidence in my knowledge and know that I can do any task thrown at a junior-level sysadmin or network admin.

I just want to get a full-time job even if it's 25,000 a year. Being an employer's market it seems like anything less than perfection is trash, maybe it's my imagination but I feel like I have to go above and beyond to even stand a chance. Would the certs work against me, or would prospective employers/hiring managers view the ambition in a positive light?
2017 Goals: []PCNSE7 []CCNP:Security []CCNP:R&S []LCDE []WCNA
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  • Justin-Justin- Posts: 300Member
    I personally think that doing those certs in this year would be quite difficult. If you really want to understand the material, then take the time to soak it in. I would start out with CCNA R&S. Just read the book and supplement with some videos and just lab as much as possible. You want to make sure you understand the material.

    With only 3 months left until next year, I would say stick to cert by cert. if you are trying to break into IT, CCNA would be great for NOC positions. Unless you want a junior systems/helpdesk position then go for the microsoft exams.
  • cyberguyprcyberguypr Senior Member Posts: 6,776Mod Mod
    Wait, do you really mean 2014 for MCSA, VCP5-DCV, and CCNA:RS? Unless you are a master of all those things already I don't see this as a viable plan.
  • Jon_CiscoJon_Cisco Posts: 1,732Member ■■■■■■■□□□
    The plan sounds great. The timing seems off by a number of years.

    I would say start with one exam and use that as a guide for speed.

    Good Luck!
  • thatguy67thatguy67 Posts: 344Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    I barely failed 200-120 on Tuesday. I will retake it very soon. I have been studying MCSA stuff for the past year...I figure one exam a month won't be too bad. I am taking vSphere: Installing and Configuring right now at my community college, and will get the voucher in December.
    2017 Goals: []PCNSE7 []CCNP:Security []CCNP:R&S []LCDE []WCNA
  • tkerbertkerber Posts: 223Member
    I would say one exam a month seems pretty crazy actually. I like your motivation but certifications are best backed up with experience as well. Even if you did manage to get all these certs in less than a year, you will still have no experience and if you're not using these skills often they will rust.

    I find that you get the mots value out of certifications when you take them as they come. For example I got my A+ and then got a desktop support job. I went into a low level network tech role shortly after and then my company paid for my Network+. Currently I'm reading some Security+ now that I've had a couple of months configuring SonicWalls and WatchGuards at a company. My long-term plan is to get into more storage and virtualization and I've got a small home lab to play around with that as well.
  • Dieg0MDieg0M Posts: 861Member
    Way too many certs for no experience. Guaranteed grill session.
    Follow my CCDE journey at www.routingnull0.com
  • thatguy67thatguy67 Posts: 344Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    Thanks, what would be an appropriate number of certs?
    2017 Goals: []PCNSE7 []CCNP:Security []CCNP:R&S []LCDE []WCNA
  • shodownshodown Posts: 2,271Member
    Thats a lot of stuff, and the test get harder as you move up the food chain. You haven't been exposed to the CCNP level certs yet, but if you look around on the board you see most people can pass certs like S+ A+ in a few weeks with basic IT knowledge. You see even experienced people take months to pass 1 CCNP exam, let alone voice which is one of the harder tracks takes even longer. You maybe a smart guy and can do them faster, but now lets get to jobs.

    What type of job do you want? If you are interested in voice I would suggest getting on the cisco track, getting your CCNA, CCNA Voice and Vmware certs, then moving onto CCNP level certs after you have some experience up.
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  • IristheangelIristheangel CCIEx2 (Sec + DC), CCNP RS, CCNA V/S/R/DC, CISSP, CEH, MCSE 2003, A+/L+/N+/S+, and a lot more from m Pasadena, CAPosts: 4,116Mod Mod
    I don't think it's bad to want to cert up but I think you're putting way too much pressure on yourself to achieve that many certifications in such a short amount of time. As someone with experience and still at least 40 hours of study time a week, I can tell you that there is no way I can achieve that many non-entry level certifications in less than a year if it was me. You're talking professional-level Microsoft, voice, R&S, VMware, Wireshark, and Red Hat - that's an EXTREMELY wide breadth of technology. If you were somehow able to pass monthly and you weren't getting hands-on daily with the majority of that technology, then you're going to lose that knowledge faster than you're gaining it. You might as well not get the cert at that point.
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  • PupilPupil Posts: 168Member
    I don't see the point of obtaining Professional level certs (CCNP, MCSE, RHCE, etc.) when you are yet to be a professional. Save those for after you land your first gig. As for the Associate level certs (CCNA, MCSA, etc.) then it's doable and I'd recommend you do go after them so you have something to put on your resume.

    Keep in mind though that chasing after that certs in varied areas of IT may hurt you rather than if you just specialized in one area say networking or systems or storage or virtualization or security.
  • tprice5tprice5 Posts: 770Member
    Yeah, this is insanity.

    They're great overall goals, but obtaining MCSA 2012, VCP and CCNA in 3 months is just dumb. Add to it that you have zero professional experience and it makes me extremely skeptical that they are being obtained legitimately.
    Pupil wrote: »
    I don't see the point of obtaining Professional level certs (CCNP, MCSE, RHCE, etc.) when you are yet to be a professional.

    This cannot be overstated enough. You will have your entire career to obtain these credentials. What's the rush? Slow down. Do it right.

    Think of it this way, imagine you have been working within the industry for 6 to 8 years and you have these certs. Some kid comes in to interview for a position with your company and they have the same credentials as you. How would that make you feel?
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  • Snow.brosSnow.bros Posts: 832Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    I definitely agree, its an ambitious move but I also think you will burn out with that amount of time, I had the same mind set as you when I first started out, I was thinking I would complete my CompTIA trifecta, MCSE, CCENT, CCNA, and CCNP within 9 months last year but as time goes on I discovered it wouldn't be realistic enough for me to do this, its been a 18 months now and I haven't even completed my MCSE, so a realistic start would MCSA or Network+ and then see how it goes maybe your perception might change you might be interested in another career path.
  • thatguy67thatguy67 Posts: 344Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    Thanks, I updated my goals for this year. The CCNA should be a more appropriate pace for me.
    2017 Goals: []PCNSE7 []CCNP:Security []CCNP:R&S []LCDE []WCNA
  • fredrikjjfredrikjj Posts: 879Member
    thatguy67 wrote: »
    ....
    I just want to get a full-time job even if it's 25,000 a year. Being an employer's market it seems like anything less than perfection is trash, maybe it's my imagination but I feel like I have to go above and beyond to even stand a chance...

    You are thinking about this the wrong way because the key is not to go above and beyond, but rather to have the right profile for the job with no red flags on your resume. So you want a degree, but not one that is "too good" for the job (or not good enough). You want some certs, but not ones that are, arbitrarily, "too advanced" for your alleged level of experience. Try not to stand out in one area if it means being weak in another because the focus will be on the weaknesses for the most part. If you have weaknesses you'll be probed about these in interviews and it puts you in a deficit right from that start that's hard to recover from. Be a "good fit".

    Competing by asking for a very low salary probably won't work either because if you ask for much less than someone else with similar credentials, the assumption will be that you are worse, not that you are just eager to work. By asking for the salary that they expect you are fitting the mold already created by the company and they won't have to think outside the box. If you are unemployed for a while, do whatever it takes to cover it up.
  • DoubleNNsDoubleNNs Posts: 2,013Member ■■■■■□□□□□
    I agree w/ everyone else that your goals are crazily out of touch of a realistic timeline. However, you "just barely failed" the CCNA Composite, have been studying MCSA for the last year, and are taking VMware classes. I'd say forget about any professional level certs and do what your teacher told you - 1 networking cert, 1 OS cert, 1 virtualization cert. Try to have those down in the next 12 months instead of the 50 character long alphabet soup you originally intended for.

    And the funny thing is, w/ a CCNA, MCSA:2012, VCP, and Degree, you'll be leagues ahead of just about everyone else hitting the job market and wouldn't even need those professional level certs. Trust me. You'd be worth a lot more than 25K, and your worth will simply increase as you gain experience and learn how to quickly/efficiently apply your book & lab knowledge.

    I think the most important, and possibly the hardest, task for you is to continue labbing and make sure you retain all the info you learned on the path to those certs. Make sure you fully understand all the material, submit it to long term memory, and feel comfortable talking in depth about each topic tested on those exams a year from now. You might find that harder than actually passing each exam - I know I do.

    Good luck. Keep us posted. :)
    Goals for 2018:
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    Learn: Terraform, Kubernetes, Prometheus & Golang | Improve: Docker, Python Programming
    To-do | In Progress | Completed
  • thatguy67thatguy67 Posts: 344Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    Thanks for everyone's help, I don't mean to sound arrogant or anything like that, I wanted to know if it was realistic and it's a bit of a relief to hear that I don't need intense certs just to stand a chance in the entry-level job market.

    If I get certified in one OS, should I even consider Linux instead of the MCSA? Does the MCSA "win" in my situation? Or is it not very common for entry-level guys to have a job that uses Linux?
    2017 Goals: []PCNSE7 []CCNP:Security []CCNP:R&S []LCDE []WCNA
  • omi2123omi2123 Posts: 189Member
    thatguy67 wrote: »
    I recently took a VoIP class at my community college and found it pretty interesting. My instructor recommended that I get certified in networking, an operating system and virtualization. I would like to have a specialization for the most part but I want to be broad enough for an entry-level job.

    I was thinking of pursuing the MCSA: 2012, VCP5-DCV and CCNA: Routing and Switching this year. Next year I would pursue the CCNA Voice early in the year, then get the MCSE: Communications track and possibly CCNP: Voice if no BS shows up in my life. I will also be taking a Linux course in the spring so maybe the RHCSA/RHCE. Possibly the Wireshark certification as well.

    Overall, by June if everything goes right I would have the following: CCNP:RS, CCNP:Voice, MCSE: Communication, RHCE, WCNA, and VCP5-DCV. Is that assortment of certs overkill for a student who hasn't gotten into the field yet? I would not expect some job title like "VoIP Engineer" starting out at 80 grand, but I want to get the testing/certification process out of the way while I have the time/effort/resources available. My college has a pretty nice Cisco lab with phones and a killer ESXi setup. The main motivation for me doing those tests is to gain confidence in my knowledge and know that I can do any task thrown at a junior-level sysadmin or network admin.

    I just want to get a full-time job even if it's 25,000 a year. Being an employer's market it seems like anything less than perfection is trash, maybe it's my imagination but I feel like I have to go above and beyond to even stand a chance. Would the certs work against me, or would prospective employers/hiring managers view the ambition in a positive light?


    Those certs are all very good ones if you know the materials that are discussed in those certs. Getting just the papers may get you an interview but acquiring a good pay job not knowing the applications will be a tough one.

    Even though I am an avis Cisco fan, I suggest to start with network+ & security+ first & then get a job. While working, keep studying for CCNA & then then CCNA security. Finally when you have more than a ear on the job, apply for a better position somewhere else & start your MCSA in 2012R2 & then top it off with VCP-DCV. By that time you should have atleast 2-3 years of work experience & those certs will look more solid on your resume.

    Good Luck.
  • MeanDrunkR2D2MeanDrunkR2D2 MCSA: Server 2012, MCITP: EDA KCPosts: 889Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    Well, if you are just breaking into IT, start with the entry level certs that will help you get that first job in IT, which will probably be some sort of helpdesk/desktop type of role. In those cases, make the jump into A+ and maybe even the MCSA in Windows 7. You'll mostly be working on desktop PC's and access to servers will likely be little depending on the job. Also, if the networking side interests you more, tag on at least the CCENT if not the CCNA and get a NOC job. Now, being entry level the chances of you working a 2nd or 3rd shift increase dramatically. I've had opportunities to get NOC jobs, but for me the 2nd/3rd shift entry point is near impossible as I have a family to care for and those work times would affect the time that I have to spend with my wife and son and would probably make me hate the job just because I'd miss them and feel like I'm not present as my son gets older. It sucks that I have to make those choices, but it's what I have to do what is best for me overall.
  • DoubleNNsDoubleNNs Posts: 2,013Member ■■■■■□□□□□
    I think the CCNA and MCSA are actually entry level certs. And considering he already made progress on completing both, I see no reason to do any of the CompTIA trio, except the Sec+ and that's a maybe.
    Goals for 2018:
    Certs: RHCSA, LFCS: Ubuntu, CNCF CKA, CNCF CKAD | AWS Certified DevOps Engineer, AWS Solutions Architect Pro, AWS Certified Security Specialist, GCP Professional Cloud Architect
    Learn: Terraform, Kubernetes, Prometheus & Golang | Improve: Docker, Python Programming
    To-do | In Progress | Completed
  • thatguy67thatguy67 Posts: 344Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    DoubleNNs wrote: »
    I think the CCNA and MCSA are actually entry level certs. And considering he already made progress on completing both, I see no reason to do any of the CompTIA trio, except the Sec+ and that's a maybe.

    Thanks for your reply, my instructor told me that a networking, OS and security cert are the minimum I should go for, particularly because there is a naval base nearby that requires those. He trains a lot of people there.

    I am gunning for the CCNA, MCSA (or RHCE), and something with the DoD-8570 deal (with DoD-8570 designation), respectively. I was considering Security+ but am learning towards either the CCNA:Security or the Wireshark cert (though I can't confirm that the Wireshark cert is DoD-8570 compliant...the only source I can find is from Chappell's mouth on forums, no neutral site can seem to confirm it).
    2017 Goals: []PCNSE7 []CCNP:Security []CCNP:R&S []LCDE []WCNA
  • tprice5tprice5 Posts: 770Member
    thatguy67 wrote: »
    or the Wireshark cert (though I can't confirm that the Wireshark cert is DoD-8570 compliant...the only source I can find is from Chappell's mouth on forums, no neutral site can seem to confirm it).

    Google DoD-8570
    . The documentation is not hard to find.
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  • cyberguyprcyberguypr Senior Member Posts: 6,776Mod Mod
    Sorry tprice5, given that your link goes to the lmgtfy.com homepage I am forced to point you to this icon_smile.gif
  • DoubleNNsDoubleNNs Posts: 2,013Member ■■■■■□□□□□
    Focus on simply retaking and passing your CCNA thatguy. Then make the rest of the plans afterwards.
    Goals for 2018:
    Certs: RHCSA, LFCS: Ubuntu, CNCF CKA, CNCF CKAD | AWS Certified DevOps Engineer, AWS Solutions Architect Pro, AWS Certified Security Specialist, GCP Professional Cloud Architect
    Learn: Terraform, Kubernetes, Prometheus & Golang | Improve: Docker, Python Programming
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  • tprice5tprice5 Posts: 770Member
    cyberguypr wrote: »
    Sorry tprice5, given that your link goes to the lmgtfy.com homepage I am forced to point you to this icon_smile.gif

    Haha burnnnn..
    Certification To-Do: CEH [ ], CHFI [ ], NCSA [ ], E10-001 [ ], 70-413 [ ], 70-414 [ ]
    WGU MSISA
    Start Date: 10/01/2014 | Complete Date: ASAP
    All Courses: LOT2, LYT2 , UVC2, ORA1, VUT2, VLT2 , FNV2 , TFT2 , JIT2 , FMV2, FXT2 , LQT2
  • CCNTraineeCCNTrainee Posts: 213Member
    The only way I can see that happening in that amount of time would be you not working and dedicating 110% day and night studying... even if you were doing such a thing, getting burnt out will take its toll... I was able to do this for 2 months straight when I was getting my CompTIA Tirade and CCENT, then became extremely burnt out after that in turn I just took one college class for the remainder of the year. Though to be far I was chasing entry level certs, going for that professional grade you would have to have a serious introverted analytical type personality and more importantly nothing else but time to study...
  • thatguy67thatguy67 Posts: 344Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    Thanks for the responses everyone. I have slowed down my pace for sure, right now I am focusing on the CCNA. The VCP will likely be early next year after I get the voucher. I won't look any further into the future as far as what certs to get.

    I probably will not pursue the Wireshark cert, but rather study the exam material and just have the skills.
    2017 Goals: []PCNSE7 []CCNP:Security []CCNP:R&S []LCDE []WCNA
  • thatguy67thatguy67 Posts: 344Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    Just an update for anyone who cares:

    I got a full-time job in April. I interviewed the day after I passed my CCENT and they didn't seem to care about that too much. They hired me on knowing I had no experience (I was passed along to them from my instructor at the local college), I am basically the apprentice of the senior guy. I get a raise for each Microsoft exam I pass. The previous guy that I am replacing had a full-on MCSA, yet he didn't know Hyper-V at all. They said they learned from him that certifications mean nothing unless we can observe that you know the material, so they can validate what I know based on job performance. All that VoIP stuff went out the window as I work with Server 2008/2012, Hyper-V, Vmware and Cisco primarily.

    So my goals for 2015 are pretty much the same as they were in 2014: MCSA in 2008 > Upgrade to 2012, MCSA in Windows 8, VCP and finish up my CCNA. It will take a little longer because my study time is probably 2-3 hours a night now. I plan on taking the WCNA whenever I have the time.
    2017 Goals: []PCNSE7 []CCNP:Security []CCNP:R&S []LCDE []WCNA
  • Snow.brosSnow.bros Posts: 832Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    @thatgu67 congrats on landing your first IT job and all the best of luck going forward!!! icon_thumright.gif
  • thatguy67thatguy67 Posts: 344Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    DoubleNNs wrote: »
    I agree w/ everyone else that your goals are crazily out of touch of a realistic timeline. However, you "just barely failed" the CCNA Composite, have been studying MCSA for the last year, and are taking VMware classes. I'd say forget about any professional level certs and do what your teacher told you - 1 networking cert, 1 OS cert, 1 virtualization cert. Try to have those down in the next 12 months instead of the 50 character long alphabet soup you originally intended for.

    And the funny thing is, w/ a CCNA, MCSA:2012, VCP, and Degree, you'll be leagues ahead of just about everyone else hitting the job market and wouldn't even need those professional level certs. Trust me. You'd be worth a lot more than 25K, and your worth will simply increase as you gain experience and learn how to quickly/efficiently apply your book & lab knowledge.

    I think the most important, and possibly the hardest, task for you is to continue labbing and make sure you retain all the info you learned on the path to those certs. Make sure you fully understand all the material, submit it to long term memory, and feel comfortable talking in depth about each topic tested on those exams a year from now. You might find that harder than actually passing each exam - I know I do.

    Good luck. Keep us posted. :)

    I finished these goals, more than a year later. Feels good to stick to something and finish it. I have realized that these certs cover an intense amount of info for someone of my experience level. To be honest I came back to this thread 1-2 times a week and read this post a lot for motivation. Thanks for writing that. It was a great help.


    I left my job that I got in April (the commute was too crazy). I've got 6 months experience, degree and those certs now! Here's to hoping the job hunt will be better this time around.
    2017 Goals: []PCNSE7 []CCNP:Security []CCNP:R&S []LCDE []WCNA
  • tprice5tprice5 Posts: 770Member
    Glad you stretched it out over a year rather than squeeze it into 3 month. Good luck with the job search.
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