At a complete loss on certification direction

PCProtagonistPCProtagonist Member Posts: 5 ■□□□□□□□□□

I'm currently thinking about pulling the trigger on the CompTIA certs from the website. The total cost is about $900 and some change, though split into a few payments. Single certifications are a little north of $300, so it seems to be more cost effective to just go for all of them at once. This gives access to a database of materials to aid in passing all of the exams. The only thing that bothers me about it is that it's a lot of money for something that expires in a few years.

I work a technical position at a call center, not officially "IT" but for all intents and purposes the work I do there is IT related. I don't really have a ton of interest in "moving up" because the higher IT positions there aren't earning anywhere near someone in a related position would be. There aren't any dedicated security, programming, database management, and so on positions available. Everyone pretty much does whatever they can do when it's needed.

I'm interested in many fiends of technology. If I had to narrow it down, I would say networking, mobile development, database management, Linux, and security would be tops. I don't really care for website development but I've found myself doing a lot of it lately for a recent client. I make money on the side with eBay buying and repairing PCs, I was doing phones but that become too much of a hassle with the myriad of service provider complications.

I know the CompTIA certs are a solid base, but if I don't get anywhere in a few years, that's a lot of money wasted. The job market for me can be a little rough being a first time and recent convicted felon. The skills and the aptitude are there, but some employers refuse to look beyond a piece of paper, regardless of the circumstances or relation to the job. CCENT has always been a solid path for anyone, but I hear a lot of opinions on vendor-specific vs. neutral.

Ultimately I would like to segway into some form of project management (Six Sigma, Agile, PMP, etc) as I've gained a lot of interest in this working at my current company. I just don't think jumping into any project management certs right now would matter a whole lot given I don't have a ton of real business workplace experience.

As you can see I'm kind of all over the place with ideas. I'm not certain on how all of the cert evaluation is done, could I simply study materials myself and take an exam at an accredited center? This would obviously be the most cost effective path. Would all of the CompTIA certs increase my marketability and open up at least a few doorways? Or would it be more reasonable in my situation to jump into a vendor-specific cert and see what I can do from there? I live in Maine however I plan to move back to CA hopefully next year, which might provide a few more options than I have over here.

Thank you,



  • nelson8403nelson8403 Member Posts: 220 ■■■□□□□□□□
    Start off with your CompTIA and try and look for helpdesk positions, look for smaller companies, ones who may or may not require a full background check. Normally larger companies unfortunately require it no matter the position.

    Once you get your foot in the door at an IT helpdesk or tier 1 type position then see what your passion is. There is no point in deciding what to do by doing what others determined, find out for yourself because you'll be doing it for the rest of your life, not us.
    Bachelor of Science, IT Security
    Master of Science, Information Security and Assurance

    CCIE Security Progress: Written Pass (06/2016), 1st Lab Attempt (11/2016)
  • docricedocrice Member Posts: 1,706 ■■■■■■■■■■
    $900 is steep for CompTIA training materials. I would just buy some books on the subject from Amazon, read through them enough times to understand the material, and pass the exams if you feel they're really worth it. They're intro-level and in many places the certs themselves won't matter much. The knowledge will help seeing how different aspects of IT intersect and interoperate.

    Certifications in general have an expiration date. It's good to have a mix of vendor-specific and vendor-neutral. Start small and work your way up. For some places, certs are worth more than others.
    Hopefully-useful stuff I've written:
  • adam220891adam220891 Member Posts: 164
    A+ is 2 tests, then 1 for N+ and S+

    I seem to remember paying about $250 for the N+ and S+ and maybe $150 for each A+.

    Professor Messer's free videos were enough for me mostly. I bought his inexpensive notes for the S+ and might've referenced books but those were cheap as well (I try to save money when possible).

    IMO, they are good for beginner's. You get a nice solid base and even if you're not an expert in anything, a lot of the buzzwords you will come across in more advanced studies or conversations with fellow IT Pros and you'll at least have an idea of what they are talking about. Folks diss the price because it is unjustifiably high (for example, my CCNA: R&S exam was cheaper than the N+ and is significantly more valuable) but if you're new to the industry, the fundamentals will serve you well. Folks with poor base knowledge and fundamentals seem to struggle with troubleshooting, so I don't believe it makes sense to skip out on those at the beginning.

    Ultimately, for under a grand you can add lines to the resume which may get you a job. It's a small investment that has a good chance to pay off. But move on after that, there's no need to keep going for the low hanging fruit.
  • NetworkingStudentNetworkingStudent Member Posts: 1,407 ■■■■■■■■□□
    I would start with your A+
    First you need to get the exam objectives here:
    Exam Objectives

    As another poster suggested I would start with the professor messor videos
    If you want paid video training there is
    It pro tc
    Test out
    Plural sight

    Professor Messer, CompTIA A+, Network+, Security+, Linux, Microsoft Certification Training

    What you want to do is the following:
    1 get exam objectives
    2 study videos and work on computers
    3 Study from the A+ books for the corresponding exam you're taking

    4 Before taking the exam make sure you understand all the objectives and score at least 90% 3 time or more on some of the practice exams.
    When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened."

    --Alexander Graham Bell,
    American inventor
  • PCProtagonistPCProtagonist Member Posts: 5 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Hey thank you all for the great suggestions and advice! I've started with Professor Messor's videos and the exam objectives is also a great resource having a list of what needs to be known. Now I'm just trying to find the most cost effective way to go about it all and not bankrupt myself on training materials, as the exams themselves are not cheap.
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