Poor & Broke Guy in Philly USA looking for advice

aschenbecheraschenbecher Posts: 27Member ■■□□□□□□□□
So,
Don't have a college degree(Cant afford to go to school full-time). Just High school grad

I got my A+ , my goal is to get a secure IT Job . I love VMware , would love to be a VMware Admin

I am currently working as IT Deployments tech for a university hospital in Philly.

I make $18/ hr.

I am happy but not satisfied with what i make.

But before i can get there , i think i should work on my fundamentals.

Here are list of my Cert objectives for the next year in order i think i should pursue these.

I would appreciate any suggestions .

This includes:
2016 -
1.
Net+ - basic understanding of networking.
OR
CCENT - for Basic understanding of Cisco switches.
or both and get a slightly better paying job.

2.
MCSE Server Infra
Get necessary work exp

3.Get a server admin job
Get work to pay for college degree.

2017-
1. Start College degree
2.Start working on Vmware certs .......

Thanks in advance all

Comments

  • MowMow Posts: 445Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    If you want to get into VMWare, why not go straight for it? stanly.edu has a course that satisfies the requirement for the VCP-DCV exam. There are tons of free labs by VMWare's Hands on Labs, and you can get Mastering vSphere book. Just hit the books, lab it up, and start looking for Jr. positions that will leverage your new-found knowledge.

    This is just my $.02.
  • Dakinggamer87Dakinggamer87 Gaming Tech Expert Silicon Valley, CAPosts: 4,006Member ■■■■■■■■□□
    I would suggest considering a school such as WGU which is affordable on tuition. It includes many certifications as part of your tuition which can help boost your resume and skills set. It is very flexible as well so you can work on your schedule. It will help represent you as a strong candidate in the market.

    Online Bachelors Degree | Information Technology & Other Degrees Online

    There are many scholarships/financial aid options as well which can help with the costs of attending. Just some food for thought icon_thumright.gif

    Feel free to message me and I would be happy to help if you have any questions.

    Good luck!!
    *Associate's of Applied Sciences degree in Information Technology-Network Systems Administration
    *Bachelor's of Science: Information Technology - Security, Master's of Science: Information Technology - Management
    Matthew 6:33 - "Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need."

    Certs/Business Licenses In Progress: AWS Solutions Architect, Series 6, Series 63, GCP Architect, Series 65
  • PolynomialPolynomial Posts: 365Member
    I'm going to echo Donkey Kong.

    I think you're going to need that BA/BS faster than you'll need certifications if you're getting certifications without on the job application for what you're using them for. The lack of a Bachelor's is going to hurt you more than a lack of certification.
  • aschenbecheraschenbecher Posts: 27Member ■■□□□□□□□□
    I would suggest considering a school such as WGU which is affordable on tuition. It includes many certifications as part of your tuition which can help boost your resume and skills set. It is very flexible as well so you can work on your schedule. It will help represent you as a strong candidate in the market.

    Online Bachelors Degree | Information Technology & Other Degrees Online

    There are many scholarships/financial aid options as well which can help with the costs of attending. Just some food for thought icon_thumright.gif

    Feel free to message me and I would be happy to help if you have any questions.

    Good luck!!


    All the recent reviews i've read about WGU suggest its a Degree Mill and not respected by HR Managers.
    Am i wrong ?
  • tmurphy3100tmurphy3100 Posts: 146Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    I am also from Philly making similar money. It seems hard to find a job the next level up around here.
    2018 Goals: CCNA R&S, CySA+, and VCP6.5
  • MagmadragoonMagmadragoon Posts: 171Member
    There are IT jobs in Philadelphia where you can move up. Have you tried surrounding areas like Bensalem, King of Prussia, or Bala Cynwyd? Certificate wise I would try to get the CCENT first.
  • Dakinggamer87Dakinggamer87 Gaming Tech Expert Silicon Valley, CAPosts: 4,006Member ■■■■■■■■□□
    All the recent reviews i've read about WGU suggest its a Degree Mill and not respected by HR Managers.
    Am i wrong ?

    So far I have had no issues with WGU on my resume or my associate's degree. Since I graduated about a month ago I have qualified for many more positions having that HR requirement met. :)
    *Associate's of Applied Sciences degree in Information Technology-Network Systems Administration
    *Bachelor's of Science: Information Technology - Security, Master's of Science: Information Technology - Management
    Matthew 6:33 - "Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need."

    Certs/Business Licenses In Progress: AWS Solutions Architect, Series 6, Series 63, GCP Architect, Series 65
  • cyberguyprcyberguypr Senior Member Posts: 6,751Mod Mod
    I'm not sure what you've been reading. Those that say it's a degree mill are either confused/misinformed or are elitists who think that everything other than top schools is garbage. In the vast majority of cases no one cares where you got your degree.
  • OctalDumpOctalDump Posts: 1,722Member
    If you love VMware, set up a home lab. The hardware requirements are pretty low. You can get a trial license of Vsphere with all features, and a free license with nearly no features. You can get books on it for under $100, probably cheaper if you hunt around.

    The learning curve on VMware isn't too bad. You can jump in without understanding much about it and get something working, and then you can start playing with features. Veeam have a free course which is quite good value ;) And the free Hands On Labs at Vmware as well, to get hands on with stuff that is more challenging than a home lab might allow.

    You can even get old (5 year+) servers that are on the hardware compatibility list for not much or even free if you know a company that's decommissioning old gear.

    If money is tight, then a home lab + free (or very cheap) videos from Youtube (or Udemy, StackSkills etc) and some books (eBay, friends, coworkers) and a lot of time and enthusiasm can get you a long way. A home lab with VMware at the core is very flexible.

    Something to remember is most vendors want people to get certified, so provide free/cheap resources to support this.

    Even if you don't have paid experience, if you can talk about some cool stuff you've done with your home lab, particularly with enthusiasm it can get you work with good employers that recognise the value a motivated worker can bring.

    As for you proposed order for certifications, it looks good to me, but don't be afraid to change up the order if you find something more appealing along the way. Also, you can read/study for an exam to learn stuff but don't feel compelled to do the exam if it doesn't seem like value for money. For example, Net+ gives you a good grounding in networking that will make CCENT/CCNA easier, but CCNA is far more value for money than Net+. Packettracer is sufficient to get you through CCNA, so you don't needto buy Cisco gear.

    For Windows, go and do a Windows 7/8/10 exam just so that you can get MCP. If you have A+ and experience it shouldn't be too hard to study up for one of the exams. MCP is great bang for buck.

    The VCA certs are also worthwhile to get, if you don't want to jump into VCP straight away.

    Security+ is also good value, but is easier once you have Net+ equivalent knowledge and some work experience that deals with policy/procedures etc (hard to lab office bureaucracy at home).

    So lots of cheaper options that give a lot of value.

    Once you have a few certifications and a lot more experience under your belt, then something like WGU will be a lot better value for you since you will be able to complete it quicker.
    2017 Goals - Something Cisco, Something Linux, Agile PM
  • aschenbecheraschenbecher Posts: 27Member ■■□□□□□□□□
    OctalDump wrote: »
    If you love VMware, set up a home lab. The hardware requirements are pretty low. You can get a trial license of Vsphere with all features, and a free license with nearly no features. You can get books on it for under $100, probably cheaper if you hunt around.

    The learning curve on VMware isn't too bad. You can jump in without understanding much about it and get something working, and then you can start playing with features. Veeam have a free course which is quite good value ;) And the free Hands On Labs at Vmware as well, to get hands on with stuff that is more challenging than a home lab might allow.

    You can even get old (5 year+) servers that are on the hardware compatibility list for not much or even free if you know a company that's decommissioning old gear.

    If money is tight, then a home lab + free (or very cheap) videos from Youtube (or Udemy, StackSkills etc) and some books (eBay, friends, coworkers) and a lot of time and enthusiasm can get you a long way. A home lab with VMware at the core is very flexible.

    Something to remember is most vendors want people to get certified, so provide free/cheap resources to support this.

    Even if you don't have paid experience, if you can talk about some cool stuff you've done with your home lab, particularly with enthusiasm it can get you work with good employers that recognise the value a motivated worker can bring.

    As for you proposed order for certifications, it looks good to me, but don't be afraid to change up the order if you find something more appealing along the way. Also, you can read/study for an exam to learn stuff but don't feel compelled to do the exam if it doesn't seem like value for money. For example, Net+ gives you a good grounding in networking that will make CCENT/CCNA easier, but CCNA is far more value for money than Net+. Packettracer is sufficient to get you through CCNA, so you don't needto buy Cisco gear.

    For Windows, go and do a Windows 7/8/10 exam just so that you can get MCP. If you have A+ and experience it shouldn't be too hard to study up for one of the exams. MCP is great bang for buck.

    The VCA certs are also worthwhile to get, if you don't want to jump into VCP straight away.

    Security+ is also good value, but is easier once you have Net+ equivalent knowledge and some work experience that deals with policy/procedures etc (hard to lab office bureaucracy at home).

    So lots of cheaper options that give a lot of value.

    Once you have a few certifications and a lot more experience under your belt, then something like WGU will be a lot better value for you since you will be able to complete it quicker.

    thank you, this helps a lot
  • SegoviaSegovia Posts: 119Member
    If you would like a reality check I have a couple Associates degrees along with cisco and comptia and still don't have a job. Would kill for 18/hr right now.

    On the bright side however I am also in WGU and would also recommend it to you.

    Good luck
    WGU BS - IT Security ... Enrollment Date 10/15 ... Progress 45/124 CU {36%}
  • cshkurucshkuru Posts: 231Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    I made it thru 13 years in the IT field with no college degree, until I finally wnet and got one from WGU, so don't let the lack of degree hold you back. You just need to apply for everything you are remotely qualified for and eventually something will stick. As far as college goes I am a WGU fan but I know that for some people even that is a stretch money wise but when I lived in Philly CCP was super cheap. I don't know about now since college costs have skyrocketed in the last 25 years but check it out.

    The Stanly VMware course is a good value and there is no reason you can't complete it while working on something else. In fact that would be my biggest criticism of your plan. It's too narrow and not aggressive enough. get a $50 kindle load it up with videos and cheap ebooks and whenever you have 10 minutes pull it out and watch a vid or read a couple pages. check and see if you get CBT nuggets or Lynda.com thru work. Lots of options out there.
  • matt-mmatt-m Posts: 2Registered Users ■□□□□□□□□□
    Segovia wrote: »
    If you would like a reality check I have a couple Associates degrees along with cisco and comptia and still don't have a job. Would kill for 18/hr right now.

    On the bright side however I am also in WGU and would also recommend it to you.

    Good luck

    Still looking for job? I know of company in Bellevue that is hiring starting around $18/hr.
  • SegoviaSegovia Posts: 119Member
    matt-m wrote: »
    Still looking for job? I know of company in Bellevue that is hiring starting around $18/hr.


    Of course!
    WGU BS - IT Security ... Enrollment Date 10/15 ... Progress 45/124 CU {36%}
  • UncleBUncleB Posts: 417Member
    In relation to the question about how degree-mill colleges/uni's are perceived by recruiters, I can safely say they are only a tick in the box that proves you are capable of staying the course in a sustained, often dull and/or frustrating task over the course of several years.

    It is a reflection of how the workplace can be, albeit with less long lies in bed or free time LOL - but work is rarely a bed of roses so we want to see if a candidate has proven they can stay the course.

    If you consider a high school leaver who has some self generated lab experience or has passed some certs on their own, it still doesn't show that could break the typical behaviour of that age group (sleeping until lunch, playing games all day) that is the stereotype of many older recruiters when looking at this age group / background who have not passed a degree.

    Personally I don't care if you passed a masters in quantum-cryptography of holographic polymers or a basic 2:2 pass in computer science - it is the tick box of a degree that opens the door for you to impress me in the interview and demonstrate a passable knowledge of the role I'm recruiting for and a personality that will gel well with the rest of the teams.

    I've seen way too many propeller-heads with fancy degrees that just can't cut it in a commercial environment and can sniff them out in an interview now. By the same standard I found many of the staff who didn't perform amazingly in their degree (or have something average) make excellent employees as I make it clear to them that this is a second chance to shine and I will be watching but will offer the support they need to do well.

    I always make the final probation session of their employment dependent on them delivering what they promised in the interview and repeat this in their monthly assessments - we agreed terms, they are given all they need to meet them and if they fail through lack of effort then they don't keep the job - simple! Open, frank and harsh seems fair to me.

    Just giving one employers view point on this.

    thanks
    Iain
  • matt-mmatt-m Posts: 2Registered Users ■□□□□□□□□□
    Segovia wrote: »
    Of course!

    I do not want to put info on public forum, so send me an email triadmatt (@) gmail. I will respond this evening.
  • PolynomialPolynomial Posts: 365Member
    I'm going to reiterate getting a Bachelor's should be your priority. I cannot imagine anyone on this forum who has gone through IT without one would recommend that same path. Its almost 2016 and its going to be required for the good jobs if it already hasn't been the trend. My company is starting to "prefer Master's" on job postings these days.
  • SegoviaSegovia Posts: 119Member
    Polynomial wrote: »
    I'm going to reiterate getting a Bachelor's should be your priority. I cannot imagine anyone on this forum who has gone through IT without one would recommend that same path. Its almost 2016 and its going to be required for the good jobs if it already hasn't been the trend. My company is starting to "prefer Master's" on job postings these days.

    I disagree. While I do think education should be pursued by everyone I think you can actually succeed in IT purely by moving up ladders. One of my best friends is making 80k at Amazon and only has a HS diploma, not even one cert either.

    Some people can just get lucky.
    WGU BS - IT Security ... Enrollment Date 10/15 ... Progress 45/124 CU {36%}
  • JockVSJockJockVSJock Posts: 1,118Member
    Stay away from CompTIA. You'll be even more broke with just worthless paper. Entry level certs are Cisco CCNA, Microsoft and VMWare.

    If you love VMWare, go for it. Everything is going to the Cloud. There was a college, this Stanly Community College that was focused on VMWare Training. Maybe ask in Virtualization forum if there are still doing this training?

    https://www.stanly.edu/

    I would get a few more advanced certs under your belt and then look at getting bachelors/masters.
    ***Freedom of Speech, Just Watch What You Say*** Example, Beware of CompTIA Certs (Deleted From Google Cached)

    "Its easier to deceive the masses then to convince the masses that they have been deceived."
    -unknown
  • PolynomialPolynomial Posts: 365Member
    Segovia wrote: »
    Some people can just get lucky.

    Hoping to get lucky is a terrible strategy for success and awful advice.

    No one without a degree will recommend you go through any career path, IT or not, without one.
  • SegoviaSegovia Posts: 119Member
    I didn't say hope to get lucky. I'm just saying it's possible to succeed without education. I am a strong advocate of education as well as continuing education.
    WGU BS - IT Security ... Enrollment Date 10/15 ... Progress 45/124 CU {36%}
  • Dakinggamer87Dakinggamer87 Gaming Tech Expert Silicon Valley, CAPosts: 4,006Member ■■■■■■■■□□
    Polynomial wrote: »
    Hoping to get lucky is a terrible strategy for success and awful advice.

    No one without a degree will recommend you go through any career path, IT or not, without one.

    Agreed!!

    My personal opinion and I am sure many other members on this forum would agree: Experience+Certs+Degrees give you the best combination of skills and credentials to succeed. Additionally, along with a passionate and great personality you can go even higher. icon_thumright.gif
    *Associate's of Applied Sciences degree in Information Technology-Network Systems Administration
    *Bachelor's of Science: Information Technology - Security, Master's of Science: Information Technology - Management
    Matthew 6:33 - "Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need."

    Certs/Business Licenses In Progress: AWS Solutions Architect, Series 6, Series 63, GCP Architect, Series 65
  • OctalDumpOctalDump Posts: 1,722Member
    JockVSJock wrote: »
    Stay away from CompTIA. You'll be even more broke with just worthless paper. Entry level certs are Cisco CCNA, Microsoft and VMWare.

    I'm curious about why you say that about CompTIA.

    Employers still ask for Net+/A+/Sec+, so they don't seem to be worthless. A+ is the biggest cert for 'hardware' techs by some considerable margin, and still top for HelpDesk, although probably the aggregate of MS certifications would outrank it (ie MCP+MCTS+MCSA+MTA). Network+ is more asked for than CCNA (unbelievable, I know). And there doesn't seem to be any equivalent entry level info sec certification to Security+, probably the closest is GSEC, but that's a level higher.

    You need to start somewhere. You might be able to get those first help desk jobs without A+ certification (and most jobs don't actually ask for it explicitly), but it's unlikely you would get them without at least A+ level knowledge.

    MCSA/VCP/CCNA is great to aim for, but you need to walk before you run. I think there probably still is a place for CompTIA level knowledge, whether the certs themselves are worthless, I'm not sure.
    2017 Goals - Something Cisco, Something Linux, Agile PM
  • OctalDumpOctalDump Posts: 1,722Member
    JockVSJock wrote: »
    Stay away from CompTIA. You'll be even more broke with just worthless paper. Entry level certs are Cisco CCNA, Microsoft and VMWare.

    I'm curious about why you say that about CompTIA.

    Employers still ask for Net+/A+/Sec+, so they don't seem to be worthless. A+ is the biggest cert for 'hardware' techs by some considerable margin, and still top for HelpDesk, although probably the aggregate of MS certifications would outrank it (ie MCP+MCTS+MCSA+MTA). Network+ is more asked for than CCNA (unbelievable, I know). And there doesn't seem to be any equivalent entry level info sec certification to Security+, probably the closest is GSEC, but that's a level higher.

    You need to start somewhere. You might be able to get those first help desk jobs without A+ certification (and most jobs don't actually ask for it explicitly), but it's unlikely you would get them without at least A+ level knowledge. I think maybe what these certs are best at, and this likely explains their rankings among other certs, is that they provide the generalist foundation that more specialised careers can be built on. It's unlikely that many Windows System Admin jobs ask for A+, but maybe more Networking jobs mention it in a "nice to have" way, or that there are many Network Engineer jobs mentioning Network+, but maybe more Help Desk roles ask for it as "basic networking skills", or that there are Forensic Investigator roles having Security+ as a requirement, but maybe a few of those System Admin jobs ask for it to ensure "basic security understanding".

    MCSA/VCP/CCNA is great to aim for, but you need to walk before you run. I think there probably still is a place for CompTIA level knowledge, whether the certs themselves are worthless, I'm not sure.
    2017 Goals - Something Cisco, Something Linux, Agile PM
  • wtrwlkrwtrwlkr Posts: 138Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    OctalDump wrote: »
    I'm curious about why you say that about CompTIA.

    Employers still ask for Net+/A+/Sec+, so they don't seem to be worthless. A+ is the biggest cert for 'hardware' techs by some considerable margin, and still top for HelpDesk, although probably the aggregate of MS certifications would outrank it (ie MCP+MCTS+MCSA+MTA). Network+ is more asked for than CCNA (unbelievable, I know). And there doesn't seem to be any equivalent entry level info sec certification to Security+, probably the closest is GSEC, but that's a level higher.

    You need to start somewhere. You might be able to get those first help desk jobs without A+ certification (and most jobs don't actually ask for it explicitly), but it's unlikely you would get them without at least A+ level knowledge. I think maybe what these certs are best at, and this likely explains their rankings among other certs, is that they provide the generalist foundation that more specialised careers can be built on. It's unlikely that many Windows System Admin jobs ask for A+, but maybe more Networking jobs mention it in a "nice to have" way, or that there are many Network Engineer jobs mentioning Network+, but maybe more Help Desk roles ask for it as "basic networking skills", or that there are Forensic Investigator roles having Security+ as a requirement, but maybe a few of those System Admin jobs ask for it to ensure "basic security understanding".

    MCSA/VCP/CCNA is great to aim for, but you need to walk before you run. I think there probably still is a place for CompTIA level knowledge, whether the certs themselves are worthless, I'm not sure.

    Gonna agree with OctalDump here. In the US, to qualify for the vast majority of defense-related IT jobs, Sec+ is required. Also, if you do end up going for a degree from WGU, many of their programs include A, Net and Sec+. If you knock one or all of those out before starting the WGU program, they'll give you credit for it.
  • aschenbecheraschenbecher Posts: 27Member ■■□□□□□□□□
    So after reviewing all the answers.

    I've concluded that in 2016, I will work on getting MCSE, Vmware and CCNA or atleast CCENT.
    And try to get a better job and get my future employer to pay for my degree.

    I thank all for their time and responses.
    IT all helped.
  • fmitawapsfmitawaps Posts: 261Banned
    Time for my two cents.

    I'd say that a college degree COULD help.... if it is done properly. If it is a GOOD REPUTABLE college or university, and not some degree mill fly-by-night place (and that includes ITT Tech and IADT), and you went specifically for computer science / programming / etc, then maybe do it. Don't come back with a 4 year degree in ancient roman history and think that will get you anywhere in IT.

    Setting aside college for the moment, I don't think it is necessary at all. Start in Desktop Support jobs, get your CCENT and CCNA, find a place that is more of a junior admin job, talk to people, learn what skills and experience are valued in the real world, and adjust your learning to fit those needs.

    One big problem with IT jobs is that most of the entry level work is handled through temp agencies, and those people don't know the first thing about IT. They read off the paper that lists the ideal candidate for the job and that's all they know. To hear them tell it, you need a 4 year degree with extracurricular activities, volunteer work, 3 certifications, and continuing training to get even the most basic desktop support job reimaging a companies computers from XP to 7. Not at all true if you know your way around computers and the ticketing systems in support roles.
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