Want to become certified - don't know where to start

josmiscojosmisco Registered Users Posts: 3 ■□□□□□□□□□
So, like the title of the thread states, I want to become certified in the field of information technology but don't know how, where to start. I'll give some background, but if you want the brief summary, just move on down to the bottom of my post.

Originally, I had been going to college for an AAS in Information Technology, but thanks to having no job/funds at the time, I had quickly dropped out and am now sitting on a $3,000 college debt - not much, but enough to be nuisance. Now that I've found a steady, minimum wage job, I want to be able to go back into the field of technology like I had once wanted to. At the same time, I don't want to encumber myself with debt once again, and would like to gain the knowledge and experience efficiently. This is where it becomes tricky, though. Sometimes I do feel a little embarrassed to say, but the most I know about computers is the hardware inside; what keeps them powerful and running. I can talk about CPUs, RAM, SSDs, HDDs, GPUs, etc. all day.

Now this is where I come to question. There's more I can do, but what to do? It occurred that I could get some certifications. But again, where and how do I start? What do I do? I started checking around the Cisco offered certifications because of their popularity, or seeming demand. There's more out there, like CompTIA, Microsoft, and others beyond me. And it's why I'm asking here.

Where do I start in the field of IT with becoming certified? What are valuable certifications to have? How would I go about studying? I see a large demand for having a Bachelor's in say computer science, information technology, or computer system information, which is something I'd go about doing in the future when I'm making some better money. But how do I get my roots in the ground without spending a small fortune?

And before I forget to mention, would it be a wise investment to maybe go to my nearby community college for a certificate in network administration? I went through high school and graduated with 12 college credits out the door. The classes taken translate to roughly half/less than half of the certificate being already completed. The outline of the course is here.

Any guidance is welcome. I'm only 18, going on 19 soon, and I'm aware that I can learn plenty and have a current untapped potential. I just need to be pointed in a direction and I'll find a way to make it the right direction.


  • ThomasITguyThomasITguy Banned Posts: 181
    start with your A+, Net+, and then sec+ all 3 of those will contain the basic information you need to make your decision as to where you eventually want to go in the IT field. Also look into getting into a Help desk role... (everyone sometimes starts there) get that job and then get experience. Sometimes your employer will pay for your certs which is how I got into the field of IT... I found a job then they paid for my certs and I got the needed experience to go to the next job. Getting a networking certificate is good as well because you can apply that to your Net+.

    Hope this helps.

  • josmiscojosmisco Registered Users Posts: 3 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Removed unnecessary quote from reply

    Thank you very much! I did read some and notice that those CompTIA certs are the way to go when it comes to starting. I plan on buying A+, Net+, and Sec+ study guides, pretty much like this set, but up to date.
  • kiki162kiki162 Member Posts: 635
    Ahhh.....I was once in your shoes many years ago. I was stuck in a retail job, with no college education, and no certs. Keep in mind this was in the late 90's and early 2000's. By 2002, I had made the decision to go to school and get my Associates. I went on and off for about 2 years, and finally hit a wall and dropped the 4-figures to do a boot camp. Frankly, I was sick of retail. It took me several months to get completed certified, but was able to accomplish it. Within a year's time, I went from making less than $10/hr to making over $25/hr. That job allowed me to complete my AS degree a few years later, along with some additional certs.

    So my point to you is this. You will need to drop some serious $$ in order to move forward. Think of it as a starting investment. The idea is that you want to get yourself into a job that will have some education benefits. You are also at an age where you want to get out of Mom and Dad's house too. Start with the CompTIA certifications (A+, Network+, and Security+) as these will give you a good foundation. Work on getting some Microsoft certs as well, and this will help you with help desk type jobs in the future.

    So how do you go about studying, well it's simple. You need to isolate yourself for a number of weeks till you pass your certifications. This means, no going out, hanging out...nothing. You stay home, and do the work. You can also drop the $$ like I did to do a boot camp. I think Cisco certs are a stretch for you right now, however that could be something you could do within the next year or so.

    Don't worry about college for right now, try getting yourself into a job with some computer experience, while working on obtaining some certs. Once you get that, you should be able to get an entry level help desk job to get your foot in the door.
  • ThomasITguyThomasITguy Banned Posts: 181

    I used to be in retail as well.... I was sick of the long hrs and trying to make customers buy something on a impulse.
  • jeremywatts2005jeremywatts2005 CySA,S+,A+,N+Cloud+,MSDFS,MSMISSM Member Posts: 343 ■■■■□□□□□□
    Dude get back in college and finish up. This is a huge first step for many getting into the field. An AAS is a good start and opens a bunch of doors with it alone. You also could work on A+ and Net+ while in school and leave with help desk ready skills. I got my AAS in 1998 and went to work at Rockwell right out of college. I have never had trouble finding work in the sector. That was my starting point and I kept building from there. Finish that degree and get going !! Just so you know I slept in my car ate potted meat lived in a park and was about as homeless as you can get trying to get through my AAS. My parents gave me nothing and I was an on the air disc jockey at night getting my degree. It was part time work and I got to clean the refrigerator out and keep what I wanted in there. Yeah I was that broke and I made it. I even dumpster dived to get the old pastries and food from the grocery store. There is no excuses for dropping out. I worked as a Dean for a time and had students tell me they wanted to quit. Wait till you go through what I went through or worse. Imagine if I had kids and had to do that. I know a student who did and I got her help and she finished. Now she is a PM making 80K a year with her BS.
  • josmiscojosmisco Registered Users Posts: 3 ■□□□□□□□□□
    I really appreciate the insight that you have, most definitely. I'm a cook at a bar right now called the Witch Kitch, making NY state minimum wage plus tips - I expect roughly 20 to 25 hours a week. You can of course see where I'd want better. Granted my youth, I'm not ignorant enough to demand $15 an hour for my minimum skills. I'd like to define myself, make myself an asset, someone who is marketable and worth the value I ask.

    Needless to say, I don't find myself opposed to spending that startup cash to get somewhere. I certainly plan on buying A+, Net+, and Security+ study guides and putting myself back into the idea of a higher education. I won't lie to you, studying will be a challenge. I like to go out; be around friends often. Regardless, these certs are a priority to me at the moment. College is currently second-hand. I still have to pay off my debt for the first semester before going back. Having the gap of time between now and then isn't a terrible thing. It made me refocus.

    Ultimately, I'd like to find myself with a handful of certifications by the end of the year and have a good portion of my debt paid. What Microsoft certs would be recommended, by the way?

    I plan on getting back into college. It won't be for another year or so, as mentioned, I have a debt to pay off. Instead of an AAS in information technology like I had planned on getting, I think I'd like to get this certificate from the college, and then move the credits over to this AS degree in computer science. I can't say I was in a situation like yours, but I've had my share of homelessness and no help. I ran away when I was 13, kicked out at 16, and kicked out again not long ago. I expect nothing from family and all from myself. It's where I find a drive to overcome pettiness and a menial life that they've lived before me. Hell, I'm going to be 19 soon and I still don't have a car or license, as all those I graduated with do and had their first vehicle handed to them. I'm paying off a 1999 Lincoln Town Car that my friend's mom is selling for $1,700 and it's in great condition.

    But that's besides the point. I can find inspiration in your climb to success. I'd like to also be able to say, in maybe 5 years or so, that I was able to be triumphant in my goals.
  • Cisco InfernoCisco Inferno Member Posts: 1,034 ■■■■■■□□□□
    I started out just like you. 18 and a pc hardware nut that loved to overclock and benchmark like hell. Then I realized a career could be made.
    I was sick and over pouring other people's coffees if you know what I mean.

    I wasnt in college yet, but I ended up earning my A+ (took 2 weeks of light skimming since I loved hardware), and my Network+ (took 1-2 months).
    All you need is a $25 textbook and Professor Messer on Youtube. If you want, you can think about CBT Nuggets or Pluralsight for videos. ($$)

    Then I applied to a Community College in NYC. This together with no exp helped me get a Desktop role for a Wall St firm making $11 lol. Still great tho.
    Pro Tip: Enroll in college, employers want to see someone who is constantly improving. Hell, just lie and keep it on the resume with an expected date. (still have your student ID right?)

    The common consensus is that you will need to obtain your CompTIA trifecta (included Sec+) or at least the A+ and N+.
    This pretty much teaches you what the ocean of IT is from above, before you dive down into deep waters.

    After a few months or a year, you will be able to find interest in whatever specialty you like.
    Common paths are Microsoft Servers and Cisco Networking. (good to learn both though as you need skills from both for lower level jack of all trade roles)

    Lastly, do not worry about sacrificing your free time. You don't work 40 hours a week, you don't have kids. With work full time and a gf, I still have time to study and enjoy myself on the weekends/evenings. Learn to effectively use the 1-3 hours you can put in. That way you wont need to borrow it from your weekend. I was getting certs at your age while getting all sorts of f'd up. lol.

    (to answer the above q) I would recommend a windows desktop cert first over a server cert. This is what I did. I got the MCDST which is the win xp desktop cert, you should get the equivalent MCSA:Win7. Employers like such a cert alot since when you are lower level, desktop support is all you do. The MCSA:Server 2012 is incredibly hard for someone your level. It is what I am currently studying. It is also harder than the 2008 versions. I would maybe do that after a year or two of some solid exp and the above certs.

    If you have any questions, let me know.
    2019 Goals
    CompTIA Linux+
    [ ] Bachelor's Degree
  • jencyrobertjencyrobert Banned Posts: 3 ■□□□□□□□□□
    In online has lot of top most IT training organizations. once you completion of this course and you can get placed in top companies
  • ThomasITguyThomasITguy Banned Posts: 181
    @=Cisco Inferno;
    I have a question for you cisco.... love the name BTW...

    Im debating on getting my MCSA but should I get the 2012r2 or the 2008 then update it to the 2012r2 later? The reason I ask is because I want to get another cert, but I cant decide between the MCSA, CCNA, or CASP I am looking to take the test by the end of june so i will be studying hardcore from now till the end of june to take the test in july... Im looking to work with servers bc I love them and I think they are interesting
  • tbgree00tbgree00 Member Posts: 553 ■■■■□□□□□□
    Echoing some things in the thread: For A+, Net+, Sec+ you don't really need a bootcamp. Youtube and the sybex guides will get you a very long way toward them. Ask questions here if you get stuck, etc.

    Before looking at an MCSA in servers look at the Windows 7/10 professional certs. Having a ground up view of how professional editions of windows work, how group policy applies, what AD does, etc will help and open some doors.

    I started much like you in 2007. I was an accountant that built gaming PCs. I got into my company's IT department by luck and went on this path:

    Net+> A+> MCDST (XP)> Server+> MCSA 2003> MCITP EST(Vista)> MCSE 2003 > MCSE Win 7 > MCSE 2008 > VCP > MCSA 2012 > CCENT > VCAP-DCA > VCAP-DCD

    I don't list that to brag but I think it shows a reasonable path over 10 years. I couldn't have started with a VCP or MCSA without the stuff I learned in the MCDST or the lower level tests. Grab a book, watch some youtube, and ask lots of questions. Good luck!
    I finally started that blog - www.thomgreene.com
  • Phillies8607Phillies8607 Member Posts: 83 ■■□□□□□□□□
    So there's a lot to consider. First, I'll mention the CompTIA trio is a great starting point like others have mentioned. But, I'll point out each of these exams can be $200-$300 a piece. Plus studying material, each cert could cost you $250-$350. I'm not trying to discourage you but you did say money is tight. Try saving a little each week and knock these certs out over time. And yes, your education is very important to employers when they look at your resumé. So to that I would say go to school part time and work full time. Or vice-versa. Who cares how long your degree takes as long as you are still in school and getting your certs in the meantime.

    Another interesting piece of info is that some colleges will give you credit for cerain computer or networking classes if you obtain Cisco or CompTIA certs. And the cost of the exam along with study materials and even lab equipment is usually cheaper than the cost of that 1 class alone, plus you get a cert! So check and see if any local colleges offer anything like that.

    Lastly, to help you figure out you wanna do or what you're interested in, there are plenty of free materials out there. First, do some job searching online. Type in entry level, help desk, engineer, senior engineer, developer, security expert, whatever. Just type in something related to IT and look at the job postings. If you don't understand any words or acronyms, just Google them. Also, look at professor Messer and Eli the Computer Guy on YouTube. Plenty of free videos right there.

    Oh and look into vmware
  • Cisco InfernoCisco Inferno Member Posts: 1,034 ■■■■■■□□□□
    I suggest you do not look back at 2008 unless you have been working in it for a year or two. Reason being, is that the 2012r2 still has most of its foundation theory that applies. Group policy, dhcp, dns concepts do not change with each release.

    By the way, I am also scheduled to take the 70-410 at the end of june.

    Make sure you have a lab set up. If my connection was strong enough, i'd spin up hyper-v for you to connect to :)
    2019 Goals
    CompTIA Linux+
    [ ] Bachelor's Degree
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