Deciding on a clear IT career path

trafficctrafficc Member Posts: 17 ■□□□□□□□□□
Hello everyone,

I'm new to this forum, well, I've been reading this forum over and over again and eventually I've decided to create an account, and share my ideas and questions.

I've got a BS.c in Information Technology, and my over all experience is 6 years now. I've started as a retail call centre agent in an ISP, 2 years later I've been promoted to IT, which I spent 4 years in.

Basically I'm linux system administrator, but since it is an ISP environment, our company's strategy is to make us do little bit of everything, so you'll see me doing little bit of VMWARE, little bit of mail firewalls like CISCO iron port, web and mail hosting like PLESK, and sure DNS based on bind9, along with little bit of MySQL.

Now in 4 years, most of you might say that I should have clear path in IT by now, but it is the exact opposite with me. I might say, that maybe because I'm so exhausted to choose a path, since I'm on-call, and I'm doing daily work that would't let me clear my head around a path. Or is it because I've been with this ISP so long that I'm going to remain lost in choosing a clear IT path.

In easy words, I have general IT knowledge, but I want to be focused.

I need your advice... see I want to go for LPIC-1 exam, or VCP... and now I'm considering MCSE.

What's the right path? I mean what should I focus on... I'm really lost. I'm great at my job, but I want to focus in one thing.

Example: security guys, are more focused than us system administrator, they are working on PALO ALTO firewalls all day along with other firewalls, and they got to get certificates like CISSP and Ethical Hacking and that's it! They build on from there.. maybe little bit of networking they need.

What about me? I mean as a system administrator... I need to clear my head around something.

Should I just change my course to programming or IT project management? I'm really good in IT project management.

Let's share thoughts and pieces of advice.

It's my first post, and I'm sorry if it was so long.

Traffic.

Comments

  • Dakinggamer87Dakinggamer87 Gaming Tech Expert Silicon Valley, CAMember Posts: 4,016 ■■■■■■■■□□
    The first thing I would determine is what career path you want as you have laid out many options. This will help determine the appropriate certifications to pass to help accelerate and improve your overall credentials. :)

    If you want to go into project management: PMP, ITIL, Prince2, etc..
    Security --> CISSP, CEH
    Systems Admin ---> MCSA/MCSE, RHSCA, RHCE

    Write the pros and cons of each role and see what you are passionate about and enjoy!!

    Hope this helps :)
    *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
  • thomas_thomas_ CompTIA N+/S+/L+ CCNA R&S CCNP R&S/Enterprise/Collab Member Posts: 946 ■■■■■■■□□□
    What do you like doing the best at your job? Maybe go to a bookstore and browse through the topics of the different certification books for each cert you have listed. Find out which one piques your curiosity the most and start with that one. If you don't mind studying and can afford the certs you can study for one cert, take the test, study for the next one, take the test, etc.

    Just doing something will help you figure out what you want to do even if the first thing you pick isn't what you end up staying with. I don't think people stay in the same positions these days, so studying and getting exposure to a variety of things can be useful.

    Finally, you might want to start perusing job postings. See which ones that catch your eye and then see what type of skills you would need for those positions and start studying.
  • trafficctrafficc Member Posts: 17 ■□□□□□□□□□
    The first thing I would determine is what career path you want as you have laid out many options. This will help determine the appropriate certifications to pass to help accelerate and improve your overall credentials. :)

    If you want to go into project management: PMP, ITIL, Prince2, etc..
    Security --> CISSP, CEH
    Systems Admin ---> MCSA/MCSE, RHSCA, RHCE

    Write the pros and cons of each role and see what you are passionate about and enjoy!!

    Hope this helps :)

    So you're saying that I can't mix those certs? like LPIC, ITIL and PMP?

    The problem is not listing those certs and decide.. the problem is which certs I should stick with in order to have a clear path. I just would love to focus on one field... the only thing I'm sure about is that I don't need networking, I just don't like it.
  • trafficctrafficc Member Posts: 17 ■□□□□□□□□□
    thomas_ wrote: »
    What do you like doing the best at your job? Maybe go to a bookstore and browse through the topics of the different certification books for each cert you have listed. Find out which one piques your curiosity the most and start with that one. If you don't mind studying and can afford the certs you can study for one cert, take the test, study for the next one, take the test, etc.

    Just doing something will help you figure out what you want to do even if the first thing you pick isn't what you end up staying with. I don't think people stay in the same positions these days, so studying and getting exposure to a variety of things can be useful.

    Finally, you might want to start perusing job postings. See which ones that catch your eye and then see what type of skills you would need for those positions and start studying.


    A part of me says the hell with IT certs, take project management certs and focus on management since that what I want to do. I mean 4 years in IT and being on-call made me hate doing things. Instead I want to manage things... That if you ask me what I like to do.

    What I do best in job is web hosting relating stuff...

    I totally agree with you in starting with studying for one cert and take its exam and then taking it from there..

    Job posts are so confusing... I mean MCSE and AWS, VCP in one job post... is that even possible?
  • UnixGuyUnixGuy Are we having fun yet? Mod Posts: 4,148 Mod
    Do you like scripting? If so, DevOps is a very skill right now. Learn Bash and maybe Python, and play with Puppet.

    For certs, since you work with both Linux and VMware, I'd say skip the LPIC, and go for RHCSA/RHCE AND VCP. You can't go wrong there.


    Your generalist experience is really really valuable, I can't stress that enough. Got a task doing some MySQL? Take it as an opportunity to learn more than what you require about MySQL to do your job. Had to play with Cisco Iron Port? Set a home-Lab and master that product (as much as possible). Being on call sucks but this ISP experience is gold in your resume. The first 5-10yrs of your career are better spent doing a lot of break-fix in busy environments with as much technology as possible.
    Goal: MBA, Jan 2021
  • MimosaVendettaMimosaVendetta Registered Users Posts: 2 ■□□□□□□□□□
    I find myself in a similar though...less high position. I started with my A+ cert in Dec 2013, worked helpdesk for a year between two companies (one bought out the other and I was a package deal). I got my CCNA because the place I was with wanted another Cisco person. I was let go (reduction in force) before I finished, but I plowed through and got my CCENT & CCNA in about 6 months. I'm now working at a service provider as internal IT and have recently been roped into being SIP/VOIP phone support.

    Everyone asks me where I want to focus my career. My "go to" response so far has been, "I'd like to be a specialized generalist" because I LOVE learning about new things, but if I get too deep in one thing then my other general knowledge isn't kept up to snuff. But I'm starting to realize that it's hard to move up the ladder and be a 'specialized generalist'. I've been trying to research the various branches of the IT world tree, but it's easy to get mired quickly.

    I'm very curious on how people chose their "paths" which is what you're looking at doing now. It sounds like you're letting certifications mark your path. Do you find that's a common practice?
  • bluejellorabbitbluejellorabbit Member Posts: 43 ■■□□□□□□□□
    I understanding the desire to want to know a little of everything. The downside is that jacks of all trades aren't quite as marketable as experts in specific areas. If you really want to make yourself valuable, pick a path and stay on it. If you like Linux administration, I'd study for your Linux+ which will give you LPIC-1 and a SUSE cert. Then work on RHCSA and RHCE, and possibly even RHCA down the road.

    If you don't really know what you want to do, or you don't care much about salary, you can bounce around from thing to thing for a while. But unless you end up starting your own business, that likely won't be a valuable strategy in the long run.
  • fmitawapsfmitawaps Banned Posts: 261
    Well, I decided that I did NOT want to go into security work, because no matter how hard you try, the company will get hacked eventually, then you're in a meeting with the IT-ignorant bosses, and they are wailing about why are they paying you if you can't prevent things like this, and who needs that headache?

    There are enough people out there who want to be all hard-core security gurus, so I am happy to stand back and let them be all that.

    I am trying to get a job in a data center because I believe that at least there, I will be working with people who know something about computers, as opposed to when I used to do desktop support and had to deal with clueless end users. I don't want to speak to end users at all if I can avoid it.

    And I don't want to be a sysadmin, because I don't want to have to start over and learn all the intricacies of microsoft, windows, linux, AD, databases, user accounts and permissions, email, and installing and running programs.

    So that is why I am going for networking and data center work.
  • aftereffectoraftereffector Member Posts: 525
    I had no idea what I wanted to do when I left the military. I took a few certification exams from different vendors - CompTIA, Cisco, Microsoft, and so on - until I got my first "real" job doing IT security. I've come a long way in my own understanding of what I like, what I'm good at, and what I should work towards, and it all came from time and exposure to technologies and roles. I would never have ended up where I am now if I hadn't been where I've been.

    My advice to you would be to identify what you want to do. It sounds like you are interested in IT project management, so start looking for IT project manager jobs and see what requirements they ask for. You'll start to pick up commonalities depending on the roles and your region (ITIL is big in some areas, COBIT in others, and so on). When you see something come up a few times, go ahead and put it in your study plan!
    CCIE Security - this one might take a while...
  • Danielm7Danielm7 Member Posts: 2,286 ■■■■■■■■□□
    trafficc wrote: »
    Example: security guys, are more focused than us system administrator, they are working on PALO ALTO firewalls all day along with other firewalls, and they got to get certificates like CISSP and Ethical Hacking and that's it! They build on from there.. maybe little bit of networking they need.


    I wish it was that clear cut, I was a sysadmin for many years. I know a bunch of them locally as well, every one of them are different. Some are heavy on linux, some don't touch linux at all and run a 100% MS server/desktop shop. The VMWare people I work with are more generalists but in no way a guru of MS or linux, most of them don't know a lot of AWS. See where I'm going with this?

    Also, now currently in security, it's a lot (LOT!) wider than you're looking at. CISSP is general/management, lots of them never touch a firewall. Some only do forensics, some focus purely on analytics, lots of pen testers don't even bother with certs, if they do there are still a few different ways to go.

    Pick something to specialize in, it's always good having general knowledge but you don't need to certify for everything under the sun at the same time. If you really love linux, as another poster mentioned, maybe try to dig into scripting and automation, that can be a very interesting, and profitable path.
  • R2dTOOR2dTOO Member Posts: 13 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Only you can decide what you want to to do. Once you decide that, THEN you can figure out the certification path that you need to take to get there. Once you decide, don't forget to get ACTUAL experience. There is nothing worse than someone who read a book, passed a test, and then fails miserably in real life because they've never actually done the work. Build a lab. Break stuff. Troubleshoot it. Break it again.
  • culpanoculpano Member Posts: 163
    I hated IT management and went back to technical again. Much more enjoyable for me. Actually delivering something and getting praise for it rather than writing stuff down that never gets adhered to and suppliers constantly telling lies and customers moaning. A colleague at my last place of word told me project management is a horrible job. You carry the can for everything.
  • kohr-ahkohr-ah Member Posts: 1,277
    I have to agree with the others. What interests you most? Being a generalist to an extent isn't a bad thing at all until you can decide what you want to do and specialize.

    Heck I am a network engineer and I STILL dont know what I want to do from here.
    Do I branch to DC?
    Do I branch to Security?
    Do I branch out and start learning Linux more along with Python better than I do now?

    Just have to do what you find interest in.
  • Nightflier101BLNightflier101BL Member Posts: 134 ■■■□□□□□□□
    You've got to decide for yourself what you can see yourself doing for the long haul. What subject or technology do you find the most interesting?

    For me, I decided to go down the networking path because it hit me in different way than systems. I can spend the day at work, go home and still feel like I can open a book on networking and be interested. I find many elements of networking fascinating. Even all the way down to staring at a bundle of ethernet cables and being amazed that there are electrical signals, 1's and 0's flying back forth from A to B and on either side, gets assembled into something meaningful. I can remember the very thing that started me on this path - it was first IT job and I was sitting with a co-worker who had Cisco TAC on the phone, working on one of our firewalls. Just watching that guy navigate the IOS CLI while talking to himself ("oh, it's gotta be this, nope, maybe...yep here we go", etc.), was amazing.
    At that moment, I said "I wanna do that."

    It was just the thing that made me go, "Whoa, that's cool." Nothing else has made me feel that much excitement yet. Certainly, not Microsoft icon_tongue.gificon_lol.gif - they make me scratch my head in frustration.

    Edit - I should add that my initial certs were intended to get me in the door to a job. Now that I've figured out where I want to go, I've looked for jobs that pertain to my career track and THEN work on certs to compliment the experience I gain. For example, if I didn't have a networking role I would never work on the CCNP. But now I can because it goes hand-in-hand with my daily tasks.

    Another edit - Just imagine yourself at work. What task or assignment do you look forward to? If you had to pick one thing to do out of all things you do, which one would you prefer above the others? What is a perfect day for you? What tasks are you working that day? Start at that technology.
Sign In or Register to comment.