Planning my certification path

ohnostopgoohnostopgo Registered Users Posts: 1 ■□□□□□□□□□
Forum newb here, nice to meet you all icon_cool.gif

I have worked 3 years on a drop-in helpdesk, mostly fixing Windows and Mac software issues. Setup, config, troubleshooting, malware, I guess you all know the drill. Occasionally a bit of Linux and some networking questions, but almost never getting inside the case (against my employer's policy to mess with customers' hardware).

I got the job based on customer service work experience and general IT knowledge. Not scared to play with stuff, but I'm completely self-taught and I don't have any certs at all.

Now I'm not working, staying at home with my baby son until he starts nursery in September. Daddy daycare yay! :D

I'd like to study for certs in between changing nappies and singing nursery rhymes, but not sure where to start. There's no shortage of contradictory advice on offer. My goals are to learn more, and set myself up for a good support job this September.

Among the things I've read/heard/guesstimated are:
  • CompTIA coursework is a good foundation to study, but the exams are expensive and employers don't value them.
  • In Microsoft certs, MCSA is a great CV keyword, but the server certs are worth more than the desktop ones.
  • Cisco certs are the only networking cert path worth paying for.
  • Job ads sometimes mention Apple experience, but never any Apple certs.
  • Generally it's frowned upon to take certs on topics where you don't have any work experience.
  • The Linux command line is considered as magic by most people who don't use it themselves.
  • Programming in any language, even more so.
I'm already taking an Open University computing degree, currently doing M250 Object-oriented Java programming. I like it a lot so far.

As for my cert plans, would the two exams for MCSA Windows 10 be a good and realistic goal for self-study over the next few months? There seems to be more job ads mentioning server MCSA, but I've never done server admin in my job and I don't want to look like an ignorant crammer.

Anything else you guys would suggest planning to pass? In particular, anything I should cover before MCSA.

I don't have a home network, but my desktop Windows box and my Macbook are both able to run VMware decently. Is that going to be enough for labbing?

Apart from the course textbooks and Youtube, are there any sensibly priced study options for MCSA? I can spend something, but the official home study package costs £2500. Really not an option.
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