For all new people starting or changing to I.T. My 35+ years advice, for YOU !

Hello Friends, I really like this web site.. and I've been a member here for a while, although I have not posted in a while, I still visit here often. My post is mainly for the "new" guys and gals out there that are getting certified and are going forward in a career or maybe starting out late and changing their career to Information Technology and Services. Please note, that “the only reason” why I am spending my time right now writing this out,is to help “you” out going forward.Just a short background on myself, for over 35+ years I've worked in information technology and services. I work on one of the largest enterprise level wide area networks (WAN) and I am multi disciplined in many I.T. fields.Additionally, I also teach now worldwide remotely and sometimes live. And in regards to not getting into "who" in regards to their privacy, I've help many well known I.T. book authors in regards to quality assurance of their own material over the years. I'm not going to go on and on about my long career, just that I'm venerable.Here is my solid“lessons learned” advice.. that you will “not hear” from most people out there that you are learning from, and this “will” help you.

The most IMPORTANT THING IS - You learn and acquire certifications for:
1) Yourself FIRST, either to better your own understanding or to prove to “yourself”that you know this skillset / area. This is the number one thing to remember.

2) To get into a better job or a better raise and to better yourself.

3) To better your company and also maintain your position in the company. Leaning more skillsets makes “YOU” an valuable employee to your company. And I've actually seen people that have got laid off” of the company“first” because they never went for any types of certifications even if that company “paid” for them to do so!

ALL Certification ARE NOT EASY!
1) No matter what Bob,Jack and Sally says to you on the internet forums or in real life,all certifications are not easy. Does not matter if it is CompTIA A+or whatever. If they were easy, everyone would have an I.T.certification. Trust me on that. I've heard many time..“oh that's easy I didn't even study for it…” LOL… WRONG.

2) All certifications get updated with newer content, so if you can get continuing education credits, like taking other courses to keep your certification "current".. do it, don't let them expire.

Certifications are aMONEY DRIVEN business !
1) Do not be fooled,certification vendors do not like you.. they like your money. icon_smile.gif

2) Book Authors do not like you, they like your money. icon_smile.gif

3) Training companies and training content providers do not like you, they like your money.icon_smile.gif

4) In regards to 1)thru 3) you'll pick up on that as you go forward, I'm just giving you the "real deal".

Do NOT SKIP certifications if you are just starting out!
1) Get CompTIA A+. Why?Because you gain all of that troubleshooting experience going forward. I've seen it MANY times, a person skips CompTIA A+ and all of the hardware and software core troubleshooting and gets another certification like Cisco CCNA and then, can not even diagnose and fix their own office computer!

2) CompTIA A+ also gives you the “basic three” areas of where you can move to next.Networking, I.T. Security or help desk / administration (in regards to Windows, Linux and MAC OSX. Not to mention mobile devices, and printers… ect. From CompTIA A+, THEN choose where you want to focus on, and I would go into the next CompTIA certification THEN bounce toa higher certification from another vendor (Microsoft, Cisco, ISC2,Ect….)

Working in the RealWorld… fun times? LOL icon_smile.gif
1) Have a college degree is not “real world” experience. You may have to start out“small” Working at Staples or Best Buy or another retail store that provides computer services, doing “computer tech” work. Graba job like that and run with it! Doing that sort of work is awesome as you get to troubleshoot a lot, however.. remember that these“so-called” computer repair places are “money driven” as well. $60.00 to replace two memory modules or a video card or even$$$more$$$ that the big box stores tech bench business. Also, make sure you watch the “so-called” management of this place and also how you and your peers are treated. I learned “a lot” in regards to bad management practices, how “not” to treat customers and even employee discrimination.. sad but true. But LEARN and REMEMBER it all... and how "not" to be / act !

2) After you get some real world experience, say two years.. “try” and get a job in an actual company, not retail but somewhere that has an office and a local area network or wide area network. Maybe help desk,Administrator. Or maybe a “junior” role in a I.T. Network or Security center.

3) Working as your own“I.T. consultant” either installing computers or networks seems great, but trust me.. you will see the most nasty and cheapskate type of people that you will ever see in your lifetime. Many years ago, I had one very well off Doctor that did not think it was right for me to charge him money in regards to the software that he wanted installed on his computer, like Microsoft Office for example. Some people think that negotiating with you “after” you have done the work is normal. Other people will constantly call you back, week after week with new issues and then say is the “same issue” that you fixed “last time". Trust me friends.. you'll run into that.

4) Wherever you work,remember that there is “always” people that always “think”they are better than you.. it seems that in the “I.T. world” that is the case. Most of the time, if your troubleshooting skills are“great” and you have that great background in troubleshooting “theory” to backup your argument with these I.T. “professors”, you'll be able to handle things when they happen. Trust me when I say, you bump into these people a lot, and many seem to be the ones that“skip” over the real great certifications that have all of the troubleshooting. For example, the OSI Model for networking, people always laugh at and think they'll never use it.. but trust me again..when you have a really “tough” network connectivity issue, following that OSI chart “does” help you narrow down that issue.

If you can not find ajob in I.T. locally:
1) Don't forget “remote help desk” may be out there. Do internet searches however, and“read reviews” on places like “glassdoor” in regards to employees reactions, and then gauge how that company is.

2) Health Insurance companies is also a good place to look for I.T. jobs.

3) Hospitals is great.Health Care I.T. is also a great place if you can get your foot in the door. I know CompTIA has a Healhcare I.T. certification and maybe there is a few others.

4) You may have to get either a “temp” position or even a short term “contract”position, which may be kind of bad because your job may be short term.. however you again “gain” experience.. and that's a good thing to be able to build on your resume.

I have spent about an hour writing this above. And I could spend many hours more. Again,I've been in this business since Micro-computers (TRS-80, C-64 oh yes) IBM XT (8088 and 8086) and AT form factors, Operating Systems like: DOS, Windows version 1.1 and also I've been around since the inception of GNU/Linux. And again.. as I am rambling.. I could spend HOURS talking about the old “legacy” days of personal computing…and even gaming (not get me started on that.. LOL).In the beginning of my career there was a few people along the way that helped me going forward and I truly hope that some of you out there, read what I wrote.. as I know it will help you as you go forward. Take care, good luck and remember “NEVER” give up!
Vendor Neutral Certified in IT Project Management, Security, Servers, Workstations, Software, Networking, Windows, Unix and Linux and.. Cloud. :-)

Comments

  • UnixGuyUnixGuy SABSA, GCFA, GPEN, CISM, RHCE, Security+, Server+, eJPT, CCNA Posts: 4,047Mod Mod
    Some good points there. I'm curious, what certificates do you currently hold? What experience did you have in 35 years? networking engineering? servers?
    Goal: MBA, Jan 2021
  • GeeLoGeeLo Posts: 109Member
    UnixGuy wrote: »
    Some good points there. I'm curious, what certificates do you currently hold? What experience did you have in 35 years? networking engineering? servers?

    In regards to answering your certification question.

    Mainly vendor neutral ones, some that people would not know.
    Ones that people "would" know, is probably CompTIA:
    CompTIA: Certified Technical Trainer+, A+, Security+, Network+, Mobility+, Cloud Essentials, Cloud+, Cyber Security Analyst+

    "What experience did you have in 35 years? "
    For a rough historical timeline...
    The first 10 years my experience came from Desktop support and networking support (mainly work- groups and peer to peer). And, also around those "early years" heterogeneous networking with GNU/Linux, using SAMBA. Retail at first, then private and military stakeholders. I also maintained at that time, some stand-alone unix servers (SCO-UNIX). Also user support in regards to COTS.

    The next 25 years... the first 7.. I worked on a tier / level 3 and 4 enterprise help desk, and assisted other administrators nationwide on a very large WAN, remotely. Issues could range by hour, from network issues (Cisco / Junipter), to desktop / laptop software issues (apps / operating systems) to Windows servers, to multi function printers, to tape library units, to smart phones and tablets... you name it.

    The rest of the years... up to current: WAN network monitoring, server monitoring as well as server hardware repair (break/fix). Cloud Platform administration support (SaAS, STaAS, IAMaAS), enterprise level backups and restore, both solid state (SAN) and tape (still). Security related forensics / e-Discovery as well. Also safeguarding information systems around security controls contained in Risk Management Framework (RMF). Mobile device management (MDM) for smart phones and tablets on the enterprise network. Also administration and rolling out many virtual servers (VMware). Also, GNU/Linux on the enterprise in regards to storage (JBOD).
    And on top of this.. teaching others in certification prep.

    How's that? :)
    Vendor Neutral Certified in IT Project Management, Security, Servers, Workstations, Software, Networking, Windows, Unix and Linux and.. Cloud. :-)
  • ThePawofRizzoThePawofRizzo SSCP, A+, N+, Sec+, CySA+, Cloud+, CWTS Posts: 389Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    "Other people will constantly call you back, week after week with new issues and then say is the “same issue” that you fixed “last time". " LMAO. Exactly this! My own mother would do that if she could get away with it.
  • greg9891greg9891 Posts: 1,174Member ■■■■■■■□□□
    @ GeeLo CompTIA: Certified Technical Trainer+

    I am looking at doing this cert sometime later this year or next year. What was your experience like getting this Certification?
    Certs Gained 2018: CCENT ,210-255 ( Cyber Security Operations)
    Upcoming: ICND2, CTT, 210-250 (Cyber Security Fundamentals)

    Isaiah 28:10 - For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line; here a little, and there a little.
  • DatabaseHeadDatabaseHead CSM, ITIL x3, Teradata Assc, MS SQL Server, Project +, Server +, A+, N+, MS Project, CAPM, RMP Posts: 2,475Member ■■■■■■■■■□
    Nice GeeLo.

    Thanks for sharing.
  • LordQarlynLordQarlyn Posts: 535Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    "Certifications are aMONEY DRIVEN business ! "

    A big yes for the Certification Industrial Complex lol.

    That said I agree with the importance of certifications, if for no other reason than to get past HR screening. But if that is the only reason one pursues certs, then they will be greatly disappointed. A good path to a cert means not just passing the exam, but gaining a solid understanding of the fundamental concepts covered in the certification syllabus. In fact, that was how I got my first IT job; I had studied for Net+, and had a job interview where the hiring manager asked me a lot of networking questions, the lessons were fresh in my mind and I aced them - he mentioned that himself how well I answered the questions. As far as I am concerned, if you are not studying real world applications of what is covered by the certificate's objectives along with the material to pass the exam, you're wasting your time - and money.
  • odysseyeliteodysseyelite Posts: 504Member ■■■■■□□□□□
    All very good points. The only thing I would add is to not stop. I've been in the position a few times now, I took some exams got comfortable at my current place in life\job and then something happened. Either laid off or decided to try to find a new career to find myself left in the past lacking knowledge of current technologies. Studying and learning is a craft. 6 years ago I could lock myself up and study for 8 hours on a Saturday, not so much now, but I am getting better at staying focus.

    As you move up, you can allow some certs to expire as long as you are moving in the upward direction. You only have so much time and money, focus on what is important in your career goals.

    Last point I would make would be willing to relocate if possible. Sometimes you have to move to get the pay raises or opportunities you are seeking.
    Currently reading: Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action
  • GeeLoGeeLo Posts: 109Member
    greg9891 wrote: »
    @ GeeLo CompTIA: Certified Technical Trainer+

    I am looking at doing this cert sometime later this year or next year. What was your experience like getting this Certification?

    I replied back to your PM.
    Vendor Neutral Certified in IT Project Management, Security, Servers, Workstations, Software, Networking, Windows, Unix and Linux and.. Cloud. :-)
  • GeeLoGeeLo Posts: 109Member
    Nice GeeLo.

    Thanks for sharing.

    You are Welcome... and to add.. I'm 100% "not perfect":

    I can do batch and other scripting for admin tasks but should I know solid coding with app or web (other then basic HTML) by now?.. probably "yes".. but I don't.

    There is exams that I have not done as I am way too busy and can not allocate any time for, time management is not my best skillset.. should it after all this time.. Yes, it should.

    And I've failed a few exams along the way.. yep sure have.

    The main thing.. I just keep going forward.
    Vendor Neutral Certified in IT Project Management, Security, Servers, Workstations, Software, Networking, Windows, Unix and Linux and.. Cloud. :-)
  • TechGromitTechGromit A+, N+, GSEC, GCIH, GREM, Ontario, NY Posts: 1,909Member ■■■■■■■■□□
    GeeLo wrote: »
    Again,I've been in this business since Micro-computers (TRS-80, C-64 oh yes) IBM XT (8088 and 8086) and AT form factors, Operating Systems like: DOS, Windows version 1.1 and also I've been around since the inception of GNU/Linux. And again.. as I am rambling.. I could spend HOURS talking about the old “legacy” days of personal computing…and even gaming

    Can't say I ever had a Commodore 64, I went the Atari 800XL route. I worked on TRS-80's in High school, but my first real computer was an IBM 8088, with a turbo button that drastically accelerated the PC CPU speed from 4.77 Mhz to a lightening fast 8 Mhz. first DOS version I remember was 3.0 and I was on the internet before the browsers, but I believe Netscape was available at the time. I even was on the internet using DOS.

    As for staying on topic, the only thing I would say is sometimes certifications do not yield any measureable or appreciable results. And sometimes they do, I got a 3k raise after obtaining my A+ and Network+ certs within one month, I also know a guy who got his Mercury Test Tools certification (software quality testing) and within a month, went from 40k to 100k a year after relocating to a new job.
    Still searching for the corner in a round room.
  • mauguilarmauguilar CompTIA A+ | Network+ | Security+ | Server+ Los AngelesPosts: 37Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    Thanks for the advice.
  • GeeLoGeeLo Posts: 109Member
    TechGromit wrote: »
    As for staying on topic, the only thing I would say is sometimes certifications do not yield any measureable or appreciable results. And sometimes they do, I got a 3k raise after obtaining my A+ and Network+ certs within one month, I also know a guy who got his Mercury Test Tools certification (software quality testing) and within a month, went from 40k to 100k a year after relocating to a new job.

    Yes I agree with you 100%, that's why I put in my post for the number one reason:
    1) Yourself FIRST, either to better your own understanding or to prove to “yourself” that you know this skillset / area. This is the number one thing to remember.

    I've seen exactly what what wrote happen in regards to money. Also, like you wrote is also 100% true relocating to a new job is sometimes the key in regards to obtain a better job or one that you want to get into. Sometimes a city location may be over-saturated with people who have the same certifications and skill-sets. Sometime, the location that is offering the job may be... not the most nicest place to live. Also to look out for, is the "cost of living" aspect.. housing, food, gas can all be WAY higher in one place than another.

    And, in regards to the same aspect of location, be mindful if "that job" that seems to pay well is the "the only job" in that area that is "paying that" salary. I've have seen some job in certain locations, that are say $90,000 a year BUT all the other jobs around that SAME AREA are like $40,000 to 45,000 a year! So ask yourself "if I got the $90,000 "wonder job" would I be able to survive if I got laid off and lost that job? Could I survive on a way lower salary.. or do I have the "emergency funds" to relocate if needed?

    One of my supervisors a long time ago told me this.. and I never forgot it... always play the "what-if" game. If "this" happened, what would I do? If "that" happen, what would I do? Even though you can not worry about "every little thing" that "may" happen, stopping and asking yourself "what-if" can really help out in the job decision process.

    And again.. please note that I am "not" perfect.. I make mistakes.. I can fail exams just like everyone else can. I'm just spending some time writing passing some "lessons learned" / "takeaways" that I have learned as a venerable "first gen" I.T. Services worker.
    Vendor Neutral Certified in IT Project Management, Security, Servers, Workstations, Software, Networking, Windows, Unix and Linux and.. Cloud. :-)
  • TechGromitTechGromit A+, N+, GSEC, GCIH, GREM, Ontario, NY Posts: 1,909Member ■■■■■■■■□□
    GeeLo wrote: »
    I've seen exactly what what wrote happen in regards to money. Also, like you wrote is also 100% true relocating to a new job is sometimes the key in regards to obtain a better job or one that you want to get into.

    A more complete story to the guy who landed the job relocating, he was working in Florida for a number of years as a software tester earning around 40k a year and decided to get the Mercury Test Tools certification (now called HP IT Management Software), he spent $3,000 of his own money to take the course and exam to get his cert. His co-workers thought he was crazy spending his own money, he posted his updated resume on Monster.com and within a few days federal contractor contacted him, they needed someone with his cert for a contract position they had. After some negotiations, he accepted a 100k offer, and moved a few weeks later to take the job in New Jersey. While it's true the cost of living in Florida is cheaper than New Jersey, it's not 2 1/2 times more expensive, not even close. He also had the flexibility to move at a moments notice, a lot of other people probably had the same cert and more experience, but having a family, it's not always convenient to pick up and move on short notice. The take away from the story if if your willing to invest in yourself, and be flexible it could pay off in a big way.
    Still searching for the corner in a round room.
  • LordQarlynLordQarlyn Posts: 535Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    TechGromit wrote: »
    As for staying on topic, the only thing I would say is sometimes certifications do not yield any measureable or appreciable results. And sometimes they do, I got a 3k raise after obtaining my A+ and Network+ certs within one month, I also know a guy who got his Mercury Test Tools certification (software quality testing) and within a month, went from 40k to 100k a year after relocating to a new job.

    Yes, this! Studying for a cert without being able to fully understand the topics of the certification, to the point of being able to apply them at your work (if you are in a job to do so, otherwise set up a lab and apply them), is not only a waste, it makes you look bad. When a hiring manager encounters enough people like that with a particular cert or certs, it begins to devalue the cert or certifications in general.
  • TechGromitTechGromit A+, N+, GSEC, GCIH, GREM, Ontario, NY Posts: 1,909Member ■■■■■■■■□□
    LordQarlyn wrote: »
    Yes, this! Studying for a cert without being able to fully understand the topics of the certification, to the point of being able to apply them at your work....

    Not sure I understand your post, the guy I mentioned when went from 40k to 100k used the product from Mercury Interactive for years, he just wasn't certified in the product. The Certification AND his experience landed him the job. He would never have gotten the opportunity without both.
    Still searching for the corner in a round room.
  • Brave_heartBrave_heart Junior Member Posts: 8Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    GeeLo, you're a blessing in disguise to a starter like me. I'm happy that I stumbled in this forum. bowing.gif
  • LordQarlynLordQarlyn Posts: 535Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    TechGromit wrote: »
    Not sure I understand your post, the guy I mentioned when went from 40k to 100k used the product from Mercury Interactive for years, he just wasn't certified in the product. The Certification AND his experience landed him the job. He would never have gotten the opportunity without both.

    Ah, you never once ran into those certified ones who didn't know the first thing about what they were certified in. Lucky you, I've had to deal with kings of paper certs for much of my IT career.
  • EANxEANx Posts: 1,077Member ■■■■■■■■□□
    LordQarlyn wrote: »
    Ah, you never once ran into those certified ones who didn't know the first thing about what they were certified in. Lucky you, I've had to deal with kings of paper certs for much of my IT career.

    About ten years ago, I sat in a class with two sysadmins and their boss. The two guys barely paid any attention to the instructor, they studied a printout from what was, what was at-that-time, a well-known exam **** site. When I queried the boss, he said this was the best way to get them knowledgeable and certified. My response was that "I guess one out of two isn't bad."
  • DatabaseHeadDatabaseHead CSM, ITIL x3, Teradata Assc, MS SQL Server, Project +, Server +, A+, N+, MS Project, CAPM, RMP Posts: 2,475Member ■■■■■■■■■□
    EANx wrote: »
    About ten years ago, I sat in a class with two sysadmins and their boss. The two guys barely paid any attention to the instructor, they studied a printout from what was, what was at-that-time, a well-known exam **** site. When I queried the boss, he said this was the best way to get them knowledgeable and certified. My response was that "I guess one out of two isn't bad."

    Sadly some of these folks fake it till they make it and end up ahead of the others who did it legit. I know a total clown who dumped several sharepoint exams and landed a position right in the heyday of sharepoint. He faked it till he made it and finally got into a role that he is actually good at........

    Maybe that's why all my co workers are making more than me. LOL
  • AmcelweeAmcelwee Posts: 6Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    I just registered on the forum, found this thread and had to respond. Thank you.

    I am enrolled in a local school that is focused on getting people certs in IT. CompTia, MTA, MCSA Linux and Cisco. I have done well in the first few semesters, but the same habits have fallen flat, had to change. Now I am trying to get my MCSA, passed 741, close one 740, and almost lost on 742.

    This post and the resources, form the admittedly little amount of searching I have done here, have reinvigorated my drive to get to studying and get the certs.

    Again ... Thank You.
  • techbitstechbits Posts: 8Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    Nice write-up, superb. Thanks for sharing that advice. You'd probably be good at mining or blockchain too if you ever got sick of IT. (OMG, dictionary tried to tell me blockchain wasn't a word. The nerve :/ )
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