More advice and tips from over 35+ years of working in I.T.

GeeLoGeeLo A+,N+,S+,M+,C+,CySA+,CCT+Member Posts: 112 ■■■■□□□□□□
edited January 28 in General Certification
Friends,

Although I drop by quite often, I have not posted for some time now. Some of you may remember my posts here in the general forum especially for the newer people getting into information technology. Or other people later in life that are switching careers (even 40+). Here is some venerable tips, to pass down to you. I hope this stays with you for the entire career.

Currently, I’ve switched to 100% to Cyber Security for many reasons, the two most obviously were job security/longevity and also for larger salary.. and there were a few other reasons as well. I worked in many areas of I.T. before this, and I have taught I.T. certifications and have done course ware development nationwide, remote classroom (webex / adobe connect). I actually chopped this down smaller believe it or not. If you do a search for “Geelo ” on the forum, you can read my other older posts.

I’ve really come “full circle” now in regards to my career… I really can not go higher than where I am at now. Really, no big ego here.. just facts. And honestly… after all said and done, if I could go back to being a PC hardware technician and “survive” on that salary (which unfortunately, is lower nowadays than it used to be, many reasons why that is) I actually WOULD. And with that.. here is some main tips to remember as you go forward. Again, I am “not” perfect.. I have failed exams in the past 35+ years and hopefully these tips below will keep you moving forward:

1) You get certified for “YOU” and only “YOU” that should be your main motivation followed by job needs, and company “last”.

2) Remember, once you get your next certification YOU DO NOT NEED TO get a “higher one”! Don’t get caught up with “oh you need to keep going” if you are happy on where you are at, don’t let “anyone” tell you you need “this cert… or that cert”! Remember 1) above. Honestly, if I was told that I could only keep “one” certification, even if I tack on 10 more new ones... It would be CompTIA A+. Again, encompasses all fields of I.T., and gives / shows great core troubleshooting.

3) No matter what certification you have or even if you have “no certifications”, keep building your real world experience. Keep up on current trends in your area of work even hardware or software.

4) I have dealt with many publishing companies, book publishers, and also I have helped out well known book authors over the years. The majority (there is very few that are not like this) only want “your $$$money$$$” and that is it. This is also true, for the certification vendors themselves (the actual company that have xyz certifications.. "some" have very poor ethics and integrity). Sad but true, the certification business is a money driven business. Learn from many resources, learn from more than one book, is needed.

5) Another great tip for all of you starting out, and a BIG one... if I could do it all over again… don’t stay at one job for too long. Really, and please “remember this” if you are at a job for 5 years and you are not seeing that much in regards to raises or promotions. And also there is no “upwards mobility” in regards to going into another area at that current job location. Start looking elsewhere. You can WILL get “comfortable” in regards to the way “things are”. DON’T BE. Write out a plan and a back up plan and act on it. Trust me on this, companies used to value their employees, and the employee would work for one company, for YEARS until retirement. While an employee who shows loyalty to a company is "great", know that there are "many" people in corporations who do not have "one shred" of that same mentality.. nor ethics or integrity. Being loyal to a company, is not the case anymore. Your a number and that is it, I don’t care what company you may work for now.. you are just a number. And even if you are there for many years, you can be “let go” even in regards to “slightly off the mark" reasons.. simply in regards them saving money. Trust me.. it took me many years to understand that. Don’t 100% trust who you are working for. Remember that.

6) College is not needed to work in information technology. Real world experience is key, followed by the certification of your choice. I have said this for years up to current, and I still 100% stand behind that statement. You “may” find, that some jobs postings put in college degree xyz into a job description, perhaps to try and get “younger” people to apply (and also offer a smaller salary as well. Ya.. You like that one?) One thing that is of “great benefit” if you want to work in information technology “management”. Then yes, it “IS” of benefit to get a degree in business administration followed by ITIL and PMP for program management certifications.

7) If you can, and it is hard to do this just for the sake of time management, try to have a part time business in information technology.. I.T. consultation, network configuration, PC / Server repair, even printer repair, or application / web site development. Anything that you can do part time as a small business, you get A LOT of experience with real world troubleshooting and building. But also with dealing with clients/customers as well. A lack of great customer service / facing is the number one failure of any companies out there. Always work on your customer service / facing skillsets no matter what you do.

8) Remember equipment, networks, servers, workstation, ect.. do not break daily, but “hourly”.

9) There has been “great people” that have helped me out along the way. Even though I have seen a lot of people over the years that do not have any sort of integrity and ethics in what they do, there has been a lot of great people that have helped me. When you get to “end of the road” as I am now, I hope you help out others that are just starting out.

10) One last thing, you may find that the physical area that you are currently living does not have a lot of I.T. jobs to go into. The job market there may be saturated. One thing that many people do, and I have done in the past.. is move to another location where the work is. This takes a lot of research and a bit of faith to make that commitment. Also remember that some of these places that are looking for a lot of help, the cost of living may be very high, or the location itself may be in a “bad part” of that town so a lot of people may not want to move there. Also, keep in mind that is the job that you are getting in that location, is that salary close to what other jobs are in that area? Sometimes you’ll come across a really well paying job somewhere else, but that is the “only” job in that area that is paying that salary. If something happens to your new job, you may end up moving somewhere else if you can not get the same salary in that location. Just some things to again, keep in the back of you mind.

Good Luck to all of you and your future. - Geelo


Vendor Neutral Certified in IT Project Management, Security, Servers, Workstations, Software, Networking, Windows, Unix and Linux and.. Cloud. :-)
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Comments

  • DZA_DZA_ Untitled. Member Posts: 438 ■■■■■■□□□□
    GeeLo droppin that wisdom. Thank you for all your contributions!
  • GeeLoGeeLo A+,N+,S+,M+,C+,CySA+,CCT+ Member Posts: 112 ■■■■□□□□□□
    edited January 28
    DZA_ said:
    GeeLo droppin that wisdom. Thank you for all your contributions!

    You are Welcome. I am also thinking back today, reflecting on all the software and hardware that I have worked on over the years as well. I have installed almost all Windows Operating systems from 1.01 up to current, including sever O.S. I also have been using Linux almost since inception. I beta tested Debian for a while, and also Ubuntu when that distro was created not to mention early on Red Hat (Fedora) and Mandrake (was Mandriva now forked).
    Vendor Neutral Certified in IT Project Management, Security, Servers, Workstations, Software, Networking, Windows, Unix and Linux and.. Cloud. :-)
  • UnixGuyUnixGuy Are we having fun yet? Mod Posts: 4,232 Mod
    Thanks for sharing your experience, I really appreciate your perspective.

    You raise a lot of important points.
    Certs: GPEN, GCFA, CISM, CRISC, RHCE
    In Progress: MBA
  • H-bombH-bomb Member Posts: 128 ■■■□□□□□□□
    Thanks for sharing. Great read!
  • TechGromitTechGromit GSEC, GCIH, GREM, Ontario, NY Member Posts: 2,000 ■■■■■■■■□□
    edited January 30
    GeeLo said:
    Friends,

    And honestly… after all said and done, if I could go back to being a PC hardware technician and “survive” on that salary (which unfortunately, is lower nowadays than it used to be, many reasons why that is) I actually WOULD.



    Not me, if I had to deal with stupid users again day in and out again, I would be under a suicide watch. Didn’t matter what the pay would be you couldn’t pay me enough to take that kind of stupidity again.
    GeeLo said:
    5) Another great tip for all of you starting out, and a BIG one... if I could do it all over again… don’t stay at one job for too long. Really, and please “remember this” if you are at a job for 5 years and you are not seeing that much in regards to raises or promotions. And also there is no “upwards mobility” in regards to going into another area at that current job location. Start looking elsewhere. You can WILL get “comfortable” in regards to the way “things are”. DON’T BE. Write out a plan and a back up plan and act on it.



    I don’t agree with this advice, while it may be true most of the time, if you find yourself working for a really good company, try to move up within it, not out. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence. I worked for some really crappy companies in the past, so I know what it feels like to be taken advantage of. Here’s your $50 ShopRite Xmas bonus gift card. If your in a company that have good benefits, has a training budget, you’re not consistently working 60 hour a week, gives you a yearly bonus that equal to 5, 10, even 15% of your salary, think long and hard before jumping ship for a few more thousand dollars. Positions at good companies are few and far between, when you get into one hold on to it.
    GeeLo said:
    8) Remember equipment, networks, servers, workstation, ect.. do not break daily, but “hourly”.


    I think you need a different vendor, the Cisco equipment in my network has been extremely reliable, even in hash environments. Last switch failure I that was 2 months ago, and before that, it has been at least a year. Servers are very reliable, but definitely have more failures than network equipment. Work stations, printers are pretty good, the biggest issue will be software. Every time they update or patch, something enviably breaks. But at my level, I really don’t deal with end user issues for the most part, let the PC techs have all the fun. The biggest issue I have is when network switches fail in the plant, they are radioactive, not something I can ship back to Cisco for a warranty replacement.  
    Still searching for the corner in a round room.
  • TechGromitTechGromit GSEC, GCIH, GREM, Ontario, NY Member Posts: 2,000 ■■■■■■■■□□
    edited January 30
    GeeLo said:
    DZA_ said:
    GeeLo droppin that wisdom. Thank you for all your contributions!

    I have installed almost all Windows Operating systems from 1.01 up to current, including sever O.S. I also have been using Linux almost since inception. I beta tested Debian for a while, and also Ubuntu when that distro was created not to mention early on Red Hat (Fedora) and Mandrake (was Mandriva now forked).
    I started at Dos 3.3 if I remember correctly, Windows 3.0, OS/2, some linux. worked with most software, but never installed NT or Win 8. I don't know crap about Apple MAC's, I flounder when forced deal to with it.
    Still searching for the corner in a round room.
  • LonerVampLonerVamp OSCP, GCFA, GWAPT, CISSP, OSWP, AWS SA-A, AWS Security, Sec+, Linux+, CCNA Cyber Ops, CCSK Member Posts: 515 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Just my initial thought as I was reading along...I agree with the sentiment that if I could "just" be an endpoint engineer/technician and be happy with that salary level, I would. You can be a damned good person with focus. From a security slant, I'll usually take an admin or endpoint technician who has that security geek bug (and attacker mindset) over any 3 regular security analysts any day.
    And that's really one of my pieces of advice: Find where you want to be and get there. And if you think you've found the space you want to work in for many years, be that expert. Don't get complacent; keep mastering your chosen domain.

    Security Engineer/Analyst/Geek, Red & Blue Teams
    OSCP, GCFA, GWAPT, CISSP, OSWP, AWS SA-A, AWS Security, Sec+, Linux+, CCNA Cyber Ops, CCSK
    2020 goals: AWS Security Specialty, maybe AWAE or SLAE, CISSP-ISSAP?
  • DFTK13DFTK13 Member Posts: 176 ■■■■□□□□□□
    edited January 30
    @TechGromit

    I agree with the aspect of the computer tech job, I currently work as a PC hardware tech and some help desk and I honestly cannot wait to quit. It is the most repetitive, mind-numbing job and There is zero growth within the company. Im sitting for my CCNA next month and then after that I’m going to start looking for a more networking-related job but honestly if I can get something different in IT and it pays better and I can actually grow and learn, I’d be happy. 

    Certs: CCNA(200-301), Network+, A+, LPI Linux Essentials
    Goals: CCNP Enterprise(ENCOR + ENARSI), AWS CSA - Associate, Azure AZ-104, Become better at python, learn docker and kubernetes

    Degree: A.S. Network Administration
    Pursuing: B.S. in I.T. Web and Mobile Development Concentration
  • LonerVampLonerVamp OSCP, GCFA, GWAPT, CISSP, OSWP, AWS SA-A, AWS Security, Sec+, Linux+, CCNA Cyber Ops, CCSK Member Posts: 515 ■■■■■■■■□□
    I somewhat disagreed with the point about moving jobs. I get it, especially for purely technical people, you typically don't have a whole lotta upward movement opportunity. Sure you can go to a 2, or 3 or senior, but typically you have to ratchet up a whole next notch of duties and knowledge, like help desk to endpoints, then up to systems or networking, up to engineering, maybe architect. Access to that movement is entirely dependent on that company. And, too often, the best people get bogged down at some layer where they are the #1 go-to person for networking, and as such find they have less time to bug others about promotions or movement.
    For most, though, jumping to another company is usually the easiest way to get a raise/promotion.

    I also feel this doesn't hold true when someone's career path moves into management at any level. Moving up or around in the ranks of managers (whether that is IT or not) is still a viable tactic.
    I just think for many people, it's easier to make mistakes and burn bridges or get on bad sides, than it is to play the game and stay in the good graces of others to get those promotion opportunities. It's usually, again, easier to jump elsewhere and reset those experiences with your peers.

    Security Engineer/Analyst/Geek, Red & Blue Teams
    OSCP, GCFA, GWAPT, CISSP, OSWP, AWS SA-A, AWS Security, Sec+, Linux+, CCNA Cyber Ops, CCSK
    2020 goals: AWS Security Specialty, maybe AWAE or SLAE, CISSP-ISSAP?
  • TechGromitTechGromit GSEC, GCIH, GREM, Ontario, NY Member Posts: 2,000 ■■■■■■■■□□
    LonerVamp said:
    And, too often, the best people get bogged down at some layer where they are the #1 go-to person for networking, and as such find they have less time to bug others about promotions or movement.
    I guess it would depend on the position, often when people get promoted in our company they either move locations or work from home. It got so bad at one point they build a brand new building in Baltimore and it was only 20% filled, the other 80% had desks there, but never showed up. They had to make a rule if you wanted a desk in the new building you had to show up at least one day a week. The horror! 
    Still searching for the corner in a round room.
  • bigdogzbigdogz Member Posts: 873 ■■■■■■■■□□
    There are some things that have to be looked at under this OP. If it was 'These are my thoughts and this was my experience' it would be different because I have seen different experiences within my decades as I am an old fart as well and worked in a multitude of organizations and industries.

    When it comes to degrees, programmers and some infosec folks that are rock stars may be the exception to not having one.

    I think YMMV when it comes to this topic. Everyone has his / her own path. Having more certs and a degree will help someone to be in the stack to be interviewed instead of the stack of garbage. Job security and longevity are almost a thing of the past. The world is smaller and jobs are outsourced to save on the organization's bottom line. There are also some people that would be hired within the region of the world to support their territory.

    IT and Information Security arena are very competitive and someone comes into the game more armed with a degree than someone who does not.
    Having a degree will open more doors and and will give that person more pay. It's just that simple.

    I know there are a great deal of talented people that do not have a degree. These folks have a great deal of internal experience or tribal knowledge. If they choose to leave the company, as a general rule they are competing against that include a Bachelor of Science or related degree including 3-5 years of experience. Only word of mouth / your reputation can be used to find a job and limits your organizations you can find employment.

    Someone working in an existing position will still have to perform some research and find new ways to perform their duties, sometimes on a small or non-existing budget. If they choose not to perform any due diligence, there is a good chance they will be replaced either by an internal employee who is ready to jump in or someone outside of the organization that has experienced and resolved the company's issues.

    If someone wants to be a a break fix technician on the lower end of the totem pole you may need the CompTia trifecta (A+,N+, S+) and possibly a vendor cert (DELL and/or HP) so they can work for an approved vendor certified technical support location. This is not like the 90's where us old farts knew what we were doing, busted our backsides, make a name for ourselves and people come in droves to see us. Now it may just be cheaper to buy a new PC. If someone wants to move up as an IT / LAN administrator, or a System Engineer he/she needs an education and credentials to be better than the next person

    When someone grows in IT they gain the bigger certifications and may drop the smaller ones. Only when we get older and move into C-level and/or upper management we will keep a few of the bigger certifications and work towards management. Some also work to obtain their MS or MBA.






  • thomas_thomas_ CompTIA N+/S+/L+ CCNA R&S CCNP R&S/Enterprise/Collab Member Posts: 959 ■■■■■■■□□□
    @GeeLo - I've noticed that large chunks of certifications books can be found on a vendor's website, Cisco, in the form of articles.  Do you know if the certification prep books borrowed the content from the Cisco website or Cisco took the content from the certification prep books?

    @TechGromit - Christmas bonuses?  Those exist?
  • TechGromitTechGromit GSEC, GCIH, GREM, Ontario, NY Member Posts: 2,000 ■■■■■■■■□□
    thomas_ said:

    @TechGromit - Christmas bonuses?  Those exist?
    Actually it's called Annual Incentive Plan (AIP) and we don't receive it at Christmas, Sometime in Feb we will know that it is and get it in out paycheck before the end of Feb. Depending on your position, it's anywhere from 5% to 20% of your salary plus adjustments like a good performance review and how well the company did that year.
    Still searching for the corner in a round room.
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