where to start..

yamahafireflyyamahafirefly Member Posts: 21 ■□□□□□□□□□
for about 8 years i have been a closet computer geek. i played with computers in my spare time. unfortunately i lack the professional experience for IT jobs. i was wondering what a good certification to start out with would be. right now i work as a doc. control specialist in a biotech company while i go to school for a networking degree. i deal with ms office and work with a lil bit of visual basic but i HATE programming. i comprehend it, but i'd rather do networking.

so, i was thinking a+. i could start off there and work up to net+ then security+ and decide if i want to pursue cisco or microsoft. my mentor says cisco has the most promise for money.

right now i'm trying to get a comp tech job while i study for my a+ and attend classes for my degree but it's really hard with the lack of experience i have under my belt. icon_confused.gif

any suggestions?


  • jasonbochejasonboche Member Posts: 167
    Hi there,

    I would (and did) start with CompTIA A+ certification.

    Network+ and Security+ isn't a bad idea and would probably serve as a good primer but IMO isn't absolutely required.

    You could jump right into either CCNA or MCP/MCSA/MCSE certifications.

    As far as one cert being more promising than the next, I disagree. There are no promises, but certifications won't hurt and they are a good way to learn. The value of certification versus experience varies widely from company to company so you can't assume any blanket statements about the technology industry hiring process is 100% true but over the years I've seen the trend slide somewhat to more value being placed on experience versus certification.

    Experience is important to getting your foot in the door so take any experience you can get. Volunteer work counts as experience also and can be very valuable.

    VCDX3 #34, VCDX4, VCDX5, VCAP4-DCA #14, VCAP4-DCD #35, VCAP5-DCD, VCPx4, vEXPERTx4, MCSEx3, MCSAx2, MCP, CCAx2, A+
  • janmikejanmike Member Posts: 3,076
    If you're going for a BS in networking, and that is what you want to do, you should go for the Cisco certs. You have to start with CCNA, then work up to the higher certs.

    Studies for Network+ and Server+ will give a basic knowledge of an overall network, from data center to clients, but the network action really takes place in the switches and routers.

    Where I work, the networking engineers and admins go for the Cisco certs and the hardware and desktop support people go for the A+ and MCDST--an MCSA wouldn't hurt here either.

    Good luck on your career path!
    "It doesn't matter, it's in the past!"--Rafiki
  • yamahafireflyyamahafirefly Member Posts: 21 ■□□□□□□□□□
    well my BS lets me chose whether i want to take a wireless, microsoft, or cisco route. i'm leaning towards microsoft just because i have more experiences with it.

    i set up active directory and know the ins and outs more than cisco. that's only because i haven't gotten more in depth into cisco.

    is one better than the other?
  • janmikejanmike Member Posts: 3,076
    IMO, if you want to run heavy on the OS side of networking, like Windows Server, SQL Server, Exchange Server, go with the Microsoft cert. But, be prepared to be constantly bombarded with updates, patches, hot fixes, etc. along with accompanying security auditing and redundancy issues.

    I am sure that M$ is going to keep throwing new OSs at us without a break. So, you will need to always be ready to keep certs upgraded, if the certs continue to mean that much to you.

    But, the Cisco certs also contain the upgrade by way of required renewal on a consistent basis, if you want to keep the cert.

    Your first post mentioned experience. Well, almost all of us have had to jump into the IT pool with a part-time, low-paying job to start with. However, it seems that once you get a small amount of experience that you can put on a resume/application form, the full-time work will show up.
    "It doesn't matter, it's in the past!"--Rafiki
  • gravyjoegravyjoe Member Posts: 260
    jasonboche wrote:
    I would (and did) start with CompTIA A+ certification.
    I believe this be the way to start, as I did the same thing myself.
    The biggest risk in life is not taking one.
  • bcairnsbcairns Member Posts: 280
    Like many others in this forum, I started with A+ then Network+
  • mikey_bmikey_b Member Posts: 188
    The best "for the money" is a combination of certs to show off your knowledge. A+ is the foundation for computer technology and pretty much any place worth their salt will identify an A+ certified individual for entry level postions.

    Bolstering that with other "early career" certs like Net+ and MCP make for a strong knowledge base recognised by most any employer. Once you get a good job and are happy with what you do, plan accordingly.

    CCNA/CCDA is almost a must have to move into networking design or support while its CCNP/CCDP "big brothers" carry a lot of clout with the right experience.

    MCSA is perfect for junior and mid-level server admins and people in help desk or desktop support roles looking to make that move. MCSE and it's specialized variants are great for high level admins and architects.

    There are a lot of specialized UNIX and Linux certs available, with varying degrees of respect/prestige, so if you want to work in the UNIX field, that's the direction to go.

    There is tons of application-specific certifications available which can rake in the big bucks as well, including Citrix, Oracle, Domino, and SAP to name a few, all with varying degrees of difficulty.

    When you couple certs together, you can make for a powerful job candidate. A CCNP with a Solaris cert would be an ideal network manager for a hosting company with the right experience, for example.

    This doesn't apply in every case, however. A CCIE will most likely be almost completely focused on Cisco and not care overly much about MS and other certs. When you're trying to be a "guru" in one specific area, additional certs might not necessarily help the cause. Likewise, an MS shop will usually have an abundance of MCSA's and MCSE's focused on MS technologies. Although regardless, a CCIE with some other "entry" certs adds value by demonstrating competencies in other areas.

    I never list my old CNA (IntranetWare 4.11). But when our company (primarily an MS shop) was doing due diligence for a new contract in a NetWare environment, I found myself tapped as the SME for desktop support and integration, and it happened when my boss casually mentioned that I had a "useless NetWare cert" in a lunch meeting with a few architects and account managers. Since then, I've kept brushed up on NetWare, "just in case". Always good to have extras in your pocket.

    Certification planning is something that needs to be done with a large consideration for your future as it can have a major impact on your salary, jobs available to you, promotions, and extra opportunities. But best bet is to start from the bottom and get some solid general experience and develop a plan which matches your career goals.
    Mikey B.

    Current: A+, N+, CST, CNST, MCSA 2003
    WIP: MCSE 2003
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