MCDST -- I've had no hands-on experience...

BladeRunner5BladeRunner5 Member Posts: 9 ■□□□□□□□□□
...Should I be studying for this?

I haven't worked in the IT industry and haven't got any IT qualifications (only up to GCSEs.) From what I've researched the only job I really want to do in IT is MCDST related; working at the help desk etc. But not A+/hardware related.

What advice do you have as I'm not sure what to do?

As I've had no practical experience would one of those expensive e.g. Computeach courses really be worth it?

I've just got the "Microsoft Self-Paced Training Kit" for the 271 exam. I'm not sure studying on my own would get me the cert, and even if I did I wouldn't have any practical experience...



  • LukeQuakeLukeQuake Member Posts: 579
    Welcome to the fourms!

    My advise to anyone who wants to start doing MS certs would be to start with the MCDST exams, they give you a solid ground to build on up to MCSA / MCSE.

    You say that you have no experience, so you may be best setting up a home lab environment, just play around with what you are learning from the books. Also offer your services to family and friends, they will be more than grateful when you clean their machines of viruses / spyware and you will be getting some real world experience.

    All the best!
    Microsoft Certifications: MCITP:EA, MCSE:S, MCSA:M, MCDST, MCTS: Vista Config, MCITP: Ent Support
    Citrix Certifications: CCA XenApp 4.5/5.0 and XenServer 5.0
    Other: Marathon Certified Consultant (HA, FT and VM), ISEB InfoSec Management Principles and Security+
    Working on: CISSP and Check Team Member
  • BladeRunner5BladeRunner5 Member Posts: 9 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Thanks for the info.
  • janmikejanmike Member Posts: 3,076
    The Self-Paced Training Kits will give you a lot of what you need if you follow along and work the examples out on your own copy of XP and Microsoft Office.

    If you really want to get to the Helpdesk, you may want to consider the certs that Help Desk Institute(HDI) offers. These are more about dealing with the phone callers.

    Good luck!
    "It doesn't matter, it's in the past!"--Rafiki
  • BladeRunner5BladeRunner5 Member Posts: 9 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Thanks that's v.helpful, at least if they're in the UK...

    The question is will: a better choice than MCDST/an easier route?

    By looking at it I still think the MCDST is the way to go.

    tbh I might still go with Computeach -- I know it's expensive, but I don't want to spend a year+ learning on my own to find I'm still not good enough to get an MCDST job/a pass. With training I think I'd be more confident in getting there a lot sooner.
  • janmikejanmike Member Posts: 3,076
    My point being, that HDI certs may possibly round out the help desk employee on the customer service side.

    However, if you're working in an environment with Microsoft clients and Microsoft Office applications, MCDST will put you at the starting gate as far as actually helping someone.

    Definitely, HDI certs, HDA and CSS will be an easier pass than MCDST, at least in my experience, but the HDI and M$ serve different purposes. If you're just going for one, go for the MCDST.

    Hope this helps.
    "It doesn't matter, it's in the past!"--Rafiki
  • BladeRunner5BladeRunner5 Member Posts: 9 ■□□□□□□□□□
    It does thanks.

    I'm actually looking at taking a Transcender course then practise exams. It would be cheaper than taking a course. Heard that they're good...
  • BladeRunner5BladeRunner5 Member Posts: 9 ■□□□□□□□□□
    I'm wondering that if/when I get my MCDST, should I then go for the MCSA straight away, with no experience? Or is this not recommended?

    I mean it seems to me that for MCDST alone you're supposed to have 6-12 months experience minimum...which I don't even have.
  • janmikejanmike Member Posts: 3,076
    From MCSA site:
    MCSA candidates should have 6–12 months of experience administering client and network operating systems.

    The statement is "should have". When you get your MCDST, then go right ahead and start studying for the MCSA track. By the time you get around to completing the MCSA, you will likely have some experience. We're talking 3 professional level exams here. They aren't easy to pass for most folks. So, it takes some time to do it.

    If you take off on the 70-270 for XP Professional client, you will already have a good start with the MCDST, but you will still need to study for it.

    The idea with most of these exams, is to show that you meet the level of knowledge that someone with 6-12 months experience is expected to have, that is, in the opinion of the Microsoft SMEs.
    "It doesn't matter, it's in the past!"--Rafiki
  • BladeRunner5BladeRunner5 Member Posts: 9 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Again that's v.helpful, thanks.

    I know I'm looking for the fast way in: Maybe I shouldn't be. The sensible thing to do would be to bite the bullet and take a degree in networking/Support, but not before getting an HNC in ICT Systems Support. As well as going for the MCDST/MCSA. I'm feeling less confident that this alone will get me a job. And less confident that I'll be able to pass the MCDST exams anyway.

    Further research on other U.S. sites suggest that you might need up to a MCS*E* just to get an entry level job. I'm in the UK and the MCTs/training businesses over here suggest you can get in with just the MCDST. But now I'm not so sure. :/
  • janmikejanmike Member Posts: 3,076
    From BladeRunner5:
    but not before getting an HNC in ICT Systems Support

    Well it seems that you just really need to decide not if you want into IT, but how you want to get started.

    The HNC in ICT Sytems Support looks like a good beginning.
    MCS*E* just to get an entry level job

    Well.........MCSE is not an entry level certificate. As a matter of fact, most employers in the US seeing an MCSE listed by someone without any experience, or very little experience would lay the application/resume aside. I don't believe that trying to hide lack of experience behind a Professional level certificate will get you in the door. The only person who might hire based on certification alone would be someone who has no idea about IT support requirements.

    Now, go for a job right now! Get some experience to show. After all, the whole idea is to get employment out of this. Most of the time, once you get your foot in the door, you will move up faster that you expected if you are very sincere. Take whatever you can get--even one day a week.
    You need experience. Who knows, you may not like it!
    "It doesn't matter, it's in the past!"--Rafiki
  • malcyboodmalcybood Member Posts: 900 ■■■□□□□□□□

    Might as well put my tuppence worth in as I have been in exactly the same position as you are now in the UK! I am from Edinburgh and I left school at 16 with 8 GCSE's (never switched a computer on) and worked as a bathroom tiler for a year before going down the following route:

    - 1998 - 1999 NC Computing
    - 1999 - 2000 year out to doss about
    - 2000 - 2001 HNC Computing
    - 2001 - 2002 Converted HNC to HND Computer Support & completed Cisco CCNA curriculum at college (Never sat the exam)
    - 2002 - 2003 Converted HND to Bsc Network Computing Degree at Napier University, Edinburgh
    - Nov 2002 - June 2003 Voluntarily worked for university IT department Nov - Dec then they took me on paid a few hours per week around my studies to get some exp and cash!
    - June 2003 Landed first Helpdesk Job as Trainee IT Support Eng
    - Jan 2004 Promoted to IT Support Eng (Edinburgh and still helpdesk)
    - Feb 2005 Promoted to Field Tech for SE England (network & desktop support and relocated to Milton Keynes, same company though)
    - Aug 2006 Passed first IT Professional Cert (CompTIA Network+ Exam)
    - Next? CCNA booked Jan 23rd 2007 then CCDA (I want to go down the networking route) and after that I don't know as I don't want to plan too far ahead.

    I admire your ambition and the fact you know where you want to be but you'll see above it's best to take little steps and you will get there in the end.

    Of the points I have outlined above by far the most beneficial in getting to where I am now (within 3 years of graduating) is the voluntary work I done for the university IT dept as that got my "foot in the door". They took a gamble on me (largely cos I said I would work for free!!) and they ended up taking me on in a paid position. I didn't get paid in the beginning but it was only 4 hours per week for 2 months and I wanted an "edge" over other graduates by having some experience when I graduated.

    Another thing to consider is looking at university courses that have a "sandwich year" where you are put on a placement working in a helpdesk/desktop support position usually inbetween your 2nd and 3rd year.

    Lots of universities incorporate MCP's and the CCNA in their degree courses nowadays too.

    I hope this helps you out and if you need any advice pm me or reply to this post. All the best

  • BladeRunner5BladeRunner5 Member Posts: 9 ■□□□□□□□□□
    It does help and is a bit of a reality check tbh. I really can't see just getting an MCDST as a way in now.

    I'm still considering private training (expensive!) for it, however.

    And janmike is correct -- I might not even like it.

    The main message I'm getting on here is : If you don't like computing -- don't do it. I would be doing it just for the money -- maybe I should reconsider?

    EDIT: lol, look at this thread I found on Computeach:

    I feel like an idiot just for getting in contact with them.

    Ahhh well, I shouldn't have looked for the "easy way" in. A degree was the way to go. I'm going for a BA instead.

    Thanks v.much for the help everyone.
  • ProjectFocusProjectFocus Member Posts: 15 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Well don't see a Ba as the only way in. I would say why not go for a aprentiship scheme. That gets you the practical experience and also the training.

    I would say a HND would be a good grounding for a couple of years after the GCSE's. This will be better than taking non specific A'Levels if this is truely the course you want to take.

    But there is no substitute for actual hands on experience. So maybe HND then find a company that is willing to train. MCDST really should be something you will be looking at in the first year of employment. Then onto MCSA.

    This is only my take on it as this is kind of the route I followed / am following. Not saying it is right but I was lucky and got a HNC through work so I managed to get 2 year extra experience. I would love to have a degree but for the helpdesk side it really will not be as relevant as MCDST.
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