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What's considered "entry-level" and "mid-level," and where am I in that spectrum?

LockeWiggin83LockeWiggin83 Member Posts: 28 ■□□□□□□□□□
I'm trying to get a gauge as to where I sit in the overall spectrum of IT experience, and, if I decide to get a new job, what my qualification level is.

I'm very new to the IT profession in general (started nine months ago; three months probationary, six months practical experience), but I've been exposed to a LOT in that short time frame, I have a lot of independence within the group, and I definitely don't consider myself "entry-level" anymore in terms of skills or experience. But being so new to the profession, it's hard to have an overall perspective on my relative qualifications, so I don't really know what I'm "worth," so to speak.

Anyway, I can post my actual work experience, if that's necessary, but I get a little verbose in my descriptions, and I've done a LOT (I didn't do help desk or support; I work on a production content distribution network in the entertainment business), so to keep this short, I just wanted to know what is generally considered "entry-level," "mid-level," etc.? What sort of skills, certs, and experience are expected, responsibilities, and (last but not least) pay expectations, etc.?
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    jryantechjryantech Member Posts: 623
    Welcome LockeWiggin,

    Depends what you want to do in IT. Normally people start at Help Desk positions.

    To get a job in a Help Desk position I would start with your CompTIA A+, try applying while also getting your CompTIA Network+ and maybe a MCP (70-270?).

    These three exams should take you 6-18 months depending on how much study time you have.

    Also it depends on your age if you plan on getting a BS Degree. If you don't plan on getting a BS degree from a University at least try and get a AS (Associate of Science) at a local community college. A Degree with the three certifications I pointed out above will definitely helping you a lot in landing a job in IT.

    Good luck. If you have Q's we probably have A's.
    "It's Microsoft versus mankind with Microsoft having only a slight lead."
    -Larry Ellison, CEO, Oracle

    Studying: SCJA
    Occupation: Information Systems Technician
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    LockeWiggin83LockeWiggin83 Member Posts: 28 ■□□□□□□□□□
    jryantech wrote: »
    Welcome LockeWiggin,

    Depends what you want to do in IT. Normally people start at Help Desk positions.

    To get a job in a Help Desk position I would start with your CompTIA A+, try applying while also getting your CompTIA Network+ and maybe a MCP (70-270?).

    These three exams should take you 6-18 months depending on how much study time you have.

    Also it depends on your age if you plan on getting a BS Degree. If you don't plan on getting a BS degree from a University at least try and get a AS (Associate of Science) at a local community college. A Degree with the three certifications I pointed out above will definitely helping you a lot in landing a job in IT.

    Good luck. If you have Q's we probably have A's.
    Hi, jryantech,

    Based on what I already do, I think I'm overqualified for help desk. I know that that's how most IT professionals start, but my boss made a point of reassuring me that I had completely skipped that step and gone straight into network operations and server operations.

    I'm actually already well on my way to earning a CCNA within a month or two, hopefully CCNP shortly thereafter, based on my own self-study progress and my co-workers' assessments of my abilities. I already have a bachelor's degree (BSEE, emphasis on computer architecture), and now I'm thinking of a master's.
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    ULWizULWiz Member Posts: 722
    I unfortunately still believe you are at a helpdesk level. You have one year experience and No listed certs. IMO that is still considered entry level to me. Definately get your A+ and Network+ and start working on your desired path like your MCSA or CCNA. That should help you along in the helpdesk desktop support world. There are many levels to both desktop and helpdesk support as well. Different levels have different responsibilities.

    Do you have any Server experience? Active Directory to name an important one?

    Might want to post your resume that will tell us a little more about what you might know.
    CompTIA A+ Nov 25, 1997
    CompTIA Network+ March 7, 2008
    MCTS Vista 620 June 14, 2008
    MCP Server 290 Nov 15, 2008
    MCP Server 291 In Progress (Exam 12/28/09)
    Cisco CCENT In Progress
    MCP Server 291 In Progress
    C|EH In Progress
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    LockeWiggin83LockeWiggin83 Member Posts: 28 ■□□□□□□□□□
    ULWiz wrote: »
    I unfortunately still believe you are at a helpdesk level. You have one year experience and No listed certs. IMO that is still considered entry level to me. Definately get your A+ and Network+ and start working on your desired path like your MCSA or CCNA. That should help you along in the helpdesk desktop support world. There are many levels to both desktop and helpdesk support as well. Different levels have different responsibilities.

    Do you have any Server experience? Active Directory to name an important one?
    Not Active Directory yet, but server experience, yes (see below). I was considering going for an MSCE in the next few months, but my co-worker (who is an MSCE) told me to go for a networking certification (CCNA) instead because he doesn't really consider MSCE to be a big career booster. I mean, he encouraged me to study and read the material, but not to bother with the cert itself because relevant work experience with servers is orders of magnitude more important and more impressive.

    Active Directory is something I'm trying to learn right now, both on-the-job and with self-study. I'm setting up a personal lab environment in VMWare to delve into Active Directory's functionality, assuming I can find enough downtime to do it.
    ULWiz wrote: »
    Might want to post your resume that will tell us a little more about what you might know.
    Ok, but like I said, I get a bit verbose, and I've done a lot in the last six months.

    To start with, I work for a branch of Technicolor that deals with digital distribution. Before that, I worked for a small digital media company (in a rather dead-end job that wasn't rewarding or progressing at all) that Technicolor bought and absorbed into the branch I now work for. The infrastructure team plucked me away from what I was doing (media processing) to come work for them.

    After my probationary period was over, they sent me to build out and configure a new CDN POP in New York consisting of about thirty servers and a dozen or so network devices (firewalls, a couple of Juniper routers, an ASA, and a WANScaler for back-facing connectivity, and NetScalers, an SX800 switch, and an MLX router for external access and internal connectivity). It was a HUGE project, especially for a total rookie like me, so I wasn't alone, naturally. There was someone there to supervise me, but he left a week early, so I had to do most of the final network configuration myself. Also, like I said, he was there mostly as a supervisor, advisor, and assessor. As a result, I did most of the hands-on network configuration, so I was the one configuring the VLANs and interfaces on the switch, setting up the internal routes and ACLs, and setting up the load balancing and GSLB on the NetScalers, and performing the initial configuration on the firewalls, internal access routers, and WANScaler. About the only piece I didn't touch was setting up BGP for our external access router.

    Besides that, I also had to build about half of the actual servers. That part was easy; just had to install the OS, set up the IP info, and join them to the domain. We have our own proprietary platform for content distribution, so we did the application configuration remotely when I got back.

    That was my first month after my probationary period. The actual work only took about two weeks; the first two weeks consisted of moving and racking the hardware (or, more often than not, sitting around idle because of logistical delays).

    Since then, aside from troubleshooting and fixing issues (big and small) that our production platforms experience, most of my work has been with VMWare ESX and VirtualCenter, setting up virtual test environments back-ended on a NetApp for our software development and QA teams. These environments are basically mirrors of what I had to do in New York and what we have in our other data centers. I've also had to physically repair servers that just conked out, or upgrade existing servers with new components, etc.

    I also manage the backup and recovery system for our data centers, and I'm in the middle of reassessing our old backup policies since we're going to be going through a major upgrade of our backup systems pretty soon.

    So, like I said, desktop and help desk support are really not that interesting to me. I wouldn't just be bored; I feel like I'd be taking a huge step backward. Right now, I own my projects, and I work pretty independently now (as do my co-workers). But at the same time, while I'm confident in my technical abilities, my relative newness to the profession in general means I don't have a complete perspective of the IT industry in general yet (e.g. I still have to rely on my co-workers for vendor recommendations). That's why I'm here, asking these questions.

    As for future plans, in addition to CCNA certification, I'm looking at CCNA Security and/or Security+ (at least one), followed by CCNP and/or SSCP sometime in the next year and a half or so. If I have time, and if I think it's worth it, I might also go for MCITP: Server or Enterprise Administrator.
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    networker050184networker050184 Mod Posts: 11,962 Mod
    While your few months of experience are great they are only a few moths so you would still be considered entry level in my book.

    You are on the right track gaining great experience so I'd stick it out in that position if I were you. Don't worry, pretty soon you won't be entry level anymore icon_wink.gif
    An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made.
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    ULWizULWiz Member Posts: 722
    Definately sounds like you got some experience where you have worked in that short time. The issue in my opinion is this. When recruiters look at your resume you have no certifications at all. At this point your going to be tossed aside most likely.


    Your on the right track and IT is a path. Start at the bottom and work your way up the ladder. Keep learning while taking certifications and you will get even closer to your goal.
    CompTIA A+ Nov 25, 1997
    CompTIA Network+ March 7, 2008
    MCTS Vista 620 June 14, 2008
    MCP Server 290 Nov 15, 2008
    MCP Server 291 In Progress (Exam 12/28/09)
    Cisco CCENT In Progress
    MCP Server 291 In Progress
    C|EH In Progress
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    LockeWiggin83LockeWiggin83 Member Posts: 28 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Well, that's what I'm curious about. I know that the brevity of my experience definitely counts against me, but once I've acquired a certification or two (CCNA and CCNA Security/Security+ appear to be the first ones I'm going to go for), how does that affect my standing in the eyes of potential (future) employers? What sort of positions would I be able to get with those two certifications and a year or so of the kind of experience that I've had?

    I mean, I'm certainly not "helpdesk" entry-level. At least, I don't think I am, and I can get half a dozen letters of recommendation all along our company's chain of command to attest to that if I ever do have to look for a new job. I fully expect to be considered "junior" in terms of experience in any team I join, but I would hope that with my demonstrable skill set and work history, I would get more than just a position doing helpdesk support.
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    networker050184networker050184 Mod Posts: 11,962 Mod
    The certs will help you, but they are not going to be something that skips you up the chain with out proper experience. Just study and continue racking in the experience and you will have a bright future.
    An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made.
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    LockeWiggin83LockeWiggin83 Member Posts: 28 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Yes, I get that, but where in that chain am I currently? That's the main question I'm looking to get answered.
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    rwwest7rwwest7 Member Posts: 300
    Yes, I get that, but where in that chain am I currently? That's the main question I'm looking to get answered.
    You have about nine months experience with zero certs. By the book your not even entry level yet. The A+ (the most entry of entry level certs, which you don't have yet) is aimed at someone with about 9 months experience.
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    LockeWiggin83LockeWiggin83 Member Posts: 28 ■□□□□□□□□□
    rwwest7 wrote: »
    You have about nine months experience with zero certs. By the book your not even entry level yet. The A+ (the most entry of entry level certs, which you don't have yet) is aimed at someone with about 9 months experience.
    Would everyone please stop looking at simple "X months, Y certifications" numbers and look at what I've actually done?

    As for A+ certification, please give me a bit more credit than that. If anyone really cared about that basic of a level of experience, then bump up my demonstrable work experience up to four or five years. But anyone and everyone involved in the recruitment chain in my company would mentally white-out an A+ certification on a resume. I didn't mention that experience because I didn't think it was relevant or important for anyone who had the least bit of work experience.

    Sorry if I sound arrogant and more than a little bit annoyed in this post (or any post, for that matter). I just really, really do not like being reduced and catalogued down to two integers.

    I want a rough assessment of my ability relative to the rest of the work force, not my resume's marketability.
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    cisco_troopercisco_trooper Member Posts: 1,441 ■■■■□□□□□□
    There is more than one thing to consider here, and more than one way of looking at "where you are."

    First of all, you have approximately 9 months of work experience. I'm not trying to be harsh here, but it is rather silly to think that you've managed to acquire 4 to 5 years of practical experience in this amount of time. The exposure of different environments and "problems" that typically occurs in 4 to 5 years time will not happen in 9 months even in the absolute worst of networks. That alone has you limited in actual break/fix scenarios.

    Secondly, this whole "entry-level" "mid-level" classification crap is pretty relative. I gather from your post that you are seeking validation from someone that you are no longer entry-level, and are something beyond entry-level. If you aren't entry-level after 9 months, and are now mid-level, does that mean you are going to be beyond mid-level in a similar period of time. What exactly would someone be if they have 10 or 20 years of solid experience? If you are looking for some kind of classification, then entry-level is it, but like I said, that is relative and really doesn't matter. As you are finding out, this is just going to make you angry.

    From what you have described it sounds like you are close to being out of helpdesk, if you aren't already, which is pretty good for someone with 9 months of practical experience. From what you've described I would consider placing you in a Jr. Sys Admin role, contingent upon a technical interview of course.

    Welcome to IT. It's tough to get that first break, but once you're in, you're in (unless you have a habit of causing outages - and then you're out - LOL) and you can progress pretty fast if you have a brain in your head.
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    networker050184networker050184 Mod Posts: 11,962 Mod
    You are at the bottom of the chain. If you are just looking for someone to tell you that you are awesome because you have a few months experience I don't think this is the place.
    An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made.
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    LockeWiggin83LockeWiggin83 Member Posts: 28 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Thanks for the thorough reply, cisco_trooper. My replies below.
    First of all, you have approximately 9 months of work experience. I'm not trying to be harsh here, but it is rather silly to think that you've managed to acquire 4 to 5 years of practical experience in this amount of time. The exposure of different environments and "problems" that typically occurs in 4 to 5 years time will not happen in 9 months even in the absolute worst of networks. That alone has you limited in actual break/fix scenarios.
    This I understand completely. I recognize that my experience has been extremely narrow; that's why I'm asking for someone to give me an overall perspective on the profession.
    Secondly, this whole "entry-level" "mid-level" classification crap is pretty relative. I gather from your post that you are seeking validation from someone that you are no longer entry-level, and are something beyond entry-level. If you aren't entry-level after 9 months, and are now mid-level, does that mean you are going to be beyond mid-level in a similar period of time. What exactly would someone be if they have 10 or 20 years of solid experience? If you are looking for some kind of classification, then entry-level is it, but like I said, that is relative and really doesn't matter.
    I used "entry-level" and "mid-level" as possible metrics that would be commonly understood, but if they *aren't* commonly understood, then use whatever metrics or comparisons or analogies you want.

    For what it's worth, I'm talking about "entry-level" in relation to careers, not jobs or internships. To me, helpdesk is below entry-level, more like an internship to get your foot in the door or a job to make ends meet, not a career.

    "Entry-level" to me would be any position that requires only the equivalent of a bachelor's degree. I have absolutely no problem with being considered "entry-level" by this measurement. I personally don't; I think I'm a little bit further than this, but my assessment is meaningless because I don't know what "entry-level" means in IT.

    My description is an *extremely* general description that can be applied to any career. I wanted to be able to connect those general descriptions of "entry-level" and "mid-level" and "experienced" to more specific positions within the IT profession, including specific qualifications and responsibilities, so that I know where I am.
    As you are finding out, this is just going to make you angry.
    What made me angry was someone characterizing me as "below entry level" because of a pair of decimal digits and no further explanation.

    I don't care if you call me "entry-level" as long as you tell me what you consider to be entry-level. Like I said in my very first post (and I'm going to post exactly what I wrote so there's no confusion), "I just wanted to know what is generally considered 'entry-level,' 'mid-level,' etc.? What sort of skills, certs, and experience are expected, responsibilities, and (last but not least) pay expectations, etc.?"

    No one has done that yet, which is why I'm getting VERY frustrated at being characterized as "entry-level" and "bottom of the chain" and "below entry-level" when I have no idea what anyone is talking about because no one is using concrete specifics or references.

    I'm not asking for career advice or praise. I'm asking for PERSPECTIVE.
    From what you have described it sounds like you are close to being out of helpdesk, if you aren't already, which is pretty good for someone with 9 months of practical experience.
    I was never in helpdesk.

    My experience is described above, but if you want more information about my "formative years," I was hired by a digital media company as a technical writer (mainly software requirements and specifications documents and white papers), sales engineer, backup technician, media process coordinator, and business development associate all at once (we were a company of 30 that did the job of 300; we all wore multiple hats). I did that for three years, and found it incredibly boring and sleep-inducing, in spite of the amount of work.

    Then we were bought out, and I became part of the infrastructure team charged with designing and building the bigger company's production content distribution network. We also serve as a NOC for that network. The rest is described above.
    From what you've described I would consider placing you in a Jr. Sys Admin role, contingent upon a technical interview of course.
    What are the typical roles/responsibilities?
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    LockeWiggin83LockeWiggin83 Member Posts: 28 ■□□□□□□□□□
    You are at the bottom of the chain.
    That means nothing to me if I don't know what YOU consider to be "the bottom of the chain."
    If you are just looking for someone to tell you that you are awesome because you have a few months experience I don't think this is the place.
    That is NOT what I'm looking for. I came here as a new professional looking for some perspective. I started this thread by asking this very simple question which NO ONE has answered:
    "I just wanted to know what is generally considered 'entry-level,' 'mid-level,' etc.? What sort of skills, certs, and experience are expected, responsibilities, and (last but not least) pay expectations, etc.?"

    Is that clear enough?

    The first person to reply seemed to have only read three words ("I'm very new") before giving me rote advice that I neither needed nor even asked for. I appreciate the good intentions, but if I feel like someone is making wrong assumptions about me, I'm going to speak up about it, and I'm not the tactful type. Especially not on a message board.
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    mikej412mikej412 Member Posts: 10,086 ■■■■■■■■■■
    "I just wanted to know what is generally considered 'entry-level,' 'mid-level,' etc.?

    2 years is the arbitrary point. If you have less than 2 years of experience and don't have any advanced education (like a PhD) or experience with a large number of different projects/customers/networks that separates you from all the other people just starting their career -- you are entry level.

    After that -- it depends on who's evaluating you and what information you give them.

    I know one "high level" guy who left the large international company he worked at to start his own consulting company. He did fine for a while selling and configuring things for his customers how that big company did things. But the problem was that he didn't really know why that big company did things the way they did. So as the market and customer expectations changed he didn't have the skill to adapt -- he didn't actually know and understand the products and services he was selling icon_lol.gif He just knew that "one way" to do things -- and when he ran out of customers who wanted to do things that way, he went out of business. Last I heard he was in some "mid level" job mostly doing meetings, conference calls, and general project background noise tasks -- and praying he doesn't get laid off in the next round of cuts.

    And I've seen resumes of "career employees" from large companies -- the same 1 year experience done over and over at different levels as they moved up the work food chain.

    And I've posted over in the Cisco Forums several times that someone working for a Cisco Business Partner may get more experience in 6 months than someone (like that "career employee" above) gets in their entire career. Working for a Business Partner or VAR type environment where you get to see (and touch) different networks (of different sizes) and work with lots of different equipment with lots of different configurations is vastly different then "managing a firewall for 2 years" that some vendor setup and gets called in to fix.
    After my probationary period was over, they sent me to build out and configure a new CDN POP in New York consisting of about thirty servers and a dozen or so network devices (firewalls, a couple of Juniper routers, an ASA, and a WANScaler for back-facing connectivity, and NetScalers, an SX800 switch, and an MLX router for external access and internal connectivity). It was a HUGE project,
    Sounds more like just another late night to me icon_wink.gif
    especially for a total rookie like me, so I wasn't alone, naturally. There was someone there to supervise me, but he left a week early, so I had to do most of the final network configuration myself. Also, like I said, he was there mostly as a supervisor, advisor, and assessor. As a result, I did most of the hands-on network configuration, so I was the one configuring the VLANs and interfaces on the switch, setting up the internal routes and ACLs, and setting up the load balancing and GSLB on the NetScalers, and performing the initial configuration on the firewalls, internal access routers, and WANScaler. About the only piece I didn't touch was setting up BGP for our external access router.
    Sounds impressive..... what did you do the other 8-1/2 months?

    Were you actually reading the vendor device documentation and creating the configurations from scratch? Or just modifying a pre-existing template to match the local network? Or just copying and pasting configurations from a design/configuration document someone else created for this location?

    We hire entry level A+ techs (and some new CCNAs) for racking and stacking.... and we either have them copy and paste in a config or do a simple configuration to get a device on the network and someone else remotes in and does the real configuration.

    We have guys that have been racking and stacking for 5+ years -- and while they are really good at it -- it's still an entry level job and they can be replaced by a cheaper entry level tech.
    Besides that, I also had to build about half of the actual servers.
    Reminds me of the time I walked into the back warehouse of a Family owned and run Computer Services company -- someone's grandmonther was in back building and configuring the servers icon_lol.gif

    I'll bring up a new AIX server and applications manually in about 3 hours (in a lab environment), or launch a build of 400 new servers in data centers world wide that completes in about 2 hours. And 2 hours later I'll have automagically deployed the applications those servers need to support. And I'm not even part of the build group -- those are just the servers we have laying around as spares (that I have access to).
    rwwest7 wrote: »
    By the book your not even entry level yet.
    What book is that? The last place I worked as an employee (I've been contracting for almost 12 years now) would send a recruiter to cruise drive thru windows at fast food restaurants to find future employees with people skills for help desk positions. For the more "technical positions" they'd raid Best Buy and Fretters. It was easier to teach noobs technical skills than try to teach geeks people skills. Those were entry level positions.
    :mike: Cisco Certifications -- Collect the Entire Set!
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    UnixGuyUnixGuy Mod Posts: 4,567 Mod
    Excellent entry Mike ! icon_cheers.gif

    mikej412 wrote: »
    And I've posted over in the Cisco Forums several times that someone working for a Cisco Business Partner may get more experience in 6 months than someone (like that "career employee" above) gets in their entire career.

    I totally agree and second this for SUN partners, IBM Partners, and Red Hat partners. The average partners employee with 6+ months experience will know much more than the on site admin who spent the last 5+ yrs administering the server/SAN/Application/OS.





    mikej412 wrote: »
    2 years is the arbitrary point.

    So do you think 2-5 yrs is mid-level or senior-level? (Cisco partners employee for example?)


    mikej412 wrote: »
    The last place I worked as an employee (I've been contracting for almost 12 years now)

    Interesting ! so what do you think of contractors job ? I've been offered several 6 months opportunities..
    Certs: GSTRT, GPEN, GCFA, CISM, CRISC, RHCE

    Learn GRC! GRC Mastery : https://grcmastery.com 

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    neathneathneathneathneathneath Member Posts: 438
    jryantech wrote: »
    Welcome LockeWiggin,

    Depends what you want to do in IT. Normally people start at Help Desk positions.

    To get a job in a Help Desk position I would start with your CompTIA A+, try applying while also getting your CompTIA Network+ and maybe a MCP (70-270?).

    These three exams should take you 6-18 months depending on how much study time you haveQUOTE]

    LockeWiggin83

    I agree with the above post. I appreciate where you are coming from but Microsoft (and other) Exams will sort the sheep from the goats as it were.

    I would look at the MCDST 70-271 / 70-272 exams or go straight to the 70-270 (which is not easy and takes a bit of serious study)

    Best of luck in your endeavours.
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    mikej412mikej412 Member Posts: 10,086 ■■■■■■■■■■
    UnixGuy wrote: »
    So do you think 2-5 yrs is mid-level or senior-level? (Cisco partners employee for example?)
    um... the next arbitrary ranking would be mid-level -- and that 2-5 is about right.

    5 years is when you see lots of jobs require either a Degree or (5-7 years) equivalent experience. So I'd say 5 years is the arbitrary point where experience trumps the degree -- and starts the shift, at least for some people, to "senior level."

    But let's be honest -- most people never make it to "senior level" and a lot of people are "mid level" in time served (and maybe their paycheck) but not in their actual skills.

    Someone who spent a year at a Business Partner and took advantage of all the training opportunities (and spent their free time ripping through all the partner eLearning they could cram into their brain) and racked up the certifications that match their knowledge, skills, and experience could already be working at a "senior level" -- but their pay check still may not catch up to them for a couple more years. :D
    UnixGuy wrote: »
    Interesting ! so what do you think of contractors job ? I've been offered several 6 months opportunities..
    Not sure -- I still haven't decided if I like contracting yet icon_lol.gif

    When I started contracting my expectation was that I'd spend about 1/2 my time working and the other 1/2 of my time looking for my next contract.

    As it turned out I'll have spent over 8-1/2 years (out of the 12 years) on just 2 contracts. My current contract started as a 40 hour project almost 4 years ago.
    :mike: Cisco Certifications -- Collect the Entire Set!
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    LockeWiggin83LockeWiggin83 Member Posts: 28 ■□□□□□□□□□
    mikej412 wrote: »
    And I've seen resumes of "career employees" from large companies -- the same 1 year experience done over and over at different levels as they moved up the work food chain.
    Ugh....that's definitely not going to be me. If I ever end up like that, I'll ask someone to shoot me. (I wouldn't do it myself; suicide is wrong.)
    mikej412 wrote: »
    And I've posted over in the Cisco Forums several times that someone working for a Cisco Business Partner may get more experience in 6 months than someone (like that "career employee" above) gets in their entire career. Working for a Business Partner or VAR type environment where you get to see (and touch) different networks (of different sizes) and work with lots of different equipment with lots of different configurations
    Sounds like fun. How do I get a job like that?

    (Not that I'd leave my current job; I love it where I am!)
    mikej412 wrote: »
    Sounds more like just another late night to me icon_wink.gif
    Ok, rephrase: it was a huge project for ME at the time. icon_redface.gif

    (This is why I'm asking for perspective from people more experienced than me.)

    But I had fun doing it.
    mikej412 wrote: »
    Sounds impressive..... what did you do the other 8-1/2 months?
    5 months. My first three months were pretty boring. I mostly just shadowed the senior guys. THEN I got the New York project. But then our work in New York got delayed by about a week and a half because of external delays (fiber didn't get run in time, shipping delays on our hardware, RMAs, our cage didn't have power or connectivity, etc.).

    As for what I've done since then, day-to-day it's mostly NOC tasks, just basically dealing with failures and outages here and there, investigating new glitches that would pop up here and there, fixing hardware instabilities, etc. Also, we're always doing code drops for our platform, which always take a long time because we have a lot of environments.

    Besides that, I have a number of my own projects that I work on more or less independently now. Playing around with (or, more officially, "evaluating the viability of") VMWare. Setting up servers for new customers. Creating our backup infrastructure. Ironing out the kinks in New York. A little bit (very little) of Active Directory configuration and domain administration for our new sites (my most recent task). So on and so forth.
    mikej412 wrote: »
    Were you actually reading the vendor device documentation and creating the configurations from scratch? Or just modifying a pre-existing template to match the local network? Or just copying and pasting configurations from a design/configuration document someone else created for this location?
    No, no copy pasting, no templates, no pre-made documents. I had to learn the Foundry CLI and typed everything in myself. The only guidance we were given was a one-sheet network graphic (an incomplete one, no less), and we were just told, "Ok, configure this switch and those servers to match this graphic." The lead network guy didn't tell us (or specifically, me) anything more than that (mostly because he was off on his own, setting up our UK POP).

    So the guy who was with me basically gave me a crash course in switch and router configuration, subnetting, VLANs, routing, and all the nitty-gritty details about how networking worked, layer by OSI layer. He explained the concepts to me as I figured out the Foundry CLI, so he'd be telling me the differences between VLANs and subnets while I was creating them on the switch, and he explained the roles of a switch vs. a router and how routing worked when I started on the router configs, etc. That was my equivalent of a CCNA boot camp, I think (even though we were using Foundry).

    The big hurdle for me was that the company we were leasing our space from didn't get started on connecting our patch panels until the very last week, so we couldn't actually do anything except set up IPs and VLANs until the very last week. And it was at the very start of that last week, when we could finally start patching stuff in, that the guy who was with me had to go home. So I spent that last week or so patching everything in and then troubleshooting all the connectivity all by my lonesome. That's also when I had to do all of the other network devices' initial configurations, too, so that at the very least we could configure them remotely.

    I worked literally to the very last second (I had my suitcase in the cage with me on the last day, an hour before my flight home), but I got it all done in time! icon_cheers.gif
    mikej412 wrote: »
    We hire entry level A+ techs (and some new CCNAs) for racking and stacking.... and we either have them copy and paste in a config or do a simple configuration to get a device on the network and someone else remotes in and does the real configuration.
    The only time anyone ever remoted into our site to do any configuration was when our manager configured BGP on the Internet access router, and when our senior network engineer SSHed in a few weeks later to finish up the ACLs that I'd started.

    Beyond that, we had to relinquish the final configuration of the firewall to someone from the risk management group, and we had to relinquish final configuration of the corporate routers and WANScaler to someone from the corporate IT group for internal connectivity. That's why I said I only did the initial configurations of those devices.

    TBH, you would probably consider it to be a pretty simple network to set up, because it was just a CDN POP. We had one front channel, and a few application back channels, a management back channel, an OOB channel, and an internal fiber connection. Nothing really complex now that I think about it.
    mikej412 wrote: »
    We have guys that have been racking and stacking for 5+ years -- and while they are really good at it -- it's still an entry level job and they can be replaced by a cheaper entry level tech.
    Like I said....if I ever end up as "one of those guys," I'll have someone shoot me.
    mikej412 wrote: »
    Reminds me of the time I walked into the back warehouse of a Family owned and run Computer Services company -- someone's grandmonther was in back building and configuring the servers icon_lol.gif

    I'll bring up a new AIX server and applications manually in about 3 hours (in a lab environment), or launch a build of 400 new servers in data centers world wide that completes in about 2 hours. And 2 hours later I'll have automagically deployed the applications those servers need to support. And I'm not even part of the build group -- those are just the servers we have laying around as spares (that I have access to).
    Yeah....here's the thing about the company I work for: they're cheapskates. Either that, or upper management doesn't know what to spend their money on, because we don't get any of that autodeployment bling you apparently have.

    We (the other guy and me) had to burn thirty copies of Windows 2003 ISOs onto CDs, put them into the blank servers' DVD drives, and install them one by one because almost none of our servers had IPMI. Besides, we didn't have any kind of external connectivity (front or back) until our last week and a half over there. It didn't hurt us time-wise in the end, because we had so many other delays out of our control, but it was very much a manual operation from start to finish. All I can say is, thank God for n-Lite and slipstreaming.
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    miller811miller811 Member Posts: 897
    Well, it sounds like you are at least excited about what you are doing.

    In my opinion it seems like you are looking for ammo to go ask for raise based on I am really doing the work of an x-level employee, while you are only paying me for y-level job.

    Every employee/employer is currently working for the going rate. The employer offered to pay X amount and you or someone else agreed to work at that rate. In these tough economic times.... you may need to move on to get more pay or a better title if that is what you are looking for.

    The best advice I can give you is learn as much as you can on the job, and learn even more off the job.icon_study.gif

    Good luck.
    I don't claim to be an expert, but I sure would like to become one someday.

    Quest for 11K pages read in 2011
    Page Count total to date - 1283
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    phantasmphantasm Member Posts: 995
    As an example, I consider myself entry level. I have 8 months IT experience, a CCENT, A.S degree and just got a job at a NOC for an ISP. My experience will start going through the roof here soon enough, but I still don't know jack.
    "No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man." -Heraclitus
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    nevolvednevolved Member Posts: 131
    I have to say that you seem very arrogant about your current level of experience. It seems like you came here and posted on this board to stroke your own ego, NOT find out where you are currently experience wise. Furthermore, if you really wanted to find out your "level," what good would that do you? Isn't your current job the cream of the crop? Why would you consider leaving such an amazing place? I think you need to reevaluate why you are posting here, and NOT shove comments back at their authors. The people on this board are merely trying to answer your question.
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    rwwest7rwwest7 Member Posts: 300
    nevolved wrote: »
    I have to say that you seem very arrogant about your current level of experience.
    Exactly. If you go into a job interview with a "I'm so smart, look what I've done.....those stupid A+, etc. certs are so below me" attitude, you won't be getting a follow up interview. If the certs are so easy for someone with your worldy experience then just go ace them and prove your knowledge rather than talk about how much you know. The Network+ should be cake for someone with your "experience".

    Anyways, your much better off with a "I've seen a lot and learned a lot but there's so much more I want to learn. I'm going after that (insert any cert here) certification. The best part about IT is there's always something you haven't seen and you're learning everyday" attitude then the one you currently display.

    Just my 2 cents.
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    genXrcistgenXrcist Member Posts: 531
    Locke,

    You're obviously an intelligant and articulate individual which is why you got tapped to help out with the project you worked on. Kudos to you for that and what good fortune you had that someone not only noticed your potential, but didn't feel threatened by it.

    As for your question though, from what I can tell you are entry level. While you have learned a lot on the projects you've been involved with, I don't think you realize how much is out there that you don't know. I've been in IT for over 10 years but of those 10 years, six were on different ISP's helpdesks and four were on internal corpororate helpdesks. I had one year with a company in a Desktop Support role.

    Each new job I went into it with an attitude that I knew a lot and I was gonna show them. Very quickly did I realize exactly how much I didn't know. Do I consider myself Entry level? You bet. There's a whole lot I don't know.

    I got laid off from my last job on Oct 31st, 2008 and just started my new Desktop job this month. Honestly, it was the best thing that could have happened to me. I decided to use the new time I had on my hands to study for certifications and earned all that you see on the left in that 3.5 month time frame. The certifications filled in a lot of the gaps that I didn't even KNOW were there!

    My point in all this. You're entry level because you simply don't have enough experience or enough education to really know what you don't know. :)

    I guess it comes down to this. Whether you are entry, mid or senior level depends on how you can compete with other job seekers out there for entry, mid or senior level jobs. Go apply for a senior network position and see if you get called back. Do the same for Mid and entry. Which ever classification you get the most responses back on gives you a good estimation of where others see you at. :)

    Good luck with your CCNA btw, it's a killer. :)
    1) CCNP Goal: by August 2012
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    LockeWiggin83LockeWiggin83 Member Posts: 28 ■□□□□□□□□□
    nevolved wrote: »
    I have to say that you seem very arrogant about your current level of experience. It seems like you came here and posted on this board to stroke your own ego, NOT find out where you are currently experience wise.
    Read my VERY FIRST post again. Other people have gotten it, you haven't.
    "But being so new to the profession, it's hard to have an overall perspective on my relative qualifications, so I don't really know what I'm 'worth,' so to speak.

    Anyway, I can post my actual work experience, if that's necessary, but I get a little verbose in my descriptions, and I've done a LOT (I didn't do help desk or support; I work on a production content distribution network in the entertainment business), so to keep this short, I just wanted to know what is generally considered 'entry-level,' 'mid-level,' etc.? What sort of skills, certs, and experience are expected, responsibilities, and (last but not least) pay expectations, etc.?"
    nevolved wrote: »
    Furthermore, if you really wanted to find out your "level," what good would that do you? Isn't your current job the cream of the crop? Why would you consider leaving such an amazing place?
    I never said that I was leaving, but these are touchy times. I'm keeping my bases covered.
    nevolved wrote: »
    I think you need to reevaluate why you are posting here, and NOT shove comments back at their authors.
    I only shoved comments back at jryantech (who assumed that my skill level was below A+, but at least he was nice about it) and rwwest (who also blindly assumed that I was "below entry level" and was rude about it). With ULWiz and networker, I took their advice in stride because they read what I'd done, but they still provided no perspective, so I asked them, quite simply, where was I in the overall chain.

    Then rwwest pranced into the thread, read about three words from my first post, and made dumb assumptions that pissed me off.
    nevolved wrote: »
    The people on this board are merely trying to answer your question.
    Some were. Others weren't.
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    LockeWiggin83LockeWiggin83 Member Posts: 28 ■□□□□□□□□□
    rwwest7 wrote: »
    Exactly. If you go into a job interview with a "I'm so smart, look what I've done.....those stupid A+, etc. certs are so below me" attitude, you won't be getting a follow up interview.
    I assumed that attitude because of YOUR attitude.

    EDIT:
    By the way, I'm sorry to say this, but A+ IS below me. And again, I actually did ask my co-workers about this. They said that most of those kinds of certifications are just wasted space on the resume of someone who has even just a few months of server experience. If I put an A+ on my resume, I'm afraid it'll just seem like I'm adding words to compensate for lack of experience. It's like putting your high school on your resume when you already have a college degree.

    When writing a resume, I want it to look relevant, not desperate.
    rwwest7 wrote: »
    If the certs are so easy for someone with your worldy experience then just go ace them and prove your knowledge rather than talk about how much you know. The Network+ should be cake for someone with your "experience".
    I was working on CCNA. I said so in my SECOND post. I said I was going along well in my studies, and that based on my co-workers' assessments, I was about a month away from it.

    Did you even bother to read that far?
    rwwest7 wrote: »
    Anyways, your much better off with a "I've seen a lot and learned a lot but there's so much more I want to learn. I'm going after that (insert any cert here) certification. The best part about IT is there's always something you haven't seen and you're learning everyday" attitude then the one you currently display.
    Oh for God's sakes, did you even read my first post?

    "But being so new to the profession, it's hard to have an overall perspective on my relative qualifications, so I don't really know what I'm 'worth,' so to speak.

    Anyway, I can post my actual work experience, if that's necessary, but I get a little verbose in my descriptions, and I've done a LOT (I didn't do help desk or support; I work on a production content distribution network in the entertainment business), so to keep this short, I just wanted to know what is generally considered 'entry-level,' 'mid-level,' etc.? What sort of skills, certs, and experience are expected, responsibilities, and (last but not least) pay expectations, etc.?"

    I SAID that I had no perspective. I specifically mentioned it as the reason why I was here. I SAID that while I didn't consider myself entry-level relative to my own progress, I didn't know for sure what the rest of the IT industry considered me to be.

    But I damn well knew that I wasn't A+ or helpdesk level anymore. I didn't tear jryantech's head off about it, because his intentions seemed good, but YOU....you came in here with a one-line post that seemed to dismiss what I'd done in favor of two empty numbers.
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    dynamikdynamik Banned Posts: 12,312 ■■■■■■■■■□
    *Time Out*

    I think that's enough from everyone.

    Locke, you don't seem to be too concerned with your verbosity with other things, so why don't you share your work experience ;)

    You seemed to be frustrated with some of the responses here, but it's difficult for people to give you definite answers when you withhold the specifics of your situation.
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    LockeWiggin83LockeWiggin83 Member Posts: 28 ■□□□□□□□□□
    genXrcist wrote: »
    My point in all this. You're entry level because you simply don't have enough experience or enough education to really know what you don't know. :)
    Well, that's why I'm asking people who WOULD know to tell me where I am. :)
    genXrcist wrote: »
    I guess it comes down to this. Whether you are entry, mid or senior level depends on how you can compete with other job seekers out there for entry, mid or senior level jobs. Go apply for a senior network position and see if you get called back. Do the same for Mid and entry. Which ever classification you get the most responses back on gives you a good estimation of where others see you at. :)
    Well, I don't *really* want to leave my job, I just wanted to know where I stood in case I *had* to leave.

    But I figured that coming here, where there were lots of IT professionals, I could get the same kind of feedback.
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    LockeWiggin83LockeWiggin83 Member Posts: 28 ■□□□□□□□□□
    dynamik wrote: »
    *Time Out*

    I think that's enough from everyone.

    Locke, you don't seem to be too concerned with your verbosity with other things, so why don't you share your work experience ;)
    Um....I did.....twice.... icon_redface.gif

    They're the two longest posts on this thread.
This discussion has been closed.