over 12 years of help desk but little networking experience... a problem?

fritz72fritz72 Member Posts: 7 ■□□□□□□□□□
OK so I was recently laid off from a desktop support / Tech position. I have been in IT since about 1996-97 and am now looking for a new position. Help Desk doesn't pay enough and I am thinking I have too much experience and may get the "over qualified" label. One interviewer even asked my why I am still interested in help desk and have not moved on.

I ran my own IT services business for about 4 years and rarely received calls for network troubleshooting. I went back to work for corporate IT because I was spending far too much time working and not enough with my family.

My question for you more experienced people is... how did you go from Help Desk to Admin or any network position for that matter? Did/Do you need certs to move into networking? Should I just start throwing my resume around for Network positions even if I do not have the experience?

Help me out guys. I'm in mid career so this could be the time to make the change if I need to. I have all the CBT's and books that I need and now I have the time.

Comments

  • JordusJordus Banned Posts: 336
    Apply for the jobs you want, dont let anything stop you.

    Certs are going to help out quite a bit. They at least assert that you have, at minimum, a baseline knowledge of the job you will be doing.

    The guy probably asked you why you are still in help desk because almost everyone uses helpdesk as a stepping stone to something greater. Unfortunately, making that jump from helpdesk to a sysadmin/server admin position generally means you have to find a hiring manager willing to give you that chance, and that can be very difficult to do. You may want to try to find a spot as a Jr. Admin and try to prove yourself and move up accordingly.
  • SlowhandSlowhand MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure, MCSA: Windows Server 2003/2012/2016, CCNA Routing & Switchi Bay Area, CaliforniaMod Posts: 5,163 Mod
    Start studying, learn as much as you can about everything you can, and start getting your resume out there. With the sheer amount of experience you have, you're already ahead of the curve. The number of years in the industry isn't just a reflection of your technical skills, but also of your work ethic, your ability in handling stress and tough situations, etc. You've got the industry experience, now it's time to bulk up the purely technical skills that are involved with being a sysadmin or network engineer.

    What area interests you? Do you like the idea of working with servers, (mail, file, directory, etc.,), do you like the idea of getting into routing and switching, or maybe you're even interested in something more specialized, like voice or storage. (And let's not even talk about getting into what vendors you like: Linux vs. Microsoft, Cisco vs. Juniper, etc. icon_lol.gif ) Figure out what you want to work with, maybe even give yourself a broad base by studying for and taking a few certs in a few different things, then go from there.

    As for how the certs help, it's like this: the magic combination is certs, experience, and education. If you can't have all three, the two is better than one. Employers will notice you if you have certs, they'll also take notice of a degree or a big number in the experience department. With your particular background, (you didn't mention if you went to college or not,) I'd say that certs will help you out in two ways. The first is that you'll be able to show that you're able to work with what has traditionally been your weakness, the networking and server end of the game. You want to show that you're not a one-trick pony and that you can handle more than helpdesk work alone. The second way it'll help is to show that you're up to date on your stuff. You have over a decade of experience, that can show either that you're a senior-level IT pro or that you've been pigeonholed in one spot for all that time, (in the eyes of an employer, that is).

    Training and getting a few certs under your belt as you search for work will help you immensely, but don't let your lack of them prevent you from applying right now. It's a long road, there's plenty of things to learn and you'll be at it for as long as you work in IT, so throw your resume out there and get to studying. icon_thumright.gif

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  • fritz72fritz72 Member Posts: 7 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Thanks for the great responses! I have been studying the Test Out CBT for Network+ right now and was thinking of getting into network security. I have the time right now so I was thinking about the whole boot camp thing but the cost is just too high.

    I do not have a degree but did get my Windows NT cert back in the 90's.

    There are just so many certifications that it makes it hard to choose. Is it best to well round yourself or specialize?

    Thanks again for the responses. Keep em coming!
  • dynamikdynamik Banned Posts: 12,314 ■■■■■■■■□□
    fritz72 wrote: »
    There are just so many certifications that it makes it hard to choose. Is it best to well round yourself or specialize?

    I'd try to get well-rounded at the lower levels. I think it would be beneficial to be somewhat knowledgeable with a variety of technologies. You'll eventually want to specialize though. If you don't, you'll end up spreading yourself too thin and will never being able to master a given technology because you'll have too much to keep up with.

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  • SlowhandSlowhand MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure, MCSA: Windows Server 2003/2012/2016, CCNA Routing & Switchi Bay Area, CaliforniaMod Posts: 5,163 Mod
    If you're really looking to explore, the following might be a good path to start with:

    CompTIA A+ (This one's optional, as you've probably already got plenty of experience with PC repair and troubleshooting.)
    CompTIA Network+
    CompTIA Linux+
    CompTIA Server+ (Not "needed", but there's a free beta going on. :D )
    CompTIA Security+

    After that, depending on what you enjoy doing, get started on one of the following paths, (then another, and another, and another. . . icon_lol.gif ):

    Cisco certs
    Microsoft certs
    Red Hat certs
    Sun certs
    Juniper certs
    Novell Certs
    (ISC)2 certs

    The list of higher-level certs goes on and on. The top three tend to be Microsoft, Cisco, and Red Hat. Sun, Novell, and Juniper are highly respected, but are usually found in more of the niche-markets, so you'll have to be on the lookout for positions that ask specifically for experience with these products. The (ISC)2 organization offers several security certs, including the well-known CISSP certification. These security certs, however, have some pretty steep experience and educational requirements. Hope this helps, good luck!

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  • Dr_AtomicDr_Atomic Member Posts: 184
    Let me start off by saying that enjoying your job is far better than any greater money you may earn by getting up and going to a job you hate every morning (or late in the evening if you're on third shift...welcome to the world of networking sleeping.gif). I know - I've visited both places.

    You've been in helpdesk for a long time. I'm guessing you enjoy it to have been at it for so long? Do you want to go into networking or administration solely for the money? It's not necessarily a bad thing, but just know what you're getting into is all.

    For example, both networking and administration (like CCNP/MCSE, etc) will have you doing pretty much all software configurations or line-by-line network commands, where you stare at screen-after-screen of text output for eight hours a day, seven days a week. With the exception of some random cabling, you generally won't be doing any more hands-on with anything. It'll pay well, but I personally enjoy the hands-on and mixing with other employees as I help them out. You may do some of this in a job as networker/administrator, but it will be far less, if at all. I think sometimes we get so caught up in the pursuit of a certification because of its income potential that we forget to ask ourselves, "What is the job going to actually be like once I'm done, and am I going to enjoy doing this for the next 20 years?"

    If you're good with all that, then more power to ya, and I say go for it.

    I wish you the best.
  • blargoeblargoe Self-Described Huguenot NC, USAMember Posts: 4,174 ■■■■■■■■■□
    Yeah, if you enjoy the support desk, maybe you should explore management opportunities if you need more money.
    IT guy since 12/00

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  • networker050184networker050184 Mod Posts: 11,962 Mod
    blargoe wrote: »
    Yeah, if you enjoy the support desk, maybe you should explore management opportunities if you need more money.

    That was my first thought. 12 years on help desk should get you some good opportunities for help desk management.
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  • SlowhandSlowhand MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure, MCSA: Windows Server 2003/2012/2016, CCNA Routing & Switchi Bay Area, CaliforniaMod Posts: 5,163 Mod
    Dr_Atomic wrote: »
    For example, both networking and administration (like CCNP/MCSE, etc) will have you doing pretty much all software configurations or line-by-line network commands, where you stare at screen-after-screen of text output for eight hours a day, seven days a week. With the exception of some random cabling, you generally won't be doing any more hands-on with anything.
    I agree with your post, in general, save for the above quote. I've worked as a sysadmin and systems engineer for small businesses, for a datacenter, and for an outsourcing firm that did mainly remote management, and I've yet to come across this situation. Quite frankly, I wouldn't mind being able to do nothing but sit at my desk and just type in commands, but the hands-on work is what you get neck-deep in day after day the more you get into systems administration and network engineering. That has been my experience, and it seems to be the same for most of the members of the forum, as well as the other IT professionals I meet at conventions.

    Again, I do agree with the sentiment that fritz72 should consider staying with helpdesk and move into management if that's what he enjoys doing. If he wants to do something different, then he should definitely explore his options.

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  • fritz72fritz72 Member Posts: 7 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Thanks again for all the awesome responses.

    I guess the only reason I am still doing help desk is because I never tried to advance into another position. I was a help desk manager for about 2 years but have not been able to get back into that position for some time now. I ran my own business after being laid off from my manager position but when I decided to go back to work I was back at desktop support.

    I would love the challenge of working in something different like networking and have revamped my resume towards a more manager or networking position. Hopefully, that does the trick.

    Network security has always interested me so I think I will go that route but I need to start getting my network experience somewhere. The one thing that I have been needing is networking experience. Most of the jobs I worked for, I got little to no networking experience.
  • Dr_AtomicDr_Atomic Member Posts: 184
    Slowhand wrote: »
    Quite frankly, I wouldn't mind being able to do nothing but sit at my desk and just type in commands, but the hands-on work is what you get neck-deep in day after day the more you get into systems administration and network engineering. That has been my experience, and it seems to be the same for most of the members of the forum, as well as the other IT professionals I meet at conventions.

    Can you tell exactly what kind of hands-on you did? I thought the Microsoft administrators only did server-related, software-based duties behind-the-scenes?
  • nelnel Member Posts: 2,859 ■□□□□□□□□□
    i always believe if you work hard you make your own luck and destiny takes hold. I feel thats what i have done and a network role fell into my lap!

    Work hard, get cert's, get experiance where possible and try and get some kind of role which allows you to grow. be willing to relocate if possible or even look at junior network roles. MCSE/CCNA is a good start. then decide which area you want to go in and advance with the correct qualifications.

    Just make sure you are going to enjoy what you do, otherwise it may drive you crazy. It does with me.

    Good luck.
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  • NeekoNeeko Member Posts: 170
    Dr Atomic, seems like you're making a lot of assumptions. First you said this:
    Dr_Atomic wrote: »
    For example, both networking and administration (like CCNP/MCSE, etc) will have you doing pretty much all software configurations or line-by-line network commands, where you stare at screen-after-screen of text output for eight hours a day, seven days a week. With the exception of some random cabling, you generally won't be doing any more hands-on with anything.

    ... and then you asked this:
    Dr_Atomic wrote: »
    Can you tell exactly what kind of hands-on you did? I thought the Microsoft administrators only did server-related, software-based duties behind-the-scenes?

    Do you actually have experience with these types of roles, at CCNP and MCSE level? Considering you don't have full awareness of what a Microsoft admin type role includes, the paragraph I quoted first could be very misleading for people on here.

    As for line by line commands and pages of text, what else would you expect from a device configured from a CLI? That's not to say all networking is like that, clearly it isn't, but if your job is maintain switches and routers it shouldn't come as a surprise. People who do a CCNA should do enough command line work on these devices to know to an extent what to expect in a job. To me it's more about what is being configured, how you're making this communicate and function effectively that is interesting, not the commands themselves.

    What is your definition of 'hands on'?

    Seems to me like you expect work that doesn't exist in this field.
  • Forsaken_GAForsaken_GA Member Posts: 4,024
    Dr_Atomic wrote: »
    For example, both networking and administration (like CCNP/MCSE, etc) will have you doing pretty much all software configurations or line-by-line network commands, where you stare at screen-after-screen of text output for eight hours a day, seven days a week. With the exception of some random cabling, you generally won't be doing any more hands-on with anything. It'll pay well, but I personally enjoy the hands-on and mixing with other employees as I help them out. You may do some of this in a job as networker/administrator, but it will be far less, if at all.

    That's a rather blatant assumption, and while it may be true in your experience, it's not in every case. Our NOC is one big melting pot. All of our tech staff has their offices directly attached to it, and we all converse with each other on a regular basis. No department is an island, with the sole exception of our hardware department, and that's just because it's space requirements don't permit for it. Even with them being isolated, the entire tech staff is sociable with each other, we eat lunch together, we smoke together, we complain about how much the new Wolverine movie sucks together, and so on.

    Now, the guys working the overnight shift (and I've done my rotation there, so I know how much it sucks) don't get to partake of all that sociability, but that's just the nature of the work shift, not the intrinsic nature of the job. When the night crew rotates back to dayside, they get to enjoy the company of others as well.
  • rwwest7rwwest7 Member Posts: 300
    You should never just be "sitting on you loins" so to speak. Even if your current job seems rather secure, you should always be working towards that next cert. I work for the state, so my job is relatively secure but I am always working to make myself more marketable since you never know.

    So to go from Help Desk to Admin, you need to be bettering yourself while on help desk. You never know when that desired admin job is going to open up, but when it does you want to be ready. You don't want to miss out because you don't have the needed certs/knowledge.
  • SlowhandSlowhand MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure, MCSA: Windows Server 2003/2012/2016, CCNA Routing & Switchi Bay Area, CaliforniaMod Posts: 5,163 Mod
    Dr_Atomic wrote: »
    Can you tell exactly what kind of hands-on you did? I thought the Microsoft administrators only did server-related, software-based duties behind-the-scenes?
    I can tell you exactly the kinds of hands-on work I've done. As a systems engineer for a datacenter, I regularly spent time replacing and tweaking blades in a pair of Catalyst 6509-e switches, which would involve calling a lot of customers, sometimes moving cabling from switch to switch, and doing initial configuration of components in a test environment. I installed and configured routers in the co-location closets, built servers from scratch, (doing the ordering and purchasing of the parts,) spent time on the road traveling to other datacenters to work with customers who were spread out across the country. I also would spend quite a bit of time with the customers, working with them to populate their server racks, replace hardware, and upgrade software by going out to the site. At this job, much of my job could be done from my desk, but I spent enough time running back and forth between the NOC and the datacenter to break the tedium.

    My next job as a systems administrator involved managing 13 seperate small networks. We had remote software for day-to-day tasks, but any larger project would require me to be on-site. I went to staff meetings for these companies, representing "the IT department", I worked with our project engineers to deploy new servers and large volumes of workstations. I was called to go on-site whenever a problem the helpdesk couldn't handle over the phone was escalated to me, like replacing a faulty firewall/router, bringing a dead server back to life, or even taking care of a sensitive issue for a CEO or VP, such as configuring their favorite plotter with a tiny management console on the side to work with AD print management. Customer perception was huge, so often times I'd have to be onsite to deal with relatively simple PC issues, giving the impression that a person with more authority than a helpdesk tech was taking care of the problem. Driving from Berkeley to Napa, then to Sacramento, and down to San Jose all in a day, isn't my idea of "watching screen after screen go by". As a sysadmin, I was expected not only to do my day-to-day tasks, but be able to take over for any other tech or engineer in the company when the occasion called for it.

    Admittedly, the job I currently have is far more laid-back. Since we've embraced virtualization, spinning up new servers doesn't require me to leave my desk to build them. We're slowly working towards automating as much of our infrastructure as we can, but my counterpart and I still have to stay late nights and build VM host servers, rebuild machines that die, deploy new workstations for new employees, and shuffle things around in our server rack. We also represent IT at the regular and senior staff meetings, work with the building management to design a new server room for ourselves, and deal with vendors like CDW, Dell, and HP for ordering new parts. We are involved with accounting because of these purchases, and have to stay on top of our bookkeeping duties, as well as be involved with the finances of the company to make sure we have our budget for the quarter. While we're primarily responsible for our internal network and users, we are also tasked with working with service providers and datacenters to design, build, and maintain the servers and other infrastructure for the games our company builds, so a lot of time can be spent on the phone, in some network architects office, etc.

    That's a 10,000-foot view of the work I've done as systems engineer, sysadmin, and again as a systems engineer. The tasks bleed over between server management, network management, logical and physical design, financial bookkeeping, business development, and a variety of other tasks that don't always involve remoting into servers or jumping onto a routers CLI. That doesn't mean that there isn't any line-by-line work on the CLI, that there isn't any remote desktop management of servers, it just means that there's a lot more than that and you'll probably spend about half your time or less doing the things you learned for your MCSE or CCNP.

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  • PsoasmanPsoasman Senior Member Member Posts: 2,687 ■■■■■■■■■□
    Since you have a ton of experience and are interested in moving up, I would start with some basic certs like A+ and Net+ which are good resume builders. You could then hit the MCSA track.
    As far as Sys Admins sitting around for 8 hours plunking at command prompts, ours don't. They get their hands dirty with the rest of us techs.
  • fritz72fritz72 Member Posts: 7 ■□□□□□□□□□
    These are all awesome responses! I'm going to start by knocking out the COMPTia certs and then move on from there. I am back and working in a deskside support role at a major hospital in the Los Angeles area. Again, I'm pretty much stuck with just support roles and responsibilites. As much as I would like a management position, companies are just not hiring for management positions out here.

    To answer some of your questions... yes, I am interested in moving to networking for the money but also the challenge of doing something different. A Help Desk management roll would be ideal for me though, considering the amount of experience I have with Help Desk and Desktop support.

    Would an ITIL cert help me? Are there any certs geared towards IT management?

    Thanks for all the responses.
  • veritas_libertasveritas_libertas CISSP, GIAC x5, CompTIA x5 Greenville, SC USAMember Posts: 5,735 ■■■■■■■■■■
    fritz72 wrote: »
    To answer some of your questions... yes, I am interested in moving to networking for the money but also the challenge of doing something different. A Help Desk management roll would be ideal for me though, considering the amount of experience I have with Help Desk and Desktop support.

    In that case I would bypass the CompTIA certifications and start working on Cisco certs. CompTIA is for the most part only good for Desktop Support and very basic knowledge of Networking IMHO. Here is a good path for you:

    CCENT --> CCNA

    IT Certification - Cisco - Cisco Systems

    If you want to stay in Help Desk and move into management then yeah, CompTIA, ITIL, etc. would probably be helpful.
    Currently working on: Linux and Python
  • GAngelGAngel Member Posts: 708
    ITIL and PMP will land you a help desk manager/team lead role with the correct experience.
  • stephens316stephens316 Senior Member Member Posts: 203 ■■■■□□□□□□
    Hi There,

    Well you have a lot to offer but get a grip to have trouble finding a job there is a reason why you just got laid off and its not because your out dated. The first thing I suggest you look at your life ask your self where do I want to be. Your next should be to get out and vote in the next election because its the current agenda of this administration to put you out. Now that I have that out there lets get to some brass tax

    1 File for unemployment asap
    2 Update your resume and cover letter go to get help unemployment office
    3 Look for jobs if any try to get what ever you can
    4 Get some certifactions under your belt:

    Network + Jan 15
    Security + Feb 15
    70-680 MCTS: Windows 7 Jan 30
    CCENT Feb 30

    5 Finally don't let it get you down

    I have been without work since April but just got 2 interviews within the last week I am hopeful for them to land me a job just so I can catch up on my bills. Set goals for your self and go from there you will be fine.
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  • ConstantlyLearningConstantlyLearning Member Posts: 445
    Hi There,

    Well you have a lot to offer but get a grip to have trouble finding a job there is a reason why you just got laid off and its not because your out dated. The first thing I suggest you look at your life ask your self where do I want to be. Your next should be to get out and vote in the next election because its the current agenda of this administration to put you out. Now that I have that out there lets get to some brass tax

    1 File for unemployment asap
    2 Update your resume and cover letter go to get help unemployment office
    3 Look for jobs if any try to get what ever you can
    4 Get some certifactions under your belt:

    Network + Jan 15
    Security + Feb 15
    70-680 MCTS: Windows 7 Jan 30
    CCENT Feb 30

    5 Finally don't let it get you down

    I have been without work since April but just got 2 interviews within the last week I am hopeful for them to land me a job just so I can catch up on my bills. Set goals for your self and go from there you will be fine.

    Eh, re-read his last post. :)
    "There are 3 types of people in this world, those who can count and those who can't"
  • fritz72fritz72 Member Posts: 7 ■□□□□□□□□□
    I am working full time right now, but I like have you set dates to take a test by. How much study time would be needed to get a Network+ or Security+ cert under my belt in a month or 2? How about the MCTS and CCENT? These look like attainable goals as long as I set my mind to it and hit the books! I dont have the $ to go out and take a class but I do have some CBTs etc. Would that be enough to pass those exams or would a class be better?
  • veritas_libertasveritas_libertas CISSP, GIAC x5, CompTIA x5 Greenville, SC USAMember Posts: 5,735 ■■■■■■■■■■
    fritz72 wrote: »
    I am working full time right now, but I like have you set dates to take a test by. How much study time would be needed to get a Network+ or Security+ cert under my belt in a month or 2? How about the MCTS and CCENT? These look like attainable goals as long as I set my mind to it and hit the books! I dont have the $ to go out and take a class but I do have some CBTs etc. Would that be enough to pass those exams or would a class be better?

    The Network+ and Security+ are certainly obtainable with only books. CCENT is not as hard as I was originally thinking it was going to be. I am starting get it down rather well and I have only been studying for a couple weeks. It all depends on what you already know before going in. I have an AAS in Computer Networking and that greatly helped coming into the Network+, and now the CCENT. Security+ on the other hand took longer because of my lack of experience with encryption, and algorithms.
    Currently working on: Linux and Python
  • stephens316stephens316 Senior Member Member Posts: 203 ■■■■□□□□□□
    I would get a Cram Exam Book for Network Plus Study for 2 weeks and take it. I would get Security Plus book from Syngress it covers more in detail.One to Two months here just depends on how well you do studying. I pick up material study then switch to something else and then back so it takes me some time to get things covered. You can also find CBT's and other good books. As far as MCTS what OS are you most up to date on I would recommend you take Windows 7 if you have beta tested with it and have used Vista for a year. Then get your CCENT and CNNA done you will be on track to get back to work. I am currently working on my 70-647 the Enterprise Admin for MCITP. I had found a deal to good to pass up I took a test last month and get to take this test for free so i couldn't pass it up, hopefully by the end of the month I will employed again and can get back to CCENT and CCNA studying and testing.

    Good Luck
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