Entry level certification love

SweenMachineSweenMachine MCSA: Office 365, MCSA: Windows 7 (I am old), ITIL Foundations V3Chicago areaMember Posts: 300 ■■■■□□□□□□
Hey everyone;;

I have been lurking here for a while, couple posts here and there, but I wanted to make a little statement about my path into certification.

First off, for a little background, I am 35 and have been in IT for about 15 years. I have worked for payroll companies, banks, pharma and varies other locations. I started out mainly as a contractor doing short team gigs, then worked 7 years for a large pharma company who is recently outsourcing, so I took my first new job in over 7 years. At my last position, I was the senior help desk agent in charge of all escalations. My new position, they are looking to me to help develop their 24x7 support processes which they just launched. I have a fair amount of technical know-how, but mainly customer service and organizational know-how. I was lucky, I started in IT on a lucky break (got an NT migration contract making 8 bucks an hour, pushing computers after going to a temp company) and parlayed that into job after job. I never got any certifications, I didn't go to college, and I feel very fortunate to have a career. I am truly grateful.

Now to my point. I know a lot of people are down on the entry level certifications, and I can understand why. They are less specialized, they don't really showcase someones technical ability very well and the tests CAN be easy.

So why did I spent a month studying for my MTA Windows 7 Fundamentals and Networking Essentials?

Ever try to run? I mean, really run? Like a marathon or 10k? Some people are born athletes who can easily pick up pacing, breathing, and the physical dedication. Others, like me, grew up drinking cola and playing Nintendo. When I started running, I needed to start slow. One block at a time, one moment at a time, until I was able to do what I set out to do. It took me a while.

I feel like certifications are the same thing. For ME, someone with 15 years working at help desk, I NEEDED to start at the most basic point, so I could moment by moment and step by step build up to where I want to be. While I was honing my abilities to handle the business side, technology passed me by. When I left the comfort of the job I had for 7 years, I felt lost. Going for these MTA certifications, entry-level or not, got me moving in the right direction. I genuinely know more know than I did a month ago.

Next time you tell someone that MTA or A+ or Net+ are worthless and pointless, make sure you realize that not everyone moves at the same pace, and there is nothing wrong with starting from the ground up, even if you already DO have experience. Some people need to try different flavors to know what is their favorite. No one will fool you and say an MTA and no experience will get you 100k, but they aren't as worthless as a lot of people think, at least internally to those taking them.

I am very proud of my two MTAs, while understanding that they will not earn me more money. But I am definitely better off now that I have them, I promise you. I am going for MTA in HTML5 in one week, which I intend to study my butt off, for another 'meaningless' certification -- Then I plan on getting my A+, Net+ and Security+ by June.

Sure, you might think I am throwing away my money. I probably am. But by this summer, I will be more educated and more better prepared to take that step into the 'money' certifications, and also know more about what I want to do within my career!

Thanks for hearing out my rant!

-scott

Comments

  • DoubleNNsDoubleNNs Member Posts: 2,013 ■■■■■□□□□□
    Congratulations on your passes! icon_cheers.gif

    Your post rings true - the entry level certs really do help a lot of people learn/solidify their fundamental knowledge as well as sparks confidence. Glad they've helped you specifically.

    I think a lot of people on this forum are hard on certain certs as a motivation. We like to see everyone in the community strive for the best they can be and push each other. Additionally, we like to remind posters that it IS possible to learn material w/o actually taking the associated certification. People can learn about computer hardware, build systems, and even get hired as a PC technician w/o shelling out the $$$ for the A+ and spending the time sitting for them. As long as people take a second to stop and remember those facts before taking their exams, the decision is ultimately up to them.

    If someone can take the CCIE straight out, then proceed to pass all the exams for an MCSE within the proceeding week, they SHOULD. However, most people can't. Everyone has to start somewhere. Glad that your start has been successful and you've found value in your accomplishments.

    Congratulations once again! Good luck moving forward!
    And don't forget to keep us updated.
    Goals for 2018:
    Certs: RHCSA, LFCS: Ubuntu, CNCF CKA, CNCF CKAD | AWS Certified DevOps Engineer, AWS Solutions Architect Pro, AWS Certified Security Specialist, GCP Professional Cloud Architect
    Learn: Terraform, Kubernetes, Prometheus & Golang | Improve: Docker, Python Programming
    To-do | In Progress | Completed
  • SweenMachineSweenMachine MCSA: Office 365, MCSA: Windows 7 (I am old), ITIL Foundations V3 Chicago areaMember Posts: 300 ■■■■□□□□□□
    Thanks DoubleNNS!

    Yeah, and I didn't really think of the motivation part of it, so I am glad you pointed it out. I have essentially just been a lurker for a while, so understanding the other mindset helps me. Every time I searched for information on the forum about MTAs or A+, I felt it was a post from someone looking for guidance and 5 people telling them the certification isn't worth it.

    I needed to take it with a grain of salt, which I now am, but in the moment I didn't understand the negativity.

    I am proof positive that you can learn and obtain a career without the certifications. I have gone 15 years without a cert, and for many years had the mindset that they were a waste of time and money. What I am learning now, is that if the money spent and the piece of paper can keep you motivated to learn technology, every certification should have value to those who are taking it!

    Thanks for the reply
  • RojaRoja Registered Users Posts: 3 ■□□□□□□□□□
    I so get you Sween, right now I am studying for my Linux Essentials Exam, I have been hearing (not on here) that is worthless and that I shouldn't take it. Especially since I have been messing with Linux for the last 10 years. But while following the course I noticed I started filling in gaps and I am taking the exam to gain experience in taking technical exams.
  • ande0255ande0255 Banned Posts: 1,178
    I've said on here a couple times before I am sure, I got my current job as a catch-all network tech by just telling the hiring manager in the interview that I constantly strive to learn more.

    I literally got hired on a position I knew nothing about 3 months ago, firewalls / vpn tunnels / CUCM / every other voip platform. I initially resisted the offer letter just out of fear of the unknown next step in my life, but the hiring manager told me (when we talk off the record after the offer letter was sent), that the main point that he focused on was "What do you do outside of work?"

    I started to answer "Hiking, everything outdoors, blah blah blah", but I saw I was losing his interest, so I came clean and said "This might sound weird, but I go home and lab every night."

    The UC team tech quickly established that I didn't know **** about troubleshooting phone systems at all (I was up front about it), but just based on the fact that I wanted to learn the hiring manager told me he was overjoyed to have me join his squad.

    No cert is too little, but I would say aim high. For whatever reason, the CCNA is held in high regard, I am biased in the matter of course, but I really can't see how you can go wrong with a CCNA cert.

    The one thing I'd hold Cisco way above any other certs head, is that once you're in with a Cisco partner, you can download image of just about anything for free if you have the right contracts, for lab purposes only of course. A lot of people at my work that are server masterminds in the powershell prompt tip their hat to me because of my CCNA, and that is pretty cool, I bet you'd dig that too :)
  • Asif DaslAsif Dasl Member Posts: 2,116 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Lower level certs do have a value, there is always something which you can pick up from them. It's just it's sometimes not worth it financially to do it. Like for instance my Server+ certification, I learnt lots at the time about SCSI and server hardware which is practically non existent today. Financially there was no pay off, or return on investment for me there. Not sure why I took it to be honest, resume filler I guess. I would have been better placed going for Microsoft certs at the time, going for CompTIAs delayed me by 6 months.

    So it's not that they are not valuable information to have, it's just there is higher level and better return on investment with other certifications. I haven't taken a MTA exam but I suspect the difficuly gap between it and say 70-680 Windows 7 exam is huge. And the gap between a MCP and MCSE is also huge. So why not get started on the harder ones sooner than later? If you want to go places then it's logical.

    Anyways.. Congrats on your exam passes!
  • SweenMachineSweenMachine MCSA: Office 365, MCSA: Windows 7 (I am old), ITIL Foundations V3 Chicago areaMember Posts: 300 ■■■■□□□□□□
    Asif Dasl wrote: »
    Lower level certs do have a value, there is always something which you can pick up from them. It's just it's sometimes not worth it financially to do it. Like for instance my Server+ certification, I learnt lots at the time about SCSI and server hardware which is practically non existent today. Financially there was no pay off, or return on investment for me there. Not sure why I took it to be honest, resume filler I guess. I would have been better placed going for Microsoft certs at the time, going for CompTIAs delayed me by 6 months.

    So it's not that they are not valuable information to have, it's just there is higher level and better return on investment with other certifications. I haven't taken a MTA exam but I suspect the difficuly gap between it and say 70-680 Windows 7 exam is huge. And the gap between a MCP and MCSE is also huge. So why not get started on the harder ones sooner than later? If you want to go places then it's logical.

    Anyways.. Congrats on your exam passes!

    I like this discussion!

    Asif, I respect your opinion. I think it is well thought out and you didn't go out of your way to say entry level certifications are worthless.

    Getting started 'sooner than later" on the more difficult certification isn't as simple as that sounds. Looking at your qualifications, I would consider you very knowledgeable at the process of certification and understanding how they fit in business. Maybe there is a large gap between the MTA and the 70-680. I haven't taken the second one. I do know that I watched the Messer videos for 680 and skimmed over the MS book for the 685 and realized that, oh crap, I need to really hit the fundamentals of this OS if I ever intend on taking the higher certification, IF I wanted to take the higher certification. I have no idea what I want to do yet, so why pigeonhole myself into something I don't want to do?

    I think the running analogy still holds firm. For you, in tech, getting the entry exams delayed you by 6 months. Just like if an athletic person tried Couch to 5k to learn to run. For me, I don't think this will delay me at all, in fact, since I don't have a firm path in my career right now or really know what I want to do, taking the 98-366 Networking Essentials text was a good barometer to if I would even WANT to go for a CCNA or something like that.

    Return on investment isn't literal all the time. There is a guy who I used to work with at my last gig. CCNA-Voice. Worked at the help desk. I was definitely making more money than him. So what was the return on investment for him?

    Some people would say none, I say plenty. It was his first job in IT. So to him, in his mind, the ROI was great. To me, in my tech mind, the ROI was not worth the effort he put in; at least to this stage in his career. Subjective just like all the opinions shared here on this thread to this point.

    It is very possible my attitude and opinion will change in a couple years after I really start hitting these certifications. I just got started and maybe the excitement of passing a few entry level tests has gotten to me a little haha
  • Eston21Eston21 Member Posts: 74 ■■■□□□□□□□
    This is actually one of the more interesting threads that I have come across. It does seem that some people on this site defintely look down on the lower level certs, especially the MTA series and the CompTIA's. In my view they do provide a solid foundation and defintely cover up gaps in knowledge that even some "experts" may have. After all you have to learn how to crawl before you can walk.
  • Asif DaslAsif Dasl Member Posts: 2,116 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Yeah, there is a certain truth to saying something like "getting carried away with passing entry-level certifications", it definitely went to my head when I started getting certifications. Looking back I have to shake my head! How little I knew then. But everybody has got to start somewhere and if you don't know what you want to do then maybe doing entry-level certs is a good thing for you.

    But, you don't live in a vacuum at the same time. Plenty of people want to enter IT and some of them are naturally gifted, some have to work very hard to get where they want to go, and some are not up to the level required that employers want. So, it's best not to get too carried away with the entry level certs because at the end of the day you are going to have to do more advanced certs in the path you think will work out for you best. And you are going to have to face the competition.

    On the return on investment, you may not always see an immediate return. I have a VCP and I'm out of work with a health problem at the moment and I have spent a fair amount of money getting my VCP and my lab etc. I'm working on MCSE 2012 and VCAP-DCA while I'm off work. I think I will get a return on my investment once I am back in work, but it's not immediate. Some may get a CCNA and gain a job immediately, kudos. But it doesn't always work out like that. Sometimes you only find out with the benefit of hindsight and/or blind luck.

    But I agree having strong fundamentals can help you with more advanced certifications down the line. It's not always a one size fits all.
  • SweenMachineSweenMachine MCSA: Office 365, MCSA: Windows 7 (I am old), ITIL Foundations V3 Chicago areaMember Posts: 300 ■■■■□□□□□□
    Asif Dasl wrote: »
    Yeah, there is a certain truth to saying something like "getting carried away with passing entry-level certifications", it definitely went to my head when I started getting certifications. Looking back I have to shake my head! How little I knew then. But everybody has got to start somewhere and if you don't know what you want to do then maybe doing entry-level certs is a good thing for you.

    But, you don't live in a vacuum at the same time. Plenty of people want to enter IT and some of them are naturally gifted, some have to work very hard to get where they want to go, and some are not up to the level required that employers want. So, it's best not to get too carried away with the entry level certs because at the end of the day you are going to have to do more advanced certs in the path you think will work out for you best. And you are going to have to face the competition.

    On the return on investment, you may not always see an immediate return. I have a VCP and I'm out of work with a health problem at the moment and I have spent a fair amount of money getting my VCP and my lab etc. I'm working on MCSE 2012 and VCAP-DCA while I'm off work. I think I will get a return on my investment once I am back in work, but it's not immediate. Some may get a CCNA and gain a job immediately, kudos. But it doesn't always work out like that. Sometimes you only find out with the benefit of hindsight and/or blind luck.

    But I agree having strong fundamentals can help you with more advanced certifications down the line. It's not always a one size fits all.

    Very well said! Thank you for this insight

    -scott
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