Certs for 34 year-old lawyer wanting to get into IT? (entry level)

bridgerambridgeram Member Posts: 6 ■□□□□□□□□□
Hi,
Long story short, I'm looking for a career change. I've been doing the law thing for 5 years now and I want out. Working with computers has always been pretty easy for me (was a hardcore PC nerd in HS/college) and I'd love to get into IT. I understand I'd have to pay my dues and start at an entry-level position. I'm ok with that.

Any advice as to what certifications I should start with, given my age/career so far? How do I get my foot in the door? CompTIA A+? MCTS 70-680?

Should I look into going back to school/taking (online?) classes, or do I have a shot at an entry level position by passing some certifications?

I'd really appreciate any advice you guys can give me.

EDIT: I live in NYC by the way.

Comments

  • SweenMachineSweenMachine MCSA: Office 365, MCSA: Windows 7 (I am old), ITIL Foundations V3 Chicago areaMember Posts: 300 ■■■■□□□□□□
    bridgeram wrote: »
    Hi,
    Long story short, I'm looking for a career change. I've been doing the law thing for 5 years now and I want out. Working with computers has always been pretty easy for me (was a hardcore PC nerd in HS/college) and I'd love to get into IT. I understand I'd have to pay my dues and start at an entry-level position. I'm ok with that.

    Any advice as to what certifications I should start with, given my age/career so far? How do I get my foot in the door? CompTIA A+? MCTS 70-680?

    Should I look into going back to school/taking (online?) classes, or do I have a shot at an entry level position by passing some certifications?

    I'd really appreciate any advice you guys can give me.

    It really depends on what you want to do within IT.. have you put much thought into a route? like networking, sysadmin, end user support, programming ect ect

    I will say that the MCST cert for the 70-680 expires in June, so I wouldn't go for that one if you are looking for a piece of paper..
  • bridgerambridgeram Member Posts: 6 ■□□□□□□□□□
    I'm open to pretty much anything except programming (took a couple classes in HS and college and just didn't really enjoy it).

    Although I'm open to pretty much anything that would get my foot in the door, data/network security appeals to me. About 9 years ago I temped at a financial institution for several months in their IT department, working on an NT user recertification project which I enjoyed. They were interested in hiring me right around the time I was getting accepted into law school... so here I am.
  • --chris----chris-- Member Posts: 1,518 ■■■■■□□□□□
    You appear to be aiming towards the technical side judging from your comments, but have you considered something that would build on your unique skill set (the JD)?

    I am still pretty green to IT so I am not certain what that might even mean, but I am certain that there would be something in IT that would benefit from the knowledge/perspective of a JD (did you pass the BAR?)! I am sure a seasoned vet will see where I am going with this and fill in the blanks in due time....
  • BGravesBGraves Member Posts: 339
    I'd start by looking online or in papers/craigslist for positions that interest you. See what exp and certs they require.
    A+ is foundation level for desktop support/hardware.
    Net+ the same for networking
    Sec+ for security.
    I recommend all three but it's not a requirement by any means.
    Desktop support recommend a Win7/8 cert if you are working in a windows shop. Server certs for the servers or where your interests lie.
    Certs aren't the most important thing of course, they should supplement your knowledge and experience.
  • stryder144stryder144 Senior Member Member Posts: 1,684 ■■■■■■■■□□
    I would do a couple of things, since I, too, did the career change recently. Here they are:

    1. If you haven't already, research what areas of IT are in strong demand in your area.
    2. Keep your day job while you finish up the research and start building your IT certs and experience.
    3. I would probably start with A+ as the first cert to pursue.
    4. If you want to increase your chances for finding a job, I would also suggest looking into going to WGU. Inexpensive IT degrees that also provide you with a lot of certs. With your previous educational background, you will probably have a lot of transfer credits and will need to get one cert (such as A+) in order to qualify for acceptance. Please review several of the WGU threads on this forum for more information. If you would rather pursue a Masters instead, WGU has a couple that you could look into as well as Capitol College, Dakota State University, etc.
    5. Look at securing a volunteer position somewhere. Most hiring managers want to see experience, so you will need to build that up while studying. Remember, your J.D. will likely scare a lot of prospective employers away when looking for entry-level positions, so having verifiable job experience will be of utmost help to you.

    Now, since you have a J.D., you might want to look into how to leverage that degree in your IT career. I am sure there are plenty of jobs out there in the risk management/compliance side of IT that would use both your future certs and your knowledge of the law. Coupled with a relevant MS in Information Security/Assurance or a few certs, you could really put that law degree to use and not feel like you might have wasted your time and money.

    Cheers
    The easiest thing to be in the world is you. The most difficult thing to be is what other people want you to be. Don't let them put you in that position. ~ Leo Buscaglia

    Connect With Me || My Blog Site || Follow Me
  • bridgerambridgeram Member Posts: 6 ■□□□□□□□□□
    stryder144 wrote: »
    I would do a couple of things, since I, too, did the career change recently. Here they are:

    1. If you haven't already, research what areas of IT are in strong demand in your area.
    2. Keep your day job while you finish up the research and start building your IT certs and experience.
    3. I would probably start with A+ as the first cert to pursue.
    4. If you want to increase your chances for finding a job, I would also suggest looking into going to WGU. Inexpensive IT degrees that also provide you with a lot of certs. With your previous educational background, you will probably have a lot of transfer credits and will need to get one cert (such as A+) in order to qualify for acceptance. Please review several of the WGU threads on this forum for more information. If you would rather pursue a Masters instead, WGU has a couple that you could look into as well as Capitol College, Dakota State University, etc.
    5. Look at securing a volunteer position somewhere. Most hiring managers want to see experience, so you will need to build that up while studying. Remember, your J.D. will likely scare a lot of prospective employers away when looking for entry-level positions, so having verifiable job experience will be of utmost help to you.

    Now, since you have a J.D., you might want to look into how to leverage that degree in your IT career. I am sure there are plenty of jobs out there in the risk management/compliance side of IT that would use both your future certs and your knowledge of the law. Coupled with a relevant MS in Information Security/Assurance or a few certs, you could really put that law degree to use and not feel like you might have wasted your time and money.

    Cheers

    Thanks very much for your help.
    1. Stupid question, but how exactly do I go about finding what areas of IT are in strong demand here in NYC? Careerbuilder, Monster etc? I'm just not sure where to look.
    3. What's the best book/study materials for passing A+?
    4. WGU- these would be online classes? I'll also take a look at the WGU threads. Are those other schools you listed recommended for online classes or attending in person?
    5. Any tips on where/how to volunteer? Where should I be looking?
  • stryder144stryder144 Senior Member Member Posts: 1,684 ■■■■■■■■□□
    First, there are no stupid questions :). Second, to answer your questions:

    1. Monster, careerbuilder, indeed, etc. would work. Do a general google search of, say, IT jobs NYC or something similar. Look at what the requirements are, ideally, to secure a job in IT in your area. Do not be put off by the list of requirements as most of those are pie-in-the-sky bullet points that HR would like to see in a candidate. Most companies will never see, let alone hire, that ideal candidate.
    2. Mike Myers' A+ book is well recommended here. Also, consider picking up the latest edition of Upgrading and Repairing PCs by Scott Mueller. If you can browse a copy of it at a local bookstore you will see why I recommend it.
    3. WGU, as well as the rest, are either fully online (WGU) or are brick and mortar schools with online degrees.
    4. As for volunteering, I would recommend going to a non-profit that you feel comfortable with donating time to. Some suggest churches, homeless shelters, animal rescue, etc.

    Also, you will need to build up a fair number of contacts in your network. Best way to do that is to leverage linkedin and meetup.com. Meetup, if you are not familiar, is for like-minded groups of people to get together, network, discuss the topic of the day, etc. Search for a meetup in your area that focuses on IT. They will likely have a number of people who got there who could point you to a good non-profit that could use some PC/IT help.

    Cheers
    The easiest thing to be in the world is you. The most difficult thing to be is what other people want you to be. Don't let them put you in that position. ~ Leo Buscaglia

    Connect With Me || My Blog Site || Follow Me
  • bridgerambridgeram Member Posts: 6 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Thanks again for your reply, I really appreciate it.

    I think I'll start with the Mike Meyer's A+ book and take a look at the Mueller book too. Now, reading about upgrading and repairing PCs is one thing- but it sounds like actually DOING it would help a lot. Ie, buying parts and putting together a PC would probably be good experience (did a bunch of upgrades back in the day but haven't in a while). But it sounds like an expensive hobby. Is there a cheap way to go about getting this experience? Should I try to build computers and sell them?

    Meetup- what a great idea. I hadn't considered that before. I'll look into that.

    Volunteering at churches/non-profits/etc- should I get my A+ cert first so I can at least tell these people "hey I'm certified to do this and would like to help you with your computers" vs just being a random guy who wants to help?
  • --chris----chris-- Member Posts: 1,518 ■■■■■□□□□□
    bridgeram wrote: »
    Thanks again for your reply, I really appreciate it.

    I think I'll start with the Mike Meyer's A+ book and take a look at the Mueller book too. Now, reading about upgrading and repairing PCs is one thing- but it sounds like actually DOING it would help a lot. Ie, buying parts and putting together a PC would probably be good experience (did a bunch of upgrades back in the day but haven't in a while). But it sounds like an expensive hobby. Is there a cheap way to go about getting this experience? Should I try to build computers and sell them?

    Meetup- what a great idea. I hadn't considered that before. I'll look into that.

    Volunteering at churches/non-profits/etc- should I get my A+ cert first so I can at least tell these people "hey I'm certified to do this and would like to help you with your computers" vs just being a random guy who wants to help?

    No need to spend much money, the A+ covers technology from the past 10 years for the most part. Pick up a few laptops, desktops and even a server or two for as cheap as you can. Tear them down, frankenstien them together and see what works and why. Figuring out what PCI-e slots look like, sata, serial, molex, etc...those are the important parts. Knowing how much force is required to seat RAM, PCI cards, etc...all good stuff. Find old computers and new ones. The exam still covers PATA! Be able to ID it.
  • --chris----chris-- Member Posts: 1,518 ■■■■■□□□□□
    bridgeram wrote: »
    Thanks again for your reply, I really appreciate it.

    I think I'll start with the Mike Meyer's A+ book and take a look at the Mueller book too. Now, reading about upgrading and repairing PCs is one thing- but it sounds like actually DOING it would help a lot. Ie, buying parts and putting together a PC would probably be good experience (did a bunch of upgrades back in the day but haven't in a while). But it sounds like an expensive hobby. Is there a cheap way to go about getting this experience? Should I try to build computers and sell them?

    Meetup- what a great idea. I hadn't considered that before. I'll look into that.

    Volunteering at churches/non-profits/etc- should I get my A+ cert first so I can at least tell these people "hey I'm certified to do this and would like to help you with your computers" vs just being a random guy who wants to help?

    Get your A+ and contact a recruiter (I am hired through Apex systems inc, but some of the guys I work with are through PFI as well). Many large companies have the A+ as the minimum requirement. Give them your resume and they will try to place you into a helpdesk/support position. Thats how I got started (the ITIL helped a little too).
  • bridgerambridgeram Member Posts: 6 ■□□□□□□□□□
    --chris-- wrote: »
    No need to spend much money, the A+ covers technology from the past 10 years for the most part. Pick up a few laptops, desktops and even a server or two for as cheap as you can. Tear them down, frankenstien them together and see what works and why. Figuring out what PCI-e slots look like, sata, serial, molex, etc...those are the important parts. Knowing how much force is required to seat RAM, PCI cards, etc...all good stuff. Find old computers and new ones. The exam still covers PATA! Be able to ID it.

    Cool. That actually sounds fun. Any tips for getting this stuff on the cheap? Craiglist I guess? Ebay? Can you be a little more specific about what kind of laptops/desktops/servers I should be buying in terms of specs/how old they are? How "old" should the old stuff be? 5 years?

    And in general, any basic tips in terms of getting a lot of this stuff cheaply?

    Thanks very much for your help and input!
  • bridgerambridgeram Member Posts: 6 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Also, how much of a concern is my age here in getting an entry level position?
  • XyroXyro Member Posts: 623
    I am going to throw the train off the tracks here and suggest that because of the background you have in Law, your expressed interest, and your place of residence that you should highly consider going into security.

    In that case the path would be:
    Network+
    Security+
    ...

    If you can keep practicing Law for as long as it takes you to finish a couple of certifications, you will be a lot better off than spending time taking PCs apart and putting them back together again (or vice versa). While I highly value A+ certification in most entry-level circumstances, I believe that in your situation it would be a waste of time and an inefficient path. I would instead suggest you invest the time developing a deeper understanding of the Windows OS and how network traffic functions.

    Get your hands on and read as many IT Security books as you can irregardless as to whether they lead to certification or not. I feel you will do very well in this area if you select to pursue it.


    bridgeram wrote: »
    Also, how much of a concern is my age here in getting an entry level position?
    You're too young. icon_lol.gif

    All joking aside, there should be no issue as you are still very young and many individuals are changing careers in this day and age (economy).
  • paul78paul78 Member Posts: 3,016 ■■■■■■■■■■
    I think that you are more likely to run into questions about why a lawyer would want to get into IT. Generally, in IT age is less of an issue as long as you can keep up.

    BTW - as --chris-- mentioned - if you are not set on a hands-on technical role, you may want to explore roles which are complement your JD such as IT risk management or IT compliance. Another cert you may want to explore is IAPP's privacy certifications at https://www.privacyassociation.org/ - a lot of IT security and privacy attorneys hold those certifications.
  • mokaibamokaiba Member Posts: 162 ■■■□□□□□□□
    CompTIA Career Pathways

    This should help you with a general direction to go with for various IT fields.
  • MSP-ITMSP-IT Member Posts: 752 ■■■□□□□□□□
    I'm going to have to agree with Xyro here. I'd actually love to be in your position. I'm betting that, if you play your cards right, you could jump into IT with a six-figure job.

    Now, we're assuming you have a J.D., right? If I were you, I'd skip the whole A+, Security+, Network+ garbage and get right into some serious IT Security training.

    Look at WGU's M.S. ISA and plan a start date. Based on my undergrad experience, the program won't be too demanding of your time. You could probably finish it in 2 years with little (3-10 hours) weekly effort. Now, to lay a good foundation for general IT understanding, I'd look at going for a CCENT and CCNA Security. The CCENT will give you a good baseline upon which to build as far as networking goes. Working in a security role, I honestly think that the A+ has little benefit in the field. If you think you know computers, skip it. Once you have a solid understanding of the network, start looking for application of your new-found knowledge into the InfoSec industry. Look towards things like GIAC's GLEG (Law of Data Security & Investigations), (ISC)2's SSCP/CISSP (associate status is fine), or maybe EC-Council's C|HFI (forensics).

    Starting now, surround yourself people from the industry you want to be in. I would seek out local IT security organizations (ISC2, NAISG, etc.) and attend the monthly meet-ups and get-togethers. This is a great way to network, learn, and can even offer you some inside information into specific jobs in your area. Volunteering your knowledge to others would also be a great way to get tangible, written experience on your resume.

    If you're wanting to get into Information Security, I'd recommend this plan of action:

    Short Term:
    Certification: CCENT, CCNA Security
    Education: Stanford University's Certificate of Advanced Computer Security
    Experience: InfoSec Chapters/Organizations
    Long Term:
    Certification: SSCP or CISSP (Associate), GLEG, CHFI
    Education: WGU's M.S. ISA
    Experience: Volunteerism

    Stick to your guns, stay in law (for now), and start working to gain an understanding of the security realm. Do this for 1-2 years, and start throwing out a resume with your information. A J.D., M.S. in IT - Sec, and a good certification base would make for a very attractive resume, especially for organizations looking for your skill set in law.

    Good luck!
  • josh120775josh120775 Registered Users Posts: 3 ■□□□□□□□□□
    I was just contemplating a similar issue and I'm trying to narrow my focus. I had the a+ book, but consider that more of a hobby and not where I want to go.

    I also have a security+ certification book, which is really interesting, and I'm interested in databases.

    I have a cpa and have been a controller for a few years, but it's really not terribly interesting. I love working with excel, vba (though not very good), databases, etc.

    I'm currently studying sql and security+.

    I'm not sure that helps you much bridgeram, but you're definitely not alone. If you can narrow down your interests, it will help form your path.
  • CJWelch89CJWelch89 Member Posts: 49 ■■□□□□□□□□
    I'm in the same ship as you Bridgeram, hated my old career in the army, decided to turn my hand to something I actually enjoy and have a real passion for.

    I believe a strong foundation in anything is key to success. You may want to go ahead and jump in at the deep end as MSP-IT suggests but if you're coming from a completely non-technical background maybe starting with the basics would be better.

    I started with attaining the BCS ECDL then moving onto the BCS ITQ levels 1 & 2, all very basic but as I said, foundations...

    I've just passed the CompTIA A+ after about a month's study and have the Network+ booked for Friday and Security+ the Friday after that. The certs mentioned alone should guarantee a job interview for 1st line support. Next up I'm going for the Cisco CCENT, ISC(2) SSCP and MCSA: Server 2012.
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