Will MCSA help me start a new career?

RBHRBH Member Posts: 7 ■□□□□□□□□□
Hi everyone,

I just stumbled across this very informative website/forum sometime back and it seems to have a wealth of information about IT.

I am posting this thread as I am looking for some serious advice. I live in Canada, and I recently lost my job of 10 years due to restructuring in the company. My previous Masters degree and work experience are not in the technology field. I worked in financial leasing operations.

I would like to start a new career in technology. I have been researching various fields of IT such as infrastructure, database, development, networking, etc. Based on my research, I am interested in the infrastructure side of technology, and would like to work towards MCSA/MCSE/VMware and/or Cisco.

Will an MCSA (Windows Server 2008 followed by MCSE help me get my first job in IT? I am in my mid-30's, so is my age going to be an issue trying to find work after achieving the certs? Is it too late for me to make a career in IT? What is the best way to study for and obtain the certs? So far, I have been doing self-training by reading MTA level books on networking and server technologies, active directory, creating server machines in virtual box on my laptop, etc. Is there a better way to learn the technologies and prepare for the certs?

Should I also pursue CCNA simultaneously?

I would appreciate any advice in this matter.

Thank you.


  • MSSoftieMSSoftie Security+, ITIL v3 Foundations, MCSE Cloud Platform Infrastructure Charlotte NC areaMember Posts: 190 ■■■□□□□□□□
    I was a restaurant manager until the age of 36. I decided to go into IT about a year before. I went to a tech college and got my first job before I finished my degree. It was NOT a high paying job so be prepared to get entry level pay in a new career. I was able to double my initial salary in a year and double that a couple of years later and my salary is still increasing so it was a good choice for me in the long run. I do think that certification is a decent way to start if you don't go for the formal education. Your big issue will be experience. Start to work on computers as soon as possible even if it is volunteer work. Also start networking. Find a local computer group and start attending. I would concentrate on either CCNA or Microsoft certs (probably Microsoft certs because there are more entry level jobs for that than CCNA) but I would do one at a time. Also - I wouldn't bother with 2008. Go right to 2012. You can get evaluation copies of the OS for free at the Microsoft site to practice. While 2008 is still very much in use, there is a big shift to going to 2012 for big enterprise due to the cloud. Also, much of what you learn with 2012 will apply to 2008 but not as much vice-versa. Just my opinion - Good luck to you.
  • RBHRBH Member Posts: 7 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Thanks for your response MSSoftie.

    I am debating between Server 2008 and 2012 certs, but very confused on which one to focus on. One or two people in IT that I've spoken to told me to concentrate on 2008 for three reasons. First, Server 2008 technology is still going to be in use for the foreseeable future as it is going to take time for businesses to implement Server 2012, hence the 2008 cert is more valuable at this time. Second, the 2008 certification will not be retired and currently it is easy to upgrade to 2012 by taking just one upgrade exam, so doing 2008 cert followed by the 2012 upgrade exam will give me both 2008 and 2012 certs on my resume. Third, there are more resources available online to help prepare for the 2008 exam.

    Would you tend to agree with the above? Would you still suggest that I jump to 2012 right away?
  • MSSoftieMSSoftie Security+, ITIL v3 Foundations, MCSE Cloud Platform Infrastructure Charlotte NC areaMember Posts: 190 ■■■□□□□□□□
    I do agree that 2008 will be in use for quite some time and the cert will not be going away for a number of years. It is also true that there is more material available for 2008. I do not believe that just having the additional certification will help you. Perhaps people that do not understand certification may be impressed. It doesn't matter to those that do. It will normally be assumed that if you are certified in 2012 that you understand 2008 enough to be proficient. There are still regrettably a large number of hiring managers out there that don't "get it" so I cannot say that it will not help you in some situations. However, many organizations already have at least some 2012 in place so showing knowledge of the latest and greatest is still necessary. The choice is up to you. Neither path is completely wrong. I just don't like taking an extra exam to get me to the same place.
  • dspielmandspielman Member Posts: 38 ■■□□□□□□□□
    RBH: thats a good question.

    2012 R2 has a LOT more features than 2008. If you have MCSA in 2012, people will assume you could work with 2008. A lot of VMWare companies are moving to 2012 due to cost and comparable features so while having MCSA in 2008 might make you more attractive in the current market, very shortly 2012 will be the go to OS in my opinion.
  • j.petrovj.petrov Member Posts: 282
    I think certs in general will help you get there. I switch careers and had no IT experience what so ever. I worked in a recording studio which was technical in way... Anyways when I decided to switch I started working on certs. I got my first cert last year in May and didn't get my first job until October. In the meantime I kept working at certs. The CCNA is the one that really helped me get a foot in the door. If you work hard and be patient I am sure you will get your break.
  • ptilsenptilsen Member Posts: 2,835 ■■■■■■■■■■
    I would go with studying on 2012 R2. The truth is, the bulk (maybe 75%) of the MCSA server material spans generations, and I would fully expect an MCSA 2003, 2008, or 2012 to be able to work with anything post-2000 fairly comfortably. Everything is well-documented enough that once you have one MCSA version, you ought to know enough to figure out the differences between the components in each OS version fairly quickly in the field. You won't get anything extra out of studying the old version, IMO, even though I do expect Server 2008 R2 to have a larger presence than 2012 and 2012 R2 for years to come. More importantly, you need MCSA 2012 for almost all of the MCSE tracks. While the MCSA 2008 upgrades to MCSA 2012 with one test and two MCSAs is at least a little better than one, I just don't think it's worth the effort learning all the little nuances and differences to get that extra cert, especially considering what else the time could have been used for (MCSE, CCNA, VCP, whatever).

    As far as starting your career with it, this is absolutely possible. However, bear in mind that you don't typically get thrust into a role involving server administration without some kind of prior IT experience. Usually, that means some form of user support. To that end, you might have more success getting your first IT job with the A+ certification. This is also going to be a much more approachable starting point than MCSA, which really requires a significant (not huge, but significant) knowledge of networking, Windows, and computer hardware that isn't covered in study materials.

    CCNA is typically used to start a different path, though getting both can be a great combo. You will find people who've done server work with CCNAs and no MCSA and people who've done significant networking with MCSA and no CCNA, but they are complementary and together connote a strong generalist. If you start with CCNA, however, you're likely to get a different starting job than with A+ or MCSA, and the work will be very different. If you're already strong with Windows but don't know much about networking, you're going to have an easier time jumping into A+ and/or MCSA.
    Working B.S., Computer Science
    Complete: 55/120 credits SPAN 201, LIT 100, ETHS 200, AP Lang, MATH 120, WRIT 231, ICS 140, MATH 215, ECON 202, ECON 201, ICS 141, MATH 210, LING 111, ICS 240
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  • gkcagkca Member Posts: 243 ■■■□□□□□□□
    I'd go with MCSA 2008 and then upgrade to MCSA 2012 - it's just one test more, 70-417. And there are still lots of 2K3 and 2K8 servers around and occasional 2K and NT4.
    And one more thing - don't believe the M$ hype, VMware is still THE virtualization solution of choice and will be for the foreseeble future.
    "I needed a password with eight characters so I picked Snow White and the Seven Dwarves." (c) Nick Helm
  • MSSoftieMSSoftie Security+, ITIL v3 Foundations, MCSE Cloud Platform Infrastructure Charlotte NC areaMember Posts: 190 ■■■□□□□□□□
    Microsoft Quietly Gains Share in Virtualization - Digits - WSJ Gkca You still see NT or 2K severs in production?? Very scary. VMware is the most popular without a doubt. Not sure how this entered the conversation. But since you brought it up- VM is losing market share and Hyper-V is gaining according to the Wall Street Journal. I am not going to have Microsoft good or evil debate but to backup this one point I will include my source.
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