Should I get my MCSA
April 15, 2009 10:08 AM   Subscribe

Should I get my MCSA?


I have recently been laid off from a job where I was theoretically a high-level tech support, but in practice a low-level sysadmin and network engineer, which I much preferred and enjoyed.

Unfortunately, while I AM quite confident in my abilities, and am eager to expand my skills in my next job, my resume, as you can see, doesn't have much to point to that confirms that to potential employers.

I feel that perhaps an MCSA would be beneficial in my job search (and to my skillset) but considering that I am unemployed, and my finances are already depleting slowly, I am unsure if I should be sacrificing cash and valuable jobsearch time at the moment.

I would welcome advice from the informed as to how beneficial such a certification is, both in practice and in hiring, as well as, if your advice is to take it, whether the best method would be to binge all at once and spring for a boot camp, or to buy books, self-study,and take one exam at a time, adding them to the resume as I go.

I am also not opposed to other suggestions as to other certifications to get before, instead of, or beyond the MCSA, of course.

Thanks in advance.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
heh, i also graduated from chubb, in parsippany. anyway if you have the skills but just need to know how to pass the microsoft exams, boot camp is the way to go, but its pricey. my company paid for my mcse boot camp and that was all i needed to pass all the exams.

having had to hire mcsa level technicians, i would say it helps gets you an interview, but its not going to get you a job. having relevant technical experience that you can discuss comfortably in the interview will get you that, and the right personality.

i would keep up the job search and wait for an employer to pay for my certification.

good luck.
posted by fumbducker at 12:24 PM on April 15, 2009

I feel that perhaps an MCSA would be beneficial in my job search (and to my skillset) but considering that I am unemployed, and my finances are already depleting slowly, I am unsure if I should be sacrificing cash and valuable jobsearch time at the moment.

An MCSA by itself is probably not worth your time and money in this case. MCSA is a stepping-stone to MCSE, but not very impressive by itself.

I'd recommend that you spend some time sharpening your resume's contents. For example, elaborate on what you had to do to make systems HIPAA-compliant.
posted by me & my monkey at 2:23 PM on April 15, 2009

You might want to consider working with a recruiter at one of the bigger tech staffing firms like TekSystems or Robert Half. In my experience, they can often find you a new job faster than you can find one yourself. Usually for comparable or better pay than you had at your last job. Health benefits are not as good, but adequate. There are a couple reasons this might help in your situation. First, they'll work with you on your resume to make it give the best pitch for the opportunities they find for you. Second, they usually have testing module you can take to demonstrate your depth of knowledge on the technologies you list on your resume. The pitch this to clients as "as good as" certification. One of my colleagues was out of technology for 8 years as a retail entrepreneur. When he decided to come back to technology, the TekSystems testing regime was instrumental in landing him his current job because it proved he retained relevant technical knowledge despite his time away from the industry.
I support the MCSA and other certifications. As a hiring manager they at least show me initiative in candidates with limited job history. They aren't sufficient in themselves to prove anything but they would support the claim that you understood the work you say you did.
If your recruiter suggests that you go for the MCSA, see if you can only spend money on the testing. Most of the self-study guides can be found on amazon marketplace for $20 or less.
posted by putzface_dickman at 2:55 PM on April 15, 2009

I can't advise you re: the MCSA, but you did ask about other certs, so: Consider an RHCE. You list Unix on your resume, and it seems as though you've developed from single desktop support to more advanced and large-scale support. An RHCE covers a good suite of skills, and will get you through a lot of interviews.

It's not the cert itself that will get you jobs, but the course of study to get the cert can be a great opportunity for developing the skills you need to prove yourself in interviews.
posted by doteatop at 4:44 PM on April 15, 2009

My new employer requires that I have MCSA, and passing the exams is a condition of my employment. So, you may end up getting it either way.
posted by cathoo at 6:03 PM on April 15, 2009

I agree with the poster above- If you are going the MS route you might as well get the MCSE since a lot of places prefer to see that. I believe even MS views the MCSA as a "stepping stone" to the MCSE. Also keep in mind the server 2003 certs, while still relevant, are outdated at this point. MS has a whole new series of certs/exams, etc.

The recommendation to focus your resume on the skills that you have that are more administrative and less support is a great one. Experience is what almost everyone wants to see; the cert is sort of an added bonus. In my experience certs are just like a Bachelors- they guarantee you nothing but some people won't look at you without them. This is especially true for MS certifications. There was a time when they were very exclusive but now the market is awash in "paper MCSEs;" or people who crammed and passed the tests but don't have the job experience to back it up.

Exploring other certs as mentioned above is a good idea but only if you are interested in those fields. Certs won't print money for you so there's no point getting them if its not something you want to do.

Also the boot camp recommendation is fine if you have an employer paying or money to burn- its completely unnecessary for what it costs. If you buy and read the books and look into practice tests you will be fine.
posted by zennoshinjou at 8:24 AM on April 16, 2009

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