Plot my IT computer certification schedule.
June 8, 2009 8:15 AM   Subscribe

Plot my IT computer certification schedule.

I graduated 3 years ago and have a bachelors degree in Computer info Tech and am working full time on a help desk. I want to further my career and start getting some certifications. I have heard that A+ is viewed as a joke by most serious tech companies. is that something i should persue? i am interested i getting multiple certs, but am unsure where to start and what path i should take. FYI- i am mostly interested in networking, hardware, and security.

Can anyone provide some suggestions to get me started?
posted by l2yangop to Technology (6 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
A+ is certainly not a joke for helpdesk/tier 1 support/small biz stuff. It will look good on a resume as you go for tier 2 since it shows a solid understanding of PC systems. I would think hard before hiring a tech without one.

FWIW, I'm a jack-of-all trades with higher level security, networking and MS certs. This has upsides in that I can cover a wide range of stuff, but also downsides in that most places are looking for specialists, especially now.

So my advice would be to pick one of those ares as a specialty. There will be overlap but that's always the case in IT. Networking is pretty lucrative at the high end, but lower end stuff (Network+ or CCNA certs) is usually just to demonstrate your experience. Hardware certs are the most vendor specific (HP, EMC, whatever) - I wouldn't get these unless a company is paying you to do so. MCSE is the biggest microsoft cert, and what everyone looks for. That will open more doors than the others, given your work history.

Security is the most lucrative and hardest. It covers lots and lots of the other stuff. The big cert here is the CISSP but there are lots of pre-reqs to meet and most places won't look at you twice without some sort of experience. Others, either vendor specific (cisco's CSSA) or not (SANS and GIAC) are good, but won't open doors like the CISSP.

Then you can get into the project management certs and ITIL and on and on...

That's probably a lot to process, feel free to ask questions.
posted by anti social order at 8:54 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

A+ is pretty easy if you're already in tech, yes, but it shows that you have committed enough to your career to pay the money and study to take it, plus, like anti social order says, it at least guarantees a basic knowledge of computers.
posted by joshrholloway at 8:56 AM on June 8, 2009

Umm, to actually answer the question; Yes, you should get the A+. Given your experience it should be pretty easy to do. I would then start with the MCSE on the security specialization track.
posted by anti social order at 9:00 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

A+ is not a joke, but it is something I look for in a helpdesk tech. Sounds like you are looking to move away from there. Think about working towards a CCSP. The CCNA prerequisite is a good place to start a networking career. (I would think you'd know most of the basics after 3 years on a helpdesk, but if you have had very little exposure to networking consider the CCENT.)

Whenever I see someone who has accumulated a lot of certifications in a short period of time I worry that they haven't had much opportunity to apply their knowledge in real life. can you work with your current company, and let them know what you're training towards to see if they can give you opportunities to apply your new skills?
posted by IanMorr at 9:02 AM on June 8, 2009

I graduated with a computers degree (bachelors also) and save your money. I got a high paying job without any certs.

Most important companies will find your degree MUCH MUCH MUCH better then any cert. Just build up your experience.

So work on getting the experience and your bachelors should be good enough for now. Companies want experience so with a bachelors and experience thats all you should need. (thats all what i had and i got a great job. ).
posted by majortom1981 at 9:52 AM on June 8, 2009

Best answer: If you're starting from absolute scratch, then the A+ probably won't hurt you, but I really don't think it would augment your four-year IT degree, especially considering that you're already working in the field.

I personally wouldn't bother at all with the MCSE. In many cases, the cert has been so tainted by people who know how to pass the exams but absolutely nothing else that having your MCSE is in my opinion a neutral at best. EVERY IT manager has a story about "paper MCSEs", and you don't want to get lumped in with all the other incompetents who got their certs from a bootcamp. My personal opinion is that having the MCSE is a neutral at best, and having it listed very prominently on your resume is likely to be a small net negative.

The Cisco certs cited elsewhere still have a good reputation, and it probably wouldn't be a horrible thing to earn them.

With regard to security - my advice to you is don't jump into it just yet. Yes, it is a highly in-demand skill, security is a skill that has to be built upon a VERY solid IT skillset, including networking, operating systems and common business applications. The CISSP certification is the "gold standard" for security people, but it''s pretty unique in that you have to be able to prove four years of real-world experience to qualify, and your application for the cert has to be endorsed by another CISSP who is willing to vouch for you and your skills. The test itself is a BEAST - it's a six-hour monster, and was by far the hardest certification exam I've ever sat through. The woman sitting next to me during my session walked out in tears, with her exam half-finished.

Here's what I would do, though: instead of wasting time and money with certs, find someone at your company that is willing to mentor you: one of the senior sysadmins, the network guys, the security guys. Offer to do some of their grunt work. Pick their brain at every opportunity. I can't tell you how many times I've had a conversation with one of my co-workers that started with "how do I get to where you are". I've been on both sides of the conversation, and almost always, it ended up being a highly productive one. At the very least, you're "planting the seed" in someone's mind that you want to learn, and want to move up.

Good luck!
posted by deadmessenger at 9:53 AM on June 8, 2009

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