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CompTIA A+ or MCDST (Microsoft's comparison) ???

Posted on 2004-10-18
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Last Modified: 2010-08-05
I need to know from the experts:

 Which certification should I go for:  CompTIA A+ or MCDST (Microsoft Certified Desktop Support Technician)?

CompTIA A+ :  http://www.comptia.org/certification/a/

MCDST:   http://www.microsoft.com/learning/mcp/mcdst/default.asp

I plan on eventually getting my MCSA,  A+ and MCDST can both be used as electives.

I want knowledge based answers and not just opinions.
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Question by:pdoriley
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8 Comments
 
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by:
salvagbf earned 200 total points
ID: 12337929
I would advise that you go with the A+ certification.  It's a great certification to start off with.  It really comes down to what's important to you though.  A+ will provide you with knowledge of the computer's hardware and that'll be applicable no matter what you're doing with computers whereas the MCDST focuses solely on XP and it's apps.

Knowledge of computer hardware is vitally important in troubleshooting problems.  It won't matter how well you know XP or any application if you sit down at the computer and the problem is with the memory, or some other hardware component but you don't know how to troubleshoot it.  A+ also provides you with the basic fundamentals of MS O/S's, such as booting into DOS and doing things from there.  

The MCDST would be very usefull if you're looking to work in a help desk scenario that works with Windows XP and nothing else, but you still need the hardware knowledge that the A+ cert will provide you with.  The stuff you'll learn preparing for the A+ cert will be of value to you for your entire computing career.  The stuff you'll learn preparing for the MCDST will be of value to you for your entire help desk career.  Which is more important to you?

-Bernie
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by:nihlcat
ID: 12337997
They are both good.  A+ is a braod spectrum exam for PC techs.  MCDST is more tightly focused.  According to Microsoft (and I'm sure you read this):

"The A+ Core Hardware and the A+ Operating Systems Technologies exams measure essential competencies for a desktop computer hardware service technician. These exams provide excellent hardware and foundational knowledge of a PC. The MCDST credential is focused specifically on the desktop support technician working in a service desk environment. The MCDST exams go beyond the basics and focus on diagnosis and assessment of end-user incident requests on the Microsoft Windows operating system and the applications that run on it. The MCDST exams include troubleshooting procedures consistent with the Microsoft Operations Framework."

Now, here's the trick:
1. you must take and pass A+ (both tests) AND Network+ or Server+ to meet the elective burden.  These are LIFETIME certifications, meaning you never have to retake them.

2. MCDST is a single test but must be renewed.

Hope that helps!
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by:happythedog
happythedog earned 50 total points
ID: 12342307
neither , pull out an MCSE and a CCIE , watch the money fly
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by:nihlcat
ID: 12342395
.........
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by:pdoriley
ID: 12342549
The IT supervisor here said not to pay for any  of these tests unless you're absolutely sure that the specific job you want requires it, and even then experience counts much more and if a job really needs you to have one, they usually pay for it!

He has an MCSE and CCIE and is working way below his level.

He also has an A+


So... would it be better for me to get nothing!
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by:pdoriley
ID: 12342552
?
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Expert Comment

by:nihlcat
ID: 12342785
In my own humble opinion, a few wouldn't hurt to have behind your name, but strictly speaking are not required.  I became a Systems Administrator by getting my foot in the door as a PC tech, and never looked back.  I don't have a degree and only 4 certs (A+, Network+, i-Net+, MCP W2K Professional), and to be honest with you, I only really sat these tests to build my own confidence, and validate what I felt already knew.

I am nervous about giving career advice regarding IT certifications, but I completely agree with your IT supervisor.  I would be very suspicious of an IT pro with lots of paper but zero work experience.
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by:salvagbf
salvagbf earned 200 total points
ID: 12344348
Everyone has their own opinions with regards to certifications/experience/college.  As with anything, the middle ground is usually a good place to be.  Try to be balanced.  Nothing can replace actual experience.  Though when searching Monster or Hotjobs or Dice, most jobs require a CS or some other sort of computer BS degree.  Few jobs require certs and when they do, they require an MCSE or CCNA (from what I've seen.)

I got my A+ and Network+ certs while employed for a Help Desk and was transferred to a system administrator position from there, my certs didn't land me the position, but what I learned from studying from them, the experience of going through the learning and taking the tests, and the confidence I gained when I passed, helped me personally.

It's up to you, but I agree with your sup, I wouldn't pay for the tests, I didn't in fact.  But if you're looking at job postings, and they show that they want specific certs, you have to decide whether or not it's worth it to you to invest in your future.

Honestly though, experience and networking (the human kind...) are the most valuable in the job search.  I'm a system administrator not because I got certified, or because I was going to college, but because I had the necessary experience, and the right relationships in the business.

-Bernie
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