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What cert to start with?

I've been in IT for nearly 15 years now.  I am mostly a software developer, but have a love of all things IT.  I've decided that I might want to get certified and I'm wondering what certifcations any of you may recommend.  There is so much out there, I wonder which is most useful from a business sense (making money) and a technical sense (gaining adequate knowledge).  I guess I could just get MCP for the things I like, rather than getting the full certification like MCSE.  Some questions:

1.  If I decide to go down the MCSA track, are there exams that you take on that track that you can use towards an MCSE?

2.  If I go down the MCSE track, what is the best test to take first?  I'm thinking it's Administering a Windows Server, but comments would be welcome.

3.  Are these certification still worth something? ( I see everywhere that people pass them using "braindumps".  They memorize all the questions and answers, which is stupid, but people do it anyway.)

4.  MCSA, MCSE, MCSD, MCIPT, Security+, A+, MCTS, MCPD...arghhh!

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mdiehly64
Asked:
mdiehly64
2 Solutions
 
marrjCommented:
CompTIA certifications never expire (Network +, Server +. Security +, etc...)
I have several of these, plus a CCNA.  

Yes the certifications are worth something.  I also have a BS in Computer Science and several companies I've worked for still want the certifications, regardless of the degree.
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2PiFLCommented:

1.  Yes - you can't go to MCSE without first getting the MCSA.

2.  I think you're right.  I did them in this order: 290, 291, 293, 294, 270, 298, 299, 227, 284, and 285.  The first 4 get you the MCSA, the next 3 the MCSE and The last 3 get you Security and Messaging certs.

3.  My observation is that hiring authorities that are not up to speed on technology use certifications to help them find the right people.  The thinking is, "they have a cert so they must be an expert".  

4.  My list goes like this:
A+
Network+
Security+
MCP (any 1 MS exam)
CCNA

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ParanormasticCryptographic EngineerCommented:
For the support/administration route:
CompTIA A+ -- it doesn't mean much if you have it, but it can mean a lot if you don't...
After that, I would recommend an MCP - go for MCITP if you want the premier cert - its only a couple of tests and the most recent version .. the mcse and mcsa require way too many tests, in my opinion.

Security+ is always good.
CCNA is nice if you plan to do any networking - it can also help the regular systems admin since we are expected to be masters of everything.

If your development experience was security related (or at least 4 years worth), you might look into ISC2 CISSP - this is a hot cert that demands big bucks.  Security experience can be managment, admin, development, architect, etc.  This is respected across all the IT boundaries.

I'm wondering, however, what an experienced software developer is doing looking at admin certs, tho.  You might look into MCPD (program developer):
http://www.microsoft.com/learning/mcp/mcpd/default.mspx


Or SCJD for java:
http://www.sun.com/training/certification/java/scjd.xml

Or something more relevant to whereever your experience actually lies.
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