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Looking for advice to Access to the IT support profession

Posted on 2013-02-03
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Good morning,

I'm looking for some advice regarding getting into the Technical field, 6 months ago I attempted a Degree in BEng Network Engineering at University in the UK.

I struggled throughout the duration of the course for the past 3 years due to the combination of electronic modules , high end mathematics modules and Cisco Networking modules. Mathematics was eventually my downfall. (high end algebraic equations)

I understand this is going to be a long process.

I have created a list of qualifications that I believe would help me gain access to the industry:
Comptia A+
Network +
Server +
Cisco CCNA
CCNAS
CCNP

Suggestions please.

Thank you for your time.
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Question by:Boldicus
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Rich Weissler earned 250 total points
ID: 38850794
These certifications are 'network infrastructure' heavy.  The A+ is basic computer support, Network+ is basic network support, and Server+ is more focused i386 server support.  
The CCNA, and CCNP are much more focused networking infrastructure certifications.  (And unfortunately I don't recognize CCNAS.)

The entry level certifications (A+, Network+, and CCNA) will help you get into an entry level position.  It's critical to get experience after that however.  If you are 'fresh out of college', and don't have work history, take an entry level IT job, and start work on one of the more advanced certifications.  The certifications show dedication, and desire for advanced knowledge, but they a greatly diminished without real work experience to back them up.

In some organizations, there is overlap between folks who support the servers and the network, but when broad skill sets are required, usually folks do not have the opportunity to dedicate to a specific technology.  In that situation, Server+ might be achievable, but CCNP might be a bit of a stretch.  More frequently, you will find folks with the advanced Cisco certifications in organizations which have specialized networking departments who can dedicate their time to network infrastructure.

As you consider starting positions, I just want to make certain you know there are other specialized technologies out there to consider as well.  Each vendor will also offer their own set of certifications for their solution, and there are other areas of IT knowledge.

IT Security:
Entry Level: Comptia Security+
More advanced: SSCP, or the wide range of GIAC certs.

IT Management Frameworks:
ITIL Foundation, and MOF

And of course,
VMWare, Microsoft, Linux, Redhat are just a few of the other specific technologies in which you can certify.  

The field is huge and diverse.  I'd suggest getting an entry level cert or three, and start gaining practical experience.  I suspect that'll help you discover on which specific areas you might want to focus.
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by:gsmartin
gsmartin earned 250 total points
ID: 38851713
Practical experience is crucial!  The only value of a certification is the practical experience that supports it.  It's important to build a foundation of knowledge in each key area.  Your IT knowledge is only going to be as good as what you have experienced.  I am built home labs when doing my certifications back in the day (A+, MCSE, CCNP, etc...).  FYI... MCSE has been replaced by MCITP (Microsoft Certified IT Professional).  

Alot of people waste money going to career colleges, especially when they loose most of their knowledge once they got their certification(s).  Primarily, becuase they don't have any experience to back up the knowledge and so the majority of the information doesn't stay.   Fortunately for me, I began my certifications while working in the industry, but what was most important and more valueable is I built physical home labs for each certification.  This required purchasing hardware based on what was needed for the certifications.  Now a days, with virtualization you can build a pretty elaborate MCITP environment on a single server with multiple virtual machines.  However, you will need a pretty robust server with a good amount of memory.  For Cisco, there are alot of simulators that can get you familiar in working in Cisco routers and switches.  Although, going after CCDP (Certified Cisco Designed Professional) would be a great assest in your foundation.  This will teach you how to better understand and architect complex Network topologies.

FYI...  You will spend less money on building your own labs and purchasing certification coarseware vs. spending money at career schools that only care about you signing on the dotted line at rediculous costs.  I don't how it is in the UK, but in the US the schools take advantage of people.

As mentioned previously, there are other valuble certifications and biggest one now is arround virtualization such as VMware.  Everyone is virtualizing these days this the direction almost all companies are going to.  More importantly, this leading to more organization going to the cloud, which means less IT jobs.  

So be for warned, in years to come more and more companies will have their entire company in Cloud service providers infrastructure (SaaS, IaaS, PaaS, DaaS, etc...).  As an IT Manager, IT currently dealing with this as we speak.  This impacts all of the higher level engineering and helpdesk jobs.  This is what businesses refer to as the Consumerization of IT.

Personally, knowing what I know now I would probably consider a different career direction.  The most valuble degrees is engineering, science, business, etc...    


Good Luck!
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by:Rich Weissler
ID: 38851912
> MCSE has been replaced by MCITP (Microsoft Certified IT Professional)

*grin*  Just for completeness -- MCSE (Microsoft Certified System Engineer) was replaced by MCITP (Microsoft Certified IT Professional), which has now been replaced by MCSE (Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert)
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by:Rich Weissler
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While the technologies have advanced, the advise is still good.  I believe the first two posts represent a valid solution to the question posed, and would advocate the points be split between https:#a38850794 and https:#a38851713
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