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Certifications still worth it?


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So without giving my resume in detail, I have been working in the field for about 4 years starting as store PC tech, moving to an enterprise service desk and then their field services. Currently my friend was able to land me a really good gig at his company as a contractor working on their rather large production VMware environment. It was supposed to be a 6 month contract-to-hire but it is looking like the budget to bring on the new FTE isn't coming through. I have really enjoyed working with VMware and so I am trying to think of what to do to help make me more marketable in that area since I will only have 6 months experience with the technology. My mind went immediately to getting a vmware certification. To the point of the topic I have three Microsoft certs (MCSA, MCTS, MCITP) to go along with my BS in Technical Management from Devry (yeah I know but they served my purposes). I just wonder if all certifications still hold respect in the community since there are so many classes that "teach the test" and even worse those places that sell questions to exams.

I am sure this comes up a lot on the forums and any responses would be appreciated. And since it is my first time posting even though I have followed Hak5 for awhile I must say the show is awesome.

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The certs you have will at least get you an interview. That's about all they're worth anymore, I know mcse's that can barely turn on a computer. Personally I think you'll be okay with what you have and previous work experience Especially if you can get a good letter of recommendation from your current employer. The only certs I hold are my Mac technician certs. That and over 10 years working on computers is what got me my current job, they were looking for a Mac person. I work more on Windows machines than Macs though....

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Yeah, I think certs are worth it, as long as you are not trying to go on those alone (which is not the case with you since you do have a BS degree) IMO they prove your knowledge, or at least look good on a resume. I mean yeah, you can go to Pass4sure and pick up just about any question pool, take it until you get to 100% then go take the test and bam ya have it, but you're going to be competing with people who did that with everything to build their resume. For instance, I was talking with a guy at school who did that with his Net+, Linux+, MCSE, and Cisco certs. Tell me how someone who has those couldn't test out of "intro to computers" and be failing it.

I also know a guy who has 11 years in the field including two years managing a shop, has several brand certs, has three CompTIA certs, and still cant get a job b/c he didn't get at least an associates degree (oh wait, that's me)

It's all about marketing yourself, the more things like that you have, the more appealing you may be to a prospective employer.

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  • 4 weeks later...

What about the question of what experience/age?

The reason why I ask is I am in my late 20's and even though yes, that is still pretty young, I am pushing 30 and have no real work experience in the field short of being a phone tech for Gateway back in 01' to 03'. I am about to finish college with an assoc. in programming + networking, and am going to get my ccna and mcsa, but am worried that because I am not a fresh earlier model that they will pass me up. I am sure this is just paranoia talking but has been a thought in the back of my mind for a little while. What are your thoughts?

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What about the question of what experience/age?

The reason why I ask is I am in my late 20's and even though yes, that is still pretty young, I am pushing 30 and have no real work experience in the field short of being a phone tech for Gateway back in 01' to 03'. I am about to finish college with an assoc. in programming + networking, and am going to get my ccna and mcsa, but am worried that because I am not a fresh earlier model that they will pass me up. I am sure this is just paranoia talking but has been a thought in the back of my mind for a little while. What are your thoughts?

If you don't know anyone, you may have to start in a non IT position until the organization gets a feel for your abilities. I worked as a Teller at a bank part time while I was in school. I went full time as a Head Teller, moved to Credit Analyst and finally IT/IS Officer in a year and a half. Taking a lower paid position at first may be tough, but it's worth it in the long run...it may even be necessary given the current job market. I'm 26 and had the same experience--I did tech support for a dial up internet company when I was in high school. Speaking of which...does anyone remember the joy of Hayes compatibile AT command strings? I certainly do not miss 56K modems.

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The certs you have will at least get you an interview. That's about all they're worth anymore, I know mcse's that can barely turn on a computer.

In practice experience trumps certifications, however when applying for jobs or going for promotion they are very useful.

This is so true. Certs get the attention, you have to do the rest. I have a tech below me that (for now) has one more cert than me, yet I am the one in charge because of experience.

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I thought I might weigh in on this subject, I as well am going through a job hunt. I think that certs are definitely advantageous in today's economy. I've been told by several employers (those I've had interviews with, and those I haven't) that certs such as the CCNA and the MCSE will guarantee you an interview (given this is for sys/network admin positions). I think it is fair to note, I do not reside in a large metropolitan area which could skew things from my perspective. Drilling down to the point, it seems that having either a degree or cert will give you a better shot at an interview, having a combination will net you better pay. YMMV.

Edit: Rereading this, it seems all I have done it restated common sense/previous posts, so my experiences reinforce those statements.

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I am starting a new job Monday that involes level 1 and 2 support along with some low-level sys admin and got there from being a service desk lackey for around 18 months. Entry level positions can be a big help and some corporations also will fund training for you. I have no formal certification and did not go to university, I am completely self taught and I beat several University graduates for the job. You need to get stuck right in and don't be scared of starting rights at the bottom.

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I am starting a new job Monday that involes level 1 and 2 support along with some low-level sys admin and got there from being a service desk lackey for around 18 months. Entry level positions can be a big help and some corporations also will fund training for you. I have no formal certification and did not go to university, I am completely self taught and I beat several University graduates for the job. You need to get stuck right in and don't be scared of starting rights at the bottom.

Congrats on the new job.... Thats cool that you were able to beat out college grads for the job.... Just goes to show that when you know what your doing there is no limit to what you can achieve.... Let us now how the job goes.

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I've been working with computers since my dad let me use his old IBM laptop that was the size of a suitcase. No joke there. I've worked with everything from DOS 5 to Windows 7 now. I have no certs no degree. I spent 3 years in college at ITT Tech (yeah, bad choice) studying Computer Networking Systems and Web Design. I've applied for basic entry-level positions that require use of MS Office. Only thing I've been able to get with my experience is a "Sorry, we feel that you are not qualified enough for this position". After hearing that, I've passed on getting a degree and am currently studying for my Net+, Security+, A+, and Linux+ certifications.

Currently, I'm working as Information Assurance Security Officer for the Army while working a primary job in a boot factory. Everyone has to start somewhere. The more real-world experience you have, the better asset you will be. You will have the hands-on true-tested knowledge instead of the "I read that in a book once in school".

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I turned 17 in October. I've been into computers since I was about 13. I know much more than the normal computer "user" as well as the ones that think they're good with computers. I'm looking to get a long-term (up to 3 years) job dealing with computers. I took the A+ 2009 practice exams and missed maybe a total of 7 out of all of them... So I could probably pass the tests now. After A+, I'll probably get N+. I'm also in my Junior year at a career and tech school majoring in Digital Home Technology Integration and we will be taking the DHTI+ cert exams by the end of this year I think. I have essentially no job experience with IT. Should I bother to get the A+ cert now, or wait till later, when sparing the money won't matter so much? Would employers like the fact that I'm only 17 and certed with A+? Or are they still going to turn me down because I'm < 18?

Also, if anyone has taken the A+ 2009 cert, what material, if any, did you use to prepare for it? Because I feel I should still formally learn the stuff.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I went cert crazy in 2000 - 2001 even though I was (and still am) in a very secure position. Seeing all of these people with the alphabet soup after their names made me a little envious. Looking back on it now though I spent a ton of money on exams, books, etc. and a ton of time studying up so I could answer a question the way the test wanted me to answer it. Nevermind that the correct answer on a test could be a course of action that would take down an entire server/network/enterprise.

Once I got the alphabet soup after my name I realized what a waste it was. Now I never obtained a certification that could be considered a premium or prestigious cert. I think that some of those do still have value - CISSP, RHCE, the various SANS certs. But the multitude of CompTIA and Microsoft certs are of little value. What has people offering me jobs is my experience. 25 years of it (yes I am old).

So how can someone with no experience get it? Well if you're young enough, like a freshman in college, see if there is an ROTC program you can get into or just plain enlist. A good deal of the best and brightest that I crossed paths with have the military to thank for their start. Not into that sort of a commitment? Volunteer someplace. If you do a great job and everyone thinks you're a hero, put it on your resume. If you accidentally burn the place down - don't. But chances are you'll be helping out an organization that needs it. Volunteer fire departments, animal rescue organizations, and just about any other charitable or non-profit organization would be good places to look. Also, while you're there volunteering you never know who you might run into or who might take notice of the work you've done and make you an offer.

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In your case your certs are going to be very necessary , HR people follow cookie cutter outlines for most positions and your certs will be your ticket to getting an interview with minimal to no experience,

To get experience fast, i would call some local computer shops, tell them about your certs and see if you can volunteer / contract for them on the weekends or on any big projects they might have. I did this all thru college and ended giving me alot of IT and Non-IT contacts , and like everyone says its not what you know its who you know. plus i got some nice hands on experience and got to deal with some advanced technology that my school didnt even have i.e. Cisco routers , ( above 2500's ) Voip phone systems, OS3/t1 connections ....

Hopefully this helps, and good luck ! !

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  • 3 weeks later...
I just wonder if all certifications still hold respect in the community since there are so many classes that "teach the test" and even worse those places that sell questions to exams.

I guess that it depends where you live. Here in Finland certifications and so on are only things which seems to matter.

Skills and so on are worthles if you don't know somebody in that company where you are trying to get in.

If you don't have certifications and/or you have been on that and that school you are out before even getting on to job interview.

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