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RogueHart
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I started doing some contract IT work recently around town (setting up networks, securing networks, fixing printers, cleaning computers, upgrading systems, etc, etc, etc) and its hard for me to find much work. I was lucky enough to get to know the ex mayor's wife and got some work for their business and right now thats the only source of income for me. They are great connections to get work around town but its really hard for me ton find work with no certifications or degrees to my name.

I just need to save up enough cash to cover myself for a month into college until the GI bill kicks in. After that i'm home free. But it would be a lot easier for me to find work to save up if i had something to put on a resume.

I was wondering what kinds of certifications would be a good idea for me to try and pick up. Money is a factor in what exams i can take but if the certification is good enough and would provide a good resume boost then i dont mind investing the cash. But with the knowledge the people have around here i think quantity tops quality in this town. so the cheaper the better.

I really want to work on networks, but im going to college for software development once i can afford it. So im open to working in pretty much anything as long as im working with computers. preferably no hardware work as i dont have a lot of experience with it. I'm better on the software end. Can work with windows and linux. and have a mac to learn on, though i cant stand mac.

anyway i appreciate any suggestions.

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There are tons of certification, but the ones I think will be important for you are:

1. MCSA/MCSE Self Paced Training Kit (Exam 70-290): Managing and Maintaining a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Environment

2. MCSE Self-paced Training Kit (exam 70-297): Designing a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Active Directory and Network Infrastructure

3. MCTS Self-paced Training Kit (exam 70-680): Configuring Windows 7

4. Interconnecting Cisco Network Devices, Part 1 (ICND1): CCNA Exam 640-802 and ICND1 Exam 640-822

5. Interconnecting Cisco Network Devices, Part 2 (ICND2): (CCNA Exam 640-802 and ICND Exam 640-816)

So far I have only completed one Exam, MCP (Windows XP), I am now studying for my next exam, Windows Server 2003 (Exam 70-290). And then once I have completed it, I will be moving onto the next ones.

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There are tons of certification, but the ones I think will be important for you are:

1. MCSA/MCSE Self Paced Training Kit (Exam 70-290): Managing and Maintaining a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Environment

2. MCSE Self-paced Training Kit (exam 70-297): Designing a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Active Directory and Network Infrastructure

3. MCTS Self-paced Training Kit (exam 70-680): Configuring Windows 7

4. Interconnecting Cisco Network Devices, Part 1 (ICND1): CCNA Exam 640-802 and ICND1 Exam 640-822

5. Interconnecting Cisco Network Devices, Part 2 (ICND2): (CCNA Exam 640-802 and ICND Exam 640-816)

So far I have only completed one Exam, MCP (Windows XP), I am now studying for my next exam, Windows Server 2003 (Exam 70-290). And then once I have completed it, I will be moving onto the next ones.

Didn't M$ say they were phasing out the 2003/XP certs awhile back (Last year)? I'm not saying this to prevent anyone from studying or taking them. I'm actually kind of curious what M$ is up to with their certs. It sounded like they sure pissed a lot of people (and instructors/professors) off when they started adding 2008 R2 questions to the 70-640,70-642, and a few other exams without updating the studying material or informing anyone. Not even other M$ departments knew from what I gathered from a few people stating they received emails back from M$ stating no changes were made at all to the exam. Actually, it was hilarious watching and reading the M$ Director of Training Products scramble to rectify the situation with terrible counter-arguments to the problem in the thread.

There were many gems, like this which shows the great communication - or lack thereof - between M$ departments:

Candidates are expected to know the latest version of the software. Microsoft Learning updates exams on a regular basis to keep the exam 'fresh' and also updates exams when key Services Packs or Releases happen. Of course, we do not communicate what or when questions have been added to protect the integrity of the exam.

It is also important to remember that the Microsoft Certification Team does not communicate exam details to the Microsoft Training Products Team. There is a 'wall' between the two teams, in particular because of our ANSI certification (see here and here) which requires that we do not use 'insider knowledge' while building training products that prepare a person for an exam. The Training Products team uses the public Exam Prep Guide which lists the objectives that will be covered on the exam to build the content.

http://social.microsoft.com/Forums/en/CertGeneral/thread/d9614142-1a0d-470f-ac26-d7289df769fb

EDIT: @The OP: If you do decide to get some Cisco certs, I highly recommend you take them at a local community college or training facility that has proper networking equipment and NOT Cisco's software supplicant Packet Tracer as the primary and/or only training tool. While Packet Tracer is great for prepping people for a Cisco IOS, you will be missing a lot of the hands on experience with cabling routers, switches, etc which is half the fun (and usually half of the problems). Packet Tracer also had a lot of missing commands and features that most common networking equipment has.

ie; DHCP pools were missing awhile back when I decided to play around with it. I read that they added it after I made a thread on the Cisco Alumni. I'm honestly not sure how actively Cisco is updating and developing for Packet Tracer currently, so take what I say with a grain of salt.

Taking a CCNA course is a really good idea regardless of whether you want to actually do the hands on networking with hardware. There is a lot of vital information any IT admin should know that you will get by taking a CCNA course.

Edited by mux
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Didn't M$ say they were phasing out the 2003/XP certs awhile back (Last year)? I'm not saying this to prevent anyone from studying or taking them. I'm actually kind of curious what M$ is up to with their certs. It sounded like they sure pissed a lot of people (and instructors/professors) off when they started adding 2008 R2 questions to the 70-640,70-642, and a few other exams without updating the studying material. Actually, it was hilarious watching the M$ Director of Training Products scramble to rectify the situation with terrible counter-arguments to the problem.

There were many gems, like this which shows the complete lack of communication between M$ departments:

To be honest with you, a lot of my work colleges recommended me to take Windows 7 exam, but I took a different path. So I went and studied for the XP exam and then booked for the exam and I passed it.

And a few days later received an email from Microsoft saying Congratulations and welcome to the MCP program. But I do plan to take the Windows 7, exam once i have finished my server exam.

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To be honest with you, a lot of my work colleges recommended me to take Windows 7 exam, but I took a different path. So I went and studied for the XP exam and then booked for the exam and I passed it.

And a few days later received an email from Microsoft saying Congratulations and welcome to the MCP program. But I do plan to take the Windows 7, exam once i have finished my server exam.

I figured this was the case. Windows 7 is pretty stable aside from some of my personal dislikes (Homegroups, yuck!).

I am curious about this though because I am building a VM server for test lab purposes with the intention of studying for certs. Actually a great statistic to research would be how many companies have 2003 servers vs. a 2008 variant servers in use. I would obviously assume that Server 2003 is still more dominant in the global IT sector. Not sure about the US or Europe though.

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I figured this was the case. Windows 7 is pretty stable aside from some of my personal dislikes (Homegroups, yuck!).

I am curious about this though because I am building a VM server for test lab purposes with the intention of studying for certs. Actually a great statistic to research would be how many companies have 2003 servers vs. a 2008 variant servers in use. I would obviously assume that Server 2003 is still more dominant in the global IT sector. Not sure about the US or Europe though.

A lot of companies are still using Windows 2003 server, even the company I work for they are still using windows server 2003 on their farm, but they do have a few 2008 machines running in virtual environment.

If I were you, I would study for Windows 7 and not worry about Windows XP since MS will be phasing it out soon.

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If I were you, I would study for Windows 7 and not worry about Windows XP since MS will be phasing it out soon.

Not really worried about cert'ing for XP much as I am interested in finally cert'ing for 2003 stuff and maybe moving to 2008 afterward. Honestly, I've probably waited long enough to start cert'ing for M$ stuff.

Edited by mux
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thx for the suggestions, ive got some certs to look into.

was also considering network+, A+, and a cwnp

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thx for the suggestions, ive got some certs to look into.

was also considering network+, A+, and a cwnp

CWNP was great information, but a lot of it would have made no sense unless I had my CCNA background. However, you can still pick up the basics of wifi. Honestly, there is no reason not to take a CCNA course. If you don't know how to properly cable a router and a switch, chances are you will be useless in the small-mid business sector where they expect admins to know basically everything. Even stuff they say they aren't interested in or certified for. It sucks, but a bad economy lead to downsizing and merging roles in the smaller business sector.

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CWNP was great information, but a lot of it would have made no sense unless I had my CCNA background. However, you can still pick up the basics of wifi. Honestly, there is no reason not to take a CCNA course. If you don't know how to properly cable a router and a switch, chances are you will be useless in the small-mid business sector where they expect admins to know basically everything. Even stuff they say they aren't interested in or certified for. It sucks, but a bad economy lead to downsizing and merging roles in the smaller business sector.

yeah im looking into ccna as well. my biggest problem finding work isnt that i cant perform (ive done work for 3 business so far and they all stopped using their previous contract IT workers. they charged 4x what i do and couldnt do a lot of what i offered) its that i cant get a business to consider me without something in writing to show i can do what i say i can.

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yeah im looking into ccna as well. my biggest problem finding work isnt that i cant perform (ive done work for 3 business so far and they all stopped using their previous contract IT workers. they charged 4x what i do and couldnt do a lot of what i offered) its that i cant get a business to consider me without something in writing to show i can do what i say i can.

I know the feeling all too well. I really wish companies would do a 1 or 2 day no-pay intern program for the hiring process instead of interviews. It would be a lot more organic and probably give companies a better idea of what the person is capable of.

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I know the feeling all too well. I really wish companies would do a 1 or 2 day no-pay intern program for the hiring process instead of interviews. It would be a lot more organic and probably give companies a better idea of what the person is capable of.

oh how i wish. sort of a trial by fire. honestly if the employer doesnt know anything about the job hes hiring for then (unless its just a short term job) the interview is archaic and full of fail. you dont know what someone is capable of in a 30 minute face to face and calling 3 people who have no reason not to lie anyway.

im just lucky that the "who" i work for is someone big in a town where who you are matters. and the place is just big enough to use computers for business but small enough that nobody knows how to use them

edit:

though i gotta say it worries me a bit. i went to the career center lately and sat down to do some research on the computer.

no firewall. no password on the router. WEP encryption (didnt need it anyway the password was the phone number). no blocks on ANYTHING on the computer. no locking you to the browser. nothing. it was horrible. i could have half the town's lives in my hands in a matter of minutes. and i could have done horrible things. they had no locks on anything so i could have setup a telnet or ssh server.

and the really bad thing is. when i offered my service (cheap too. $20 an hour on an as needed basis. mainly because i dont have any certs so low price is about all that gets me a job) they said they have a full time in house IT specialist.......

if i wasnt worried theyd try and press charges (and they would try) i would have explained the situation and fixed some stuff. but what can ya do

Edited by RogueHart
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oh how i wish. sort of a trial by fire. honestly if the employer doesnt know anything about the job hes hiring for then (unless its just a short term job) the interview is archaic and full of fail. you dont know what someone is capable of in a 30 minute face to face and calling 3 people who have no reason not to lie anyway.

im just lucky that the "who" i work for is someone big in a town where who you are matters. and the place is just big enough to use computers for business but small enough that nobody knows how to use them

edit:

though i gotta say it worries me a bit. i went to the career center lately and sat down to do some research on the computer.

no firewall. no password on the router. WEP encryption (didnt need it anyway the password was the phone number). no blocks on ANYTHING on the computer. no locking you to the browser. nothing. it was horrible. i could have half the town's lives in my hands in a matter of minutes. and i could have done horrible things. they had no locks on anything so i could have setup a telnet or ssh server.

and the really bad thing is. when i offered my service (cheap too. $20 an hour on an as needed basis. mainly because i dont have any certs so low price is about all that gets me a job) they said they have a full time in house IT specialist.......

if i wasnt worried theyd try and press charges (and they would try) i would have explained the situation and fixed some stuff. but what can ya do

The best are the career centers using IE 6 storing cookies indefinitely with Active X enabled. Then you offer to give them free help and they have to deny you because you aren't an employee, you're a liability. :mellow:

EDIT: Mind you, these places are Federal and State sponsored where I live. They also have people filling out forms that include their social security numbers and other personal information.

Getting back on track, your best bet is to start with what you already listed; CompTIA stuff. A+ is definitely a must. I'm not really sure whether I would say Network+ or Server+ certs are worth it. I would replace Network+ with CCNA and Server+ with something like MCSA/MCSE/MCITP certs. The Network+ and Server+ courses I took were filled with useless curriculum compared to the latter. Although I guess if the people hiring you know nothing about IT related certs, Network+ and Server+ certs might be a temporary solution until you can get your Cisco and M$ stuff squared away.

Edited by mux
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The best are the career centers using IE 6 storing cookies indefinitely with Active X enabled. Then you offer to give them free help and they have to deny you because you aren't an employee, you're a liability. :mellow:

EDIT: Mind you, these places are Federal and State sponsored where I live. They also have people filling out forms that include their social security numbers and other personal information.

Getting back on track, your best bet is to start with what you already listed; CompTIA stuff. A+ is definitely a must. I'm not really sure whether I would say Network+ or Server+ certs are worth it. I would replace Network+ with CCNA and Server+ with something like MCSA/MCSE/MCITP certs. The Network+ and Server+ courses I took were filled with useless curriculum compared to the latter. Although I guess if the people hiring you know nothing about IT related certs, Network+ and Server+ stuff might be a temporary solution until you can get your Cisco and M$ stuff squared away.

i was looking at a CEH too. just because ive looked at the training course before and its got a lot of info that would be nice. though im sure i could just pick up a few reference manuals off demonoid for the course and learn most of what they'd teach

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i was looking at a CEH too. just because ive looked at the training course before and its got a lot of info that would be nice. though im sure i could just pick up a few reference manuals off demonoid for the course and learn most of what they'd teach

I don't have any experience with CEH certs so I can't really comment, but I think I might look into it more later on. I'm more interested in getting some of this M$ stuff out of the way right now since the first question I got about certs in the last two interviews was, "Do you have any M$ certifications?" Then it's a state of perpetual fail when you try to explain that you're applying for the Network Admin position they have available and that you have Cisco certs. Shortly after you quickly realize they are actually looking for an M$ server admin and whoever listed the position was a complete idiot.

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I don't have any experience with CEH certs so I can't really comment, but I think I might look into it more later on. I'm more interested in getting some of this M$ stuff out of the way right now since the first question I got about certs in the last two interviews was, "Do you have any M$ certifications?" Then it's a state of perpetual fail when you try to explain that you're applying for the Network Admin position they have available and that you have Cisco certs. Shortly after you quickly realize they are actually looking for an M$ server admin and whoever listed the position was a complete idiot.

gotta love it when people hiring dont know what they are talking about and pass you over because you dont have the right words in your resume.

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I know you wouldn't want to do this kind of job, but hey its a job in IT where you get paid. But anyway its a helpdesk job, I know it sucks I used to work for an IT helpdesk job before and really hate the gust of it. But I learned all the basics and I now do a better job and get paid more.

I mean this is just a suggestion, but if you worked for an IT helpdesk job, you could save up money and then make you way up the ladder, who knows you may even get a better job with the company.

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I mean this is just a suggestion, but if you worked for an IT helpdesk job, you could save up money and then make you way up the ladder, who knows you may even get a better job with the company.

Once you are in a company you can usually move yourself into other areas if you are proactive enough. Of course this assumes that you are both capable and don't rub the wrong people up the wrong way.

At the minute it is quite common for companies to only advertise higher skilled jobs internally. It does mean that they will have a few people move about internally but after a few moves they usual are left with a position that they don't need to fill and they can then save themselves that positions salary and avoid having to make someone redundant.

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Once you are in a company you can usually move yourself into other areas if you are proactive enough. Of course this assumes that you are both capable and don't rub the wrong people up the wrong way.

At the minute it is quite common for companies to only advertise higher skilled jobs internally. It does mean that they will have a few people move about internally but after a few moves they usual are left with a position that they don't need to fill and they can then save themselves that positions salary and avoid having to make someone redundant.

I did two years helpdesk for a company, and then finally moved up to an engineering position, something I always wanted to do.

Initially was very hard to deal with people on the phone, I really thought I wouldn't move up at all, I was really fed up and frustrated with the job.

But I was very proactive and always a team player, and I think that was what really helped me, get out of the helpdesk and plus they were making lots of changes on the desk.

Like hiring new staffs and that was a opportunity windows for me, to move on so I applied for this position and I got it.

Life is hard and not meant to be easy, if you want something you got to fight for it.

Edited by Infiltrator
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There are tons of certification, but the ones I think will be important for you are:

1. MCSA/MCSE Self Paced Training Kit (Exam 70-290): Managing and Maintaining a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Environment

2. MCSE Self-paced Training Kit (exam 70-297): Designing a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Active Directory and Network Infrastructure

3. MCTS Self-paced Training Kit (exam 70-680): Configuring Windows 7

4. Interconnecting Cisco Network Devices, Part 1 (ICND1): CCNA Exam 640-802 and ICND1 Exam 640-822

5. Interconnecting Cisco Network Devices, Part 2 (ICND2): (CCNA Exam 640-802 and ICND Exam 640-816)

So far I have only completed one Exam, MCP (Windows XP), I am now studying for my next exam, Windows Server 2003 (Exam 70-290). And then once I have completed it, I will be moving onto the next ones.

Don't overlook certifications from Dell, HP, etc.. While they are not the gold standard long term certs you want, they are fairly easy to obtain and you can get some lucrative part-time work from service calls. Longer term, though, industry rather than vendor certs will be more helpful.

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Don't overlook certifications from Dell, HP, etc.. While they are not the gold standard long term certs you want, they are fairly easy to obtain and you can get some lucrative part-time work from service calls. Longer term, though, industry rather than vendor certs will be more helpful.

Thanks for the input, I never realized that, not that I overlooked.

But will keep it in mind.

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Sorry was unclear...was intended to augment what you said for the OP just starting out.

Nevermind, still I won't overlook their certifications as well.

I guess that depends what they have to offer. And if its appealing to me, why not to.

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From my experiences in working in Administration for the last 10 years, I would first go with A+ and/or Network+, this will give you a good base not focused on a specific vendor. Then move towards a MCTS in 7, 2008, AD, Networking. Most recruiters look for at least a few Microsoft certifications to move your resume to the top of the pile. You really need these type certifications before starting on a Cisco certification, it's not required but having a good base in Server technologies and domain/network technologies will go a long way in understand the Cisco realm. Don't underestimate the VMWare Certified Professional and EMC type certifications either. I usually recommend to support staff start with the basics and then you can kind of figure out what path you want to take and focus there.

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