Which path to take
I just joined this forum because I am mentally stuck on which option I should take and the route I should take to get there.
I am currently employed by an insurance company as a claim manager. It has no ties what so ever to the IT field but computers are my passion and everything about them I enjoy. I am interested in all fields but networking and SAN has peaked my interest. I was considering taking classes for CCNA but I have heard and read mixed reviews about getting that cert. It is Cisco based and trains you on Cisco equipment which I don't feel is right for me because thats like backing you up in to a wall. Also from looking at monster, hotjobs and careerbuilder there doesnt seem to be a high demand for those with CCNA.
I honestly don't know which path to take and for some reason all the IT people I know are kind of hush hush on what they do. It's almost as though they feel that by showing me the ropes and allowing to gain some experience by shadowing them for free that it will add more competition. That's how I see it and I could be all the way wrong. Either way I am stuck, I am 27 and in a job that I hate. I don't know which school to go to because they are all costly with no guarantee that what I learn will be enough for me to pass an exam. I was considering Kaplan but they are strictly an online school. I'm more of a hands on person and learn from doing, enrolling in Kaplan is like me buying a book and doing it myself.
Well if you guys can give me some feed back I would appreciate it or if you know someone in the Dallas area that can spare some time on Fridays or weekends to show an old dog some new tricks I would appreciate that as well.
CCNA is a foundation level networking course that is taught in some secondary schools in the US now, or at least was when I went through it (in NZ). It is primarily aimed at Cisco gear but gives you a really good overview of how networks actually work and what technologies are in use to make it all happen. As Cisco is a leader in the networking field most of their stuff, or open standards based on their stuff is included in many different vendors gear and so the lockin is highly outweighed by the general knowlage that you get out of it. This does not just apply to network gear specificly as many of the faults and the troubleshooting method remains the same with all sorts of different hardware.
Server hardware wise I am not directly aware of any training that deals with this specificly other than perhaps the hp stuff : HP Education & Training - US and Canada - ProLiant
A server is pretty much just a really supped up computer with additional redundancy and multiples of most standard components like power supplies and CPUs. It may be worth looking into A+ depending on how good your hardware knowlage is. The other thing to do would be to just buy a couple of old servers off ebay and have a play setting them up.
Software wise you are probably looking at a Microsoft Certification or a Linux Redhat one. You could possibly even look into apple certification but this has limited use in larger environments and they gouage even more for the training than they do for their gear.
Depending on your personal motivation the cheapest way is to start off with a couple of training books and some old hardware and then go from there.
Go for the basics first e.g. CompTIA A+ and N+. From there maybe MCDST and ITIL foundation.
These are entry level certs which will give you the basic knowledge you need to support. You will probs have to start from bottomish same as most industry's. Though I imagine you will excel in no time at all!
Thank you both for the responses. I already have knowledge in the hardware portion of computers. I can build and diagnose hardware failures so going for A+ is rather fruitless. Here in the states I rarely see anyone requiring the A+ cert. I have decided to take a class for CCNA. A community college near me has broken the course in to 4 sections and charges $128 dollars for each section which is still rather affordable. I have opted to skip the first section since it primarily speaks on the different types of networks and terminology. I will see if this is more to my liking and if it is then I will complete the class and go for my CCNA cert. I am just really wanting to break in to the IT field and feel like I have wasted so much time doing other things. If my degree is unrelated to the IT field and now I feel like I wasted 4 years of college for nothing.
Thanks again and keep the ideas coming
As regards the A+ certificate - it isn't that people ask for it in job descriptions, but rather that if you have it you can use it to demonstrate a basic competence in hardware and operating system faults etc. If you think you will pass it with no trouble then if you can afford it it could be worth just doing the exam.
Why do you want to skip the first section of CCNA? If you join the IT world you will need to know about the different sorts of networks and terminology is really quite important.
I agree with Synack, it would be worth doing some software accreditation- unfortunately in this world it means microsoft usually.
What about some practical experience? I am sorry to hear that your friends in IT do not want to share information with you- we are not like that on here :)
Can you contact any schools or community organisations and offer your services? Perhaps it is time to try organisations where you don't know anyone! Maybe some of the bigger schools that have several IT techs might be prepared to let you come and help voluntarily on a Friday?
Having said that, some of us got started in IT with no real knowledge at all other than home-tinkering, and not much of that. What you need is a school or such that cannot afford to pay for a highly qualified all-singing all-dancing Network manager, but just need a bit of help to keep old computers going. Again, you could send out a flyer to grade schools or kindergartens to see if anyone needs any help. An ounce of practical experience is worth a pound of qualifications! :D
No offence to your hardware knowledge mate but building a pc isn't what the A+ is all about, yes it gives you the ropes for building and identifying components but it really is much more than that. If you are coming into IT with little or no working experience then the A+ is exactly what you need. It tells possible future employers that
a)No i haven't been working in IT but heres a cert to show I have a good working knowledge of PC's and understand the principles......SO GIVE ME THE OPPORTUNITY
b)You are willing to learn and progress.
Yes it is an entry level certificate but wouldn't put you far wrong. It's not very expensive to do and can allow you access to more advanced courses later. Most companies use the A+ as a prerequisite for their MCSE paths. Just something to think about before you rule it out ;)
I got an A+ and an MCDST just to have a bit a paper that says "yeah i can do what im saying i can". So it might be worth it. Me saying that ive been messing with computers since i was 9 doesnt really count for much.
I also think the A+ is worth doing. It has been said that the CCNA is a foundation level cert, which isn't true. If you go for an interview with no actual IT experience, companies arnt going to be too keen on letting people loose on all the Cisco gear with only class room experience.
I agree the CCNA is a pretty substantial qualification. Ive seen jobs advertised for CCNA engineers @ £200/day
So you guys think it would be worth while to get the A+. I guess I could schedule an exam for it an get a A+ book to study prior to the exam.
Volunteering at a school is a great idea, I never though about that.
Originally Posted by nc-
I didn't mean to say that it was not substantial, I just meant that it was the basis for the networking area of IT. I would suggest doing the first bit as there is a lot of terminalogy that is quite specific and CCNA is really to give you a good all round grounding on networking. There is vastly more to it than CCNA covers though as CCNP (which I have done) goes into much more depth and many more technologies. CCIE goes even deeper.
Originally Posted by RabbieBurns
I would also agree that A+ is much more than the skills to build your own PC, it includes fault finding and the basics of systems architecture if I remember correctly. It is a qualification that is almost expected by many places if you do not have higher level qualifications just to prove that you are certifiably competant rather than just confident.
Experience is often the key to may jobs though as lots of places will rate this very highly which makes it difficult to get initial positions in some cases. Even with experience the certs are still worthwile and will hurt your job prospects if you don't have them or a degree type qualification to back up your experience.
See I worry that I will still be unable to find a job after I get my certs because of lack of experience. I don't know how employers expect one to get experience if no one is willing to hire them to gain that experience. My friend who is a network admin for a company has offered to take me in on Fridays and teach me the ropes because as he said "CCNA will get you in the door but what will you do once your there?". That is very much true, all the certs in the world wont teach me what to do in a split second when something happens. I will look in to the A+ cert, I may even look in to the Net+ just to cover my bases. I personally think I am trying to go faster then I should. I am just anxious to leave my current job and move on to my career.