Ask the Expert

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Thank you for a great newsletter. In 1993 I completed my Novell CNE and became a Novell authorized reseller. I started a business servicing Novell networks and installing them for lawyers. I successfully implemented a $110,000 network for a client. In so doing I overwhelmed myself with work and found myself short of some experience, so I put the business on hold and went to work for a large company on a project team implementing a client server network of 7,000 computers (on NT 4.0).




I have drifted from a fairly technical IT background to a project management background, yet I am currently no longer certified in either. I have racked my brains wondering which way to go — technical (networking and security) or PMP.




I hold and electrical engineering degree and am currently 50 years old. I am concerned that a PMP designation would not be valuable without a technical certification. I feel I am getting too old to do the technician type work. Could I use my background and technical prowess and become a consultant in this market? What career path would you suggest? Is it worth getting an MCSE and security background at this late date? The experience factor concerns me. I feel it’s too late. Your comments would be greatly appreciated.


– Ted L., Muskeegee, MN








Dear Ted:


In your various musings and the information you provide in your posting, I see you leaning away from working as a technical contributor and more as a project manager or consultant. My gut feel is that given your background and your interests, you would find the PMP to be sufficient to keep yourself busy for the next 3-4 years. You’re also right to be concerned, however, about keeping your technical knowledge at a level where you can manage technical contributors effectively. To that end, it might also be worthwhile to obtain and maintain an MCSA rather than going for the full-blown MCSE. This requires taking 4 exams to obtain, and a single exam to upgrade and might be just the solution to your dilemma.


Likewise, if you’re interested in security, you might consider going after the Security+ and then the CISSP, assuming you can meet the latter credential’s stringent “3 years of relevant OTJ experience, plus a college degree” requirement. Security is a VERY hot field right now and full of opportunity for the foreseeable future.


Good luck, whatever you decide.





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Ed Tittel


Ed Tittel is a 30-plus year IT veteran who’s worked as a developer, networking consultant, technical trainer, writer, and expert witness. Perhaps best known for creating the Exam Cram series, Ed has contributed to over 100 books on many computing topics, including titles on information security, Windows OSes, and HTML. He also blogs on IT certification topics for numerous outlets, including and

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