Searching For IT Answers

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Whether you’re just getting started in IT or looking to move your career into its next phase, you likely will have questions related to paths within IT in general and certification in particular. Our discussion boards are excellent places to ask such questions.

In fact, that’s why they’re there.

In our General Discussion forum, new member cobra5798 weighs certification options in a thread titled “New and have some???” Cobra5798 has been working for Ford Motor Co. for 10 years and is considering taking an educational buyout, which is half a worker’s pay (about $26,000 a year) for four years with full health benefits and $15,000 a year for school if you are a full-time student. Cobra is considering going to an IT school and getting A+, NETWORK+, MCDST, CSS and HAD first and then Security+, Project+, CCNA or MCSA. And, after gaining some more experience, cobra5798 wants to get the MCSE.

“It’s a tough decision because I make pretty good money right now and probably will not get laid off, but I figure this might be a good time to make a change in my life and do something I really like to do, and that’s work with computers,” cobra5798 said.

Cobra wants to know whether members of the community think this planned move is a good idea.

“Later on in my career, will I make the same amount of money, more money or less? What do you think my annual salary will be when I start and when I’m done with most or all of my schooling?”

Those with any advice for cobra5798 should go to our General Discussion board.

Career Development
Over in our Career Development forum, new member adrenalinflow (AF) describes a similar situation, and then proceeds to pose some questions about IT certs in a thread titled “A+, then Network+, then what? MCP? Security+? MCSE?”

AF is employed by a university, doing work as a field tech and also coordinates and supervises security projects that entail securing workstations in departments that handle sensitive information. AF just passed the hardware portion of the 2003 A+ and plans on passing the OS portion soon.

“The next certification I plan on working on is Network+ because my job has provided me with free study materials for that exam. So, once I have the A+ and the Network+ under my belt, what should I aim for next? I heard the MCP is fairly easy to get. Should I consider Security+? What are some of the easier certifications to get aside from the A+?”

Those with any advice for AF should go to our Career Development board.

Elsewhere on this board, new member TeethOfTheHydra (real name, Harvey) posted a thread titled “How Important is Age for an Entry-Level Job?” He’d like to get this question answered by some experienced IT pros.

“Two years ago, I made the mistake of signing up with one of those quicky cert schools, and the situation was a nightmare. We had two different instructors for Network+ (one quit right in the middle of the course) and three different instructors during MCSE 2003 (one left to go back to his old job, and who knows with the others). It was expensive, and the training was horrible. I didn’t pass one cert exam two months after the course ended and decided to start the course over, on my own, using LearnKey videos, which I bought on eBay, and Lab Sims.”

Harvey successfully passed A+, Network+, MCP 70-270 and Security+, but six months after he’d originally intended. He’s 56 years old and coming to grips with the fact that he’s not an IT “all star.”

“The work has been hard but, from doing the studying on my own, I fell in love with the field more than ever before.”

He wants to know whether he can get a decent, entry-level position with the exams he’s passed, or whether his age will be the determining factor in getting hired. He adds that he’s held management positions with large sales organizations and has had a successful Internet business for the past five years.

Those with any advice for Harvey should also go to our Career Development board.

We’ve had a network-certification discussion going in the boards since last summer and recently, it’s turned a bit volatile.

When the thread originally began, forum regular wagnerk ranked network certs as follows, dividing them into levels and specifying what job roles they might lead to: “Level 1: Network+, CCNA, MCP, Wireless — entry-level post; Level 2: MCP, CWNA — entry-level tech or standard tech; Level 3: MCSA, CCNP, CWNP — standard tech, senior tech or engineer; Level 4: MCSE, CCIE-senior tech, engineer or manager; Level 5: MCA, CCIE — engineer, manager or project specialist.”

Wagnerk was careful to add that this ranking was just his opinion.

“This isn’t a complete list and isn’t set in stone,” he said. “Lots of people will agree with me, others won’t.”

Indeed they didn’t. Months later, new member Certifiable1357 countered, “I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but you might want to rethink your ranking. Have you taken a Cisco exam? To place CWNA and CWNP anywhere close to CCNA or CCNP is ludicrous. I would rank anything from Planet3 down (way down) below A+. Their subject matter is at least five years behind the times. Most employers that are the least bit tech-oriented will have a smirk on their face when they read nonsensical certifications on your resume as they place it in the wastebasket. Again, no disrespect intended.”

Another new member, Mister Multipath, took Certifiable1357 to task for these assertions.

“Judging by the inflammatory tone of this post from Certifiable1357 and his choice of rabid words, I think it is fair to conclude that he is an individual with some sort of personal vendetta toward the CWNP program. It should also be noted that Certifiable1357 has made exactly three posts in these discussion forums, all of which are attacks on the CWNP certifications.

“I do not work for the CWNP Program, but I admit that I have a vested interest in the program because I have been teaching the classes for five years. I can faithfully state that all three CWNP certifications hold value and are respected within the industry. That is why most of the major Wi-Fi vendors such as SpectraLink, Air Defense, Aruba, Air Magnet, Network Chemistry, Trapeze Networks, Meru Networks and many more are all partnered with the CWNP program and recommend the certifications. I might also add that the U.S. Army recommends both CWNA and CWSP training for Army IT employees before deployment of wireless networks.”

Certifiable1357 responded, striking a conciliatory tone.

“Rabid words?! I admit I have a strong opinion, but I am not rabid … Please forgive the cross post.”

But Certifiable1357 also pointed out that Mister Multipath’s admitted “vested interest” is all too apparent, as Mister Multipath signed off his post by stating that he’s the author of a CWNA study guide. The spirited debate didn’t end there. In fact, it spilled over into other boards.

Anyone who wants to get into the mix should head over to our Wireless discussion board under the thread titled “CWNA Certification” or to our Career Development discussion board under the thread titled “network certification.”

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