Breaking the Record in Certification
Name: Leroy Joseph Jr.
Certs: Master CNE, CNE, CNA, Certified Novell Specialist – Internet Security Management With BorderManager: Enterprise, Certified Novell Salesperson, Citrix CCA, CIW – Security, CCNA, CCDA, Master ASE – High Availability and Clustering, Master ASE – SAN Architect, ASE – ProLiant/NetWare, ASE – ProLiant/Windows, ASE – ProLiant + StorageWorks, ASE – Critical Problem Resolution, Compaq API – ProLiant/Windows, API – ProLiant/NetWare, API ProLiant + StorageWorks, Compaq APS – Desktop/Workstation, APS – Portables Specialization, APS – Intel Server, MCP, MCSA Windows 2000, MCSE Windows 2000, Dell DCSE – Servers, Dell DCSE – Desktop/Workstation, Dell DCSE – Portables/Laptops, A+, Network+, IT Project+, IBM eServer Certified Specialist – xSeries, IBM Warranty Certified: Server, IBM Warranty Certified: Desktop, IBM Warranty Certified: ThinkPad
Home: Houston, Texas
Position: Senior Support Technician, Mariner Health Care
Words To Learn By: “Understanding what you read is the key.”
A lot of IT professionals believe it is possible to have too many certifications. Leroy Joseph Jr., who has been in the industry for more than 12 years, wouldn’t disagree with that notion. However, that hasn’t stopped him from trying to obtain a record-breaking total of certifications. He currently holds 43 certifications, and his goal is to get at least 17 more.
At first, Joseph admits his quest to get certified was to back up his experience with certifications. While looking for contracting jobs, he found that hiring managers and companies wanted to see the certifications along with the experience. That’s when he decided to get the Certified Novell Administrator (CNA).
Since earning his first certification in January 2000, he and his employers have been able to appreciate the perks of certification. With his current employer, Mariner Health Care, he said, “I can actually benefit them by being certified.” His certifications enable him to maintain the programs for individual vendors. Given that the company, where he works as a senior support technician, uses Compaq/HP for its servers and IBM for its laptops, Joseph said, “they need a certified individual.” He said, “HP and Compaq need an ASE (Accredited Systems Engineer) aboard and, of course, Dell and IBM need someone in their laptop and desktop systems.”
You Win Some, You Lose Some
Considering all the benefits that being certified brings, Joseph is still able to look at his certifications and his IT career as a sport. It’s a sport at which he sometimes wins and sometimes loses. Joseph recalls the first time he failed a certification exam. “I still remember the test,” he said. “The course title was ‘Printing in an Integrated Environment.’” He said his wife couldn’t believe it, and neither could he. The certification connoisseur said that it was more devastating when he failed the same exam for the Master Certified Novell Engineer (Master CNE) twice. “I got too confident,” he said. “I just became too arrogant and really didn’t take the time as I should have” to study.
Even with the setbacks and hectic schedules at work, Joseph still finds the time to bask in his certification glory. At work he has wallpapered his workspace with his test scores, which have recently reached the 100 percent mark. There are so many test scores, he’s had to start a photo album to make room for all of his certifications. With Joseph’s quest for more certifications, he will eventually have to buy more photo albums. He said he wants to get into the Guinness Book of World Records—he’s submitted a claim and has a record number.
Although Joseph is visibly proud of his certifications, he’s not always willing to divulge his lengthy list of certifications to prospective employers or to potential consulting jobs. “They seem to view that as being overqualified,” he said. Some of the standard certifications that he will display on his resume are his Master CNE, Master ASE and Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE). If it’s a specific company targeting service for other companies, he will include his Compaq, Dell and IBM certifications. “That’s actually critical for the warranty work they are doing for the companies,” he said. “If it’s only for a Microsoft environment, I may or may not include the Master CNE; I probably would just include the CNE.”
Since Joseph left the military in the late ’80s he hasn’t looked back. For him, being in the military police wasn’t as fun as playing with computers all day. Now he’s 42 years old with a wife and two children living in Houston, Texas, with a demanding career that he enjoys. With the eight- to 12-hour days he has at work, he still finds time every night to spend with his wife and children before staying up until 2 or 3 a.m. to study to stay ahead of the ever-changing IT industry. “When I was in the military, (working with) PCs was a hobby,” he said. “I tell most people I’m happy at what I’m doing because it was a hobby before.”
The Balancing Act
Some of the companies that Joseph has worked for are Compaq Computer Corp., Ergos Technology Partners – Dynegy, ACS Technology Solutions – GTE Wireless, Prudential Preferred Financial Services, KLH Computers Inc., Northwest Educational Center and Business Micrographics Corp. Most of the companies that he’s worked for didn’t pay for his certifications, except for Compaq, which would reimburse him. But even with the cost factor, Joseph believes the hardest part of getting certified is finding the time to balance between his job, his family, his personal life and studying. On average, if he’s preparing for an exam he will spend 20 to 30 hours a week studying. He prefers self-studying and setting up his own equipment and lab at home on his own network to prepare for a test. Given that networking is the IT specialty he’s most interested, he plans to pursue the Oracle, EMC and Certified Wireless Network Administrator (CWNA) certifications next.
Since the Sept. 11 tragedy, Joseph admits that security has been more of a concern of his than before. Working in the health-care industry, he sees security as a major issue, especially with the new HIPAA regulations that are there to guarantee that health-care and insurance transactions are secure and that individual medical data is kept private. He said that “security has become more prevalent and an issue with myself and this company with Mariner Health Care.” He believes his Master ASE certification will help his company since they are working on disaster recovery.
Studying + Experience = Success
Joseph feels that he wouldn’t be as successful and wouldn’t have as many certifications if he didn’t study. His advice to his peers is to “take every chance that you can get to study because it is important, and also get hands-on.” He recommends gaining experience as it is crucial to success. He said, “You need the hands-on to reinforce what you actually read or what you’re reading.”
He also believes that if anyone is considering the IT industry, they should try some type of internship or volunteer work so they can gain the experience in the industry. “Some of that can be gathered from different schools or either some smaller companies that might need some people just as interns or as volunteers,” said Joseph.
Tanisha Blakely is editor of electronic media for Certification Magazine. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.