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  1. Member fleck's Avatar
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    Default Question for the uber-geeks who have always loved computers.

    I'm wondering if there is a difference in going into IT certification between uber-geeks who have always loved computers and are just naturally good at them because of trial and error, and the other guys who don't already know a lot about computers and are just starting out.

    For the already-gurus of home computing in general, what do you all think? Is it better to be one of us? Is it better to be the guy to have self-taught BASIC and HTML in 8th grade, self-taught VB and C in high school and played with computers our whole lives? I was there compiling my own Linux kernels at age 16 in 1998, using Slackware because nothing back then could really be considered 'user-friendly'. The Brainbench tests in Linux and Windows 98 Administration I took just after my lay-off of my IT internship I held directly after graduating high school were jokes to me. I was fixing bugs in Linux kernel beta code when I was 17, etc etc.

    But the fact is I wasn't a practical IT guy. I was a heavy metal party punk on the inside and I couldn't really keep up in school studying Computer Science, so for the last 7 years I've submitted my resume hundreds of times, but due to my lack of education and my short term experience, I am rarely contacted for an interview unless the job involves travel to another state and only temporary, post-training employment.

    So what is the realism of becoming IT certified? I am about to be certified in CompTIA A+, Network+, and Security+ as well as achieve 4 levels of MS certification and the CCENT within the next year, and I'm paying for the 'Management Information Systems' diploma I'll be receiving. How hard will I have to work? Will I have to whore myself out for internships at super low pay and work myself up the ladder? What does becoming certified after all this time say about me to an employer?

    I have the drive, the knowledge and the passion, but I still see learning so much in such great detail over the next year as such a big and scary challenge. And the thing is, I discovered the idea to become trained and certified through the state's unemployment offices. I hope they know what they are doing, because their first question when I told them I wanted a job in computers was "Are you certified?" Well, how much does it REALLY matter? If I have the passion and the love for computers already and can get myself excited about what I'm about to learn, do you think my chances are better?

    Thanks in advance for your thoughts and opinions.

    BTW I'm a writer, sorry for being so lengthy and prosy in my post
    Last edited by fleck; 09-05-2009 at 06:01 AM.

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    Without a degree and experience and no certs I think you'll have a difficult time landing a job especially in this time period. Get your certs, which will help get you interviews and then use your knowledge to ace an interview and you are set. Our network admin moved down from chicago to Houston and he's been out of work for 3 months. From what he's said, people want to see certs on your resume, because they can now because the job pool is so saturated.

  4. Member fleck's Avatar
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    That's good to know. But I'm also asking (my main question) if it's any easier for a guy who has always loved computers to go through these classes and pass the certs? I have always taught myself everything about computers out of self interest. I am highly interested in how all of these major networks are set up and how they work, but I need to know if that really makes it any easier.

  5. Senior Member Turgon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fleck View Post
    That's good to know. But I'm also asking (my main question) if it's any easier for a guy who has always loved computers to go through these classes and pass the certs? I have always taught myself everything about computers out of self interest. I am highly interested in how all of these major networks are set up and how they work, but I need to know if that really makes it any easier.
    The certificates you mention are entry level and very accessible to people from all walks of life. This is why so many non technical types have them. You have some background there although it was a long time ago, so that will be helpful. The main thing is to learn as much as you can and for that you will need to develop good study habits and patience.

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    Sadly, the IT industry is not about knowledge anymore, more about who has the most pieces of paper. I am kind of in the same situation. Finishing college and applying to entry-level IT jobs. I started working on computers at age 13 and learned about them because it was my passion. I read books and everything to do with computers for the knowledge not so I can pass a certificate. I am hoping it gets better once you move up to the higher-level jobs and the people are more knowledgeable. In one of my classes, a student in 30's had CCNA and was working in IT, but had problems passing a class on CCENT material. The best thing for you to do and is what I am doing is grabbing all the certs now. All the entry-level certs are easy. I study a week or two going over things I may not be 100% on and then passing the test. With a couple certs under your belt, you will have a better chance of getting interviews where you can show your knowledge. I hope that I am wrong, but it looks like the IT industry is filled with people just after certs because they think they can get a high paying job. It has nothing to do with people who love to learn about new technologies and want to get better at what they do. Not trying to say everyone in IT is like this, but many people I run into with certs are lacking basic knowledge.

  7. Member fleck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by white96gt View Post
    Not trying to say everyone in IT is like this, but many people I run into with certs are lacking basic knowledge.
    I'm hoping that I run into an employer/manager that sees that quality in me and picks me because I am a true blooded geek by nature. I have always known things that the certified guys don't. Unfortunately it's a cold world out there and the only way to get an interview is to e-mail a resume, and it has never once worked for me after the big tech crash of 2001. Both of the IT jobs I had from 2000-2002 were because I knew an insider who put in a good word for me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fleck View Post
    And the thing is, I discovered the idea to become trained and certified through the state's unemployment offices. I hope they know what they are doing, because their first question when I told them I wanted a job in computers was "Are you certified?" Well, how much does it REALLY matter? If I have the passion and the love for computers already and can get myself excited about what I'm about to learn, do you think my chances are better?
    A big reason to be certified is that non-technical HR personnel are many times the first obstacle for a resume. Since they likely won't know what most IT terms mean it's a lot easier for them to see CCNA, A+, etc and be able to make determination whether the resume should be sent higher up. Certifications may have helped me get interviews, but no technical person has ever really gave damn about them, they were more concerned with my knowledge and experience.

  9. Senior Member Turgon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fleck View Post
    I'm hoping that I run into an employer/manager that sees that quality in me and picks me because I am a true blooded geek by nature. I have always known things that the certified guys don't. Unfortunately it's a cold world out there and the only way to get an interview is to e-mail a resume, and it has never once worked for me after the big tech crash of 2001. Both of the IT jobs I had from 2000-2002 were because I knew an insider who put in a good word for me.
    What have you been doing since you were laid off work experience wise?

    A lot of people got laid off back then and have found return to the field difficult as so much has moved on. Not just technology, but how it is managed. Salaries are down too. There were a lot of bloated salaries in dot bomb times for doing very little quite frankly. Everyone was a consultant. You may find that the blue collar route into IT is your only option if you have no one to open doors for you. Entry level certs and helpdesk time. If you pick things up quickly and demonstrate responsibility and care in your work you may move up before too long. That depends on far too many thing to list here I'm afraid.

  10. Member fleck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Turgon View Post
    What have you been doing since you were laid off work experience wise?

    A lot of people got laid off back then and have found return to the field difficult as so much has moved on. Not just technology, but how it is managed. Salaries are down too. There were a lot of bloated salaries in dot bomb times for doing very little quite frankly. Everyone was a consultant. You may find that the blue collar route into IT is your only option if you have no one to open doors for you. Entry level certs and helpdesk time. If you pick things up quickly and demonstrate responsibility and care in your work you may move up before too long. That depends on far too many thing to list here I'm afraid.
    I started mainly waiting tables and the last 4 years I've been delivering pizza. I've just been banging around, in and out of school and jobs, changed my major from Computer Science to Journalism. This isn't something that goes into my resume of course, but it is a 7 year blank.

    I'm going to start soliciting internships as soon as school starts (I already solicited for one, but once I'm in school I'll be close to a lot of companies) and I really hope someone picks me up. The only problem is I'd like it to be paid, even if just $8 for doing crap work.

    I just wanted a way to get back in the IT field and thought that tech school and certification would be the best way. Hopefully now that I'm doing this it will be easier to make contacts and be taken seriously.

  11. Senior Member Turgon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fleck View Post
    I started mainly waiting tables and the last 4 years I've been delivering pizza. I've just been banging around, in and out of school and jobs, changed my major from Computer Science to Journalism. This isn't something that goes into my resume of course, but it is a 7 year blank.

    I'm going to start soliciting internships as soon as school starts (I already solicited for one, but once I'm in school I'll be close to a lot of companies) and I really hope someone picks me up. The only problem is I'd like it to be paid, even if just $8 for doing crap work.

    I just wanted a way to get back in the IT field and thought that tech school and certification would be the best way. Hopefully now that I'm doing this it will be easier to make contacts and be taken seriously.
    I wish you luck with all this. Get yourself into school and grab whatever you can internship wise and make a fresh start. Throw yourself into your studies. You may fly. Stick around the forums as well.

  12. Member fleck's Avatar
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    Thanks Turgon

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    Quote Originally Posted by white96gt View Post
    Sadly, the IT industry is not about knowledge anymore, more about who has the most pieces of paper. I am kind of in the same situation. Finishing college and applying to entry-level IT jobs. I started working on computers at age 13 and learned about them because it was my passion. I read books and everything to do with computers for the knowledge not so I can pass a certificate. I am hoping it gets better once you move up to the higher-level jobs and the people are more knowledgeable. In one of my classes, a student in 30's had CCNA and was working in IT, but had problems passing a class on CCENT material. The best thing for you to do and is what I am doing is grabbing all the certs now. All the entry-level certs are easy. I study a week or two going over things I may not be 100% on and then passing the test. With a couple certs under your belt, you will have a better chance of getting interviews where you can show your knowledge. I hope that I am wrong, but it looks like the IT industry is filled with people just after certs because they think they can get a high paying job. It has nothing to do with people who love to learn about new technologies and want to get better at what they do. Not trying to say everyone in IT is like this, but many people I run into with certs are lacking basic knowledge.
    There are a lot of certified idiots out there, that's difficult to avoid as some people still think having the cert but no knowledge or skill to back it up is ok (braindumps). But that is not the entire industry, by me I hear about and know about a lot of individuals in positions starting out in IT, some of which are friends that openly admit and encourage the use of braindumps for the easy pass. These people find it more difficult to achieve, they also have the burden of being exposed for what they really are - there will always be the day that a problem creeps up on them that a person of their stature should be able to rectify, but they fail.

    Regrading the OP's primary question, yes - I think a genuine attraction to technology does help significantly. It gives you a much greater motivation to learn, and when you do learn about something you are very interested in you will tend to research and absorb more information. It's the attraction to technology, at least for me, that makes one want to really learn not just the what something does and how to do it, but why it does it. The love for one's work might not help you land a job, but you can bet it will help you move up.

  14. Senior Member hypnotoad's Avatar
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    Well, there are 2 kinds of IT guys -- those who are nerds who do it because they love it and those who heard from a friend or admissions rep at a college that they will make a lot of money or some other benefit.

    Both have their benefits with acquiring and performing at jobs, and both have their downsides -- communications, technical aptitude, willingness to learn, certification quality, etc...There's a lot of diversity out there.

  15. Senior Member NetworkingStudent's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fleck View Post
    For the already-gurus of home computing in general, what do you all think? Is it better to be one of us? Is it better to be the guy to have self-taught BASIC and HTML in 8th grade, self-taught VB and C in high school and played with computers our whole lives? I was there compiling my own Linux kernels at age 16 in 1998, using Slackware because nothing back then could really be considered 'user-friendly'. The Brainbench tests in Linux and Windows 98 Administration I took just after my lay-off of my IT internship I held directly after graduating high school were jokes to me. I was fixing bugs in Linux kernel beta code when I was 17, etc etc.
    I saw you post, but I’m not sure what kind of advice you’re looking for at the moment. However, I will do to my best to answer your questions.

    I think having this knowledge is great, but it's also important to keep current with the ever changing technical world of IT. There is a student in my class that has his own computer company, and he never tried an A+ practice, but he gave it a try after my teacher gave him a copy of the test disk , and he scored 68% on his frist practice test, so yes having experience with the technology will give you a huge edge over other students and professionals.
    Quote Originally Posted by fleck View Post
    So what is the realism of becoming IT certified? I am about to be certified in CompTIA A+, Network+, and Security+ as well as achieve 4 levels of MS certification and the CCENT within the next year, and I'm paying for the 'Management Information Systems' diploma I'll be receiving. How hard will I have to work? Will I have to whore myself out for internships at super low pay and work myself up the ladder? What does becoming certified after all this time say about me to an employer?
    Being certified tells employers that you know what you're doing. However, employers look at experience, education, and certs as a whole package, when looking for a job canidates. There are alot people that cheat, and use brain dumps. Also, there are IT students and professionals that cheat themsleves by just memorizing the material, and not learning the material or doing the labs, both which are nesscary. I can tell you that the A+, Network+, and Security+ are all entry level certs, however they will help you land a help desk job. Currently, none of the Comp Tia Certs expire, which definately makes them worth the money you pay for the certification exam voucher. The CCENT is entry level too, but I don't know that much about that certification. I do know that the certs that expire such as the ones offered Cisco, and microsoft, are the ones that employers hold at a higher level.
    Looking at your post you didn't mention that you had a focus. What part of IT do you want to work in Project management, programming, netwokring, database, or web site design? Finding you focus area makes getting certified and your education alot easier. I hope this helps.

  16. Senior Member Turgon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NetworkingStudent View Post

    Being certified tells employers that you know what you're doing.
    I think you made some good points in your post. Sadly this statement is a bit of a stretch these days for a lot of cert holders. The quality of certified candidates is really, really variable. I would say that being certified shows that you are at least qualified in something. As to knowing what you are doing, that really depends on what someone actually knows and can do at least competently.

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    I have no idea what I'd be doing for a living if it weren't for computers and electronics. I've had a soldering iron in my hand since I was ten and a computer since I was 18 (that was a long time ago). I'd probably be a writer, and maybe a photographer, or possibly be working with animals. It a good thing I was born as late as I was in Human history or I'd be mighty bored.
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  18. Senior Member sidsanders's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Turgon View Post
    I think you made some good points in your post. Sadly this statement is a bit of a stretch these days for a lot of cert holders. The quality of certified candidates is really, really variable. I would say that being certified shows that you are at least qualified in something. As to knowing what you are doing, that really depends on what someone actually knows and can do at least competently.
    i was going to respond to that line as well... i would differ slightly with the qualified part. in my opinion, being certified doesnt show you are qualified at something. it shows you can pass a test. though the quality of the test and test taker could alter that stance. still, i agree with you.

    ARGH, im probably just bitter my football team lost badly, game just ended...

  19. Senior Member Turgon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sidsanders View Post
    i was going to respond to that line as well... i would differ slightly with the qualified part. in my opinion, being certified doesnt show you are qualified at something. it shows you can pass a test. though the quality of the test and test taker could alter that stance. still, i agree with you.

    ARGH, im probably just bitter my football team lost badly, game just ended...

    hehehe..lets split hairs. I take your point. I suppose you are qualified in the sense that the certification body is satisfied that you should be awarded the certificate. Usually that simply involves passing a test. Sorry to hear about the ball game and better luck next run out!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Turgon View Post
    hehehe..lets split hairs. I take your point. I suppose you are qualified in the sense that the certification body is satisfied that you should be awarded the certificate. Usually that simply involves passing a test. Sorry to hear about the ball game and better luck next run out!
    im amazed i dont drink after a game like that...

    no arg from me. i think your response was on target.

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    Is there a reason you're only going after a diploma and not an associates or BA/BS degree? You really should look around on the job sites and see how often diplomas are being requested. I'm all for formal education, but you can end up wasting a lot of time and money if you don't go about it the right way.

    To answer your question, having a passion for what you do is obviously going to give you an advantage in any field. Don't you think the doctors that genuinely want to help people are going to do better than the ones who only want a large paycheck? It's the same for any field.

    Don't feel bad about working in the Pizza business. Paul Boz did that, and now he's a certified security pimp. Pizza rules, and there's no shame in making that a stepping stone. However, don't be above whoring yourself out. Had you done that X years ago, you'd probably be in a much better place now.

    Certs are important in getting past HR filters and/or getting noticed. It doesn't sound like you're going to have a problem, given your desire and abilities, so start acquiring them. They're addicting, and you'll have a boatload before you know it.

  22. Member fleck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NetworkingStudent View Post
    Looking at your post you didn't mention that you had a focus. What part of IT do you want to work in Project management, programming, netwokring, database, or web site design? Finding you focus area makes getting certified and your education alot easier. I hope this helps.
    Yes I did mention that, here: I'm paying for the 'Management Information Systems' diploma I'll be receiving

    Clearly it's all about networking.

    And I do plan on pursuing Cisco certification beyond the CCENT, of course.

  23. Member fleck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kimanyd View Post
    Is there a reason you're only going after a diploma and not an associates or BA/BS degree? You really should look around on the job sites and see how often diplomas are being requested. I'm all for formal education, but you can end up wasting a lot of time and money if you don't go about it the right way.
    I hate school and don't want to put effort into subjects that are useless to my career.

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    A lot of places put a great deal of importance on a degree, even one in an unrelated field. A good degree will never be useless for your career; even if the individual classes may be.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kimanyd View Post
    A lot of places put a great deal of importance on a degree, even one in an unrelated field. A good degree will never be useless for your career; even if the individual classes may be.
    I'm going to have to do without a degree, because it's not gonna happen.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fleck View Post
    I'm wondering if there is a difference in going into IT certification between uber-geeks who have always loved computers and are just naturally good at them because of trial and error, and the other guys who don't already know a lot about computers and are just starting out.
    I don't think that when you came to the IT game has a direct relationship to your potential for success. Some of us figured out later in life what we really wanted to be when we grew up. I've always liked technology, but I have only officially been working in IT for just under 2 years. I'm pursuing additional certs and my masters in CS now, and I'm in talks with my manager to get hired on full time either next year or when I graduate, potentially on a management track. So an early entry date into IT isn't a definite indicator for success.

    Quote Originally Posted by fleck View Post
    For the already-gurus of home computing in general, what do you all think? Is it better to be one of us? Is it better to be the guy to have self-taught BASIC and HTML in 8th grade, self-taught VB and C in high school and played with computers our whole lives? I was there compiling my own Linux kernels at age 16 in 1998, using Slackware because nothing back then could really be considered 'user-friendly'. The Brainbench tests in Linux and Windows 98 Administration I took just after my lay-off of my IT internship I held directly after graduating high school were jokes to me. I was fixing bugs in Linux kernel beta code when I was 17, etc etc.
    No offense, but BrainBench tests themselves are kinda jokes. I'm not trying to be mean here, but no one really takes them seriously, so try not to put too much weight on your performance on those exams.

    Quote Originally Posted by fleck View Post
    But the fact is I wasn't a practical IT guy. I was a heavy metal party punk on the inside and I couldn't really keep up in school studying Computer Science, so for the last 7 years I've submitted my resume hundreds of times, but due to my lack of education and my short term experience, I am rarely contacted for an interview unless the job involves travel to another state and only temporary, post-training employment.
    Computer Science & IT are under the same "technology" umbrella, but they're not necessarily the same thing. There is usually more math and theory and programming in the CS track than in an IT or technical track. If you're not interested in getting a traditional degree, then diploma programs at technical-focused schools are the way to go for you...and it sounds like that's where you're headed. But if you truly hate school, then you might find your forward career mobility somewhat limited - if you want to stay in technical positions then you have less to worry about, but many positions out there (especially any type of management position) will require a degree and/or further educational training.

    Quote Originally Posted by fleck View Post
    So what is the realism of becoming IT certified? I am about to be certified in CompTIA A+, Network+, and Security+ as well as achieve 4 levels of MS certification and the CCENT within the next year, and I'm paying for the 'Management Information Systems' diploma I'll be receiving. How hard will I have to work?
    Very hard. Diplomas and certifications are meant to show that you have knowledge and dedication. It will take practice and studying to get through any educational program and to adequately prepare yourself for certification exams. By the way, I'm curious - what do you mean by "4 levels of MS certification?" I'd caution you to be going for certs that are "too" advanced if you don't have the experience to back them up - you will end up looking like a paper tiger.

    Quote Originally Posted by fleck View Post
    Will I have to whore myself out for internships at super low pay and work myself up the ladder?
    Probably, yes. Regardless of how much you think you know or actually do know, you still have to prove yourself to employers before they hand over the big bucks.

    Quote Originally Posted by fleck View Post
    What does becoming certified after all this time say about me to an employer?
    It says that you give a crap and want to better yourself. It doesn't matter when you get a certification, it just matters that you DO.

    Quote Originally Posted by fleck View Post
    I have the drive, the knowledge and the passion, but I still see learning so much in such great detail over the next year as such a big and scary challenge. And the thing is, I discovered the idea to become trained and certified through the state's unemployment offices. I hope they know what they are doing, because their first question when I told them I wanted a job in computers was "Are you certified?" Well, how much does it REALLY matter? If I have the passion and the love for computers already and can get myself excited about what I'm about to learn, do you think my chances are better?
    Certification isn't the end all and be all of job hunting, but it will make you stand out from a crowd. The job market is tough right now, and it's only getting tougher as the unemployment rate rises - there are more and more folks applying for the same job. But if you can make your resume stand out with education and certification, then that can only increase your chances.

    And of course having some passion for a subject will help you in your efforts! It's so much easier to study when you have a genuine interest in the subject matter. But don't expect certs to be the magical doorway to an instant high paying job in IT.

    My advice to you would be to revamp your resume. It sounds like that 7-year gap is leaving potential employers asking questions, and not the right ones - they're wondering what the heck you've been doing with your time and that's not the thought you want to leave them with after reading your resume. You need to write a dayum good cover letter to explain that you've wandered from the IT track but are now making a concerted effort to get back on that track via furthering your education and certifications. No job is too small or too unglamorous to get your foot in the door. If you need to, take those temporary or contract jobs to build up your experience - it won't pay a ton but it will give you something current to put on your resume.

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