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  1. Junior Member
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    #1

    Default [Total Newbie] Most Useful Certification Path FAST

    I am a long time IT hobbyist looking to turn my experience tinkering into a career. I have minimal programming experience in several languages ranging from Python, to C/C++, to Java, but have mastered none of them. I have considerable Linux experience with just about every distro imagineable, though, and do frequently build and repair computers and home and small business networks. I know none of this makes me a likely prospect for being hired, but I'd like to enhance one or more aspects through training and certification. I am great at self-study, and willing to put in the effort. I do not, however, have the time or the funds for a CS bachelor's. I have been considering either a Linux admin or security path, but I'm not sure which is more reasonable to attain or profitable. So, I guess I'm mostly asking, where do I go from here? What certs will be the most bang for my buck, and what branches of IT are the most open to entry level employees? I'm new to the professional side of the IT world so any input would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
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  3. Not IT n00b dave330i's Avatar
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    #2
    If you have programming experience, why not stick with programming?

    Try doing a bit of research on your own before asking such a general question. Being self sufficient is an important life skill which is also valuable in an IT career.
    Last edited by dave330i; 12-04-2012 at 01:08 PM.
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  4. Junior Member
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    #3
    I have done some. I know that Cisco and Red Hat certs are valuable and that generally there is a progression from A+ to Net+ and beyond. I've done some looking at job listings and software engineers are in ultra high demand in my area, but most listings state a BS in CS as a requirement. I'm more looking to dispel myths and get a read on the current climate than anything else. So to that end, I have looked into programming, but I have a fairly weak skill set as of now. Many positions seem to want a CS graduate. Is this something the case, or can skill(if developed) be enough?
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  5. Senior Member
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    #4
    Quote Originally Posted by ZombieNo7 View Post
    I've done some looking at job listings and software engineers are in ultra high demand in my area, but most listings state a BS in CS as a requirement.
    Most jobs I have done have always stated that they need someone with at least a degree but I have always been offered a job, I think experience does count because you need a way of getting an interview first before you can even show them that you will be able to do the job or that you have enough interest and determination to succeed on the job.

    As for the correct certification path to choose that mainly depends on your interest, like me, I would love to do software development because it pays more money with more job offers and I think you are respected more, but then on the other hand I love interacting with people and socializing plus definitely I love computers so a helpdesk position suits my character a lot more so thats why I might carry on pursuing the IT Support side of things and my rewards will not be in just money but more self ego when you hear people say he knows a lot and can fix a problem within seconds of you explaining it to him . Every once in a while you get a problem that when you solve you feel like phoning all your friends to tell them what you have just done but it is always better to save it for an interview to show your determination and way of thinking .

    Development/software engineering work most times means working in isolation, deep thinking, long nights staying up trying to meet deadlines (sometimes unpaid overtime) with people not knowing how much work you have put in e.g its just a small job, can you please add a button at the bottom of the screen that does etc etc .
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  6. Junior Member
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    #5
    I think I would prefer to work solo. The solitary puzzle solving thing is part of what appeals to me about working with computers. So that would mean more of a programming or security type of route, right? If so, what would the most valuable certs be?
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  7. Senior Member Mrock4's Avatar
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    #6
    Well, they say nothing worth having ever came easy. They should also say that generally it doesn't come fast either.

    That being said, what aspect of computers are you most interested in? There is truly money almost everywhere you look in this industry- if you're good. The funny thing is, if you say there's money in VOIP, and hate it, you won't make much, because you'll have a hard time staying motivated to study VOIP in order to advance. Of course this is just an example, but you get the idea.

    So do you enjoy troubleshooting software issues? Setting the network portion up? Wireless? Do you want to learn virtualization? I'd pick which one excites you the most, and then start looking at available certifications within that area. Just my $.02.
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  8. Google Ninja jibbajabba's Avatar
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    #7
    The only valuable certification is in an area you enjoy. You cannot get a cert just because people think it is valuable or more acceptable in the industrie. Most certifications aren't an imediate key to a high-paid job.
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  9. Junior Member
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    #8
    Well, that being said, I'd probably say I'd go for RHCE, a programming cert or two, C|EH, or any combination of those. I am most interested in the Linux OS as well as programming and security. I know the programming and say penetration testing go hand in hand, but Linux certs couldn't hurt. Would going headlong at either RHCE or C|EH be possible(or advisable) instead of following the progression from A+ to Net+, etc?
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  10. Senior Member DoubleNNs's Avatar
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    #9
    I'd say start w/ A+ and Linux+ combined. Getting the Linux+ grants you LPIC-1 at the same time. After that you could start applying for entry-level Help-Desk/Desktop Support Jobs.

    Aftewards, Net+/Sec+ and Red Hat might be valuable. Depending on how exactly you want to specialize. Or even skipping Net+ and going straight for CCENT/CCNA might be better if you actually enjoy networking.

    By then you'll have a better understanding of what part of IT you further want to explore and could reassess your game plan.

    Edit: Since you're more interested in security for the moment, I'd actually suggest A+, Linux+, Security+ in that order. After taking the Security+ you'll have a better understanding on whether or not Security is for you as well as which part of Security you'd like to go into.
    However, be warned that the Security+ does include a lot of material you would have already learned on the N+. Because of this, a lot of the Security+ book skip or only lightly tread on the N+ materials, thinking you already know them.
    Last edited by DoubleNNs; 12-04-2012 at 05:46 PM.
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  11. Member
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    #10
    Most useful certification path? The one you enjoy the most
    Look everything up about IT. And this is where you can really be asking questions but only you can answer. Do you want to be a generalist that works on a bit of everything for a small time company or do you want to specialize in a specific field? Microsoft, linux, osx? work on the end users, work on the servers, work on the network? Design, maintenance, security? Questions could go all day long and certainly that's just a few that popped up. Certainly don't pigeon-hole yourself by answering all those questions and avoid all else, you will be much better off if you know overlapping skills. I would say ask yourself all the questions you can imagine, look up possible job roles in those fields, find what appeals the most to you, and try for those. It's easy to say I know a little about "this" so that's what i want to do, but really examine all your options. You say you want to go linux or sec right now, but have you considered R&S or voip for example? Start off open-minded, learn open-minded, live open-minded. I like to study as if i was going to take the cert exam even if i know i won't be taking it. Most certs cover things you wouldn't think of so that extra information is always a good thing.


    Fast? As OSCP would say "Try Harder"

    Saying for example it would take you 40 hours to study for some cert, you could cram all that in a week or you could stretch it over a year. Either way you took 40 hours, it's just how determined are you? Which is why you should pick a field you love and can spend lots of time studying so that you choose to study more, which means learning more, which means getting better. A higher paying job in a field i wouldn't like vs a lesser paying job in a field I do enjoy? I would take the latter any day.

    To get you started I'd suggest getting the CompTIA A+, if for nothing else, to prove to yourself you can really start down this track. It should also help open a few help desk roles and get the ball rolling.
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  12. Junior Member
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    #11
    So I think I'm going to go with A+ then move on to C|EH and RHCSA. I'm well aware that there's a ton of studying involved, but I'm okay with that. I'll put in the time. Does this sound like a reasonable cover all bases type of approach?
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  13. Junior Starcraft Engineer
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    #12
    Reading your background, I say A+, Linux certs, work towards a Linux admin job, be in a position to get a CS degree (even if that just means taking out loans without being terrified at the prospect of having to pay them).

    Keep your programming up. If you have the mind to program even decently, working on computer hardware is a waste of it.
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  14. Senior Member
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    #13
    CCNA networking
    Programming associates degree in development or CS
    System Admin Windows server certs or Redhat (some NIX)
    Desktop/Deskside support A+
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  15. Senior Member DoubleNNs's Avatar
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    #14
    Quote Originally Posted by ptilsen View Post
    Keep your programming up. If you have the mind to program even decently, working on computer hardware is a waste of it.
    I'm curious on that statement. Why would you say that?
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  16. Junior Starcraft Engineer
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    #15
    I think fewer people can program well, and it's a skill that can be more widely applied. Unless you dislike programming, I don't see a reason to mess around with PCs for a living. If you do, computer hardware is just a way to start a career, and you'll hopefully move onto bigger and better things quickly.
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  17. Senior Member
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    #16
    PT

    Funny story

    Had a gentleman come to work for my team who had a BS in CS and had 8 years of VB knowledge, designing phone vectors for Avaya. (I'm trying to act like I know what I am talking about here)

    Either way, he was really into fitness I mean really into it and couldn't stand sitting on his arse all day developing. He does break fix for servers and desktops/laptops and loves it. I find it so hard to understand but we are all wired differently.
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  18. Pancakes and Lasagna kurosaki00's Avatar
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    #17
    Quote Originally Posted by ptilsen View Post
    Keep your programming up. If you have the mind to program even decently, working on computer hardware is a waste of it.
    completely the opposite.
    There is such a demand on Sys-Network professional that can understand code.
    One of the first things I got from my supervisor(also Development Lead) when I got hired as a Net-Sys Admin was that it was awesome that I could understand what he was doing. Other sys admins just deploy updated just for the sake of deploying but I could understand it.
    Sure I'm not a good programmer but It lets me see logs, php dumps, code, config files in other ways and it helps the troubleshooting a lot. (Major in C.S.)

    When it cames to getting somewhere fast though
    Id recommend program front end as most of it its really easy compared to C++ or Python
    and get yourself a front end designed gig
    or polish well one language and find a job that revolves mostly around that
    meh
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  19. Junior Starcraft Engineer
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    #18
    Quote Originally Posted by kurosaki00 View Post
    completely the opposite.
    There is such a demand on Sys-Network professional that can understand code.
    Right, I agree. What does that have to do with PC hardware? There aren't many high-level admin jobs out there that need A+ and C++. There are plenty that require an understanding of hardware, of course, but it shouldn't be a focus. I would generally expect a good programmer to be able to get basic hardware work done, even if they have to learn on the fly. I would never expect a computer tech to pick up even basic scripting on the fly.

    I'm not saying don't work in IT infrastructure. I'm just saying that basic PC hardware is not something to make a focus. Someone who can code well can get into software development or sysadmin jobs. DevOps is a great hybrid.
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  20. Senior Member dmoore44's Avatar
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    #19
    If you like programming, bone up on your Python skills and start to learn some flavor of SQL. Big Data pays a lot, and if you want to be in an emerging sector of IT, Big Data is where it's at.

    If you're not in to that, then I would agree with kurosaki00 and ptilsen - bolster your programming knowledge and go down an OS certification path (MS or Red Hat). Being able to understand code and write your own admin scripts is a huge help when doing sysadmin.
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  21. Junior Member
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    #20
    You guys are giving me a lot to think about. Agree that programming is valuable, and I find it fun. Unfortunately I don't have the time or money to spend on a CS degree, and loans are not an option. From what I've read security, penetration testing in particular, is a merger of programming with some of the standard IT hardware management types of things. Am I correct in that assumption? If so, it would seem that security would be a good fit.
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  22. Senior Member
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    #21
    What type of programming do you do? If you have good skills or a specialized skill, having a degree is not an impediment. Do you have a portfolio of programs that you are reference in job interviews or on your resume? I never got a degree but it never slowed me down. With or without a degree, you still need to be motivated to learn to be sucessful.
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  23. Junior Starcraft Engineer
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    #22
    Quote Originally Posted by N2IT View Post
    Either way, he was really into fitness I mean really into it and couldn't stand sitting on his arse all day developing. He does break fix for servers and desktops/laptops and loves it. I find it so hard to understand but we are all wired differently.
    That is funny. Software development seems like an odd choice for someone who can't stand sitting around. That's also a strange career switch, but hey, if he's that active I can't blame him.
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  24. Junior Member
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    #23
    I haven't gone into programming at all that much length, but I have dabbled enough to know the basics. I prefer C/C++ to the other languages that I've tried. I'm not sure that gives any kind of indication as to what type of programming to look into, but I do find the idea of low level stuff interesting.
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  25. Senior Member
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    #24
    Ok. C/C++ does lend itself to lower-level development. I started with Asm/C myself. You mentioned an interest in Linux so there is definitely a development career path with Linux, bsd, Unix. For example, OS system utilities, embedded systems, networking software. If you aren't already practicing on skill improvements, absolutely start.

    Also, there are some great free college courses that are available via CBT. Check out coursera.org and are a few others that I cannot recall but I am sure others can chime in.
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  26. Data Network Engineer filkenjitsu's Avatar
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    #25
    CompTIA Linux+ Powered by LPI


    CompTIA Linux+ Powered by LPI is a high-stakes, vendor-neutral certification that validates the fundamental knowledge and skills required of junior Linux administrators.








    Two exams are necessary to be certified: LX0-101 and LX0-102. LX0-101 covers system architecture; Linux Installation and package management; GNU and Unix commands; devices, Linux filesystems, and filesystem hierarchy standard. LX0-102 covers shells, scripting and data management; user interfaces and desktops; administrative tasks; essential system services; networking fundamentals; security.
    A new benefit for CompTIA Linux+ Powered by LPI candidates is that they may choose, at the time they take the exams, to have their exam record forwarded to the Linux Professional Institute. Certification in CompTIA Linux+ Powered by LPI, attained by passing CompTIA exams LX0-101 and LX0-102, enables candidates to become certified in LPIC-1 as well, enabling further participation in the LPI program if the candidate chooses. Please note that CompTIA maintains candidate-confidential records for all exam takers, for their own access and use for employment or educational purposes. Any choice to forward an exam record to LPI is made only by the candidate.
    Candidate job roles include junior Linux administrator, junior network administrator, systems administrator, Linux database administrator and web administrator. Companies such as Dell, HP, IBM, Lenovo and Xerox recommend or require CompTIA Linux+.
    Test Details
    Required exams Two, LX0-101 and LX0-102
    Number of questions 60 for each exam
    Length of test 90 minutes each
    Passing score 500
    (on a scale of 200-800)
    Languages English, German, Portuguese, Simplified Chinese (Taiwan), Spanish
    Recommended experience CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+ and at least 12 months of Linux administration experience
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