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  1. Junior Member
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    #1

    Question MCSA - How long to study to pass - got f/t job

    Hi, I really need an advice,


    I am an office admin and looks after the basic IT side of my office, I just love IT and can marry it so decided to change my profession at 36years of age. Im planning to do MCSA, the training schoo (https://www.360gsp.com), will cover following topics +4 week work placement in an IT company-
    • Microsoft MCSA: Windows 7
    • Microsoft: Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2012
    • Microsoft MCSA: Office 365
    As Im working Mon-Fri and some Saturday too,

    Q.How long it will take me finish the full course if I only study on Sundays and few Saturdays?

    Q. Is it true that most of the people get job either while studying or passing after first exam.

    Q. What would be the salary expectation ? Im earning £12k per annum as a Junior office admin.

    Q. I will be studying alot on online but how much hours should be given to practical work to pass exams?

    Q. Are exams are tough?

    Thanks
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  3. Senior Member
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    #2
    First, IT isn't a clear cut profession. You can't expect to earn an MCSA/E and run off and expect to get a new job immediately with a significant raise. Certifications are intended to validate skills. They are not intended, necessarily, to prepare you for the work you will encounter. They will help you learn essential skills and understand essential technologies but not teach you everything you need to be a system administrator.

    Next, study time is based on the individual. I spent hundreds of hours studying over the course of a full year to pass my MCSA. I had to refine my study skills and learn how to study that content even though I was working as a System Engineer. On top of that, you have to learn what Microsoft wants you to learn which doesn't necessarily align with reality in some cases. If you only study on Saturday and Sundays, it could take you a very long time to pass if you aren't familiar with the content.

    Lastly, you must lab the content to pass the exams. It is crucial to understand what you are looking at. Frankly, if you could pass these tests without ever spinning up a lab. Honestly, if you are passionate about IT and technology and you aren't already tinkering in VMs, labbing things in a lab environment, or at least furiously churning through articles to learn nuggets of information you are lying to yourself about your passion. IT guys who enjoy the work, can't help but tinker with it.

    As a direct answer to your questions:
    1. A Year or More, at least.. Assuming you could invest a full 8-10 hours a day during those days with solid, undistracted, productive study time you may be able to do it in a few months.

    2. False. Generally work experience trumps certifications when you look for work. MCSA with experience can help get you a job but just an MCSA will land you on a help desk and rightfully so. With just an MCSA you won't have nearly enough experience or understanding to work as a fully Admin or Engineer.

    3. I can't answer this. It depends on the role, city, etc. I will say for any role with Admin in it, that seems low.

    4. See my comments above. Study time is dependent on the person and their experience. Some can do it in weeks others a year or more. It depends on a lot.

    5. Yes. They are confusing, challenging, and deep.
    2017 Goals: MCSA : Server 2016; MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure BOTH COMPLETED!
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    #3
    Quote Originally Posted by darius.nbp View Post
    Q. What would be the salary expectation ? Im earning £12k per annum as a Junior office admin.
    That sounds like you are getting underpaid for junior admin duties, in my opinion at least. When i lived in England i was earning 21k working as a "service support administrator" (fancy way of saying telephone tech support) for a Telecoms reseller, i spent my time talking through basic Internet connectivity issues and generally escalating calls to the whitelabel ISP we used (Griffin Internet if i recall correctly) or going directly to BT and yelling at them about some blunder they made. that 12k salary sounds very low considering the responsibilities you may have.

    It is refreshing to hear that i am not the only one late to the IT professional party (i started 4 years ago). However for me to land an IT job I had to move from Southwest England to Northern Canada, and to be completely honest the only reason i got an IT job in the first place was because i was enthusiastic about PC's and the significant lack of certified / experienced IT professionals in the Canadian subarctic.

    That said, since then i have been working on my certifications, and now am comfortable in managing domain environments and troubleshooting issues for end users.

    all in all, Poolmanjim nailed it - Employers want experience over certifications, however if you have the certs it is at least a good starting point for an entry level job. I was lucky here, anywhere else in the world i wouldn't have been given a second thought.

    Good luck with your future Career, like all pursuits in life worth pursuing - it wont be easy, but it will be worth it!
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    Poolmanjim, many thanks for your reply. I do have a good understanding about basic computing but having read your clear cut message here, I have to think a lot before I make a decision about studying MCSA.
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  6. Woohoo! It's over 1000!
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    #5
    I've read some bad reviews of 360GSP. I think you should check out for yourself if they do what they say.

    Normally, these courses are ~40hours/exam. From what you list, that's 5 exams. So you'd hope for 150-200 hours of training, plus some amount of independent study.

    On the basis of the one Windows course I have attended - which ran from official MS materials - the course alone is not sufficient to pass the exam. You might easily spend another 80+ hours of study. 3 months for one exam isn't that uncommon for part time study.

    However, sometimes these courses can be a very useful starting point because they make you aware of all the things you could learn. From there, you have a better idea of what to do next, what you might want to specialise in, what things you need to learn.

    I think also, you should try to do some study every day (or nearly every day), even if it's half an hour reading on your commute to/from work, or watching some youtube during lunch/dinner.
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  7. Senior Member AndersonSmith's Avatar
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    #6
    Once again I completely agree with Poolmanjim.

    1. The more you study the better. If you only make it a habit to study one day a week and only a couple days a week here and there it's going to take a LOT longer, especially having limited IT experience. The MCSA isn't a certification to be taken lightly and you'll want/need several days each week to study.

    2. I have only heard maybe one or two cases where someone has gotten a job while studying for their exams and usually it's because they already had a job lined up that was dependent on them passing the certification in the first place. Usually these people already had several years of experience in the IT field and had applied for a new job that was contingent on them being able to pass the exam. I wouldn't bet it on it.

    3. Salary is too difficult to answer. The best advice I can give here would be to look up some information about average salaries for the roles you're interested in wherever you live.

    4. When I took these exams earlier this year I studied almost every day of the week - 4 hours on weekdays and 8+ hours on weekends. Study time will differ from person to person but with little experience you will probably need more. I have several years of SysAdmin experience and needed every second of that study time.

    5. Yes, they are difficult - even for most of us with years of experience. I don't want to turn you off from taking them but make sure you put in enough time.


    Good luck!
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    #7

    Default Dream crushed

    AndersonSmith
    OctalDump

    Many thanks. I want to commit time for studies my job will not allow me, only Sundays.

    Looks as if my IT dream is crushed already before started.
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  9. Senior Member
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    #8
    Quote Originally Posted by darius.nbp View Post
    Poolmanjim, many thanks for your reply. I do have a good understanding about basic computing but having read your clear cut message here, I have to think a lot before I make a decision about studying MCSA.
    Don't be discouraged. I like to give people the real picture of what these tests are like but that is never to say someone isn't ready to start down the path. I just want to make sure you know how long that path may be.

    These tests are passable and worthwhile if you put in the effort to truly understand the material. If you just want to pass a test to put the letters after your name, I would discourage that. If you are looking to improve your technical skills and have some tool to act as a metric for your accomplishment, certification exams are an excellent way to accomplish that.

    I realize I may have been a little hard on the employment aspect. Most companies don't value certifications alone, some do, most don't. That doesn't mean it isn't helpful. I just started a new role in my company that has me on a very upward track now. My new manager found out that I had gotten an MCSA on my own without help and decided to look into my work history. It wasn't much long after that I was offered a new role (no pay raise) with a lot more opportunities. So the piece of paper was worth it.

    Good luck and please don't be discouraged. Its a hard road but a worthwhile one if you love to learn and love technology.
    2017 Goals: MCSA : Server 2016; MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure BOTH COMPLETED!
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    #9
    Don't be discouraged, anything worth having isn't easy to get. I was in a similar boat working for a Research Company doing some IT stuff like backups and reimaging desktops but nothing more than that. I took an hour or two out of my evenings to study up and get my A+ and MCP. once i got those I was able to land a level 1 help desk position. From there i didn't stop and got my Net+ and my first server certification for 2008. Once i got those i was two years later able to move into another role that had more to do with AD and more room to grow. I've now finished my MCSA and got my VCP as well.

    My point being is it's not easy and this industry will put you in an unemployment line very quickly if you give up or try to take shortcuts. Realize it's also not an industry where you can get a certification, make lots of money and sit. Realize there are millions of people wanting to do the exact same thing you are - get into IT and they are willing to do it for less money and will work just as hard. So you MUST keep your skillsets fresh and continue obtaining knowledge. No one is going to just give you free time to study, you have to do that yourself. Hell I was studying during my lunch breaks and holidays. Once you obtain a few certifications you can get an entry level job, from there continue studying and learning everything you can.

    I agree with everyone above. Here are my thoughts on your questions:

    1. Study time depends on the person. Some people have great study habits and can remember things so they can read a book and pass an exam. The reality though is unless you cheat, have extensive experience or have the ability to remember details after one reading it's going to take you a while. Only studying twice a week it's going to be over a year to pass. Realistically for each MCSA exam (three total) with zero experience it will take you probably 3 months to pass each exam if you studied an hour or two every night and a few hours during the weekend.

    2. This isn't really true. If people get an IT job before passing the exam it's because they have experience OR during the interview process they've shown knowledge in the area that the company is hiring for. I got my first IT job after getting my A+ and MCP in Vista (yes Vista). Every situation and person is different. You can easily get an entry level job with just an A+ or Net+, you won't however get a system admin job until you get experience IMO.

    3. Tough to say, that again depends on multiple factors including your skillsets as well as the industry and company you are working for.

    4. 3 months of study per exam if you dedicate an hour or two a night - or about 10 hours a week with little to no experience. Realize the concepts are going to be completely foreign to you so some of the technology will take you an evening or two to wrap your head around - opposed to if you had experience you'd get the concepts down a lot quicker.

    5. Hard, they are extremely detailed - to the point of being stupid at times. I have my MCSA, VCP (vmware), A+ and Net+ and Microsoft exams were hands down the hardest. Don't expect to pass on your first try if you don't have any experience and don't get discouraged. I'm no savant and i don't claim to be one, i don't cheat and work my arse off for what i have. I've I have 4 microsoft exams under my belt and i've failed more microsoft exams than i've passed.
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  11. Senior Member AndersonSmith's Avatar
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    #10
    Don't give up. I didn't mean to discourage you at all, I just wanted to give you an idea of how much study time you should try to put into these exams. If Sundays are the only days you can study right now then utilize that time! It may take you a little longer but that's ok. Don't give up on your dream just because it's going to take some time and effort. You can do it!
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  12. Woohoo! It's over 1000!
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    #11
    No one here wants to crush a dream. But it's better to go into these things as prepared as you can be. You will eventually confront reality, but if you are prepared you will be less likely to be discouraged when reality hits. You will be expecting it. You will know what to do.

    If you don't have a lot of time to study now, there are still lots of little things you can do to keep moving in the right direction. Even if it is only 20-30 mins a day. You can watch videos during lunch, or listen to audio on your way to/from work.

    Another option is to look for a project you can do at work. It might be documenting your current IT systems, or writing a how to guide for some common tasks, or exploring features of your phone system (often organisations only use a small amount of the features available to them). Something small and manageable. And slowly build on these.

    A journey of 1000 miles starts with a single step.
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  13. Senior Member
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    #12
    If this would be your first IT certification I'd suggest at least getting A+ or Network+ first. A+ will get you "under the hood" of computers and OS's and Network+ will get you understanding how they talk over a network. Either of those should be a month or two of study.

    I passed the 70-410 recently and I have a very busy life, wife keeps me busy plus I have two little girls, and I also have a serious immune system problem where I catch every cold, virus, etc so I get run down and sick a lot. It did take me 4-6months of studying 1-2hrs per night nearly every night I could, probably 4 days per week and resting up or doing something with family the other days. I did manage to pull off several weekends where I could totally geek out and play with my lab, but not nearly as much as I'd like.
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  14. Junior Member
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    #13

    Smile Thanks to all

    Thanks everybody. I thought a lot about this and probably the best thing to do at this point is not to enrol in the course but rather do self-study for 2-3months and then to enrol. In that way, I was informed and prepared before hand.I will be researching on all kind of study material (videos, books, anything else online) to prepare myself. I have read online that many people are suggesting apps like Transcender, uCertify and **************. I hope it all going to be worth it, as I said that I love IT and hate this £10k pa job. Goodluck to me.
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    #14
    The most important thing is: Take your time. If you rush into the exams and don't know your stuff it's gonna be a hell of a trip.
    Build a lab and try everything you read about. Watch the videos from the Microsoft Virtual Academy (it's free!) https://mva.microsoft.com/
    Read the technet about the errors you will encounter in your lab.
    You can do it!
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  16. Senior Member AndersonSmith's Avatar
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    #15
    Dojiscalper makes a good point - getting the A+ and/or the Network+ first would help you out immensely in your MCSA studies. Not only would they provide you with valuable fundamentals but they also may help you out by giving you a confidence boost after passing them which would help you to take on the MCSA. I had the A+, Net+, and Security+ when I started studying for the MCSA and the knowledge from all 3 helped me greatly. Just something to think about anyway. Either way, don't give up if it's something you're passionate about!
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    #16
    I'll echo that - start off small. It's really easy to get discouraged in this industry IMO. Start off with your A+ or Net+ which will give you a solid 'computer' foundation and move up from there. You could even get a Windows 10 MCP certification, it would be harder than the CompTIA exams but easier than diving right into the MCSA with no experience.

    You'd be surprised, with an A+ / Net+ and an MCP you'll probably be able to land an entry level IT job pretty easily. Pay might not be much more than you get now but the experience will pay dividends. Experience trumps certifications and while having an MCSA is good, without any IT experience (or an IT specific job) you'll be hard pressed to find anything other than entry level stuff which you would have gotten with the A+ / Net+ combination.

    Get those lower level certifications first, then work towards another job, while doing all of that then start studying for your MCSA. If the timing is right you'll finish your MCSA with a year or two of experience under your belt and you will be in a great position to make a big move in your career.
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    #17
    Quote Originally Posted by AndersonSmith View Post
    I had the A+, Net+, and Security+ when I started studying for the MCSA and the knowledge from all 3 helped me greatly.
    this is arguably the single best reason for beginning with the CompTIA certs before going deeper into the more vendor specific and technical certifications. I tried to jump the gun with my 70-640 certification. took me 3 tries and there was a lot of assumed knowledge that i simply didnt have.

    If i had a mentor who said that sentence to me, i would be willing to wager it wouldn't have taken me as many retakes to pass. Some very sound advice there from AndersonSmith!
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    #18

    Default My decision

    Thanks everybody for advice, it is really gold for me. I have now decided to study for MCSA exams offered by 360 GSP (£3500 for lectures+labs+exam fees included+ 4 weeks placement after passing the first 2 exams within 8 months) , by attending two days study center full time a week + doing some home studies for about an hour each on three evenings.

    I really appreciate the advice of watching videos or listening to audios on the go as I do have a job which involves a bit of travelling. I will keep all of you updated. Wish me luck. I am nervous.
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  20. Burn Baby Burn! Cisco Inferno's Avatar
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    #19
    Quote Originally Posted by darius.nbp View Post
    Thanks everybody for advice, it is really gold for me. I have now decided to study for MCSA exams offered by 360 GSP (£3500 for lectures+labs+exam fees included+ 4 weeks placement after passing the first 2 exams within 8 months) , by attending two days study center full time a week + doing some home studies for about an hour each on three evenings.

    I really appreciate the advice of watching videos or listening to audios on the go as I do have a job which involves a bit of travelling. I will keep all of you updated. Wish me luck. I am nervous.


    if you aren't making money, or having someone foot the bill, why would you go through them?

    Almost everyone here self studies, just a few 100 for books and videos is necessary.
    Maybe enroll in a local college?

    I personally hate these kinds of places.
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  21. Senior Member
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    #20
    Agreed they usually are money sucks and don't give you the skills needed. A book and a beefy desktop is all that is needed imo. Then a lot of study time. technet will literally have every detail on every topic for the exam that you would be asked of during the exam. It's just a matter of taking it all in.
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    #21

    Default Self-study vs them

    Well! I am very good in self study, especially in this era where there are tons of videos and blogs in internet about MCSA makes things convenient. The only experience I would be lacking is to be working in lab, these guys got a lab where I can go anytime really and do practical. I just don't want to land in the market with a certificate, but also a good practical experience and 4 weeks placement experience. I guess that will give me brownie points on my CV.
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  23. Senior Member
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    #22
    You can make your own lab easily with a desktop or laptop powerful enough to run a few virtual instances of server 2012. Especially for the first exam the 70-410. If you don't have the hardware you can go online and use the MS virtual academy lab for free. In the several months of configuring and breaking your home lab you'll get lots of hands on experience.
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    #23
    Look into TestOut.

    I am currently using this for my 410 and 411 exams. Extremely good simulations, videos, notes, and quizzes. I use the Don Poulton 410 book and the MS Training Guide for 411. I then supplement with Pluralsight Videos. Trying to pass both exams within a couple weeks of each other.

    I used to lab, but these sims are spot on. Build a Hyper-V lab in VMWare Workstation and a 180day Server 2012 R2 Demo.

    I'm on academic pricing though. Full price is still cheaper than that camp you mentioned.
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    #24
    Many thanks Dojiscalper,

    I have now completed reading and watching viedoes for installing, upgrading, migrating and deploying for Windows 7.

    I do want to make my lab for practice on my laptop but sadly wherever I go online, they ask for money for that. I do have a study center but I can only go there once a week. Any advice if I can find a practice lab online for free ?
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    #25
    Please note that the MCSA for Windows 7 has been retired, you will get a MCP and Technology Specialist certifications if you pass any of the Windows 7 exams.

    I self studied the Windows 7 Configuring exam and spent about £500* on resources (could of been £300 if I didn't waste money on Practice Virtual Labs and multiple different official practice tests).

    I personally wouldn't go with a training provider, their courses are so expensive and be careful of those who promise a work placement or job at the end of the course.

    You can set up your own home lab for free if your PC is good enough.

    *Including the cost of my MS exam voucher.
    Last edited by Nisseki; 12-30-2016 at 02:52 PM.
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