If you’re into fixing computers as a hobby or your the go to member of your family for all the tech issues that arise- and you want to turn it into a career- here are the certifications that would have saved me several years of on the job training.
Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful for the time I spent learning and supporting all the different technologies that I’ve been exposed to but I found myself stalled in a couple of help desk jobs where a little more directed training would have moved me up the chain of responsibility and promotion much faster.
Note* Don’t make the mistake that certification will take the place of experience, it won’t. Certification just means you have an understanding of the technology presented not that you’ve actually done the work. Its like building a boat vs reading a book about building a boat, you may know all of the terms, but you’ll still end up wet unless you practice what you’ve learned. That said, both paths have their benefits and drawbacks. Certification tells your hiring manager that you are familiar with the concepts. Explaining that you have taken that familiarity and build your own virtualized server at home running Windows and Linux connected to your own NAS for backups will go a long way toward showing you can put it into practice. But for now start with these…
Windows: As long as you’re using Windows and know how to move around in Win8, Win7, and XP then you don’t need a certification in a desktop level OS. It is helpful though to get a job at a helpdesk that supports end users. It is never a waste of time or money ($25 @ month) to go through the Operating System section of Lynda.com and brush up on tools and features you may not have known existed. http://www.lynda.com/Operating-Systems-training-tutorials/36-0.html
The CompTIA A+ certification is the starting point for a career in IT. The exams cover maintenance of PCs, mobile devices, laptops, operating systems and printers.
The exam covers network technologies, installation and configuration, media and topologies, management, and security.
The CompTIA Server+ certification exam covers system hardware, software, storage, best practices in an IT environment, disaster recovery and troubleshooting.
CompTIA Security+ is an international, vendor-neutral certification that demonstrates competency in: Network security, Compliance and operational security, Threats and vulnerabilities, Application, data and host security, Access control and identity management, and Cryptography
The next level:
LPIC-1 and LPIC-2
Linux is becoming much bigger in the Enterprise these days and you need to be more than familiar with it. Install it, use it, configure it, and know what it can do – leave the Win/Linux religious wars to someone else. If you want to be a superstar you’ll get to know it.
Microsoft: There are too many options to explore here re. certifications from Microsoft. Head over to their page to look through the choices http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en-us/certification-overview.aspx#server
CCENT and CCNA the two centinal network certifications from Cisco. These are the cornerstone of the industry. http://www.cisco.com/web/learning/certifications/entry/ccent/index.html
Storage: There are many more options than just having a hard drive in your server. RAID, DAS, NAS, and others. The Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) has a 3 test track for certification starting with the CompTIA Storage+ test
- VMware: VCP5 and multiple flavors: http://mylearn.vmware.com/portals/certification/
- Microsoft Hyper V: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/server-cloud/hyper-v-server/default.aspx?WT.srch=1&WT.mc_id=SEM_GOOGLE_USEvergreenSearch_HyperV&CR_CC=200072479
- Citrix XenServer: http://www.citrix.com/products/xenserver/overview.html
Do these (or even a small part of these) and you’ll be able to find your way to picking your own career path without spending thousands to get an IT degree.
Thanks for reading!