Nelson Velez at Certification Magazine has penned a nice little article entitled “Tips to Build a Solid Foundation in IT” (10/4/2010) that aims solidly at aspiring IT professionals seeking to gain entry into this field.
He recommends the A+ as a good starting point for IT certification, and goes on to prescribe learning and experience in the following areas:
- Networking with a strong emphasis on the OSI network reference model and basic IP and networking hardware skills and knowledge (unsurprisingly, the Network+ cert also comes in for mention here, too).
- Operating systems skills, with mention of Windows, Linux, and Unix, and a reminder that server skills are important for those seeking IT employment, as well as desktop skills.
- Mention of IT specialties call out routing and switching (Cisco’s CCNA gets singled out here), wireless networking (CWNA makes the grade in this category), and information security (no certs come up for discussion, but a number of topics that include OS hardening, firewalls, ACLs, IDSs, and endpoint security are all tossed out for consideration).
This information is all well and good, but it cries out for more detail and coverage for what it doesn’t say, as well as for what it covers. For one thing, it’s worth noting that entry level certifications like A+, Network+, and CCNA are all well and good but that these seldom suffice to land aspiring candidates in positions they seek without more education and a modicum of experience to back them up. Entry-level certs are best viewed as stepping stones to more advanced credentials, in fact, where those more advanced certs (such as CCNP or CCDP to follow up on CCNA, or advanced OS-specific networking crendentials for Windows, Linux, Solaris and Red Hat to follow up on Network+) can indeed help employability and open additional job options.
I’ll wax eloquent and occasionally profane over these subjects in blogs to come, but for now let me observe that an associate’s or bachelor’s in any of computer science or technology, management information systems, or data management/processing is also designed to provide a basic understanding of the principles and processes of IT as practiced in business, academia, government, and industry nowadays, and that aspiring professionals will be well-served to pursue academic credentials as well as IT certifications.