December 7, 2011 3:16 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
IT is all about learning new things and maintaining your skills and knowledge
, you can never stop learning if you want to succeed in IT
There’s a great blog over on MS Born to Learn entitled “Never stop learning, simple.” by Andrew Bettany, posted on 12/3/2011. He remarks about mentoring technology start-ups in their early phases, and how they devote the bulk of their efforts to utilizing their skills and knowledge to deliver products (and services, too, I’m guessing, even though he doesn’t explicitly make that connection). He calls such organizations “agile, knowledgeable, and very hungry to succeed and to create.”
The road to IT goes ever onward
His point, of course, is that such organizations not only make things up as they go, they also learn constantly and incessantly as they go as well, and then goes on to make the point that this is a good model for how IT professionals should approach the tools, technologies, and subject matters that make up the focus for their work. His next remark explains why this is necessary: “With cloud computing, mobile computing, and social media now becoming the current ‘bubble,’ I realised just how easy it is for anyone in IT to become out of date quite rapidly.” I couldn’t agree more profoundly or enthusiastically.
These days working in IT means constantly reinventing yourself, updating your knowledge base, learning new tools and techniques, and keeping a close eye on what’s new, what’s trending, and what kinds of technology adoptions are gaining momentum. It’s important to pay close attention to the present wave, and make sure you keep back-filling all the knowledge and skills gaps that will keep opening up in front of you. And when you can jump onto interesting or even exciting new tools and technologies that promise to catch on, you can even help to push the envelope yourself, in your own way.
For some, this may be frustrating or disheartening. But for those who wish to succeed, this is just the kind of constant churn that presents ongoing opportunities to learn, to stretch your boundaries, and really enjoy your work. It’s what keeps me going, and always points me to opportunities of all kinds. You can put the same mindset to work for yourself, too, as long as you’re willing to “do the homework” necessary to keep up. So thanks, Andrew, for a truly great blog and reminder of what it is we really should be doing with ourselves at work, above and beyond mundane matters at hand (and thanks also to commenter Wayne Hoggett, who supplied me with the completely-apt title for this blog).
December 2, 2011 2:31 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
December 2011 employment report shows too little jobs growth happening too slowly
, December 2011 employment situation shows a glimmer of hope
Economists generally define full employment in the USA as the condition that prevails when unemployment percentages dip below six percent. With the release of this morning’s Employment Situation Summary from the US Bureau of labor statistics, which shows a job gain of 120,000 for November, and unemployment dropping to 8.6%, that means it could take as long as a decade to reach that state! Although it’s nice to hear of some job gains and dropping unemployment numbers, it remains a case of “too little, too slowly” for recent upticks to make a significant difference in the overall employment situation.
It looks like we’re going to limp into 2012, employment-wise, just as we’ve pretty much limped through the whole year of 2011, with rates at or above 9 percent for every month of the year except for February and March. If this doesn’t argue forcefully for as much government intervention to boost employment as the Republicans can stand, I don’t know what does. It seems that some kind of public works and infrastructure development programs should be kicked off, in addition to as many incentives to get private concerns hiring again as possible.
It’s now been over three years since the downturn struck in 2008, and we’re looking at a fourth anniversary next year. What we’ve tried so far has saved the financial system and kept things from going completely over the brink. Isn’t it time now to try to move the economy toward a better employment situation with all of the tools at our disposal? Gosh, I certainly hope so.
Call me a proponent of big government, an interventionist, or even a dyed-in-the wool Democrat. I don’t care. We’ve got to do something to accelerate employment and improve our overall profitability and productivity. It’s the only way out of this employment mess that I can currently see.
[Note: as I was filing this blog the US Bureau of Labor Statistics website was completely unavailable, whether from excessive traffic or some other problem, I can't tell. But when I can access the report directly (my source for this blog was The New York Times) I'll add some discussion of IT related stats and changes.]
November 30, 2011 4:21 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Robert Half 2012 Technology Jobs Forecast
, Robert Half identifies 7 hot IT jobs for 2012
In preparing its 2012 Technology Salary Guide, employment specialist firm Robert Half recently identified some standout job areas in IT for the coming year. These make for some pretty interesting reading, so I’ll reproduce them here courtesy of a summary I found in the Vancouver Sun:
1. Mobile applications developer. Starting salaries are projected to increase 8.2 per cent to a range of $72,500 to $102,750.
2. Web designer. The starting pay is expected to rise 6.6 per cent to a range of $75,000 to $120,000.
3. Network engineer. Starting salaries for network engineers are expected to rise six per cent to a range of $75,000 to $98,250.
4. Data warehouse analyst. Anticipated base compensation is expected to climb 5.9 per cent to between $81,750 and $111,250 in 2012.
5. Web developer. Base compensation is projected to increase 5.3 per cent to between $58,750 and $85,000.
6. Data security analyst. Base compensation for these workers is expected to rise 4.9 per cent to between $83,250 and $124,500.
7. SEO/SEM specialist. Those with three or more years of experience are projected to see a starting salary range of $75,000 to $95,000.
Here’s what I find interesting about this list and its associated numbers. First, the clustering of raises at around six percent, give or take 1.1 percent on the low end, and 2.2 percent on the high side. This augurs reasonably well for IT job improvements in general, and easily doubles current inflation levels. Second, it’s nice to see several types of development jobs hit this list: developers build things to other people can sell them, and still other people can use them, all necessary ingredients for growth and economic improvement. I’m also glad to see my core area–networking–get some much-appreciated recognition, and not surprised to see data warehousing/analysis and security make appearances in this list, either. What surprises me by their absence, however, are positions related to data centers and cloud computing, which also include storage area networking stuff. To the best of my knowledge these all remain white-hot areas as well.
November 28, 2011 3:04 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
IBM cert exam promo deal
, IBM offers limited time buy-1-get-1-free offer on cert exams
For each IBM certification exam from this Eligible Tests list you schedule and take by December 14, 2011, IBM will provide you with a free voucher you can use to take another exam (also from the same list). These vouchers remain usable until April 30, 2012. It’s a pretty good deal, and covers exams related to IBM’s Power Systems, Storage Systems, System x, and System z.
Here are all the related requirements and limitations, lifted straight from the IBM offer page:
- You must schedule an eligible test using promo code: STGNOV11
- This standard price test must be taken no later than December 14, 2011.
- After taking the test, IBM will email you a voucher that will allow you take another test for no charge.
- The voucher for the free test will be valid through April 30, 2012.
- The free voucher may be used for any eligible test, of your choice. (Most tests available for Power Systems, Storage Systems, System x and System z, are eligible. …)
- You will receive a free voucher each time you register and test using the promo code through December 14, 2011.
- There is no limit to the number of times you may use the promo code during the offering time period.
- The free voucher is transferable.
- If you choose, you may give the voucher to another person to take a test for no charge.
- This offer is only available for tests taken at an Authorized Prometric Test Center.
- This offer cannot be combined with any other offers or discounts.
Despite all the fine print (which isn’t terribly onerous, as such things go) this is a pretty good deal for anybody planning to take an IBM cert test in these general areas anyway. If so, be sure to sign up for and take that exam in the next two weeks to qualify for your free voucher!
November 21, 2011 2:44 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
let the automatic budget reductions go to work
, Supercommittee fails to reach deficit reduction agreement
Those of who you read this blog regularly know that I follow government and employment information, especially as it touches on IT job markets and growth prospects. So it was that I listened to NPR this morning with a growing sense of incredulity and dread, as the newscasters grimly foretold the imminent failure of the congressional super-committee tasked with finding 1.2-1.5 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade. At the same time, the economic forecasts for 2012 “from leading economists” have started to trickle in, with consensus numbers for US economic growth falling around 2.4 percent for the upcoming year. If we’re lucky and another recession doesn’t grab us by the short hairs, we might bring employment down to 8.5 percent by the end of 2012!
Sheesh! I’d say this pretty much kills the idea that 2011 might somehow end on an up note, with more than gradual improvement either in the job market or in the general economic outlook. It’s pretty clear that something has to change more than gradually for there to be any kind of substantial improvement. But it’s also clear that what isn’t changing is the atmosphere of political partisanship and rancor that has basically ground our national government to a standstill where it comes to any meaningful policy initiatives.
So here’s what I have to say to the politicos in DC: Republicans, please lay down your ideological purity and recognize that budgeting often requires an increase in income as well as a decrease in spending. That’s just plain common sense. And Democrats, please let go of your sacred cows…err…I mean “entitlements,” with the idea that something has to give in the areas where costs continue to spiral out of control. Cuts are almost always warranted when and where costs go completely ballistic. And to both parties: as far as the “we can protect our favorite programs before the 2013 deadline kicks in for automatic budget cuts” mentality that is currently sweeping through the halls, offices, and byways in Congress: fuggeddaboutit!
You guys made the bed you’re currently lying in, and should let the system you set up to protect yourselves from voter backlack go to work. If you don’t have the ability to compromise your way into deficit reduction, let the miracle of mathematics do it for you. At least that way it will actually get done! Otherwise, that voter backlash is sure to be swift and harsh. And gosh, isn’t a third party that isn’t more concerned about taking the “high ground” away from its perennial opposition looking more and more appealing these days? Again: sheesh!
November 18, 2011 4:01 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
, Network World survey finds correlation between IT certs
, ray of sunshine on IT jobs and certification
In reading my way through the Microsoft Born to Learn blog recently, I came across an item that cited a recent Network World survey to report–with a real ray of sunshine onto what’s been a pretty dark and dismal IT jobs and work landscape recently–that a pool of 700 survey respondents reported a strong and positive correlation between IT certification, pay (and raises), and even promotions or newer, better jobs.
You can read all about this on my Pearson IT Certification blog, posted yesterday, entitled “Network World Survey Finds Certs Bring Jobs and Raises.” You’ll also find pointers there to the original Network World story and the actual survey results too–all of which are very interesting. Enjoy!
November 16, 2011 3:12 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
better to pursue a big-name masters degree than to combine masters with IT certification at a lesser insitution
, take advantage of employer-sponsored education support
Here’s an email that showed up in my inbox last Friday:
Mr Tittel… your books helped me land my first self study MCP test completion, and your blogs have begun steering me in the right direction. Cheers sir. I come to you a stranger searching for advice…
I have am 29 and need a serious career. I sell cable door to door for a living, doing so largely because my company is going to pay for my masters degree. I have an unrelated BA in Communications (Telecom specifically) and have a great deal of help desk work experience. I want to make the big bucks in consulting or security. Can you recommend a path to obtain a relevant masters degree while simultaneously getting Cisco/ms certified? I know you have answered this broadly in the past, but are there any schools specifically? The ACE school list is like picking a number out of a hat…
Many thanks for your time and assistance sir.
GS, north-central Kentucky [name and phone number withheld for privacy]
And here’s what I sent back by way of reply:
Thanks for your email, and your kind words about my blogs and books. It’s letters like yours that help me to believe my work has at least some merit, and provides a bit of assistance to those seeking to better themselves.
It’s terrific that your company is willing to help pay for your graduate studies. Judging from your area code, you must live in north central Kentucky. Given that your employer is paying for your training, I’m guessing you probably aren’t interesting in moving from your current location (but if I’m wrong, please let me know). My advice would be to pursue a master’s in one of the following areas: MBA (with an emphasis on MIS, or management information systems) or computer science.
If you’re in Lexington, that puts you near the home campus of the University of Kentucky, in fact, which offers a variety of excellent degree programs. I wouldn’t let the presence or absence of Cisco and/or MS certification in a degree program affect my choice of graduate institution, if I were you. You can always pick this stuff up at a local community college, for much less cost than at a 4-year or graduate institution anyway (credit hours usually cost no more than 50% of what you’d pay at a school where you’d pursue a Master’s, and sometimes significantly less).
Please help me zero in on your mobility, and your current location. These will help us define a list of possible graduate and other schools for you to consider in your pursuit of a Master’s, plus Cisco and/or MS certifications.
Sure, there are some colleges and universities that offer degree-plus-certification plans around. But most of these offer either Cisco (CCNA and CCNP, typically) or Microsoft (one or more of each MCTS and MCITP, or MCTS and MCPD) credentials in tandem with undergraduate degrees rather than graduate ones. I am aware of some master’s programs that offer a CISSP track along with a business or computing science degree at that level, but the CISSP also requires 5 or more years of directly security-related on the job experience, for which both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree shave at most 2 years off that requirement. So there’s still an experience hurdle to deal with in moving up from “Associate of CISSP” to full-blown CISSP.
This certainly is an interesting situation, and one that I suspect many aspiring IT professionals in their late 20s or early 30s may be pondering (like GS, my correspondent in this case). More education remains a great investment in one’s own future, and that goes double when you have an employer who’s enlightened enough to help fund such activity. My advice to anyone who works for an organization that offers full or partial continuing education support is to use such support to the maximum amount for which you are eligible. It may keep you a little too busy in the short run, but in the long run it can only help advance your professional standing and earnings potential.
[Update via Linked-In 11/16/2011 9:30 AM]
From Warren Wyrostek, long-time IT certification instructor and current doctoral student
“Ed, this is an interesting exchange of which I have written a good bit about also. From the design of the Master of Integrated Networking Credential that was being considered as a Capstone Master’s Level Course at FSU to my current role as Doctoral Student after many many certifications. For this reader, I would add to what you shared by saying to look at Eastern Kentucky University where there are many many offerings in the Vo-Tech arena and also offer more than 30 master’s degree programs from five academic colleges, two specialist degrees, and their newest offering, the Doctorate in Education in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies. EKU is just south of Lexington in Richmond, KY.”
All I can add to this comment is “Thanks, Warren: great and valuable information!”
November 14, 2011 2:27 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Microsoft teams with Hawaii to offer statewide library access to IT Academy and Digital Literacy materials
, new mission for public libraries is to offer digitial cert training and preparation
Last week, Microsoft announced a partnership with the Hawaii State Public Library System to make its Digital Literacy and Microsoft IT Academy programs available to any and all of the state’s library patrons. Ultimately, this program is expected to reach almost a million people all over the Hawaiian archipelago.
Empowering people with MS certification training
What makes this really interesting is that access will not be limited to in-library computers only (as I had initially guessed might be the case). Here’s a quote from the press release that explains a little about what’s up:
The launch of the Microsoft IT Academy marks the first time the subscription-based program will be made available to Hawaii’s library users through in-library and remote access via Windows Internet Explorer. In Hawaii, hundreds of thousands of library cardholders will have free, unlimited access to more than 350 Microsoft courses, ranging from basic computer skills to advanced network architecture and design. The Microsoft IT Academy will provide many of the vocational and adult-education resources that have been reduced in Hawaii as a result of budget cuts.
This is very interesting because it indicates that the Hawaiian State Public Library System will also be setting up some kind of remote access, with accompanying accounts and access controls, so that library patrons can use an Internet Explorer-based Web browser session to take classes, access labs, and work their way through an enormous volume of training and certification preparation materials.
Could this be a new (and extremely valuable) mission for our public libraries, in an age when the relevancy of old-fashioned paper books is being questioned or discounted at nearly every turn? You bet! As a devoted library patron myself (and a weekly volunteer at my son’s elementary school library as well) I have to see this as a great move for both Microsoft (which gets to reach a much broader audience with its materials) and the library systems (which extend their reach into skills development, job preparation, and improved community outreach). Talk about a true win-win situation: I’d like to see this kind of deal implemented at the county level all across the United States. Power to the people–at least, those people with library cards!!! Now, please, let the supporting governments at the state and local levels also boost library funding to let them execute this mission properly.
November 10, 2011 5:15 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Microsoft Learning Director Don Field enunciates 4D strategy
, MS wins $13.5M judgement against brain-dumpers
There’s a fascinating story (…well, to me, anyway…) in the Microsoft News Center that popped up this morning. It’s entitled “Microsoft Ensures Integrity of Its Certification Program” and features a Q&A with Don Field, the company’s Senior Director of Certification and Training, whom I’ve interviewed for this very blog on numerous occasions. The item showed up in an email from Microsoft’s PR agency this morning with a subject line of “Microsoft Continues to Win Battle Against Brain Dumps as Part of Certification Integrity Efforts.”
As I perused this teaser, I found myself thinking, “Gosh, I hate brain dumps, too, but I bet this is another piece of dessicated PR prose that says as little as possible at great length.” I’m happy to report that I couldn’t have been more wrong, and I’m glad I took the time — albeit with some trepidation — to click the link and see what was up with this bit of self-professed self-promotion.
For one thing, though the centerpiece of the story is a recent $13.5 million judgement against what Field identifies as the ‘”testinside” domain names’ who practiced the kind of brain dumping that is the bane of many certification programs (namely, direct and unauthorized disclosure of precise exam contents), it is certainly about quite a bit more than that. Among my favorite bits and pieces of this article is the disclosure that the Microsoft certified population now consists of a “…global community of over 6 million other Microsoft Certified Professionals (MCPS)…” and some interesting discussion of the goals and methods that the Microsoft Learning teams uses to guide its activities and protect its assets. This is the first time I’ve seen any numbers out of Microsoft Learning for a while (I still miss their old quarterly detailed numbers reports).
Other interesting gems also emerge from this question-and-answer document:
- Windows Azure and Office 365 certs don’t have associated version numbers (neither does Windows Phone, for that matter). Hmm. These are also the certs that do come with time limits, and need to be recertified after three years. This could be an important “tell” to determine when MS will use recertification requirements for some of its other future credentials.
- Don also repeated his basic riff on recertification topics, as I already reported numerous time this summer most recently in my “Microsoft Shares Results from Its Recent Recertification Survey” on 9/22/2011.
- There’s an interesting discussion of Microsoft Learning’s “4 D” model for designing certifications and exam: design, develop, deliver, and defend. Nice details on all four Ds appear in this story, but the obvious emphasis here in on the “defend” part what with a 13-plus million dollar judgement just awarded from the bad guys.
As PR pieces go, this one is longer on substance and shorter on breathless hype than most of them. If my summary here whets your appetite, you’ll want to check it out for yourself.