The Business-Technology Weave

May 20 2013   2:44PM GMT

Certs Redux

David Scott David Scott Profile: David Scott

Saw a question in a forum that went a bit like this:

‘What entry-level certifications does one need to help launch an IT career?’

There was no shortage of advice:  CompTIA, A+, Network+, CCNA, Windows Operating System Fundamentals, Windows Server Administration Fundamentals, Networking Fundamentals, Security Fundamentals, Software Development Fundamentals, Windows Development Fundamentals, Web Development Fundamentals,.NET Fundamentals, HTML5 App Development Fundamentals…

It was a good while before someone (not me) suggested saving some money and doing some self-training and subsequent testing.  Going after certs can be expensive, and I often wonder if it’s not better to just jump into some college courses at night – do you have a branch of a major university near you?  Or perhaps a good junior or two-year college?

If no one is springing for a four-year degree for you, and you can’t afford full-time college, and you have a logical mind, enjoy problem solving, and interview well, then get on a HelpDesk in a robust enterprise environment.  That’s your foot in the door, and you can go anywhere from there if you know how to “sell” yourself.

Once you’re working full-time in an IT department, you can send yourself to school at night, and go any direction you want:  software programming, network engineering, Cloud development, applications development, mobile…

One good piece of advice offered in the forum:  Don’t specialize too early.  You really need a robust grounding – everything fits together into the same overall puzzle, and it helps to understand all the other pieces, if only tacitly.  An awful lot of people in IT (and business) are myopic thus lousy overall fits to the true business at-hand.

Get on a Help Desk, sit in IT meetings, look around, see what turns you on and go for it.

Worried you might be too good a HelpDesk staffmember?  What happens if you get stuck on the Help Desk?  It happens.  Remember this:  The best IT people move around.  You have to.  The market is going to take care of you.  Get out there.  Why work in a critical and robust field like IT if you’re afraid to move on… and up?

In fact, I’d say during the early part of your career – the first decade, certainly, you only need stay in a job 2 to 3 years – unless you really, really, really, really like it – and are willing to risk stagnation.

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