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IT certs

Discussion in 'Tech Support' started by Nuhuh, Aug 3, 2010.

  1. Nuhuh

    Nuhuh Dastardly Shadow Admin Retired Staff

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    Yo,

    So my certs A+/Net+ are a decade old almost. I've mostly gotten jobs based on years of tech experience more than formal education, but I'm looking to get out of my current position.

    Wanted to know from the techies out there what's hot right now or what's relevant?

    I was thinking of renewing my Net+ and look into Security+.

    I don't know if the base CCNA or w/e the initial MS cert these days are worth it or not.

    Anyway, comments? Observations?
     
  2. Johnny Farrar

    Johnny Farrar High Inquisitor

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    There are tons of certifications available these days. The question is what area do you want to work in. Database management, Networking, System Administration, etc.
     
  3. Nuhuh

    Nuhuh Dastardly Shadow Admin Retired Staff

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    I know there are tons, but not all are worth the time or relevant.

    But to answer your q: networking/security. That's what I do currently.
     
  4. Johnny Farrar

    Johnny Farrar High Inquisitor

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    CCIE leads the pack in terms networking certifications. You also have the choice of choosing your specialization (tracks) and you can go for network security. It is a difficult examination to crack though. Read very difficult. If you are not sure about that Cisco offers plenty of other certifications that you can consider. CCNA, CCNP etc.

    There are other hot certifications that will augment your expertise. RHCE is a good option, if you are interested in system administration. Even if system administration is not your desired work domain, it will still boost your CV. RHCSS (security specialist) is a good one to consider if you have cleared your RHCE.
     
  5. Agent

    Agent High Inquisitor DLP Supporter

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    Reviving this old from the dead.

    Currently working on the CCNA. I tried to get it before the new spec releases next month but realised I was cramming knowledge without fully understanding it. I might have passed the test but I wouldn't have been able to use the skills in a job.

    Now I've got three years to pass it though I aim to be done by the end of the year and I figure I could do it by June if I'm determined.

    After CCNA, I'm gonna go for the Linux+ or the RHCSA Cert. I have more experience with Linux systems so I shouldn't need too long with those certs.
     
  6. Otters

    Otters Fourth Year ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    Given my current state of unemployment due to coronavirus I've been dicking around doing me a learn.

    I'm picking my way through the Google IT Support cert for fun and because it's free, and since it covers the same material I was toying with the idea of getting a comptia A+ while I was at it.

    For anyone with knowledge of such things, how strong a stance would this be for trying to switch careers to something something IT? Zero work experience in that field, though probably a decent enough pool of other miscellaneous shit to bullshit my way through a behavioural interview.

    Senpais pls advise
     
  7. slickrcbd

    slickrcbd First Year

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    A+ certifications are a dime a dozen, but at the same time, almost nobody will take hiring you seriously if you don't have it. It's the high school diploma of IT workers.
    It's not that hard to get, if you can do basic hardware repairs and upgrades.
    Basically, you have to know
    • how to install/upgrade/swap hard drives and identify if it is ATA or SATA and what kind (they might have removed determining if it is ATA-33, 66, or 100 due to tech marching on).
    • Know how to determine what kind of RAM a computer needs. What something like PC-100 means.
    • Know about serial, parallel and PS/2 ports.
    • Know the difference between the different versions of USB with things like data rates and power draws.
    • Know how to swap a power supply and know the voltages on the different types of connectors. Yes, you need to know about the old ATA IDE connectors. No, it doesn't matter that in 20 years of IT I can count the number of times I've used a multimeter on the fingers of one hand including in school even though I've swapped a hundred power supplies.
    • Know about PCI, PCI-E, PCI-X, and PCMCIA cards. I'm pretty sure they've dropped the 8 &16-bit ISA, VERSA, and AGP from the latest exams, but know at least what they are as they might throw historical questions at you. I'm not sure about dropping AGP, so study that too even if you don't study ISA.
    • Know the basics of Ethernet cards and hardware such as what a link light is. This is only briefly covered in A+ prep material as it is more the Network+ (which you should also get and is not that hard) and I don't recall if it has come up since the 2003 incarnation of A+.
    • Ditto the above for Wifi. It is covered MUCH more in depth in network+. However you should know the differences between 802.11A, B, G, and N and about WEP (bad), WPA, WPA2, etc. Not sure if WEP is even mentioned anymore other than don't use since it was cracked.
    • Know about optical drives, how to hook up the CD audio cable and what it is for.
    • Know about PC sound and what all 3-6 ports are for.
    • Know about IRQs even though I haven't had to deal with them since Windows 9X.
    • Know about Plug and Pray Play devices (Sorry, Windows 95 veteran. If you tried it when it first came out with Win95 you'd call it that too. 98 first edition was marginally better)
    • Know what Firewire is
    • Reserved for edit since I know I'm forgetting something important and am too lazy to dig up my old study guides.

    That may sound like a daunting list, but when I purchased a study guide in 2001 it had a lot of stuff I'd already picked up from doing basic computer repair and upgrades for my extended family and for my friends. I'd made a few bucks in junior high and high school (and still did occasionally in college) moonlighting doing that, much like the Geek Squad does today. Most techs I've talked to said that A+ was really easy, but you should borrow a study book from the local library first (or buy one), just make sure it is for the current exam and not an outdated one.
    Network+ wasn't much harder if you know basic networking with Ethernet, Wifi, and TCP/IP. I have a lifetime certification and haven't looked at the latest material so I don't know if it still talks about Token Ring or IPX/Novell Netware.
    Network plus also goes into various other WAN types such as fiber optic, X-10, DSL, cable, T1/T3, etc. I haven't kept up with that one as I mostly just work on LANs with Ethernet and it is a lifetime cert. I can't speak about the current exam, only the 2003 one.
    I do know that people have said it isn't that hard, just buy a study guide or check it out from the library.
     
  8. Fiat

    Fiat The Chosen One DLP Supporter

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    Well, I recently kinda made this transition (for a while, at least) and I'd be pretty happy with myself if someone learned at all from my mistakes.

    Get the A+. No one gives a shit about it, I have yet to meet a person that can both define what it's a test of and thinks it actually has any value, but it's basically a badge asserting to technically illiterate people that you know everything someone like them would expect of a person that 'knows computers'. And you will need that badge. I can't really speak to its contents or difficulty - if you couldn't tell from my description, I wasn't very happy about having to pay to write this test given my past work experience and other certs, and at the time I wasn't especially great at self control, so...I don't really remember much of that day, but I passed, Make of it what you will.

    That aside, it actually does provide a lesson I really hope is useful to someone; with little exception, it probably does not matter who you were before you applied to an IT Job. I came into this trying to get into Security because I'd somehow decided it was my calling - the thing I found most interesting in my field - meaning that I was coming to IT from the background of a professional software developer that also taught classes on computer hardware to kids on the weekends. Even assuming my experience and skills meant enough on their own (especially because IT is often thought of - by devs at least - as the step down from Development), I wrote the Sec+ and got the cert before I started sending out applications.

    I had to get an A+ and start with Desktop Support, teaching extremely ungrateful boomers how to do simple tasks for a third of what I was making before. Because apparently IT's just one of those places where everyone starts at the bottom and puts in their time.

    Maybe my case isn't a universal example, but it matches pretty closely with what people say on Reddit, for what it's worth. Competence and a great home lab might let you skip a grade or two depending on who's doing the hiring, but time served is apparently the most important metric of all.
     
  9. slickrcbd

    slickrcbd First Year

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    It seems that "time serve" aka "experience in a similar corporate environment with similar programs/systems" is all the hiring managers (who are NOT IT people and don't understand most of the technical stuff related to the job they are hiring you for) seem to care about. Having done tech support for my extended family and friends since I was 10 did not count as experience. Only stuff in a corporate environment. Also if you don't have any experience on the exact programs they are using, it doesn't count to HR screeners. I was once rejected because I'd never used Citrix for thin clients, but I'd used several other brands. Another time I was rejected because I didn't have any experience using GoToMyPC at the time, but I'd used Log Me In and Windows Remote desktop, along with Team Viewer.
    Rejecting me like that is like rejecting a person who needs to be able to drive a company car that is a Chevrolet, but they've only driven Fords, Honda, or Chrysler vehicles. They ask "You've driven Fords, but you have no experience driving a Chevrolet, correct? I'm afraid you don't have the experience we need. We want somebody who can 'hit the ground running' and you have no experience with your vehicles. "

    The problem is these idiots are the gatekeepers between you and the job, and if you don't get through their screening, you don't get to talk to the person who actually understands the job and the skills required.

    Tl;DR? The A+ is for hiring managers to show basic competence. It's not difficult, but most won't even look at you if it isn't on your resume. Heck, these days the screening software will filter you out before any human sees your resume because you lack the certification.

    As I said, it's the equivalent of a high school diploma. Maybe even an 8th grade diploma. Not worth much on it's own, but necessary to be taken seriously as a candidate in most jobs.

    Note that all the idiots I described were NOT from IT backgrounds, but were in charge of weeding out candidates.
    I've had some with a checklist based on the job description, and they don't want to hear that you've used something similar to what's on the checklist, they want exact matches. Don't get enough boxes ticked, you're rejected. Even if the difference between Log Me In and Go to My PC is like the difference between a Ford and a Chevy, if you haven't worked 2+ years with Log me In, but only tried it briefly, they don't want you.


    ***EDIT:
    Sorry about the rant, had only temp jobs for the last couple years, now I'm furloughed as Illinois is shut down. I'm frustrated at some of these idiot HR people who can't answer questions about the job and don't understand what they are asking me about.
     
  10. Dryops

    Dryops Second Year DLP Supporter

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    Just an update on the A+. I did the certification in 2006 / 2007, and since then, they've also added in a lot of "customer service / interaction" type questions (AFAIK), rather than just tech specific.
     
  11. Fiat

    Fiat The Chosen One DLP Supporter

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    Well, honestly, that's almost a completely different kind of issue. I mean as little offense by this as it is possible to, but experiences doing similar things on an amateur level should carry some weight, which is why I once tended to include my own equivalent 'running tech support for a family of five for 16 years', 'maintaining a home network behind a hardware NGFW and IDS' 'experience' on resumes for things like this and other entry level positions before I had any real experience to replace them with but; that's just it, they're additional factors to swing things slightly in your favor if it's down to you and another applicant with equivalent formal education and no experience. Not actual experience.

    While there are a million things wrong with how IT hires and manages its people (something I hope to gradually melt away as the ascendancy of DevOps makes corporations start having to treat their (greatly reduced) IT staff the way they treat developers) this isn't really one of them, or at bare minimum it's the most normal of them. Jobs that just take for granted that if you know X you can figure out how do Y quickly enough that it's irrelevant, and informal experience doing something broadly similar on an irregular basis are treated as equivalent to work experience (or are treated as anything at all) are fairly rare.

    The biggest problem I have with that aspect of their hiring practices is that even with 100% entry level gigs, they're still looking for several years of time spent doing that exact job at an entry level, so they have to understand that the best anyone who should actually be applying for a role like this can have is some experience doing desktop support for their family, maybe managing their home network, some programming, and maybe a homelab. And sometimes, that'll get you through so long as you have enough stuff that, ostensibly, is meaningless, but 'tips the scales'. I honestly don't know if the point of these restrictions is some kafkaesque way to make hiring for entry level roles totally discretionary so they can pay obviously overqualified people as little as possible, some bizarre system set up to poach much more skilled workers fired from competitors at the lowest possible pay, or somehow a multi-billion industry has never, at any point in its existence, actually made sense.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2020
  12. kinetique

    kinetique Order Member

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    So work has given me the offer of paying me to do the oscp, and transition away from being a dev, into more of a secdevops role. The problem is that while I'm fairly confident I can get up to speed on the basics of system administration, I'm not so confident I can just "learn 2 hack" in the next few months. On the other hand, it's a fairly huge pay increase they're offering me, if I get it. It is also not really what I had in mind when I began my career. Fuck I hate the need for qualifications.