Leadership

10 tech certifications that actually mean something


This information is also available as a PDF download.

There are hundreds of tech certification programs and exams out there, some sponsored by software vendors, some by vendor-neutral organizations, and some by educational institutions. A number of them are easy to obtain -- as evidenced by the many IT pros who list a three-line string of acronyms after their names. You pay your money and you take a multiple-choice test; if you pass, you're in.

Others are excruciatingly difficult: Cost is high; eligibility to even take the exam is dependent on having years of experience, formal education, and/or sponsorship from others who already hold the title; and the exams are grueling, multi-day affairs that require hands-on performance of relevant tasks. Most are somewhere in between.

But which certifications really provide a measure of your knowledge and skills in a particular area? And which will really help you get a job or promotion? Here's a look at 10 of the technical certifications that actually mean something in today's IT job market.

#1: MCSE

The Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) certification suffered a bad reputation several years back when numerous people were memorizing the answers to exam questions from "brain dumps" posted by test-takers on the Internet and obtaining the certification without any real understanding of the technology.

Microsoft responded by replacing the knowledge-based multiple-choice questions with a variety of performance-related scenario questions that make it much more difficult to cheat. The difficulty level of the questions was escalated, and the number of exams required to obtain the certification was increased to seven.

The MCSE has consequently regained respect in many corners of the IT community and is a useful certification for demonstrating your expertise in Microsoft server products.

#2: MCA

In addition to making the MCSE exams more difficult, Microsoft has created many new certifications. The Microsoft Certified Architect (MCA) is the premiere Microsoft certification, designed to identify top experts in the industry. To obtain the MCA, you must have at least three years of advanced IT architecture experience, and you have to pass a rigorous review board conducted by a panel of experts.

There are a number of MCA programs. The infrastructure and solutions MCA certifications cover broad architecture skills, but there are also more technology-specific programs for messaging and database skills. There are currently fewer than 100 MCAs in the world, making this an elite certification.

#3: CCIE

The Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) is widely recognized as one of the most difficult to obtain (and expensive) IT certifications. Like the MCSE/MCA, it's a vendor-sponsored certification, focusing on Cisco's products.

The CCIE requires that you pass both a written exam and a hands-on lab. To sit for the written exam, you must pay $300 and choose from one of several tracks: Routing and Switching, Security, Storage Networking, Voice, and Service Provider.

You must pass the written exam before you're eligible to take the lab exam. This is an eight-hour hands-on test of your ability to configure and troubleshoot Cisco networking equipment and software. The lab exams cost $1,250 each. This does not, of course, include travel expenses that may be necessary since the labs are conducted only in certain locations.

As if all that weren't enough, you don't get to rest on your laurels after obtaining the certification. CCIEs must recertify every two years or the certification is suspended.

#4: CCSP

Another Cisco exam that's popular with employers in today's security-conscious business world is the Cisco Certified Security Professional (CCSP). It focuses on skills related to securing networks that run Cisco routers and other equipment.

You're required to pass five written exams and must recertify every three years by passing one current exam. Before you can take the CCSP exams, you must meet the prerequisites by obtaining one of Cisco's lower-level certifications, either the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) or the Cisco Certified Internetwork Specialist (CCIP).

#5: CISSP

Security certifications confer some of the highest-paying jobs in IT today, and one of the most well-respected non-vendor specific security certifications is the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP). The organization that grants the CISSP is the (ISC)2, which was founded in 1989 and has issued certifications to more than 50,000 IT professionals.

Exam candidates must have at least four years of direct full-time work experience as a security professional. One year of experience can be waived if you have a four-year or graduate degree in information security from an approved institution. Another unique feature of the CISSP is that you must subscribe to the (ISC)2 code of ethics to take the exam.

Exam fees vary based on geographic region. In the United States, standard registration is $599 ($499 for early registration). You must recertify every three years by obtaining at least 120 hours of continuing professional education, and you must pay a yearly fee of $85 to maintain the certification. The exam is a six-hour test consisting of 250 multiple-choice questions.

#6: SSCP

For those who can't meet the rigorous experience requirements to sit for the CISSP, the (ISC)2 also offers the Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP) certification. SSCP candidates need have only one year of direct full-time security work experience. The exam consists of 125 multiple-choice questions, and you have three hours to complete it.

Those who pass the written exam must be endorsed by someone who holds a current (ISC)2 certification and will attest to the candidate's professional experience or by an officer of the corporation or organization that employs you (owner, CEO, managing partner, CIO, etc.). As with the CISSP, you must recertify every three years by submitting proof of continuing education credits and paying an annual maintenance fee.

#7: GSE

Another popular and well-regarded security certification is the GIAC Security Expert (GSE), offered by the SANS Software Security Institute. Before you can attempt the GSE, you must complete three lower-level certifications: GIAC Security Essentials Certification (GSEC), GIAC Certified Intrusion Analyst (GCIA), and GIAC Certified Incident Handler (GCIH).

The lower-level certifications require passing multiple-choice exams, and at least two of the three certifications must be at the "Gold" level, which requires that in addition to the written exam, you submit a technical report that's approved to be published in the SANS Reading Room. A personal interview is also part of the GSE qualification process.

Pricing depends on whether you take the exam as part of SANS self-study or conference training programs or challenge the exam. Without the training, each lower-level exam costs $899.

#8: RHCE/RHCA

Many companies are looking to save money by switching to Linux-based servers, but they need personnel who are trained to design, deploy, and administer Linux networks. There are a number of Linux certifications out there, but the Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) certification has been around since 1999 and is well respected in the industry.

The exam is performance-based. You're required to perform actual network installation, configuration, troubleshooting, and administration tasks on a live system. You have a full day (9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.) to complete it. The cost is $749.

The Red Hat Certified Architect (RHCA) is an advanced certification that requires completion of five endorsement exams, each of which costs $749 and range from two to eight hours. Like the RHCE exam, they are hands-on skills tests. You must have the RHCE certification to take the RHCA exams.

#9: ITIL

For those who aspire to management positions in IT services, the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) certifications provide demonstration of knowledge and skills involved in that discipline. There are three certification levels: Foundation, Practitioner, and Manager.

The Manager level certification requires completion of a rigorous two-week training program, and you must have the Foundation certification and five years of IT management experience. Then, you must pass two three-hour exams consisting of essay questions.

#10: Certifications for special situations

Many specialist exams are available in IT subcategories that can be helpful to those who want to specialize in those areas. Some of these include:

  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliance certification
  • Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) compliance certification
  • Database administration certification
  • Wireless networking certifications
  • Voice over IP certifications

In addition, for those who have little or no experience in IT, entry-level certifications such as those offered by CompTIA may help you get a foot in the door as you start your IT career.

About

Debra Littlejohn Shinder, MCSE, MVP is a technology consultant, trainer, and writer who has authored a number of books on computer operating systems, networking, and security. Deb is a tech editor, developmental editor, and contributor to over 20 add...

224 comments
jbareiro
jbareiro

The fact that English is not your first language doesn't exempt you from being judged for your mistakes, since I think that is not a better speaker of a language the one that owns a large vocabulary, but instead the one that reduces his mistakes on it. Don't worry, I'm not a native speaker too ;) So, I'll gently signalize them: - It's not "waist of time", but "waste of time" - It's not "advance my carrier", but "advance my career" Besides that, congratulations for your desire of personal growth, you're 1 of a million. That's what makes people improve their quality of living, and causes any country to experience progress. Cheers from Hernandarias - Paraguay :)

ccie-rog
ccie-rog

thanks for the info - I am actually studying for my CCIE at present and it is true about it being the most expensive certification to obtain. I have lost track of how much i have put into this so far hopefully it will be worth it. Roger CCIE

vsood2
vsood2

Why isnt' there a single Java certification anywhere? Please comment as much as u can.

okeykalu
okeykalu

"I've taken over three dozen professional certification exams from Microsoft, Novell, Cisco, CompTIA, Planet3, and Learning Tree International.* Many people want to know why I have such a negative opinion of professional certification. We live in a world of certification boot camps whose only goal is prepare attendees to pass an exam - regardless of their true knowledge or experience. Cisco's CCIE is one of the few with a hands-on requirement. How many tech schools and universities crank out MCSEs by the thousands who have never seen a day of professional support experience? How would you feel if you knew that your doctor passed his medical boards after attending an "internal medicine" boot camp? Or even if the electrician that just wired your new home was certified after attending the "How to Pull Wires in One Short Week" boot camp? Ours is the only industry that gets away with this nonsense. The majority of the top-tier technical professionals that I've had the pleasure to work with have taken a vow to boycott all technical certifications. I, on the other hand, do the certifications but hate each and every one with a passion usually reserved for bloody dictators and reality TV shows." By Bryon W. Putman http://www.amazon.com/802-11-WLAN-Hands-Analysis-Troubleshooting/dp/1425907350/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1205188075&sr=8-4 I totally agree.

okeykalu
okeykalu

I've taken over three dozen professional certification exams from Microsoft, Novell, Cisco, CompTIA, Planet3, and Learning Tree International.* Many people want to know why I have such a negative opinion of professional certification. We live in a world of certification boot camps whose only goal is prepare attendees to pass an exam - regardless of their true knowledge or experience. Cisco's CCIE is one of the few with a hands-on requirement. How many tech schools and universities crank out MCSEs by the thousands who have never seen a day of professional support experience? How would you feel if you knew that your doctor passed his medical boards after attending an "internal medicine" boot camp? Or even if the electrician that just wired your new home was certified after attending the "How to Pull Wires in One Short Week" boot camp? Ours is the only industry that gets away with this nonsense. The majority of the top-tier technical professionals that I've had the pleasure to work with have taken a vow to boycott all technical certifications. I, on the other hand, do the certifications but hate each and every one with a passion usually reserved for bloody dictators and reality TV shows. Bryon W. Putman http://www.amazon.com/802-11-WLAN-Hands-Analysis-Troubleshooting/dp/1425907350/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1205188075&sr=8-4 Byron i feel you.

Tachyon
Tachyon

A good example of what I said in my previous post... Recently I heard of a SOX consultant who halfway through an audit came to the I.T. manager to ask him what COBOL was.... Experience, self learning, and knowing your industry's history are all part of the job...IF you want to be good at it.

Tachyon
Tachyon

It's fine to say certification 'X' is useful but that's really all nonsense. People who have earned their stripes in I.T. by actually doing things, solving problems, and gaining experience are the ones who will be useful and skilled. When one of these people passes a certification test, it becomes useful. When someone goes to a certification prep course and passes the same test, that certification is useless or nearly useless and so is the person. Certifications are in theory a good idea, but in reality they are only really used for two things. One, to make money for the certifying body (this is why M$ came out with them, they saw Novell making money on certifications). Two, to let the drooling morons in HR have some sort of yardstick to measure potential employees by instead of having qualified people in the field interview them. I am much more in favour of a guild or trade type situation for I.T. with apprenticeships and hands on training. As for college, well, it's 4 more years you can party and not get a real job. Other than that it's only use is to get you in the door. The vast majority of computer related programs are beyond useless in the real world and in fact may do more harm than good by teaching you the wrong way to do the wrong things. Programming courses are particularly disturbing in their uselessness. The fact is that only open mindedness, challenging yourself in a variety of areas, and constant self learning will make you a useful I.T. employee. If you have an MCSE, spit on Linux, and only implement Microsoft solutions from the Microsoft playbook, you are a useless, harmful moron. Likewise the same goes for F/OSS only, Windows sucks, Linux zealot types. Tachyon

cathar.gnostic
cathar.gnostic

Most are nothing in the coming years as Microsoft has tried but will not be the major player. I know that in my city the Uni is going back to Unix based systems, ie: Linux and OSX. I wouldn't back a lame duck and spend my time and money on Microsoft certs. I have been around from the days when we built our own PC's and have correctly predicted most milestones. I do thank Microsoft for the contribution made over the years.

Diws
Diws

I am not familiar with the " Cisco Certified Internetwork Specialist" ceretification, but the CCIP is a service provider-centric certification (QoS, BGP, MPLS) that is a peer certification to the CCSP, with the same prerequisite.

terry
terry

Ok, so where's your data? I think you're premise is that the certifications you list mean something in the marketplace while others (by corrolary) do not. Show me. Let's face it Debra, the 90's are over, and with them went (thank god) the age when IT carpetbaggers could pass off their personal, unsubstantiated opinion as industry wisdom. Show me the numbers.

dtellez6
dtellez6

Sorry, The MCSE is still fairly worthless as a measure of technical proficiency. There are still certification factories churning out MCSEs whose best skill is that they are able to memorize spoonfed questions.

StillWaters
StillWaters

While I too question the weight given to certifications and degrees, I'm working to stay focused on the road ahead. At present, that means two MS and two CompTIA certifications. Although I am well-experienced with some significant accomplishments, this will smooth the path to the future I've chosen. In the process, I'm enjoying the new concepts and tools being presented to me. I freely admit that there are moments when I'm overwhelmed. When that happens, I return to the focal point of my efforts - the future. In doing so, I overcome the usual frustration that accompanies the work involved, and can actually find joy in the journey. It no longer matters what employers' reasons are for insisting on certification. This is what has worked for me ...

andersson
andersson

Labor market issues of Microsoft certification of IT professionals by Vakhitova, Ganna, Ph.D., University of Kentucky, 2006, 116 pages; AAT 3259203 KEYWORDS: Microsoft certification, computer-wage premium, education-training relationship, general training, computer skills Abstract: The expansion of information technology use at the end of the last century has significantly influenced the labor market. These changes stimulated large public and academic debates about the role and effect of computer skills. Our understanding how these general skills affect earnings, why firms pay for it, how the benefits are shared between the firms and the workers is still in progress. The dissertation examines three aspects of the IT labor market. The first chapter contributes to the discussion on the nature of computer wage premium. While many researchers agree that this premium is related to skills, when measures of computer skills were employed directly, the evidence has been mixed. I am using Microsoft certification as a standardized differentiated measure of computer skills to investigate if there is a variation in returns at different skills levels. The second chapter considers the workers??? choice to get certified and extends the literature on training incidence distinguishing between basic and more intensive training. The last chapter investigates the selection hypothesis suggested by Peter Cappelli as a possible explanation for the firm???s decision to sponsor college education. The situation is analyzed from a two-player perspective and studied at a micro level. The relationship are analyzed at several levels of certification, from beginning to the most advanced in all certification tracks. I find that in general, certification has a significant impact on earnings. However, only selected certificates provide an unambiguous and large increase in returns to earnings of a random IT worker. For the most certificates it is a tight connection of certification and a job match that finally determines the return to skills. The basic certificate works as a substitute for a college diploma, while advance certificates are complementary to abilities and are hold by more educated workers. Small and medium firms, that may be unable (unwilling) to train employees themselves, are more likely to employ certified workers. Finally, I believe that firms offering financial assistance in getting certification using this benefit to signal their overall ???better quality??? as a workplace to more productive workers.

manthedan420
manthedan420

have a few questions. I am just finishing my first year of college. I have read the article and several posts. This has gotten me thinking, how do I break into the IT field? what I mean is some are saying certs help, others they dont matter. When I finish and recieve my BA in Network Security and Networking is it going to matter. Also, in the mean time should I take a chance and apply for IT jobs that I may not be qualified for yet and how do I get my foot in the door? I am very serious about breaking into the business and would appreciate some advice. My grades are excellent but I need experience and I am not sure how to get it. Also, after reading the posts I need to clarify that I have been playing around with building computers and using the software for less than 2 years. However, I am a quick learner and find it fun. The college I attend has many computer classes for my degree and I am sure I will learn the basic skills, but once again, I need real experience. Please help me with answers to my questions.

charles
charles

I've got: CIA, CISA, CISSP, CISM, CFE, CICA, and others I've forgotten. None of these matter in my profession as an internal auditor, because all people want is that you are a CPA, which is crazy since IA professionals need not be accountants to be efficient and effective. Certifications? I think that they are good fun, just that. Take CISSP for example... I don't know what the fuss about it is, as it is a pretty simple exam at the end of the day... Can't see why people literally pay thousands of good money (Dollars, pounds and the like) to get training courses to get it. In fact, if you have any IT knowledge at all, the only thing needed is a good book, as I found out the right way, and that seems to be the case with all certs. Anyhow, what the comment is about is that certs do not get you jobs, what you can do with them might. In fact, if you are like me and have a few of these, people start to wonder if you are a practical person or just a theoretical one. Nevertheless, my advice is just to go for it if it makes you feel good. In the end, it may just be what matters the most.

vsood2
vsood2

I m surprised not to see any Java certification! Arent' they well resepected in the industry?

priya.thakoor
priya.thakoor

I didn't notice any SAP certifications ranking amongst the top 10... Is experience outweighing the certification??

mjpollard
mjpollard

I work with all 3 combinations (certs, college, certs+college) and I can tell you that none of that training teaches you the only thing I need you to know. With today's online world, subject-matter expertise is a search away. What I need, and as far as I know there is no accurate way to test for, is a guy that can figure out a 'new' problem. In my experience, neither certs nor college can teach you how to either. I guess that's where the 'natural talent' would come in. . .

chris_atb
chris_atb

i mean c'mon guys these sort of things always turn into grads vs certs, if you want a flame war take it on shoutwire or digg, this isn't the place, were professionals dammit! start acting like it. we all earn money and love our jobs doing it our own ways, think of the children looking at this post and getting confused and angry, like me! :D so end the battle guys. were all children of the electrode and the slave to the .sys, lets just learn from the list and leave it at that ;)

trandall
trandall

What about wireless?! (ie: CWNP certs and accreditations...?)

eric
eric

It depends on how you define a certification that "means something." Once you do that, it begs the questions "to whom?" There are only two reasons to get a certification: 1. You have to have it to get a job you really want or to make more money in your current job. 2. You are losing out on getting a job you want (or making more money) because you don't have it. I can't speak for everybody, but for me, if one of those two things aren't true, the certification doesn't "mean something" to me. Then you have to ask "who out there would be willing to pay me more or hire me into a better place if I had this certification?" This is where I disagree with your Top 10 certs. I'll agree with your MCSE as #1. No doubt, it is. Every IT department head has heard of MCSE and will pay a premium for guys who have it. But MCA??? I guarantee you if you called up 10 .Net development chiefs and asked them what MCA stands for, maybe 1 would know. The rest have never heard of it. And if they haven't heard of it, they wouldn't be willing to pay a premium price for somebody who holds it. And if they're not willing to do that, then that certification doesn't "mean anything" to them. Getting a certification requires a lot of work, study, and time away from family. If it's not going to pay off in terms of either dollars or career advancement, what's the point?

mauro
mauro

what about Oracle Certification?

jefferson.harris
jefferson.harris

After certifying as a GE soldering and wire wrap inspector, a Harris Corp PC Board Repair tech, and Navy C3 level (perform undocumented and unsupervised troubleshooting and repair on strategic weapons systems) I never found a reason to certify anything else. The OS, database, and other certs are based on standards that are written in jello. The key is to get up to date on them and be able to cope with what they present. When I hire I want to know how someone solves problems and not how much trivia they've collected on what will soon be obsolete.

gasemup
gasemup

Hi All I really don't know how any of these certifications will really help my career. They seem to be more tech oriented qualifications in the support areas of IT. I worked in a support/development role in my last job role while studying to do my Masters. I just cannot see why people bag universities so much. Sure there are some poor student but the majority of people are there to learn. Ive done project work with some students that are vastly superior in skills then some of the 10+ year experienced developers. I never see anyone talk about certifications or extra qualifications after university to help you get into the top end of IT (analyst/architect/project management/ CIO etc). Is there anything or is it just experience?

homer4598
homer4598

I agree with those here that stress experience and careful questioning in interviews. I know someone who just obtained his CISSP. He went to a "boot camp" to learn, then lied on his resume for the experience. Poof - instant CISSP.

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

Now finish your vegetables!

astin.thomas
astin.thomas

I'm 21 years old, I make $65k on my 8-5 corp IT job and $25k (avg) per year on my side home office/small business IT practice. My salary by age is as followed 18> $38,000 19> $50,000 20> $55,000 (14k consulting) 21> $65,000 (25k consulting) I take a college class once in the summer and during the winter mini. Why would I give up the 250-300k in earnings for a straight shot at college, no experence and possible student loan debt? I have 4 tech certs and will have 6 by the end of the year. I go to college because I don't want to be technical for the rest of my days. I plan to always work in the IT field but I have a 10 year goal to Senior Management. I live alone w/no kids!! Just my $0.02

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

I'm afraid after due consideration, deep thought, and intense cogitation. I can do little else but agree wholeheartedly with this statement. Disturbing sums it up nicely. :(

InfoSecAuditor
InfoSecAuditor

If a gauntlet is thrown down, and nobody pays attention, does it still make a sound?

rohith_yhk
rohith_yhk

It's really great 10 certificates!!!!

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

At entry level degree or certs should be enough. Both would be brilliant, but the cost might be a bit heavy. Getting hold of the relevant notes and setting up a wee lab, even if it's only one PC won't hurt. Your chances of getting into IT as employee without one or the other are negligble. Guys like me did it decades ago doesn't happen very often at all now. Apply for everything, the practice is valuable. Try and get feed back from whom ever you apply to. See if you can do help out on the campus network, get a work placement, voluntary work, open source. Help the guy at the local store clean up and secure his PC. Do a help desk for your fellow students who did fuzzy subjects like history.. If you and your fellow students can get access to a blog or somesuch. Set your own lab with your PCs and try to secure them from each other. Blog the results. Every line of experience you put on your resume, makes you look ten times better than someone who sat on their ass, figuring education made them a shoe in candidate.

TheGooch1
TheGooch1

I got my SCJP last year to help out with my job hunt, only to discover that it did not help out at all. It did not help at my current job either. In other words, I could have skipped it and nothing would have changed. Well, at least I know more about Java now...

Altiris_Grunt
Altiris_Grunt

Hear hear!! IMHO, colleges are contructed to produce a "more well-rounded" and "reasoned individual"! Certifications are, by definition, are more industry-focused. I feel they are NOT mutually exclusive!!! My Air Force TI (Training Instructor) always told (OK OK, screamed) "Train like you fight, fight like you train". If a job candidate has both a valid certification(s) and real world experience, then the final determining factor is customer satisfaction ratings (aka soft skills). If a candidate has all of the above PLUS a college degree, then that person could be a "shoe-in"! If not, that person should STILL be considered as a STRONG candidate! Just my $.02! Cheers! Altiris_Grunt

rclark
rclark

And no one provides a cert on that. The old 80/20 rule is alive and well, even in the techsphere. Only 20 percent will be able to think. Only 20 percent of those will be able to apply the solutions. You wonder why so many implementation failures? Crap software? Security Bugs? Bent pins, zapped boards, fried hard drives? Take that first 20 percent, then factor the second 20 percent, and you get a whopping 4% of the techs out there can actually debug a problem and implement a solution. Of course 98% of all stats are made up.........

tinus.brink
tinus.brink

If you really want to be great and never worry about what O/S or Networking solutions are preferred by company A or client B. Try to get a broad view of the IT spectrum. But remember no one is an expert in all. So you can get different certification to say at least you understand the scenario but try to specialize in at least one of them. And Chris... The flame war was fun man! But all is well that ends well I suppose.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Come on in and get your hands dirty. Nothing wrong with a good ratch every now and then.

tinus.brink
tinus.brink

I have to disagree totally. How could anyone think that MCSE makes you an expert on computers. Maybe if you do not have a degree or fresh on the IT marked it will be a little bit better that A+. But still worthless for employment. Yes it will give you a jump start to an entry level career and a free screw driver. It will also proof you are worthy of switching on the PC. wow! It maybe just depends on how you use it. To gain experience to move up the ladder... MCSE just a kick start but useless when compared to experience.

wkangong
wkangong

Oracle is not mentioned any where, this is bias and does not reflect true view of the tech world.

retro77
retro77

That a thousand flys eat his small brain in the middle of the night.

El Tonto con Suerte
El Tonto con Suerte

He should not have been able to get the CISSP in the first place without the experience and someone to vouch for him. If he lied on his application to the (ISC)2 board then he should be reported and lose his cert for life. The same should happen to the person who vouched for him. Ethics are included as a topic on the exam and as part of what someone signs on to when he applies for the cert.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I'd much rather have the value of vendor neutral certifications that say I can use the technology regardless of the brand name it is sold under. That's just me though and the brand name specific to the MCSE certs is easier for HR departments to recognize versus a third party certifying body.

InfoSecAuditor
InfoSecAuditor

...when I read a Tony Hopkinson post and agree with every point he makes. He might be a bitter pommy, but the advice he's giving above (surprisingly enough) is pretty spot on. I'd definitely try to get some hands-on experience while working on your degree. One possible option would be to check around your state/local government IT departments and inquire about internships. Just don't bring any backup tapes home. :) Another option would be to check with your school's job board. There are usually a few intern options available (paid and unpaid). Whatever you do, keep learning. Don't let the negative posts about college degrees disuade you from attaining your academic goals.

eric
eric

You're missing the point. It's not about being an expert. It's about being marketable. Having an MCSE (or any other certification, for that matter) doesn't make you an expert. And it's certainly no substitute for having experience. It's not even a good indicator of success on the job. Having an MCSE is like having a driver's license. Either you've got one or you don't. And if you don't, no employer is really interested in hearing your excuses. It's all about having what you need to market yourself. For network guys, the MCSE is a required hoop to jump through. It's not a sufficient condition for success as an IT guy, but it's definitely a necessary one.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Troubleshooter and then contractor. Got bloody tired of it to be quite honest. A bloke's only got so much p*ss in him.

InfoSecAuditor
InfoSecAuditor

Tony, you are an anachronism. They should place you in a glass box marked "break in case of code problems."

rclark
rclark

I would want the bright eyed degree with work study/intern experience. They are cheaper. But if I had to save the world in 30 days, give me the bitter pommy that gets things done.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

I find it annoying that the route to success that I travelled has been blocked by inertia and ignorance. I started as a clerical assistant on a welfare to work program, I'm about to become Principal Developer for one of the most successful IT companies in the world. I'll stop learning when I die, If I was the sort who gave up I would have done it a long time ago. HR directed numpties who think they 'deserve' my job, simple come take it. Bring more than paper though, unless you want to something to wipe youir eyes on when you've finished honking. Attitude, is what we want, not paper, go the extra mile, try harder. Find a giant, stand on his f'ing head. Otherwise you end up at the back of the queue forlornly waving your 'ticket' at the opportunity train. Motivation or what ? :D

Editor's Picks