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MCSE Bootcamp or Not? Serious only

By T Bowman ·
I am requesting educated opinions from experienced, serious IT Pros only and not a MS bash session please.

I am 39 years old. I have 8 years experience in the IT industry. My experience is in Help Desk, Desktop Support and Systems Administration (hands-on admin of 4 or 5 NT Servers).
I have an Associates degree. I *was* certified on NT 3.51 Server, Workstation and Networking Basics. I left a full-time job to open my own company. My company did computer consulting to small businesses along with computer investigations (and general investigations). I am trying to get back in the IT field full-time and believe my lack of current certification may be a problem when combined with my absence from the "corporate" scene.
I am seriously considering a MCSE Boot Camp. I believe if I had done so sooner, I likely would have gotten the one job I wanted most.
Yes, I can take the tests one at a time through self-paced study - just like before, but I need it faster. I need a job real soon. I'm technically competent and have experience, so it won't be a 'paper MCSE' (please, don't go there).

The question: What would you do?

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By the way...

by T Bowman In reply to MCSE Bootcamp or Not? Ser ...

Companies in this area REQUEST MCSE quite often. Almost all openings relative to my experience either ask for MCSE or MCP.
The one job I really wanted had it listed as
a requirement.

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Decision Time

by fire_mesh In reply to By the way...

Hi, I am new to the IT industry (2 yrs) as customer helpdesk technician, and am looking to go into networking and admin job.
I'm in my 30's and want to get the foot in the door asap. like you i have post my query here, but no reply so far -see Instructor-led or self-study in the certification discussion board.
After speaking to a few friends who work in IT, I came 2 a conclusion, self-study takes time, so I am most likely going 2 take a certification training course because time is against me.
So I think if you want it soon, take the bootcamp.

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Boot camp for validation

by McKayTech In reply to By the way...

I tend to be very suspicious of boot camp type experiences for professional education, but...

If there is a place for boot camps, it is for candidates such as you who have real-world experience and who simply need to validate their existing knowledge and perhaps pick up a few tips and tricks along the way. This is much different than the person brand-new to the field, who is actually looking to *learn* the stuff through a boot camp.

If your are sure that not having the paper is a barrierto employment for which you would otherwise be considered, a boot camp course may very well be an appropriate investment for you.


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Get it ASAP.

by admin In reply to By the way...

Your question appears to be: "It is a given I need an MSCE, but I want to know if a "boot camp" is the fastest route." I just had a party that included 2 people in these programs. They were complaining that for them, they learn so fast and lose the information they learned because they have no actual hands on experience. Even when they try at home with the OS and home networks they are on, they often get quickly baffled. They get 95-100% almost all of the time on tests and have acquired certs already after a few weeks. The great thing for you is that you have hands on, and at least the local "boot camp" here is great at getting you certified.

Since you stated:"Companies in this area REQUEST MCSE quite often. Almost all openings relative to my experience either ask for MCSE or MCP.", I would suggest you sign up ASAP if you can afford the time and money. Being in school gives you deadlines and a learning enviroment that is hard to duplicate on your own, especially when time is of the essence.


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My humble opinion..

by George_A In reply to By the way...

I am an IT professional with almost 10 years experience. I hold NO certifications, but have applied to and had offers made for positions that REQUIRE MCSE. The trick is to make sure that both the cover letter and the resume list the specific skills that they would be looking for in an MCSE as well as tote your hands on experience.
While many companies post that they require MCSE, it is more likely that the HR doesn't know how to write up what the IT department really needs. This is where the cover letter comes in. By pointing out in the cover letter that you do not have a CURRENT (do show you held one once) MCS, you have the experience and skills that EXCEED the MCSE standard.
Follow that with a list of the skills and experiences that fit with the job description placed by the company. This should satisfy any companies question of whether or not to allow your application for employment through the door. I had success using this method with Boston University, Biogen anda few smaller companies in the Boston area.
Like you, I was considering going to a Boot Camp (the one in Detroit..5 days for the MCSE) until I had a meeting with the VP for IT for a large company here in Boston. The VP's advise was to do what I just wrote to you and it worked for me.

Best wishes,


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Go for it!

by beergod In reply to MCSE Bootcamp or Not? Ser ...

I recently attended a bootcamp to complete my Win2k MCSE because between working full-time and trying to complete my Bachelors there just wasn't anymore time to self-study. Plus you won't really learn all there is to learn by reading some stupid book. You must have hands on experience on Win2k and feedback from your peers makes all the difference when your struggling through something new. I would however be very cautious about where you go. Like they say, you get what you pay for. Any place that guarantees that you'll pass, I have to wonder about what unethical practices are going on there. I attended ACREW. It's located in Evergreen, CO. Not only is it one of the best schools in the country but the environment (secluded in the mountains)is to die for. A totally relaxing way to forcefeed brain-cramping information. You can check out their site I spent about $11,000 on the whole trip (financed of course) and would do it again in a heartbeat. Good luck!

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Follow-up to those interested

by T Bowman In reply to MCSE Bootcamp or Not? Ser ...

Well, all of you said basically the same thing - 'go for it'. Now I have to come up with the funds. It's a 'Catch-22'. Can't get job, need cert, don't have cash cause I don't have a job... Financing - the American Way. Now to decide which company to use and get registered.

Thank you all for your input! Best of luck to you and if I can ever help you with anything... lemme know.


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I'm in the same situ

by ChrisMS In reply to Follow-up to those intere ...

I too have the same problem. Every company around here requires MCSE because they have been told it is the "ultimate" qualification. However they don't know what it means. I have small certificates form other home based study courses, and have a fair amount of knowledge, but I can't land a position.
I know I need to study, but at 33, I feel I may be too old, I'm in England and around here, jobs are aimed at college leavers so you can pay lower salaries. Is it worth my while?
Who Knows.!

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Possible Solution

by LordInfidel In reply to Follow-up to those intere ...

Follow me on this one.

Since you already had your Nt3.51 cert....

Have you interviewed with the place you were trying to get into....

Do you have a $100 to take the 2K professional exam. If so, since funds are tight, that may be one exam you can crank out quickly. Then you will have your MCP.

When I was hired a couple of years ago by my present employer, It was on a condition that within 4 months I have my MCSE. But the catch was that they would pay for it.

So it was a win-win. I was in a job that I had access to the operaring systems and I could study all I want. Plus they paid for it. (did'nt need to go to boot camp)

You can always use the grounds of hey, I passed it once, I am getting recert'd, I can do it in x amount of time. Don't let your lack of the cert hold you back.

Like you alluded to before, you would'nt be a paper mcse. Your knowledge will come thru once you open your mouth and talk to them.

If they really want you they will work it out withyou. And they way I look at it. You want a company that is willing to invest in you.

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By the way...

by T Bowman In reply to MCSE Bootcamp or Not? Ser ...

I have been in this job search for a while.
I am consistantly getting one statement.
"Virtually all companies in this area are requesting certifications (MCSE, CCNA, CNE, etc) for two reasons. They want to KNOW that you know what you are talking about and 2nd because there are so many folks certified now that placing someone who isn't certified is almost impossible." I've gotten that almost verbatim from 3 IT Recruiters and the same sentiments from most of the IT Pro's I know.
Get this, because I need a job so bad, I applied for a service tech job. Mind you I have an AS in Engineering Technologies and have 17 years of experience in hardware and software support - 10 of which is on NT platforms alone! They wouldn't hire me because I wasn't "A+" certified! I can take a computer apart and put it back together blindfolded with one hand tied behind my back. Go figure.

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