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Need help with career change - cisco, microsoft, other ?

By markbagus ·
Am thinking of changing careers and need some advice on which direction to go in.


I am currently a Finance & IT Director for a manufacturing engineering company in the UK employing about 35 staff.

As well as looking after the finances, I maintain a 13-computer Windows 2000 network (as well as doing DTP for adverts/flyers etc, and maintaing the website). Initially I set up the network and had a bit of help ref Windows 2000.

Over the years I have had plenty of experience fixing problems - both software and hardware - keeping it working.

The main problem I have is that I am self-taught (having been brought up with computers from the Spectrum/VIC 20 days) and have no formal qualification in IT at all. All my formal qualifications are in business/finance (I have a degree in Business administration).

I like fiddling with computers and want to change careers into that field (and maybe move to another country as well) - however, which is the best course to specialise in?

I have been told by a friend in the industry (doing VOIP) the Cisco CCNA is a good starting point as there is a shortage around the world - and also it does not take forever to get the qualification (I do have a family so home study is very hard to find time for - so I'll have to go for an intensive course.)

But before I make a final decision I would really appreciate your advice on where the opportunities are and where I should be heading.


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Be Carefull with Cisco

by jerome.koch In reply to Need help with career cha ...

I don't know how much time and money you intend to spend on retraining; however, going headfirst into the heart of a network infrastructure without prior Network expirience may not be a good idea. There are rarely just Cisco people employed. And while VOIP is currently a hot field, it is a very specialized position where oppurtunities are limited.

Most people I know who are employed as infrastructure people (DNS Design, AD or Edir desgin,Network Load balance,security,VLAN design,VOIP desgin, etc..) also support alot of different projects that include data centers, application server farms, and large network desgin. These guys worked mainly from the ground up, and gained valuable expierence working as desktop admins, then server admins, then infrastrucure admins. By the time they got to this senior position they had 5-8 years in the field. Some much more. They also moved through the labrynith of Cisco schools and testing to get at least a CCNP cert. Most have goals of CCIE. These guys get called 24/7, work strange hours (if thier network is global), and are usually the most motivated. The stress can be high, but the pay is usually very good. Remember, if one core switch goes down in a data center, an entire global application can go down. The stress in getting that one piece of equipment back up is high.

There are VARs who do hire CCNAs to install and config routers, or support Cisco equipment, but the pay isn't always that great. Your biz background puts you in a great position to be an IT Manager;but if you insist on being in infrastrucutre, get training in server and network OS technology first (Unix,Linux,Windoze,Citirx,VMWare,OS X), and then branch into switching, routing, etc...

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What best training for IT Manager role?

by markbagus In reply to Be Carefull with Cisco

Thanks for your reply.

Hmmmm....If I decide to go the IT Manager route, I guess some more technical training would be very useful. Any ideas on the sorts of things I should be thinking about if I go for Management?

As I guess you are wondering why I want to move from an upper Management role to a technical 'worker'-type role, the reason is that I am fed up managing a workforce and want a break from it. People are such pains in the **** sometimes (especially other Management!) and it gets to you after a while.

The thought of dealing with IT equipment/software instead of people is appealing - especially if I can still earn good money doing it. I don't mind stress if it is something I have a chance of sorting out - but when someone is very stubborn (but you cannot sack them), they are so frustrating - much worse than any IT problem that could ever occur.

Anyway, enough of my ranting and ravings.

I would still consider IT management as I would be silly not to keep that option open (I have a wife and kids to support) - but any more advice would be warmly appreciated.


P.S. If it helps with options, my wife's sister is in the US so we are thinking about moving there in the next year or two.

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Small suggestions

by alankru In reply to What best training for IT ...

In terms of the management side of things (not so much technical) you might be interested in this in the UK:
(it is global in actual fact at That proves to an employer that you have the skills and with your previous management experience that shows that you have the experience as well.

In terms of technical training, you might like to look at the vast range of qualifications that CompTIA do:
Later, more advanced and more server admin, then you can get CCNA as well and or MCP or MCSE. It's difficult here in the UK to find a place that does these courses face to face in a classroom, so it is best done online. As you have the knowledge already, you probably won't need a face to face tutor. It is cheaper online usually too and is self-study. There are alot of online training sites that are WAY too expensive (over ?1.5k) for some qualifications and they are not proper certified trainers. For this reason, it is best to use Gateway IT:
They are certified partners (one of a handful) in the UK and they will do things properly. There online courses save you about ?700 at times compared to the un-certified version websites that just rip you off in my opinion.
All of this advice has come from alot of research and that was all found to be the best. You might be interested to get Dell Engineer certifications also after you have A+ as that really will get you a niche in a company if they use Dell (and let's face it, most big companies do). HDI certifications are unheard of really in the UK so you'll need to take a little info with you when you go for an interview because they won't know how diverse or what it is.
This is the way I hope to go. I've done HDI CSS through HDI europe online and I've done half of A+. I'm also doing CCNA at the moment and perhaps I will do a little MCP. After all that, if I still have some money left, then I would like to do Dell certifications as well. I'm 18 but have been working with computers since I was 13/14.

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IT Mgr Training

by jerome.koch In reply to Need help with career cha ...

Believe it or not, my current boss has a degree in Math, and was a school teacher for 5 years before he got into IT. He worked as a developer for a short time before he realized that he loved to manage things. He has a real talent for managing people, and processes.

In you case, I would find out what network OS is in highest demand in the UK, and train for that. Your previous buisness background means a lot more than you realize. If you are willing to say manage hardware or network projects, you can have the best of both worlds. But first you need to find what's in the highest demand in the UK and the EU. I don't want to propose any one cert, as I don't know what the market is like in the UK.

You should call a large corporation near you, ask for thier CIO's tel number. Invite him/ to lunch, and pick thier brains. Explain your situation, what you really want to do, and consider thier adivce. Perhaps Cisco VOIP (you mentioned this before) careers do have a huge future there in the UK, or prehaps Sun Admins, or Linux gurus...

Good luck

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What current in the US?

by markbagus In reply to IT Mgr Training

Thanks again.

However, we are seriously thinking of moving to the US as my wife's sister is there (and we are getting fed up of England - you'll know why if you've been keeping up with the news over here.)

Obviously, I need to get a job and work permit for this - but as my wife's sister works in Biometrics, there could be some help there - but she is not too sure how things are on networks etc as that is not her field.

What is currently in demand in the US?


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