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Author Topic: Retraining  (Read 4962 times)


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« on: May 05, 2008, 01:30:48 pm »

There seem to be a lot of people working in IT on these boards so hopefully one of you will be able to offer some advice. I'm about to finish a worthless sociology degree and am considering retraining in IT. The only formal IT qualification I have is a basic certificate showing I know how to turn a computer on. Can anyone suggest which specific area is best to go into in terms of job availability and salary? Are there any decent courses that will take someone who has a degree in an unrelated discipline but no real IT qualifications without having to go right back to the start and do A level IT or something?


Keyser Soce

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Re: Retraining
« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2008, 07:39:56 pm »

I passed your question on to someone who would know. This is the response they gave.

"You can Pass this along to your poster since I do not have an account.

First I need to tell you what I tell all my students.
If you chose IT because you see the $$$$ then you should leave right now because
you are going to hate this business. You never stop learning and the technology
never stays the same. You will spend money chasing this technology to be on top
of the game until you leave it.


If you call your ISPs tech support and know more about how to fix the problem
than your ISP, you might be a tech candidate.
If you're friends and family call you for help, and you can talk them through a
problem over the phone without looking at a computer, you might be a tech
If you know intuitively how to operate any electronic device from watches to
remotes to VCRs without reading the instructions, you might be a tech
If you can use Google to research and solve most problems with your computer on
your own, you might be a tech candidate(r).
If you can read, comprehend, and retain and you have an unquenchable desire to
learn, you will make a great technician.

If you need help figuring out how to wire up your new surround sound system, you
might reconsider IT because typically, we are the experts... In everything
technical and there's no one else to turn to when the customer is turning to

Next, some advise my dad gave me as a younger man.
If you always want to have a job, learn a lot of skills.
If you want to make a lot of money, be better at one or two things than anyone
else you know.
Width creates stability and value, depth and specialization creates wealth.

Now that I have done my best to talk you out of it here is what you want to

Money for training cost is the big item you need to consider.
First, I am a technical trainer and author and I can tell you this dirty little
secret, you typically don't need us. The books at the Computer store will do it
for you. As an author of these books, I can tell you another dirty little
secret. We read the help files written by the engineers (for example Microsoft
Help) then we regurgitate it for you in the books in slightly simpler terms and
a different order.  Caveat. More updated information is available on the vendor
web site and it is updated. Truth is, if you have the internet, you have
everything you need and could be an expert in everything without attending
another class, although, starter classes will help to get you pointed in the
right direction to absorb the plethora of ETLAs (Extended Three Letter Acronyms)
you will need to memorize to be able to converse in the lexicon that is known as
Geek Speak or Technical Jargon)

So here is where you start.
You have a degree. Great! Don't get another one unless you want to be CIO later
then get your BSB/IS later...
If you are a visual learner you might want to stick to GUI support items like
Microsoft. Keep in mind everyone will hate you but the good side is, I believe
MS has intentionally made these platforms suck so we have continued work.
On the other hand, if you can remember details and order well and memorizing
lyrics or lines from movies is your thing, then a command line environment might
be better suited for you and a faster way into the field.

Basics are as follows.

CompTIA A+(r)
Typically the entry level certification that will be 1 course, and 2 tests.
$1500 + 2 X $250.

CompTIA Network+(r)
many IT certifications integrate CompTIA Network+ into their curriculums.
Microsoft added CompTIA Network+ into their Microsoft Certified Systems
Administrator (MCSA) program, and other corporations such as Novell, Cisco, HP,
Lotus and 3Com also recognize CompTIA Network+ as part of their certification
Similar pricing so another $1500 + $250 to test.

Next, leave CompTIA and on to the main event.

(I recommend you stay away from End user support unless you really enjoy
explaining complex items (My wireless mouse won't work, Change the
batteries....) to Bags of Hair and Boxes of Rocks.. It's a daily torment not
unlike explaining to your old friends why the climate is not warming, the truth
about 9/11 and why taxes are immoral, and getting the same broken records... yes
see where I am going here? End user support "long-term" sucks and the money is a
fraction of the IT potential income.)

OK so. many choices.
1. End User support - Desktop support sucks! You have to be able to know
everything even if you never used the software in your whole life. Of course,
that is natural to many IT people anyway and if it is you, then great because
you are probably more suited to the next group anyway. A+ (above), and Microsoft
MSDST. $125 per exam, 4 exams.

2. Server Support - Microsoft Server support is a step above slug and even with
90% market share, you will still feel guilty at night. But, if you specialize
here Like I did (Active Directory and Exchange Mail servers) You will be solidly
employed as most shy away from email support because it is a lot like going into
a boxing ring and leading with your face. Really, Email breaks sometimes and
even the janitor knows your F*%$!ing phone number to complain.
The certification you want to look at is going to cost you between $1500 (self
study and cheat exams) to $15000 ( 8 or so classes at a reputable Microsoft CTEC
trainer. Do an internet search for your area. (A+, Net+, and MSDST or Microsoft
MCSA + MCSE + MSITP this list is pretty long depending on what you want to do.

3. Sun/Unix/Linux/Novel - Yes yes yes. I hear it all the time, Linux is taking
over in corporate America and Jesus is coming in the year 2000, 2006, 1007,
2008, 2010, 2015, 2021, 2034 and at the end of the Mayan calendar in 2012 or
soon whichever comes first..... In the mean time, Free software is nice for home
users, but the amount of money you can earn here supporting it is substantially
lower because the demand is so much lower so wait until Christ does come and or
Linux picks up more that 4% of the commercial server market share before you
spend your time (most valuable) and Money (investment in your future is always
acceptable considering the almost immediate return) on supporting these. Learn
them if you can, but be real, you need to get paid. And yes, Linux is clearly a
better alternative so don't hate me it is what it is... research to find out
about exams here.

Other means, SQL, MySQL, Oracle, and any one of a thousand other technical
certifications that are nice to supplement a requested certification like
CompTIA or Cisco, or NetAPP, or SUN, or Microsoft or..or..or.. yea, well, there
are options so look for what interests you and each vendor has a web site
dedicated to certifications and training but these are not cheap and it still
helps to have a good core knowledge of how stuff works first.

5. Cisco / Networking Appliances in general.
   So far, we talked about the Blue side. But go to the (network and core
infrastructure) dark side (well Teal for Cisco colors) and you have a lot of
options from Switching, Routing, Telephony (Te-lef-un-ey) (say it right or these
Cisco Certified Internetworking Experts in Voice - CCIE is the coveted ultimate
PHD level certification in Cisco land and these guys are worth 90-120K- they get
a little agitated if you say it wrong. Anyway, Cisco is a great place to begin a
new IT career.

Why? -
Most will compare the single Cisco CCNA (Cisco Certified Networking Associate)
with the Microsoft MCSE for expertise. Really it is unfair, but the bottom line
is, new CCNA's will make 40K or better depending on factors like negotiation
skills, other college, etc.

How to Get CCNA, Go to a Cisco Trainer (short time) or if you have a job and you
want to transition to it, take a night class at your community college. You will
pay a fraction of the costs for the class. Have more time to learn it, be better
prepared since you did not cram for a test in one week and now expect to change
your whole life.

This is the entry level exam but it can open doors to other stuff and break you
into the industry quickly and cheaply exposing you to what you might want to
specialize in. CCNA is great no matter what you want to study and, if you learn
it first, the Microsoft network infrastructure is much easier to understand.

Websites for you to visit.

Oh, then there is the other; "other side of the fence."
Application programming and development with even more choices from ASP, C++ C#
VB, .NET Cobol and on and on.

Good luck."

Hope that helps.
"In the beginning of a change, the patriot is a scarce man; brave, hated, and scorned. When his cause succeeds however, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot." -- Mark Twain
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