1. Which one would you go for? Some of the guys I work with recommend going for 2008, but after reading several posts on here I'm thinking of going down the 2003 route.
I think this deserves more debate than it usually gets. There is a lot of 2003 out there, it is the dominant NOS, it is the expected NOS, you have to be able to deal with whatever comes up on it. However; keep in mind the other facts of life. There are 2.2 Million MCP
's in the world. 250,000 MCSE
's in the world. By comparison, there are 11,000 Windows 2008 MCITP
's EA's in the world. I wonder how many 2003 admins/technicians are out of work right now? How many of them would you be competeing with for jobs? I'm not pushing you one way or the other, I know it's horrible to say it, but both is ideal. 2008 (and 2008 R2 :P) is the future. Be a forward thinker.
2. How long will it take to get certified in MSCE or MCITP
? I can afford to have 2 or 3 months off and was planning on studying 35 hours a week.
35 hours a week studying is a truck load of studying to be sure. Boson nailed it, everyone is different. Some folks go through exams like a hot knife through melting butter. Some struggle and agonize and take years literally. All depends on you. I just recently decided to start working on certifications again, I did four exams in the last 30 days. One week of study and playing around and practice exams, then an exam. For the record though, I do this stuff all day everyday and for years it's been that way. I'd pick one and give it a higher priority, but try to do both, or do one and get a portion of the other and keep working at it.
Thats the one thing about certificaiton and learning, it never ends, it never stops, just come to terms with it now and get ready to be doing this all over again at some point in the future.
Best of luck on it, hopefully you'll share along the way and we can all help out in whatever fashion we can.