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Experience versus certification

Discussion in 'Windows Server 2003 / 2008 / 2012 Exams' started by stolenblessing, Feb 28, 2008.

  1. stolenblessing

    stolenblessing Nibble Poster

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    Hello Guys,

    This is not a question but a thought that I would like to share with all of you.

    One cannot have a real-world experience on administering multi-site multi-domain Windows Environment without adequate knowledge. And knowledge comes when you study for a certification, and also practice in a lab environment. So I don't think that writing an exam is only for the guys who are "on job" and working with live systems.

    Any comments..

    Regards,
     
    Certifications: CCNA, MCP (70-290)
    WIP: 70-291
  2. neutralhills

    neutralhills Kilobyte Poster

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    In years past I worked with Exchange Server 5.5 and 2000. I'm certified on 5.5. I don't plan to certify on whatever the latest version is, because, frankly, I no longer support it in my day to day job role as a rural computer tech.

    Now... I get enough Office, printer, and laptop problems that I'm going to beef up in those areas (and if someone could recommend good laptop specific training, I'd be grateful). But getting certed-up on products I'm never going to use just so I can hang another piece of paper on the wall? Waste of my time.

    FWIW, my last day off that didn't involve puking was in the middle of December 2007. Seriously. The stack of white papers and Tom's Hardware/Ars Technica articles printed out and sitting on my bedside table is over a foot high now, and I have to work through that before I get to read anything recreational. I've had new shelving sitting in the back of my store for a month that I should assemble, but that has to wait until I catch up on the backlog of dead computers on my workbench. The recent cold snap has left me three weeks behind on outdoor WiMax installs. I'm booked to teach thirteen computer and photography classes next month, and all but one of them are confirmed as running at this point. I still have to develop my presentations for two of them. My wife informed me yesterday evening that my nearly seven year old daughter is starting to act up because she misses me. I wouldn't know because I haven't seen her for five days -- I'm out of the house working before she gets up and I don't get home until she's in bed. :eek:

    Even if I had the interest in certifying on products I don't and probably won't use, I don't have the time to spare. Anything I get certified on HAS to be something I support on a regular basis. My time is money.
     
    Certifications: Lots.
    WIP: Upgrading MS certs
  3. wagnerk
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    wagnerk aka kitkatninja Moderator

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    I don't believe that the problem is studying for a subject - the problem, I believe, is when someone is certified in something that they do have real practical experience in - that's the whole process of professional certifications, if you do not have the required experience then the other option is the academic route.

    I have no problems with someone studying for x, y & z, however to be certified in something actually say's that you can do it. Take for example a couple of years ago, when there was a surge of "paper" MCSE's - entry level jobs were requesting the MCSE as a requirement. Why? Because there were highly qualified people that could answer questions in an exam, that could do this and that in a simulated and controlled environment - but had trouble and problems with dealing with the "real" world. Thus devaluing the certification, hence 1 of the reasons why MS has dropped the MCP program and introduced the new MCTS/MCITP program.

    I've worked in a multi-domain & multi-site organisation and I know how hard real world problems are compared to the simulated world.

    Would you trust a doctor that has only worked on dummies and studied out of a text book (or watched videos)? Or would you take a ride in a cab where the driver has only played xbox driving games? I wouldn't and neither would I trust someone who has the knowledge but no real practical skills to look after my servers & network infrastructure which my company depends on.

    That's just my personal view, some may agree others may disagree.

    -Ken
     
    Certifications: CITP, PGCert, BSc, HNC, LCGI, PTLLS, MCT, MCITP, MCTS, MCSE, MCSA:M, MCSA, MCDST, MCP, MTA, MCAS, MOS (Master), A+, N+, S+, ACA, VCA, etc... & 2nd Degree Black Belt
    WIP: PGDip
  4. kevicho

    kevicho Gigabyte Poster

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    I think one of the running themes on this board is to build up experience while earning certification, i consider this to be building blocks to a successful career.

    There is really nothing to stop someone setting up a test network at home, with several virtual machines to simulate a small network, and gain the hands on to do various tasks.

    The only thing you cant get through this kind of training is the everyday stuff that comes up, (which in fairness the majority of exams and training hasnt touched, research becomes a handy tool) so if you have done the above preperation at home, then you will know the tools you need to do your job or isolate problems.

    I personally have worked a level or two below my ability for a year or so now, while i build up certs (this is so i can do my job easily but have time to revise - i do get put on a reasonable amount of network and server work so im not completely to$$ing it off), my first IT job 9 years ago was a net admin for a small building company (25ish users) on an NT 4 domain, straight out of college, green as the moss, it was a learning experience but i got everything working, and I learned a lot.

    I do wish i had the same resources and drive to learn at that time, as i have nowadays as i know i could have done a better job, but nothing beats real life hand muckying :)
     
    Certifications: A+, Net+, MCSA Server 2003, 2008, Windows XP & 7 , ITIL V3 Foundation
    WIP: CCNA Renewal
  5. kevicho

    kevicho Gigabyte Poster

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    Sorry forgot to add, I completely agree with the person who said studying for certs you will never use is completely pointless, while it is good to learn new things, they soon become forgotten memories when they arent used a reasonable amount.

    And life is too short to waste time.
     
    Certifications: A+, Net+, MCSA Server 2003, 2008, Windows XP & 7 , ITIL V3 Foundation
    WIP: CCNA Renewal
  6. neutralhills

    neutralhills Kilobyte Poster

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    A few more thoughts...

    I've worked for small and large organizations. I've had run-ins with "paper techs" in most of the jobs that I've had, and this has left me with a less than impressive opinion of them.

    I now own my own computer repair business out in the country. I'm very busy. So busy that I will be forced to hire a technician to help out in the next six months. When I place the job ad, I will be asking for those who are "computer obsessives" to apply. I don't really care whether or not they have certs. I'm looking for the person who has tuned their computer to within an inch of its life, who compulsively reads bleepingcomputer.com to keep on top of the latest malware, who has to have the latest video card in their box, etc. The person with the knowledge that may be an inch wide, but that is a mile deep. That's the person I want.

    The paper techs, on the other hand, all seem to have knowledge that is a mile wide and an inch deep. They can't fix the problems I encounter every day. I can't bill out for problems that haven't been fixed and no one gets paid. Having an MCSE with enough knowledge to scrape by a couple Designing exams, the Exchange exam, and the SQL exam won't get you far in my shop. If you have an MCP in Windows XP and you know your way around the registry blindfolded, I want to talk to you. I need you.

    Now, when I find my perfect computer obsessive compulsive employee, it will be the icing on the cake if he/she is certified. If not, no big deal. I'll pay for the self-study materials (I have limited use for classroom training) and the exam fees. I'll make my time available to mentor for the studying and the exam. I'll do this because, while I'm not impressed by certs, my customers certainly are. Certifications are a security blanket for my customers and I can charge more for that. This means a larger pile of dosh for both myself and my employee.

    Walking into a job interview in my shop and waving around impressive looking transcripts will NOT get you a job with me. But when we reach the stage in the interview where I stick you in front of a rootkit infested system (which I will do), you come up with the right answer inside of ten minutes, and you seem like someone I won't want to kill on a daily basis, you're hired. And if you're not certified on XP or Vista yet, you will be with me paying the bill.

    My 2 cents: your mileage may vary.
     
    Certifications: Lots.
    WIP: Upgrading MS certs
  7. BosonMichael
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    You assume too much. You *can* get knowledge outside of getting certifications, and you *can* get experience without first having certifications. You gain knowledge when you gain experience, and after you have experience and knowledge, THEN you can get certified.

    Ken is exactly right. Certification wasn't designed to be a way for someone to gain knowledge in a technology... certification was designed to be a way to show that you already have experience with a technology. Sure, you will likely gain knowledge while studying for a certification... but if you don't already have experience, then what good is the certification? To employers, it won't mean much (if anything) without the experience... you'll just be another "paper tech". And as Ken and NH have pointed out... that's NOT a good thing.

    (I'm gonna have to get used to calling Q "NH". :D That just feels weird!)
     
    Certifications: CISSP, MCSE+I, MCSE: Security, MCSE: Messaging, MCDST, MCDBA, MCTS, OCP, CCNP, CCDP, CCNA Security, CCNA Voice, CNE, SCSA, Security+, Linux+, Server+, Network+, A+
    WIP: Just about everything!
  8. Mitzs
    Honorary Member

    Mitzs Ducktape Goddess

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    Stolenblessings. I don't know how old you are. But there are a lot of techs in all different parts of technology that are not certified. The have exp and they don't feel a need for a piece of paper to prove that. Nor do they need one. Like I said, their exp speaks for itself.

    Here’s a different example. By what you have wrote above, you are saying that no one can progress forward with new software till they have study for the certs. Do you know how many techs on here run beta software before there is even any documentation for it let alone study material for exam?

    You are right that sitting an exam isn't only for those that are already working in the field. However, those same learning material are not an all "how to" for something either. The study material teaches you for that exam alone not everything that can be done or will be done by that software. The N+ exam for example teaches someone just enough to be very very dangerous on a network. A person has to look deeper then just study material to truly learn the technology they are working with, an to be honest cert learning material really isn’t necessary.
     
    Certifications: Microcomputers and network specialist.
    WIP: Adobe DW, PS
  9. stolenblessing

    stolenblessing Nibble Poster

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    Guys... Your replies are really eye-opener for me.

    I realize that organizations don't require certs; they need a person with knowledge and skills to solve problems. Certs can be an added advantage when there are more people competing for a position.

    I realize that the point that I raised in the topic was more of a personal view. It gives me tremendous motivation when I work towards a certification. It gives me focus and also a path to follow things in a planned manner.
    I have people who are MCSEs but they don't know the FSMO roles (lol).

    Thanks for sharing your valuable opinions and insights. Cheers...

    Regards,

    Stolen
     
    Certifications: CCNA, MCP (70-290)
    WIP: 70-291
  10. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

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    Thats precisely the point, most certs do not and can not prove anything other than you can pass an exam. Hopefully they possibly prove you have some basic understanding, the ability to study and an eagerness to learn.

    Actually I think the most useful certs are the ones that do take the route of learn while you cert, the SCJP, A+, Network+ etc...

    People often want to cross train or break into new industries, nothing wrong with that, I think its a positive thing.

    Yeah but if you were on a desert island about to die you'd let a vet operate on you wouldn't you ? :biggrin
    Even a surgeon has to have a 'first operation' right ? Would you prefer a newbie surgeon or a heavilly experienced vet ? So theres a bootstrapping process whereby people learn the ropes, its not black or white, expert or newbie. Some people may have a lot of transferable skills, half of computing was created by mathematicians, physicists and electronic engineers...

    The thing is new people are needed every day, and they need experience and training, if they are 80% there why not give them a chance ? Give them a few minor duties. I agree people should respect traditional education more, and the get rich quick approach of cert training does worry me.
     
    Certifications: CITP, BSc, HND, SCJP, SCJD, SCWCD, SCBCD, SCEA, N+, Sec+, Proj+, Server+, Linux+, MCTS, MCPD, MCSA, MCITP, CCDH
  11. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    But we're not on a desert island with only a vet available... there are plenty of competent, available, and affordable techs out there WITH experience.

    Sure, a surgeon has to have a first operation... but he usually builds experience by assisting with dozens of surgeries before he attempts his first. THAT'S why we recommend getting experience first... THAT is the "bootstrapping process". It works, and it has always worked. It only requires that people be willing to work their way up and not try to take shortcuts that they're not ready to take. Sadly, there are way too many people who want to "start in the middle"... and that simply doesn't work.

    Because there are people who are 100% of the way there who are available.

    If those people who are 80% of the way there want to advance, they should get a job at their appropriate level where they can eventually assist those at the next level... so they can get that last 20%.

    I've said this before... but classroom training / lab training / book training is sooooo completely different than supporting stuff in a real-world environment. A student might think they're 80% of the way there - after all, they understand ALL the theory, right? But if all they have is theory, but no experience, then I'd estimate that they're only 20% of the way to where they need to be... not 80%.
     
    Certifications: CISSP, MCSE+I, MCSE: Security, MCSE: Messaging, MCDST, MCDBA, MCTS, OCP, CCNP, CCDP, CCNA Security, CCNA Voice, CNE, SCSA, Security+, Linux+, Server+, Network+, A+
    WIP: Just about everything!
  12. Lev Arris

    Lev Arris Byte Poster

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    While I agree with the majority of the points raised I'm going to have to have my two pence :-p

    Everyone here says "you need the experience" "paper techs" etc.. etc.. But the major issue for myself starting out is trying to find the experience. At present I'm on about 20k doing first line support for a large corporate network mainly consisting of XP machines.

    I have studied and passed A+, N+, MCDST and am about to do the 70-270. So Ideally my next step would be to try and get into a junior server admin role. Or a 2nd line role involving some work with server 03.

    My issue is that virtually all of these roles and this includes junior server positions and also some 16k-19k jobs are advertising for MCSE or Unix/Linux server administration experience.

    This means that to get myself onto the bottom rung I am probably going to have to set up a VMware network, administer it and get the qualifications before I can get the experience.
     
    Certifications: A+, N+, MCDST, MCSA (270,290,291)
    WIP: CCNA ..Global Domination
  13. csx

    csx Megabyte Poster

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    My Experiences so far

    I was stuck in my last job doing service desk work for local IT Companies. The thing that annoyed me soooo much was i pretty much doing everything possible! a company phones up with a problem - i was supposed to deal with it on the phone or via remote work for a crap 11k. Great learning experience but the pressure and stress was too much! there wasn't anyone qualified in the office to even help! all the qualified engineers were out on the road too busy.

    I got my certs but this still didn't help, motivation was very low and sometimes wondered why i even bothered! luckily enough i got sacked (before i went insane lol) - wont go into details, they knew i was looking for a job and feel they wanted to get rid of me and found a way.

    Since then i have been contracting for the NHS and as you can imagine money is pretty good. The amount of experience and different servers/technologies i am using is great!

    What I'm trying to get at is, sometimes making the jump (ok i was sacked) is a good thing and is what you need to push on with your careers.

    At the moment i don't want to go full time employed just yet, I'm young and want to work for different companies, explore different areas and getting that vast of experience before i settle down. I could work for a company for 3 years... get no where doing the same stuff day in and day out and be bored... i think i would go stale so to speak. Building up that vast amount of experiences and certifications will help me later on i feel when i want to work full time and have that 'easy' life.

    Certifications can help - i think most agencies look for that MCSA/MCSE in their keyword search, if found then you'll get shortlisted - if not then no. it sucks but it's true.

    I have worked with contractors with xxx amount of experience and certs and are bloody useless! it shows as only 2 of us got kept on out of 5. Annoying!!!

    Anyways thats my rumble.
     
    Certifications: A+, Network+, 70-271 & 70-272, CCENT, VCP5-DCV and CCNA
    WIP: Citrix
  14. Mitzs
    Honorary Member

    Mitzs Ducktape Goddess

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    hmmm, Madam Mitzs see that you swiped all the office pens. One of them had a leaked that left a trail right back to your desk! Ha! Mystery solved people. Move along people nothing else to see here. :biggrin
     
    Certifications: Microcomputers and network specialist.
    WIP: Adobe DW, PS
  15. fortch

    fortch Kilobyte Poster

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    Let me introduce another wrinkle. Take the 'mile deep' person, and toss them 3 or 4 easy, yet tricky issues, and see what they do. I've known plenty of VERY knowledgeable people go right for the most complex cause, or even the most recent, somewhat related issue... and follow it all the way out to nothing (but a waste of time).

    Knowledge is not the only requirement. Many times, the heart of a problem is troubleshooting and confirming what isn't wrong. In fact, that should be natural to any tech, and sometimes it's not. Sure, experience is key, but I'm sure that there's more than a few administrators or techs out there that just don't get it right the first time. From my experience, the root of this is experience doing all the wrong things. Experience it is, nonetheless, but it helps as much as the 'knowledgeable' guy.

    I'd rather hire the guy that has the right attitude, and can demonstrate the proper tools and methods in practice. That being said, the experience and knowledge are prerequisites for the most part, and should be just part of the whole package. Certification is good for anyone, but its a one-legged stool on its own, when real-world experience, good mentorship and training, and effective communication skills aren't there. Sometimes, ya just gotta be good.

    My father had a boss that put it this way: he'd take a potential employee (right before he signed the contract) out to dinner, and buy him a steak. If the person immediately grabbed for the salt, he'd finish the dinner, and politely thank the person for a nice meal...but he'll have to look elsewhere for a job. When questioned, he simply stated that one shouldn't have a pre-conceived notion about things, and that he shouldn't have assumed the steak required salt.

    "Better to taste it first, and then determine the course of action"

    Food for thought, that's for sure.
     
    Certifications: A+,Net+,Sec+,MCSA:Sec,MCSE:Sec,mASE
  16. neutralhills

    neutralhills Kilobyte Poster

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    He wouldn't have hired me. As a trained chef (past life prior to my back injury) I'm well aware of how little salt is used in restaurant food lest some pussy feels the need to complain about the fare being too spicy. So I go for the salt shaker first thing and Gawd(tm) help anyone who gets in my way.
     
    Certifications: Lots.
    WIP: Upgrading MS certs
  17. neutralhills

    neutralhills Kilobyte Poster

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    How the certification industry works...

    Tank: We're supposed to start with the A+ training material first. That's major boring @#$%. Let's do something a little more fun. How about... LDAP.

    Neo: Active Directory? I'm gonna learn Active Directory.

    [Tank winks and loads the Transcender exam sim]

    Neo: Holy @#$%!

    Tank: Hey Mikey, I think he likes it. How about some more?

    Neo: Hell, yes. Hell yeah.


    How the real world works...

    Neo: I know Active Directory.

    Morpheus: [eyeing him, hand on chin] Show me.

    ...one smoldering DC later...

    Morpheus: How did it beat you?

    Neo: I... I think I need to upgrade my MCSA to an MCSE.

    Morpheus: Do you believe that being more certified or having passed more exams has anything to do with your abilities here in this place? Do you think that MCSE will help you now?
     
    Certifications: Lots.
    WIP: Upgrading MS certs
  18. greenbrucelee
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    greenbrucelee Zettabyte Poster

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    ability in exams & ability in the workplace are two different things. Anyone can study and pass and exam, not everyone can do the job they are certified for though.

    We had a tech get sacked a while a go he claimed he had an MCSE but he did not know what a VPN was and he tried to put a crossover cable into one the old hubs :blink It looks like he braindumped the MCSE but he should have atleast known that the cable was the wrong one.

    Qualifications if done correctly without cheating show that you have knowledge but using that knowledge in the real world is a different matter.

    I personally would like exams where you are presented with real life scenarios or have equipment you need to use to do a specific task that would bring the cert and real world experience closer together, but obviously this isn't possible due to costs and time for the exam centres.
     
    Certifications: A+, N+, MCDST, Security+, 70-270
    WIP: 70-620 or 70-680?
  19. fortch

    fortch Kilobyte Poster

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    LOL. Have you ever eaten in the States? It ain't home cookin' until its had a stick of butter, a cup of heavy cream, and a handful of salt. Oh, and make that sea salt ... I'm trying to eat healthy :p

    Seriously though, the point is -- be aware and don't take things for granted. Keep your head in the game, and don't get complacent. Most know-it-alls do, and they get burned.... they're just 'experienced' enough to cover their tracks. The best technical professionals I know *do not* think they know everything, and certainly don't act like it. In fact, they know all the standard shortcuts, and are bright enough to know when not to use them.

    GBL, I hope that the guy was asked if the cable looked strange. Outside of a tag, or holding the connectors side-by-side, there's no other indicator beforehand. Oh, and what are you guys doing with a hub? Egads, bury that thing STAT. As to the VPN knowledge.... okay, braindumper :rolleyes:

    Actually, you this should mature. As hardware gets more advanced in testing facilities, you may start seeing VM's common in exams. Advanced simulations, together with creative coding and logic, and I'm sure they'll incorporate that more. In advanced certs, especially, but it'll take a while before the rote memorization exams (i.e. CompTIA) progress. Heck, BM might show up and say they already do that!
     
    Certifications: A+,Net+,Sec+,MCSA:Sec,MCSE:Sec,mASE
  20. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    The difficulty is finding a way to accurately "grade" what a test taker does to a virtual OS. Currently, I don't think that's possible.
     
    Certifications: CISSP, MCSE+I, MCSE: Security, MCSE: Messaging, MCDST, MCDBA, MCTS, OCP, CCNP, CCDP, CCNA Security, CCNA Voice, CNE, SCSA, Security+, Linux+, Server+, Network+, A+
    WIP: Just about everything!

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