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Experienced Support Tech...where next?

Discussion in 'Training & Development' started by Remus, Jan 30, 2008.

  1. Remus

    Remus Bit Poster

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    Hey guys

    I have now reached a point in my job (and life!) where I feel like I'm a bit stuck for options of what to do. Here is my current situation - I am an IT Support Specialist (Technican :rolleyes:) of over 2 years at a fairly large college that spans across a number of sites. I couldn't tell you whether I'm 1st, 2nd or 3rd line support as the jobs I get logged seem to be any of the three. It also doesn't help that our helpdesk (the guys that log us the jobs - so essentially 1st line support) are desperately useless at diagnosing and fixing simple problems themselves over the phone, so we tend to get jobs that require nothing more than a reboot to fix the issue :cussing So basically I have to fix just about any issue raised with a local machine or printer, as well as minor/moderate networking issues (these have now been cut down as the infrastructure team don't want us patching in any points or resolving any issues with the cab).

    On another note, my superiors have made it very clear that they are not willing to expose me to any server administration/maintenance. This is the area I am wishing to move into seeing as I've about reached saturation point in my current role. Whenever the subject of training comes up, my superiors fob the idea off with excuses of 'funding', yet the infrastructure team get sent on them regularly. When this is mentioned their excuse is that the infrastructure team 'need to be kept on the forefront of advancing technologies'. I continued to argue this with my team leader - who is more one of 'us' than one of 'them' - and he mentioned that if we were to be trained up to MCSA/CCNA then our employers would fear that we would up and leave for pastures new. So their idea of a career in IT Support with them meets with a dead end. Which is why I need to get out!

    As far as my qualifications and certifications go I only have a City & Guilds Microcomputer Systems Installation and Maintenance level 2, which is pretty poor. However I do have years of experience in a varied support role. I am also currently studying to MCSA off my own steam (seeing as my employers aren't willing to help me out with it) and am around 1/3 of the way through the 70-270 MS Press book.

    So my question is guys, what should I do? Do you think it's plausible for me to find a job with an employer that is willing to invest in my future while I'm still studying for my MCSA? Or should I stay where I am and wait until I have completed my MCSA to go find another job? (the latter being more difficult to complete my MCSA. seeing as I won't be having on-job experience at the same time?)

    Help!
     
    Certifications: C&G MCSIM lvl2
    WIP: MCSA, MCSE, CCNA
  2. nXPLOSi

    nXPLOSi Terabyte Poster

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    Tough one, you'll have a hard time with the latter MCSA exams if you have no server experience. Personally i'd grab the A+, N+ and MCP 70-270 and then try and get myself another job. If you've been a tech 2 years you'll probably find them quite comfortable to obtain!

    Im not sure what your thoughts are on the A+/N+? Problem you've got is the MCSA is for techs with a year or so experience with servers, which you dont yet have. Bit of a catch 22, but hopefully another company would give you the chance you obviously deserve!
     
    Certifications: A+, Network+, Security+, MCSA 2003 (270, 290, 291), MCTS (640, 642), MCSA 2008
    WIP: MCSA 2012
  3. Sparky
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    Sparky Zettabyte Poster Moderator

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    I would go for the MCSA but use the A+ and Network+ for the elective exam. This will put some entry level certs on your CV and also help towards the MCSA.

    Some of the exams for the MCSA will be difficult, especially the 70-291. 8)
     
    Certifications: MSc MCSE MCSA:M MCSA:S MCITP:EA MCTS(x5) Security+ Network+ A+
    WIP: Exchange 2007\2010
  4. Remus

    Remus Bit Poster

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    Yeah I ain't looking forward to tackling the server exams that's for sure.

    I have set up a virtual network on my home PC using VMWare Workstation, so I'll be able to have a play around. It's never the same as on-job learning though. I've never been particularly academic, I've always been more comfortable being thrown in the thick of it and having to pick things up as I go along. Not many employers out there that are willing to let me do that though eh!
     
    Certifications: C&G MCSIM lvl2
    WIP: MCSA, MCSE, CCNA
  5. Remus

    Remus Bit Poster

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    I understand where you're coming from, but I can't help but resent the idea of paying for books and exams and waste time studying for basic level certs when I already have several years of experience doing exactly what I'm studying towards. Am I wrong in seeing no harm in starting with a certification that reflects my current level of expertise? Plus I was hoping to do the 70-284 and add the messaging specialization to my MCSA at the end of it.
     
    Certifications: C&G MCSIM lvl2
    WIP: MCSA, MCSE, CCNA
  6. Sparky
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    Sparky Zettabyte Poster Moderator

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    Fair point mate, perhaps just aim for the MCSA but just do the Microsoft exams for it? The only reason I suggested the A+ and Network+ is that you will probably find them fairly straight forward and that will get you one step closer to the MCSA.

    You will probably pick up a few extra bits of knowledge from the A+ and Network+ though, especially the Network+ IMO. 8)
     
    Certifications: MSc MCSE MCSA:M MCSA:S MCITP:EA MCTS(x5) Security+ Network+ A+
    WIP: Exchange 2007\2010
  7. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    Certifications aren't just to teach you new things... most importantly, certifications prove to a potential employer that you have knowledge regarding a technology. Thus, while YOU know that you can do A+ and Network+ work with your eyes closed, a potential employer won't know that. Get them - if they're easy, they'll go very quickly for you. And if you learn something new... then all the better, right? :)

    The MCDST would also be another notch on your belt, and can be used as your elective for the MCSA.

    The others are right that the MCSA will be extreeeemely difficult without real-world server experience. I'd recommend waiting until you've got a bit of it.

    It does sound like you're stuck where you are. And your company knows it. Once you get server admin knowledge, then they KNOW that they'll have to pay you more, or you'll be able to command a higher salary elsewhere... and they NEED you for the role you're doing. They don't want to have to find anyone new for that position. Problem is... that's not fair to you and your aspirations to advance. So what should you do? I'd recommend looking for a lateral shift to a similar job... at a company that WILL be willing to allow you to start learning server admin stuff. A lateral shift is fine... as long as there's an opportunity to learn new things so you can continue to advance in your career. So start looking NOW... and start acquiring the certifications that will make your CV stand out to employers. As you acquire certifications, add them to your CV and keep looking. Eventually, the right job will come along.
     
    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. greenbrucelee
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    greenbrucelee Zettabyte Poster

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    Hi Welcome

    I'll echo what the other guys have said, get the A+ and N+ they'll make you look more attractive to an employer.

    On another note don't underestimate entry level certs they have a lot more to them than you think I thought the A+ would be really easy but its actually a lot more detailed than I expected.
     
    Certifications: A+, N+, MCDST, Security+, 70-270
    WIP: 70-620 or 70-680?
  9. onoski

    onoski Terabyte Poster

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    A lot of good advice has been given so I would not say or write a lot. In a situation as yours the only way to advance would be to get some certs and look for another company. Best wishes and keep up the hope:)
     
    Certifications: MCSE: 2003, MCSA: 2003 Messaging, MCP, HNC BIT, ITIL Fdn V3, SDI Fdn, VCP 4 & VCP 5
    WIP: MCTS:70-236, PowerShell
  10. Stoney

    Stoney Megabyte Poster

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    Hey Remus,

    You're not at NCN by any chance are you?

    I agree with what's been said already, not much too add really.

    I can not see the logic with your employers argument

    Surely if you're not going to be trained and given new opportunities you're going to do the offski at some point soon anyway?? :blink
     
    Certifications: 25 + 50 metre front crawl
    WIP: MCSA - Exam 70-270
  11. Sparky
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    Sparky Zettabyte Poster Moderator

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    Good point, that’s exactly why I did the A+ and Network+. I have been building PCs for years and *everyone* seems to put that on their CV these days. Having the certs backs it up though and I did pick up a few things as well, especially working with SCSI drives which I’m sure many system builders haven’t put them into their games machines! :biggrin
     
    Certifications: MSc MCSE MCSA:M MCSA:S MCITP:EA MCTS(x5) Security+ Network+ A+
    WIP: Exchange 2007\2010
  12. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    Yep. Everyone can SAY they can build PCs and troubleshoot networks and administer servers on a CV... but a certification gives some sort of third-party verification that you have, at the very least, a certain baseline level of knowledge. :) Every advantage you can give yourself will help.
     
    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!
  13. Remus

    Remus Bit Poster

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    I understand.

    I just can't help but think that studying for A+ and N+ is a step backwards.......but I guess I'll just have to change to a different mindset and get on with it.

    I've just found a few jobs to apply for when I get back home, mainly being of the 'field based' variety. Being a pretty fit and active person I hate sitting on my ass all day, so I thought that this would be a good way to go next.
     
    Certifications: C&G MCSIM lvl2
    WIP: MCSA, MCSE, CCNA
  14. Remus

    Remus Bit Poster

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    No mate, I'm on the other side of the Brian Clough Way :)

    It was my team leader who told me this, and I guess he said it because he was sick of conveying our employers sh*t excuses back to us. Don't blame him really, middle guys get all the flack!
     
    Certifications: C&G MCSIM lvl2
    WIP: MCSA, MCSE, CCNA
  15. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    Studying for the A+ and N+ might seem to be a "step backwards" if you already know the info... but certifying on the A+ and N+ is a step forwards. When you're in the situation you're in, you need every advantage you can get in order to get another job. If you're doing desktop support, the A+, N+, and MCDST fall squarely into what you're already doing. And if you're looking for a lateral move, you need those certifications to prove to another employer that you can indeed do those jobs.

    So why take a lateral move? Why not just get the MCSA and apply for server admin positions? Well, without SOME real-world server experience, your CV will be passed over in favor of those who do have experience... and all it takes is ONE candidate that has more experience than you for you to get passed over. Thus, certifications without relevant experience aren't very useful... because experience always trumps certification.
     
    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!
  16. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    Here's the logic, from the employer's side... they need someone to do non-server work, and they likely can't afford to pay him the kind of money he would be worth to do non-server work. So if they're gonna lose him one way or the other, might as well lose him in a way that won't cost the company more money.

    To be honest, there are a LOT of people out there who are content to just sit at that level of job and NOT advance. Perhaps they don't want the increased responsibility that comes with advancement... perhaps they just enjoy doing non-server work. So an employer can get that kind of person to stay in that kind of a job. The problem in this case is that Remus isn't that kind of person... he WANTS to advance. The employer likely knows that, but if there's no money in the budget for salary increases, and there's no positions available for advancement into server admin positions, then there's probably not much that the employer is able to do about it other than let him leave.
     
    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!
  17. derkit

    derkit Gigabyte Poster

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    I'm in exactly the same boat myself and the moment, but not for financial reason but security ones - I can't learn anything else unless I get a job in the "next" team up. The advice here sounds great, I'm considering a lateral movement myself, especially if I can't get a vertical one - don't give up though, you sound (like I do) like a person who enjoys IT and their job, and I know how close I've come once or twice to throwing in the towel without having another job to go to.

    Keep us informed on how you do. Good luck
     
    Certifications: MBCS, BSc(Hons), Cert(Maths), A+, Net+, MCDST, ITIL-F v3, MCSA
    WIP: 70-293
  18. sunn

    sunn Gigabyte Poster

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    Most of which I would say has already been covered. So my advice follows many of the previous posts, get the entry level certs to reinforce your resume (CV).
     

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