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MCSE training - classroom or self-study?

Discussion in 'General Microsoft Certifications' started by spark9, Jun 10, 2008.

  1. spark9

    spark9 New Member

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    Hello everyone,

    I am planning on preparing the MCSE 2003 exams quite soon, in addition to A+ and Network+.
    As I'm currently changing careers and don't have an IT job yet, I'm thinking of getting onto a fast-track classroom based course for MCSE. Finding these courses in London seems to be a bit of a nightmare with lots of dodgy looking websites around and lots of them offering distance e-learning.

    Normally for a networking course I'd put high importance on the availability of a real network/lab and that gives classroom courses an advantage, but some of the e-courses are offering lab simulation applications? How well do these train you?

    Some of the classroom courses seem to be cheaper (~£1500) but offer a fast track 8 day full time course and some offer 4-5 weeks for much more (~£4000). Now I know you can't cram all that info in 8 days, so how much do you actually learn at these courses?

    I'm not a complete noob to IT, I've worked in support right after school and passed CCNA at 19 years old, which has long expired :) I had full time training that lasted for 3 months for Cisco and it took me another two weeks after that to get the certificate, from scratch. A rack full of Cisco gear available around the clock came quite handy for learning. That's why I think classroom/lab learning might be better/quicker than e-learning. But I haven't found anything longer than a few weeks for MCSE then and there's more exams.

    How well do you weigh classroom training vs. distance learning? What's the quickest way to the cert? Is it better to get a support job and do evening classes or learn on your own and take a bit longer but get some fresh experience?

    Lastly, does anyone have any sound recommendations for a learning/training centre in London? I've searched the forums and found that some people recommend NITLC but upon them not returning 6-7 of my calls and messages I've written them off. If it's against the rules to name companies in public threads on the forum, please feel free to PM if you have any recommendations.

    Cheers
     
  2. onoski

    onoski Terabyte Poster

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    Hi Spark9 and welcome to CF:), not sure if you've browsed this subject matter on CF yet but the way to go is through self study and going through the hands on practice.

    You'd save loads of money as well as learn properly and in your own time. Best wishes and make the right choice by going the self study route that's been tried and tested time and time again. Ultimately the choice is yours to make.
     
    Certifications: MCSE: 2003, MCSA: 2003 Messaging, MCP, HNC BIT, ITIL Fdn V3, SDI Fdn, VCP 4 & VCP 5
    WIP: MCTS:70-236, PowerShell
  3. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    If you don't have IT experience, you shouldn't be pursuing the MCSE on 2003. The MCSE is for techs who have a minimum of one year of experience administering servers in a 250+ user, multi-site, multi-server domain environment... not just one year in IT, but one year doing that job... and you won't likely be doing server administration in your first IT job. The training centers won't tell you this, as they're out to make money... but certification without the relevant amount of experience is quite useless.

    So what certifications should you pursue? Ones that are relevant to entry-level IT jobs, such as the A+, Network+, and MCDST... and no further, until you build some experience.

    The decision is ultimately yours, but most of us here recommend self-study. Get used to self-study now; companies aren't going to pay for you to attend expensive training courses.

    You don't even need expensive distance learning tools. Grab yourself a couple of books (and perhaps a practice exam to determine if you're ready for the real thing) and you're ready to go.

    Welcome to the forums!
     
    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!
  4. greenbrucelee
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    greenbrucelee Zettabyte Poster

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    I agree with Boson Michaels statement.

    Just to add having higher certification and no real world experience can hurt your employment prospects because of the reasons BM stated.
     
    Certifications: A+, N+, MCDST, Security+, 70-270
    WIP: 70-620 or 70-680?
  5. Kraven

    Kraven Kilobyte Poster

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    Aye BosonMichael is spot one. Go for the A+ and get some experience within IT before pursuing the MCSE.

    Kraven
     
    Certifications: Network+, MCSA, 70-680
    WIP: A+, 70-685
  6. spark9

    spark9 New Member

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    Thanks for the answers guys.

    As I mentioned above I do have IT experience in support and networking, several years worth of. I have done Microsoft administration on a multi-site network for around 300 clients, although at Junior level. And that was Windows 2000/NT4, so I definitely need to refresh, update and build up on my skills.

    I know the MCSE on its own is a big apple to bite and I was thinking to get the MCSA on the way, it's the same exams anyway. And then finishing off the last 3 MCSE exams while working.

    What are your thoughts on MCSA?
     
  7. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    Well, you said you were switching careers, so I had assumed that you hadn't done much.

    Microsoft recommends 6-12 months experience doing what I mentioned, above. Considering your long-term absence from IT, I'd recommend that you knock out the basics first. If you already know all that stuff on the A+, Network+, and MCDST, they'll be a breeze for you... and if they aren't a breeze, then that's all the MORE reason to study for them.

    Or, you can ignore my advice and go after the MCSA anyway. Wouldn't hurt my feelings! But consider this: let's say you're an employer, and you are interviewing for a server admin position (in truth, an MCSA-level job). You get the resume of someone with the MCSA, but no other certifications, and they haven't administered a server since Windows 2000, and even then, at Junior level for a short time, and then moving on to another career path. Would you hire them? Or would you hire someone more qualified? Most employers will pursue people who have that experience... and they're out there. Experience always, always, always trumps certifications. By all means, certifications are worth pursuing... but they're no substitute for experience.
     
    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. spark9

    spark9 New Member

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    I see your point Michael. For my first - for the second time:) - IT job I'll go for a support position, I'm just looking ahead as my ambition is to upgrade to working in an NOC/Server room admin type role.

    I'm definitely doing the CompTia certificates, that was always the plan. I've just got the books for that, I don't think it will take too long at all.

    I don't however know much about MCDST. Are there any exams shared with MCSA/E?
     
  9. greenbrucelee
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    greenbrucelee Zettabyte Poster

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    A+ and N+ count as an elective towards the MCSA, I believe the MCDST also counts but it is for the same elective so having all 3 doesn't make the MCSA shorter but they are still worth it.
     
    Certifications: A+, N+, MCDST, Security+, 70-270
    WIP: 70-620 or 70-680?
  10. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    Exactly right. And none of those count towards the MCSE elective.

    The MCDST may not have any usable overlap (since you're going after A+ and Network+ anyway)... but they'll still be useful in getting hired and giving you additional knowledge to be a good, solid tech.
     
    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!
  11. Methodman85

    Methodman85 Byte Poster

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    As stated above experience is key. I applied for my server admin position with absolutely no certs whatsoever. I did however have 7 years experience working as a service tech at a local computer store (Started as a co-op student when I was 16). Needless to say I beat out everyone else who had certs and got the job.
    A lot of people are book smart... they can memorize books and go pass exams, then when you put them infront of an actual PC they're lost, or when something comes up that wasnt covered in the book they have nothing else to fall back on.

    I know I wouldn't higher a papercert tech to manage my servers or network Infrastructure.
     
    Certifications: MCTS, MCSE, MCSA:M, CCNA, MCDST, N+
    WIP: 70-680
  12. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    No more relevant cartoon exists than this:

    [​IMG]
     
    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. Modey

    Modey Terabyte Poster

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    That's a great Dilbert strip BM, not seen that one before. :)
     
    Certifications: A+, N+, MCP, MCDST, MCSA 2K3, MCTS, MOS, MTA, MCT, MCITP:EDST7, MCSA W7, Citrix CCA, ITIL Foundation
    WIP: Nada
  14. UKDarkstar
    Honorary Member

    UKDarkstar Terabyte Poster

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    So true, so true :biggrin
     
    Certifications: BA (Hons), MBCS, CITP, MInstLM, ITIL v3 Fdn, PTLLS, CELTA
    WIP: CMALT (about to submit), DTLLS (on hold until 2012)

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