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Stewing over Certs

Discussion in 'The Lounge - Off Topic' started by westernkings, Dec 5, 2009.

  1. westernkings

    westernkings Gigabyte Poster

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    Whilst browsing some of the topics in the employment section I got thinking about people studying and passing certifications to GET INTO IT, as opposed to their original purpose, which was to back up experience with some paper.

    Now, we all know getting the MCSE without any experience is never going to work, but what about the MCDST and the like, I mean Microsoft states it them selves that people studying the MCDST should;

    My concern is that, have entry level certifications turned into effectively a GCSE or A Level situation where you study for them not because your in the industry but because it's a way into the industry? is this the right way it should be done? if not, what alternative is there to get people into IT careers? and even though they are entry level, how many are actually gaining any REAL knowledge of IT and not just studying to pass a test ( and by that I don't mean braindumping).
     
    Certifications: MCITP:VA, MCITP:EA, MCDST, MCTS, MCITP:EST7, MCITP:SA, PRINCE2, ITILv3
  2. JonnyMX

    JonnyMX Petabyte Poster

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    Tough one.

    I suppose that there are a lot of people out there with a proven track record and bags of experience who don't actually need a cert.

    I think the whole issue has become confused by employers asking for 'an MCSE' just to thin out the market without really knowing what it's all about. 'Wanted - expert in administering and configuring BES and handheld devices, must hold MCSE'. Dunno.

    Then there are the TPs flapping about how you can't work in IT unless you have a cert. And added into the fray, the academic 'cert collectors' with little or no real world experience.

    It's all a big pudding really.

    My personal feeling, from being a member of CF for several years is that (if you include those who post once and then vanish) is that it feels that there are more people studing certs in order to get into IT than there are IT pros studying to consolodate their current knowledge and skills.

    What do others think?
     
    Certifications: MCT, MCTS, i-Net+, CIW CI, Prince2, MSP, MCSD
  3. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

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    Never heard of these, who do you mean exactly ?

    Academics are generally too busy getting Masters or Doctorates, publishing papers or lecturing, to bother with certs in most cases. Also in many cases academics collaborate with industry or have in the past worked in industry.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2009
    Certifications: CITP, BSc, HND, SCJP, SCJD, SCWCD, SCBCD, SCEA, N+, Sec+, Proj+, Server+, Linux+, MCTS, MCPD, MCSA, MCITP, CCDH
  4. jk2447

    jk2447 Petabyte Poster Moderator

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    I think this is a great topic to discuss mate, good on you. If Microsoft state the above we really shouldn't be advising people to get their MCDST prior to their first ever IT job. In much the same way a MCSE isn't worth the online transcript its printed on :) without the experience to back it up, that argument should also be valid for people with a MCDST and no experience. . . . shouldn't it?

    Going by the results of my thread here, the majority of us had no IT related qualifications or certs to get into IT.

    There possibly are more people studying certs to get into IT than the likes of us already here aiming for our CCNP's, MCSE's, VCP's etc. I think that is a fair observation of the new threads I've seen during my 11 months on CF. That could be because IT Pro's have a network of fellow Pro's around them to be their support network through their cert tracks. Newbie's won't have that so may appear more common than the latter on CF.

    I agree, Computer Science Academics and IT workers move in two entirely different circles and serve different purposes. We IT workers support businesses. Academics are usually the innovators of computer science, creating rather than supporting. Note I'm talking out the Masters and beyond academics, we've all got degrees.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2009
    Certifications: BSc (Hons), HND IT, HND Computing, ITIL-F, MBCS CITP, MCP (270,290,291,293,294,298,299,410,411,412) MCTS (401,620,624,652) MCSA:Security, MCSE: Security, Security+, CPTS, VCP4, CCA (XenApp6.5), MCSA 2012, VCP5, VCP6-NV
  5. JonnyMX

    JonnyMX Petabyte Poster

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    What I mean by that is people who, rather than have learned 'on the job' with a bit of study, simply have the ability to read and learn and are able to study for and pass certification exams without having the required experience.

    I'm not talking braindumpers, just people who treat certs as one would do an academic subject.
     
    Certifications: MCT, MCTS, i-Net+, CIW CI, Prince2, MSP, MCSD
  6. Arroryn
    Honorary Member

    Arroryn we're all dooooooomed

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    Firstly, I'd like to echo JK's sentiments - great topic to talk about matey :thumbleft

    I have always, and still don't think Certs can be compared directly still to GCSEs, insomuch as GCSEs are a formal part of education; they're not really seen as an entry into anything (apart from further education) and so many children I associated with saw them not as a goal to achieve, more as a marker to end the hell they saw as England's educational system.

    But I still get what you mean :biggrin

    I don't think entry level certs are seen as a way of getting in to the industry at all. Braindumpers may have damaged it; TPs may have damaged it; HR departments and recruitment agencies may have damaged it; but entry level certs these days are horrendously overlooked in terms of the broad depth of knowledge they provide anyone with tools with which to do a junior job well.

    For example, I have been looking at CWJobs, for jobs in the Birmingham area, with some basic keywords.

    For jobs within 30 miles of Birmingham (my commute distance) I returned 21 jobs for the keyword "MCP". As we all know, this could cover someone who has just taken their 70-271 to try to become an MCDST; it could be someone doing MCSE; it could be a programmer. So theoretically, the employment requirement scope for an MCP should be quite broad. Changing that to "MCSE" returned 14 jobs - now, I shudder to think that more than half of the jobs on offer in a commutable distance of England's "second city" genuinely require the MCSE for someone to get on board. A few seemed genuine - Server Engineer, Senior Systems Engineer. Three of them were for "IT Helpdesk Support" with one of them only offering a top whack of £19K.

    Now, the argument may go that they are only putting in MCSE to get their roles noticed in keyword searches, as with the last one linked - but why on earth have the keyword "MCSE" when you categorically do not need an MCSE to fill the boots of the job?

    To highlight the point of the undervaluing of the entry level certifications which we see as essential grounding in a technical IT environment (and would expect a First Line role to want), the keyword search for "comptia" returned no jobs within 60 miles of Birmingham.

    Take the same search to London (with the 30 mile radius):

    MCP: 42 jobs

    MCSE: 77 jobs

    Comptia, with a 60 mile radius: No jobs

    An MCDST search returned 10 jobs in a 30 mile radius of London.

    Thanks to the lethal combinations of marketing, the marketing done by training providers primarily, job agencies having no clues on how to advertise jobs, and braindumpers, entry level certifications are dying a death. We quite religiously on CF tell newbies to get the A+, the Network+ and currently the MCDST, with XP being the desktop OS of choice in industry - we know from experience that these are the tools that junior techs need to acquire the skills to suceed. The A+ first, because it doesn't need commerical experience, the Network+ to follow as it directly follows on from a lot of the hardware principles learned in the first. With the A+ and the Network+ attained, you find your first job, to attain the 6 - 12 months Microsoft recommend you have under your belt before tackling the MCDST.

    But for anyone not looking at forums like this, not getting advice from their peers - if they just look at job sites and see a Cert list as long as your arm for entry level roles then, based on the statistics above, you can draw the following conclusions:

    Of M$ -centric qualifications, the MCSE is the most desirable for recruiters.

    The MCSE is still feasible to attain for an entry level position.

    The CompTIA certifications do not exist. In short, they are not required to help you in to the industry. This is not my opinion, certainly (I'd like to think I've made that somehow clear in this little ramble). But without the right advice, entry level Certifications are being skipped. They are not being treated like GCSEs or A Levels at all; moreover, using the academic analogy, people are skipping GCSE and A Level, and going straight to University. Whilst this analogy can be carried through to using the Open University to attain a degree, this route is often pursued by mature students. When I say mature, I mean people who have thought through what they want to achieve; people that have a desire within themselves to pursue such an academic aim, and therefore have a personal vested interest and therefore (one would assume) personal knowledge of the subject area. In IT, this is what we would probably term as "on the job experience". I know it's not a completely direct analogy, but it's the best I can fit in to this ramble :biggrin

    So what am I really trying to say... the way I see it is, if you truly care about your profession, then the entry level certifications will be seen to have their true value, as we propound on Certforums. They are a good solid grounding into a technical career which is diverse and challenging, and deeply rewarding if one takes the time and care to do it properly.

    For the people that don't want to take the time and the care, they do not know that entry level certifications exist. All they see is MCSE, CCNA, and CCNP, and whatever "Certs of the moment" recruiters are flashing in neon lights to fill job roles. To this end, braindumping and training providers will have a constant stream of service and custom. It doesn't make it right, but the fact that it is wrong does not mean it doesn't happen.

    I probably haven't answered WK's question at all :oops: but the rambling felt good!
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2009
    Certifications: A+, N+, MCDST, 70-410, 70-411
    WIP: Modern Languages BA
  7. Rob1234

    Rob1234 Megabyte Poster

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    In all the interviews I have ever been for have they have never heard of the A+ and N+ so although these are good certs and will help you alot when you are working in your job will they help you get a job I expect not.
     
    Certifications: A few.
  8. JonnyMX

    JonnyMX Petabyte Poster

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    Unfortunately it's not always about the curriculum.
    Some people just hear words that they know like 'Microsoft' or 'Cisco' and anything else is just bunk.
     
    Certifications: MCT, MCTS, i-Net+, CIW CI, Prince2, MSP, MCSD
  9. Rob1234

    Rob1234 Megabyte Poster

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    Yeah thats what i think, so what would you recommend people to do A+ and N+ if they are struggling to get in to IT? as it probably wont actaully help them get the job.
     
    Certifications: A few.
  10. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

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    Do GCSE's or A-levels get you a job ? No but they teach you useful core skills.

    The best entry level certifications should teach core skills, in fact I think nearly all certs should focus mainly on core skills.

    Unfortunately as much as I'd like to live in a meritocracy, we live in a real world, with marketing, brands, big business, recruiters, commissions, and all sorts of things that get in the way.

    Ultimately the hiring manager should be responsible for the job advertisements content, recruiters will only ever learn the bare minimum to be able to blag and earn their commission. However not having an A+ does not necessarily mean you don't know computer architecture or technical support, many people take GNVQ's, BTECS, Apprenticeships, Degrees, or are self taught, soon we will also have 'the Diploma', if anything maybe we have had too many initiatives ?

    Anyone that doesn't have core skills shouldn't really be able to enter, let alone last long in the industry, unfortunately this doesn't always seem to be the case.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2009
    Certifications: CITP, BSc, HND, SCJP, SCJD, SCWCD, SCBCD, SCEA, N+, Sec+, Proj+, Server+, Linux+, MCTS, MCPD, MCSA, MCITP, CCDH
  11. Rob1234

    Rob1234 Megabyte Poster

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    I see what you are saying but GCSE's and A-levels I think do help you get a job alot of jobs require A levels as a requirement for the job. I expect if 5 people applied for a trainee IT job the one with no GCSE's would probably not get the job.
     
    Certifications: A few.
  12. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

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    Recruiters and Hiring managers look for 'filtering criteria' to limit their candidate search, they are not going to do some sort of X-factor style search. The reality of this is that the filtering criteria can be quite arbitary, they exist primarilly to make the recruiters job easier, not necessarilly to find the best candidate, in fact its quite likely that many good candidates will get lost in the process.

    Requiring certs can be just as bad as mentioned with people needing MCSE for helpdesk, also many of the best people in the industry have no certifications whatsoever.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2009
    Certifications: CITP, BSc, HND, SCJP, SCJD, SCWCD, SCBCD, SCEA, N+, Sec+, Proj+, Server+, Linux+, MCTS, MCPD, MCSA, MCITP, CCDH
  13. jk2447

    jk2447 Petabyte Poster Moderator

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    Or a degree for that matter as in Billy G, Paul Allen and Michael Dell's cases.
     
    Certifications: BSc (Hons), HND IT, HND Computing, ITIL-F, MBCS CITP, MCP (270,290,291,293,294,298,299,410,411,412) MCTS (401,620,624,652) MCSA:Security, MCSE: Security, Security+, CPTS, VCP4, CCA (XenApp6.5), MCSA 2012, VCP5, VCP6-NV
  14. soundian

    soundian Gigabyte Poster

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    I'm doing the entry level certs because:
    1) Maybe it might be to my advantage job hunting. I think it shows commitment to gaining an IT job and I've not applied on a whim, I have most of the basics and enough aptitude for the subject to learn more. . Maybe all employers don't see it that way but some will, and that gives me a little bit of an advantage over someone who doesn't have any certs or experience.
    2) When/if I get a job in IT support, I'll be able to hit the ground running and hopefully live up to my standards as well as my employers expectations.

    Unfortunately with the state of the job market it may take a while to get a job, but I'll have to keep studying or lose what I've already gained. Onwards and ...erm... sideways.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2009
    Certifications: A+, N+,MCDST,MCTS(680), MCP(270, 271, 272), ITILv3F, CCENT
    WIP: Knuckling down at my new job
  15. BosonMichael
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    Well, that's why I recommend the A+ and Network+ before the MCDST. Hopefully they'll be able to get a job before or after the A+, then work for a while before the Network+ and MCDST.

    That said, those skills are what entry-level techs need to know, so it's reasonable for them to take exams that cover those technologies.

    It might seem like we're giving advice that contradicts what we typically say. However, in my opinion, it's not at all. When we say that you need server admin experience before you pursue the MCSA/MCSE, techs can get into a lower-level job and eventually start getting that server admin experience even before they hold a "server admin" title. But help desk and desktop support are entry-level jobs. There's no way to get real-world business IT experience before holding those job titles because those jobs are at the bottom of the IT career ladder. Most people would consider a PC tech job at a place like Best Buy/Geek Squad would be an entry-level job... but they require the A+, I believe. Where do you start out, if not at places like these??

    Plus, when starting out, you need every advantage you can get to set yourself from the rest of the competition who also don't have experience. Entry-level certifications are a great way to do that.
     
    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
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    They do indeed state the above. However, although I agree with their MCSA/MCSE assessment (because I think that people DO need 6-12+ months of server admin experience before pursuing them), I don't agree with Microsoft's assessment that you need 6 months of experience before pursuing the MCDST.

    So, why do I believe that? Well, based on what is tested on the exam, I think that that's what entry-level techs need to know to be able to perform well in an entry-level IT job (just like I think that the MCSA objectives test on things that they need to know to be able to perform well in a server admin job).

    Keep in mind what I mentioned in my post above... it's possible to do light server administration before getting a job as a server administrator. It's not very possible to do "light desktop support administration" (other than "I fixed my mom's computer") before getting a job as an entry-level tech. :biggrin
     
    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. BosonMichael
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    The thing is... how do you know it "probably won't actually help them get the job"? Until I hear an employer say, "Yeah, I see they have the A+ - I don't care about that," I'm gonna continue to recommend it. It certainly can't hurt. Like Soundian mentioned, it shows a degree of commitment that your competition may not have, even if the employer hasn't heard of the A+. If they're worth their salt, they'll find out what the A+ is. If not, what have you lost by pursuing it? Nothing, in my opinion.
     
    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!
  18. craigie

    craigie Terabyte Poster

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    I think this is a difficult one to answer, and I can only offer my own personal slant.

    When I started in IT, I did not have any certifications, however I did put on my CV studying towards MCDST.

    From there on in, I have done things the opposite way round to the general advice given here. Which is certs first then real world experience.

    This has not been through choice, when I was at the MCSA level, that was about appropriate for my level at the time. However the MCSE carrot was waived infront of me, with more wonga if I pass.

    Of course, went for an sat the exams, was I using those skills in the real world, some but not many,

    Since then I progressed into 3rd Line and I use the MCSE skills daily, whether that be looking at Server issues or Exchange problems.

    My current employeer likes you to do Certs first before you are let loose on the equipment, this was especially the case before they let me reak havoc on Cisco PIX's & Routers.

    So in answer to the question, I think that the MCDST is an entry level cert and should be studied for before you get into IT. It's such a competitive job market out there and as Tesco say 'every little helps!'.

    AS if for most employeers, if they are looking at two CV's for a 1st Line job, both with no experience, but one of them had the MCDST, I would think, fair play to them getting a certification, shows keeness, lets give them an interview.

    However, I would emphasis that don't go to far, lets say your in 1st Line Support and want to get into 2nd Line Support, I don't think there is much harm shooting for the MCSA as you would most likley be doing some Server work, but the MCSE would be a no no until you hit 2nd Line.

    I think I have been infected by Miss A's ramblings :D
     
    Certifications: CCA | CCENT | CCNA | CCNA:S | HP APC | HP ASE | ITILv3 | MCP | MCDST | MCITP: EA | MCTS:Vista | MCTS:Exch '07 | MCSA 2003 | MCSA:M 2003 | MCSA 2008 | MCSE | VCP5-DT | VCP4-DCV | VCP5-DCV | VCAP5-DCA | VCAP5-DCD | VMTSP | VTSP 4 | VTSP 5
  19. jk2447

    jk2447 Petabyte Poster Moderator

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    Fair comment which I can personally back up in a round about way. I became a Jack of All Trades through doing what you have described, roughly 6 months shadowing on Server, Network, Security and Mainframe Sys Prog teams as my company specifically wanted to have Jack of All Trades to help with cross skilling and cover etc. I did a few months here and there on odd teams over my 10 years so built up an OK foundation but obviously master of none hence my move to my current employer. These experiences helped me get the certs I have today, and the new job I have which is even more varied than ever before.

    I'm not sure my comments are valid in terms of this discussion however as I got my break into IT at 20 as a Mainframe Operator, which is considered a highly specialised and technical role. . . . so I never officially did 1st or 2nd line, although I do little bits now if needed.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2009
    Certifications: BSc (Hons), HND IT, HND Computing, ITIL-F, MBCS CITP, MCP (270,290,291,293,294,298,299,410,411,412) MCTS (401,620,624,652) MCSA:Security, MCSE: Security, Security+, CPTS, VCP4, CCA (XenApp6.5), MCSA 2012, VCP5, VCP6-NV
  20. Rob1234

    Rob1234 Megabyte Poster

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    I got the A+ and N+ before i got my first job but in all the interviews i had and some were for very large companies none had ever heard of the A+ and N+ it did not do anything negative to my chances of a job but i do not think it helped a great deal either but when you mention a Microsoft cert they all know what they are.
     
    Certifications: A few.

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