1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Gaining entry level employment with an A+ cert and bit of exp, is it possible??

Discussion in 'Employment & Jobs' started by orangepeeleo, Dec 16, 2009.

  1. orangepeeleo

    orangepeeleo Nibble Poster

    Hey guys,

    Long post btw, but please bear with me.

    I'm due to leave the forces soon but received a phone call today which has got me kinda worried, definetly knocked the wind out of my sails as far as confidence goes anyways. I want to go into IT when i leave, most probably an entry level IT support role, helpdesk, that kinda thing. My plan was to do a course in january for an A+ cert and then start getting my cv out, been in the army 7 years and for 4 years my job mainly consisted of providing user support for the brigade HQ (or the 'organisations mobile headquarters' as it's worded on my cv :)) and its 300+ multi-national users, this involved working on a help desk, fixing problems straight away if i was capable of it and passing on the problem through the chain as quick as possible if not. Good expeirience when going for a helpdesk/support job right??

    My problem is this, I originally thought that with the exp i have all i needed was an actual cert to just academically back it up, my thoughts were on doing the A+, poss N+ as well, was kinda hoping that then, with a lot of hard job searching and willingness to take a pay drop, i could eventually find myself the entry level support job that i want, with just the A+/N+ and my exp. I received a phone call this morning, from 1training (a training provider) where, after i told them i didnt want to do a course anymore, i was then given some bringing me back down with a bump kind of advice.

    Now it must be said here that i honestly believe that the guy on the phone was giving me some genuine advice, he was an ex-signals bloke himself, i dont think at all that he was just putting thoughts in my head to get me to do a course with them, he even mentioned other training providers too, but i am a bit naive at times and definetly quite gullible so i'm still a bit unsure.

    Anyways, he said that my chances are basically slim to none with just the A+ to my name and reccomended me doing an MCSA/MCSE/CCNA instead, he said that the Comptia quals were american and really basic and that british employers pay more attention to microsoft certs, i told him that i didnt want to do that level of cert b/c i don't feel i have the experience or knowledge to back it up and that i probably wouldnt even put it on my cv b/c of that, my main aim was to get an entry level job and as such i was going to do an A+/N+ to match my skillset and exp. I distinctly got the feeling though after this convo that an A+ is just not going to cut the mustard with prospective employers and it's really put a spanner in the works as far as my preparation to leave the army and my confidence on finding a job once getting out goes!

    He did say that even if i didnt put it on my cv right now, that it might be worth getting for the future b/c the army can pay for it and somebody else paying for something is always a good thing, but i have only 3 months to go before i get out and an MCSA/E is going to be useless to me in 2 years if i can't get my foot in the door with an entry level position to start with.

    So... my questions are these:

    1. Is an A+ and or N+ cert plus my exp enough for me to get my foot in the door of IT and get an entry level job?? I know that those kinda jobs lean more towards customer service skills than technical skills so i kinda presumed that an A+ would be enough if i could word my CV well enough.

    2. Would doing an MCSA/MCSE really put me in that much better of a position, given i have no server experience and can quote no server related tech words that i have experience with on my cv.

    3. Would my remaining time be better spent doing the A+ course (which is a month long, but free!) and self-studying for the N+, resulting in qualifications that are aimed at entry level jobs, that i can put on cv right away and confidently speak about the skills needed to get those quals?

    Sorry for the long post but atm i really am confused and kinda worried about my future prospects tbh, with a wife and 2 kids to support and holding all my HGV licences, driving would be a decent enough fall back money wise, but it's not what i want to do and after a good 3 years now of not enjoying my job i kinda want something that i want to go to work for, even if it's wanting to go to work to get the exp & skills needed to move up the ladder and find something better. I know it wasn't intentional and i do believe he was giving me honest advice but i kinda feel now that all my plans for the next 3 months have gone down the ****ter as an A+ is apparently worthless and i'm nobody if i dont have the letters MCSA on my CV :(
    Certifications: A+
    WIP: N+
  2. ericrollo

    ericrollo Megabyte Poster

    To be honest as long as you are good at the job and the experience you said is true you should probably be able to get quite a good job with out doing them.

    The dude from the Training provider is most likely on commission.
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2009
    Certifications: MOS Master, A+, MCP 271
    WIP: HND, Programming, Another Job
  3. jo74

    jo74 Byte Poster

    Sorry to sound a bit cynical; but you received this advice from a training provider, from a salesman who basically wants your money. From other postings on this forum, it would seem that a CCNA or MCSE minus relevant experience is not recommended.
    Certifications: A+, N+, Sec+
  4. swatto

    swatto Byte Poster

    You will definitely be able to get an entry level job with an A+ under your belt plus you have the necessary experience to work on a help desk so that helps. When I started my job on a helpdesk I had no I.T Qualifications as such (apart from college) and got the job by using the experience I already had from working with computers at home to answer the questions put to me. As the above posters have said, that guys is just a salesman and it sounds to me he doesn't know what he is on about, he just wants to sell you 'a course'.

    The general path that is taken is:

    A+ >> Network+ >> MCDST

    and only after you have gained enough knowledge and experience should you do any of the higher level qualificatioins like MCSA - qualifications are there to show what you can do not what you want to do.

    If you decide to take the A+ I would suggest self-study as opposed to training providers as it is a cheaper option.

    Good luck with whatever you decide to do :)
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2009
    Certifications: BTEC Nat Dip: Software Dev, A+
    WIP: None Yet
  5. orangepeeleo

    orangepeeleo Nibble Poster

    Thanks for the reassurance, fwiw, i'm not doing the A+ with a training provider as such, it's with the CTP (an organisation that work with the army to prepare people for leaving) and i don't have to pay anything for it, if i did have to pay i would definetly go down the self-study route though, i plan to self-study for the N+ after i have done the A+ so that i can put on my CV that i am working towards more quals and show a bit of commitment to improving.

    After lurking around here for a while and doing my research the path that you mentioned was my plan all along, and b/c of my exp i had high confidence of finding an entry level job, the salesman just put some doubt in my head which really put me on a downer yesterday, thanks again for settling my worried mind though lol
    Certifications: A+
    WIP: N+
  6. billyr

    billyr Kilobyte Poster

    Hi there,

    This should probably be sent by P.M but i'd like to keep things out in the open.

    Confession time. As the only ex-RSignals bloke at 1Training then you would have most definately spoken to myself.

    All advice offered was sincerely meant. If I gave the impression that I was simply trying to sell you a course then that was not my intention. I am one of the instructors here and not a sales person. If you look back at my previous post some time ago offering you advice you would see my genuine intentions.

    I am in a unique position over many on this site in offering you advice in that I have probably served in the same units as yourself and know exactly what your job function is and what skills you have been trained in.

    I can assure you right now, as a Security Cleared engineer with nearly 7 years experience behind you that you are way underselling your skills and previous experience. It is disheartening that you think you are only capable of basic 1st line support jobs. No offence intended to those in a similar role.

    Think of the technologies that you work with:

    Ptarmigan - X25 packet switched based network connected via UHF or Sattellite.
    Cormorant - ATM switched bearer network utilising Frame Relay. Supporting many W2K & W2K3 Local area Networks.
    Bowman - Digitised voice system. Uses DHCP etc.
    Think of the number of users and problems that you have to deal with when deploying with a mobile field headquarters.. You don't get many civvy companies tearing down the infrastructure, moving location and setting up the company again every 12 hours.

    There are many technologies that you currently work with that are directly comparible to areas of the I.T industry in civvy street, it frustrates me greatly that no one from your chain of command or the resettlement service has given you the pointers or boost in confidence that you need.

    My advice was to self study the A+ and that still stands, you are more than capable of getting this out the way in less than a month. What I was trying to get across was not to use your Resettlement Training Grant to do this. Self studying you can get the A+ out the way for less than a few hundred quid including the exam costs. Even less if you use the Standard Learning Credit fund available to you to pay for the exam.

    Should you choose to do this course through the CTP you would be throwing away a a number of resettlement allowances that you are entitled to (see previous post above) quite a considerable amount of money.

    Once you leave the service this training budget less the ELC scheme is gone - forever.

    In recommending that you find a good MCSA course I do so confident that with your background you would find the course content straightforward. If you truly didn't feel you could back it up, then no harm done. You've just had a couple of months Microsoft Training courtesy of the Ministry of Defence with no charge to yourself.

    Your A+ will still be there and you can look for a 1st line job with the MCSA tucked away for the day you feel you justify to place it on your C.V.

    As I mentioned in our conversation there are other providers other than our company out there offering the same service. In providing you these company names I was trying to show you that the CTP was not your only option. They may be the career resettlement wing of the MOD, but do not be fooled in to thinking that they are an independant body there to help you through a tough time. The company who won the contract for this is Right Management and like us have there own services to sell and targets to meet.

    Unfortunately for most service leavers they are the first point of contact for their resettlement advice. I can vividly recall my own experience of explaining to my "advisor" that holding D.V clearance with a lot of Cisco exposure I wanted to work as a network engineer in civvy street. He seemed very chuffed in advising me that i'd be able to spend my resettlement grant on an ECDL course in Aldershot :hhhmmm

    Once again I apologise if I put a downer on your plans, best of luck with your resettlement process. As stated on the phone, even though you have decided on the CTP as your best bet, I am more than glad to be of any assistance to you in your transition to civvy street, be that putting you in touch with forces friendly employers or helping you translate your RSigs experience to civvy speak for your C.V
    Certifications: CCNP, CCSI, MCSE W2k/W2k3, MCITP_SA
    WIP: Taking it easy for a while.
  7. miflandia

    miflandia Byte Poster

    Unfortunately i can not help you with the DO`s
    but a little help with the DO NOT`s.
    4 years ago (when i moved to the UK) without even the knowledge of the language, it was my obvious first step
    "I can use my hgv licence!!"
    They pay good money, but it is a dead end, and very hard to get out...
    If you have to get a job, it is still possible with HGV license, just be careful do not stick there for to long.
    Like my cv: Last 4 years, Driving.
    Certifications: Comptia A+
    WIP: Comptia N+
  8. greenbrucelee
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    greenbrucelee Zettabyte Poster

    IT is notoriousley hard to get into but getting a job anywhere at the moment is hard enough.
    Certifications: A+, N+, MCDST, Security+, 70-270
    WIP: 70-620 or 70-680?
  9. zebulebu

    zebulebu Terabyte Poster

    No offence to you - or to the OP for that matter - but the OP states that he has been doing first line support whilst in the Army. What makes you think that experience in answering the phone/email/radio/<insert first line call method here> somehow sets him above everyone else in the job market with the same skills? The MCSA is a course designed for someone who has not already been working in a server environment for a year - NOT for someone who has been answering phones and referring calls up the line.

    I would argue that the technologies the OP has been working with will - as far as the average prospective employer is concerned - be of little relevance in the non-military world, and expecting employers to give a monkeys about what he's been working with (at first, second or even third line level) when there are no references that they will understand is expecting too much of most employers. Of far more relevance to them will be his work in first line support - backing that up with a basic certification(s) instantly gives him a leg up over most prospective first line bods out there.

    You would be wasting your time getting the MCSA unless you've been working to set up networks, servers and domains - you'll just end up as another one of the thousands out there with paper certs.

    Get the A+, Network+ and MCDST. If I had someone from a forces background interview with five other people equally qualified but without much experience I'd take them every time - simply because of the discipline needed to serve in the forces, lack of sick leave and ability to take abuse from people!

    Best of luck back in the real world - it's still as ****ty as when you left BTW :biggrin
    Certifications: A few
    WIP: None - f*** 'em
  10. billyr

    billyr Kilobyte Poster

    Like I said I have direct experience of the technologies he is trained in and worked on and there is more than enough relevance to technologies in the non-military world. The military does not run it's comms systems on black magic and uses the same technology as everyone else does, although admittedly usually ten years behind.
    Fair play employers wouldn't have a clue if the usual military jargon was used to describe the job roles. Thats where the career transition partnership should be helping to cross reference his skills.

    As I say, he is underselling himself as his job involves a lot more than answering phones, that's why his trade spends almost a years full time training at the Defence Communication College of Information Systems. That's military training college, 8am till 5pm full on classes every day, not 5 hours of lectures a week college. I encounter personnel from the exact same background as him every other month who have no problem in finding what i'd term a second line position on a reasonable wage.

    I have no doubt in my mind with his current experience he would easily find a first line role. My point is that there is at the moment a massive training budget available to him. This budget if not used before his exit date is lost for good. Having a couple of months server training courtesy of the MOD will do his knowledge no harm whatsoever.
    For example, I am a CCNP , if my employer offered me the chance to go on a CCSP or CCVP course at no expense to myself I would bite his hand off, even though it has no relevance to my current role. I probably wouldn't stick it on my C.V though until i'd worked more with the relevant technologies.
    Certifications: CCNP, CCSI, MCSE W2k/W2k3, MCITP_SA
    WIP: Taking it easy for a while.
  11. orangepeeleo

    orangepeeleo Nibble Poster


    Was travelling home for xmas leave yesterday so never had a chance to on here and check for more replies.

    Billy, its a small world it seems, and it's a good job i never bashed you in my OP as that would have been a bit embarresing lol, like i've said, i had no feeling that your advice was a veiled sales pitch, it did seem genuine and, from finding out that it was infact you replying in my intro post, i know that it was genuine as you have been very helpful in the past on here. The reason for my post was just to get a second/third opinion on things, b/c i am naive and gullible and are regularly sold things easily by salesmen lol (although you aren't one yourself) and it def wasn't to bash a training provider calling me up, just to get that clear incase my intentions haven't came across right.

    After thinking it through a while i've decided on my plan of action for the next 3 months that i have left, having looked at the course content for the A+ and N+ i feel like i could quite easily self-study for the N+ as i have a lot of knowledge re networks,topologies,seven layer model etc etc from the training i did at blandford and from the 2/3's of a BTEC ND in Computing that i dropped out of to join the army, the A+ seems like it would be more helpful, for me at least, to study for in a 'lab' type environment so i'm going to do that with the CTP, at no cost to myself, and then self study for the N+ in the next 3 months, hopefully leaving the army with an A+, N+ and support experience, thats the plan anyways.

    I know your only trying to help me when you say that i am maybe underselling myself, but really only i can know that, i'm only 25, there's a lot of people who have made a career change later than me so i have time on my side, and i would much rather work my way through the ranks, starting from the bottom of the ladder and really learning my trade, than get an MCSA, and blag myself into a job where i don't have enough server exp to really do it well. The way i see it, i might be starting off on maybe 12-15k per year but give me a year or 2 and i'll be ready to start looking for 2nd line jobs, which from my research online seem to make around the 20-25k mark, more than i'm earning now in the army! As long as i can make around 14k per year to start with i'll be ok financially when i get out, there's always working tax credits and child tax credits to boost the bank a bit so there's no rush to make big bucks atm

    With regards to the money from the army, i am still entitled to £1000 per year learning credits for 10 years after i get out so this is not the last chance i'll get to study with the taxpayer footing the bill, surely any decent prospective employer would quite happily send me on a course for an MCSA in the future if i could guarantee to foot £1k of the bill???

    Thanks everyone for the advice though, it's definetly got me thinking about the future, but i think i am gonna stick to my plan, A+,N+, and slog it out at the bottom of the heap for a year or so, secure in the knowledge that although i'm taking a pay drop and that some people may walk out of the army into better jobs, i'll be confident that i can do the job thats asked of me to a high standard and i have enough drive and ambition to move on to better things so it's just a matter of patience imo. Billy, Although it might sound like i'm ignoring your advice i have took it on board and it's always good to get another perspective on things so thanks.

    One last thing, would it be cool for me to send you my cv for a review once i've finished it?? :D Would be good to get an ex-forces-and now in IT- opinion on some of the wording if thats ok?
    Certifications: A+
    WIP: N+
  12. billyr

    billyr Kilobyte Poster

    No problem at all mate, each of us make our own path in life and it seems like you have a solid plan and a realistic expectation of wage levels. Don't forget that you hold S.C clearance and with the right employer this should boost your income considerably.

    I'd be more than happy to take a look at your C.V, just send me it through whenever your ready. If you like I'll send it on to some of our main employers for you. Most of them tend to be defence industry related hence the advantage of the S.C clearance.

    Like you say the N+ material will be more than familiar to you, if you need any study materials let me know and i'll stick it in the post when I get back to the office in Jan.
    Certifications: CCNP, CCSI, MCSE W2k/W2k3, MCITP_SA
    WIP: Taking it easy for a while.
  13. zebulebu

    zebulebu Terabyte Poster

    This post is so full of win it hurts.

    Congratulations on taking a pragmatic, sensible route into the IT industry. It will pay dividends in the long run, and it's heartening to know the forces are churning people out with a fully-functioning brain (not something that would be readily apparent from the muppets who roll through Maidstone town centre every weekend!)

    Good luck to you, and congratulations on making the correct choice!
    Certifications: A few
    WIP: None - f*** 'em
  14. derkit

    derkit Gigabyte Poster

    I had a work colleague who had been in the army for about 7 years or so, been doing comms and IT for most of that time out in theatres like Bosnia as well - the biggest problem he came across was that while he was a good tech not only did he have the qualifications for it (sub-MCSA leve) but also no commercial experience. The number of jobs he went for (this was about 3 years ago) and a reasonable number of them mentioned - no commercial experience, they honestly didn't take it into account that he'd been doing a similar role for 5+ years.

    He joined a outsourcing company for the MoD and did 18 months with us, he shortly after got a job 2nd/3rd line elsewhere in the private sector - and for that one he didn't need, and so consequently lost, his SC clearance - but he's a lot happier for it.

    Maybe have a poke around for some defence roles, I know of a couple of companies who are more interested in cleared people, than they are for people who have experience.
    Certifications: MBCS, BSc(Hons), Cert(Maths), A+, Net+, MCDST, ITIL-F v3, MCSA
    WIP: 70-293

Share This Page