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My Certification Dilemma

Discussion in 'General Microsoft Certifications' started by cknapp78, Mar 13, 2012.

  1. cknapp78

    cknapp78 New Member

    Hey everyone.

    Been lurking around here for a few days. Love the site.

    Long story short...I am 33 years old and have been an IT Professional for over 15 years. I've done a little bit of everything from Desktop to Servers to Groupware to Architecture. The past 3-4 years I have focused almost exclusively on Exchange and SharePoint and had done so well that I managed to work as an independent contractor designing Exchange and SharePoint 2010 solutions for over 20,000 users. My titles have ranged from Architect to Design Consultant. Work was good for a while and then, because of the problems with the US economy, just as suddenly, work was gone. Just finished sitting home for 8 of the past 9 months without work. My wife and kids made it fun at least. I owe them alot. OK...that's the bad news.

    Good news...just landed a full time Right-To-Hire position with a large Fortune 100 company in New Jersey as their Messaging Architect. Fantastic opportunity. Only took me 6 interviews and 7 weeks of waiting but I finally started last week.

    Now the interesting part. As part of my agreement to come on board, I have 18 months to pass my MCITP: EA and MCITP Messaging certs. In addition, they would like me to focus on my MCITP: SharePoint cert and eventually my Citrix cert as well but those can wait until the others are done.

    Here is my dilemma. Where the heck do I start? I have been a self made man. I hold absolutely no certs. I took an NT 4.0 Exam back in the day (over 13 years ago) and failed twice. I never looked back and my practical knowledge and experience speaks for itself. My issue is that I am not very good in test prep. Studying never came easy for me. Part of the reason why I left college after a year and a half and started working right away. High school was a joke for me since I really never had to study. This real world stuff is a lot different. In addition, I have a 3 year old son, a 6 year old daughter, and my wife has some pretty major health issues which means my study time is relegated to the late evening when the kids go to bed.

    Any advice you guys can offer would be greatly appreciated. If you can recommend some study materials, test order, etc...Figure I might even make this a regular post so you guys can keep track of my progess and bust my stones when I start slacking off.

    I will be glad to offer any advice I have in return, whether it be work related or not.

    Oh and by the way...just found out that I should try and get my Net+, Security+, Green, and Storage+ Certs when I get a chance. Like I have all this free time! :blink

    THanks in advance!!

    Certifications: Filebound Certified Engineer
    WIP: MCITP: EA, MCITP: Messaging, MCITP: SharePoint, Net+, Security+
  2. wagnerk
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    wagnerk aka kitkatninja Moderator

    Ok, you've got the experience, it's just getting you into the certification "mind" now.

    You have 18 months to get the MCITP: EA (5 exams) and MCITP: Enterprise Messaging Administrator on Exchange 2010 (2 exams), so depending on how well you study (as you've got the experience) 18 months is do-able (however you may be brain-dead by the end of it) with 1 exam every 2 months or so.

    You've got a few routes:

    Self-study: This is the cheapest option. You will manage your own learning and speed.

    Class based: You have the support of your tutors and you are more or less going at the speed of the class (this can be too fast, too slow or just right for some).

    Boot camps (intensive classes): The most expensive route, there are good and bad ones out there. And to be honest, from what alot of people say, unless you already have the knowledge behind you, the pace of these are fast.

    Which route you go for, well that depends on you and your learning style.

    However one thing that I do recommend is doing the 680 (windows 7) exam first, as it contributes to the MCITP: EA. IMO, it's the "easiest" of the exams in the certification tracks that you've been given (I used the term "easiest" with quotes, as what is easy for one may be hard for another).

    BTW, welcome to CF :)
    Certifications: CITP, PGDip, 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: MSc in Tech Management
  3. TheMagician

    TheMagician Nibble Poster

    Well I suspect you aren't going to find the Messaging track at all difficult given your experience so I would aim to smash that out the park first. This will free you up to do EA in the remaining time.

    I'd almost be tempted to sit the 70-662 exam immediately, maybe buy a MS Press book and make sure none of that is new to you beforehand.

    Like wagner says, it could be quite a hectic schedule depending on how much you enjoy self study! The amount of time you'll need to spend on the EA track will depend on how much of the rest of the windows server technologies you've dealt with, given your experience you have probably dealt with a large amount of what the EA covers anyway, so I'm sure this is an attainable goal for you.
    Certifications: MCSA 2012, MCITP: EA, SA, ITIL
  4. Theprof

    Theprof Petabyte Poster Premium Member

    I agree with what's been said above... it all comes down to choosing what method of studies you're good with and just doing it, there's really no easy way to doing exams if its not your strength and I completely understand that. I am however pretty sure that with the amount of experience you have, it will make it a little easier to pass exams, you'll see. What happened in the past regarding you taking it exams should not hold you back, today is not what the past was so you never know!
    Certifications: A+ | CCA | CCAA | Network+ | MCDST | MCSA | MCP (270, 271, 272, 290, 291) | MCTS (70-662, 70-663) | MCITP:EMA | VCA-DCV/Cloud/WM | VTSP | VCP5-DT | VCP5-DCV
  5. algorithm&blues

    algorithm&blues Nibble Poster

    You obviously have the experience and the knowledge - it's just a case of picking up an MS Press book or two and just learning "the Microsoft way" so to speak.

    I had been working with Server 2003 for 7 years, but still found the exam a bit of a challenge, mainly because the exam introduced things that we didn't use in our work environment and introduced some "Microsoft approved" ways of doing things.
  6. JonnyMX

    JonnyMX Petabyte Poster

    Personally, I would arrange to sit down with your line manager (or whoever it needs to be) and set out a plan with them.
    Have something ready to go and show them that you would need to do one exam every two months which would involve 'x' hours per month study/bench time.

    They'll probably be horrified and just expect you to dump your way through the exams just so they can keep up with whatever partnership arrangements they have or to fit in with the logos on their website. :biggrin

    Either way, the important thing is to be realistic up-front about everybodies expectations rather than to come a cropper in 18 months by not meeting your objectives.
    Certifications: MCT, MCTS, i-Net+, CIW CI, Prince2, MSP, MCSD

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