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Upgrading Training and Certification?

Cliff posted more than 11 years ago | from the jumping-back-into-the-pool dept.

Linux Business 381

An un-named reader asks: "For various reasons, I've been out of the workforce and IT industry since 2000, before which I was employed as an NT-based sysadmin at a large Canadian company. After moving to NYC I found the market flat and got into other work for a while. Now I find myself wanting to get back into IT professionally, but my resume is getting no nibbles at all (over 800 resumes submitted in the last year or so). As a result, I decided to take some training courses to get me back up to speed not just in the W-Intel world, but give me some usable knowledge of Solaris, a CCNA and Checkpoint. Here's where things bogged down. Are there any decent schools out there who have good facilities, good instructors and do more than 'teach-to-the-exams?"

"I checked out just about every 'school' offering training and placement in the New York City area, and frankly each of them almost had me running screaming into the night. Atrocious facilities, hot, stuffy, cramped classrooms and teachers whose every other words are 'memorize this--it will be on the test.'

Most places were shocked when I said I didn't care about certifications and exams. I explained that I need not just the theory but some hands-on experience with hardware that I don't have access to at home, and knowledge sufficient to at least get me something entry-level once again.

I learn best by demonstration and instruction so CBT CD-ROMs and 'go-read-a-book' aren't viable options for me. Since I'm not currently employed, I also need some form of placement assistance as well. Frankly, I didn't think this was too much to ask for until I really started looking. I looked at Learning Tree specifically, but their policies are strictly business-to-business training, not to individuals."

cancel ×


Am I first? (-1, Offtopic)

cuteduo (136947) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098454)

First Post? Just had to try.

Anyways, as far as schools are concerned...Not sure in NYC.

Why would you want that? (1)

dirvish (574948) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098456)

If you just stick to the schools that "teach to the exams" you will get more than nibbles on that resume.

Re:Why would you want that? (1)

c.derby (574103) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098476)

because he actually wants to be able to do the work that the job entails and figure out technical issues by himself.

Re:Why would you want that? (1)

ejdmoo (193585) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098500)

If he doesn't get "nibbles" on his resume, he won't have a job to figure out.

Re:Why would you want that? (1)

dirvish (574948) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098575)

Yeah, that was my point. He needs to get those certs to boost his resume to get that job.

Re:Why would you want that? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5098658)

maybe he can have both, learning and nibbles. Come on, can't we all get along?

Re:Why would you want that? (4, Insightful)

mAIsE (548) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098712)

I have been in the IT industry for 8 years, I have 5 certifications. Only one of those is still on my resume (though they are all still valid). In my experience people don't want to see certifications they want experience.

I would suggest

1. find a direction, UNIX, Networking (Cisco etc..), programming (what ever language)

2. try to simulate a working environment at home, buy cheap equipment on eBay, etc..

3. study for the exam but don't go to the classes (they are mostly useless), Use your setup at home to simulate a working environment.

4. get books (at least 3 on the subject) and study materials on the subject of choice and dig deep, devour all the material on said subject cover to cover twice.

This process will really teach you,

Most of the time things learned quickly are lost quickly.

First! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5098457)

If it were me, I'd focus on Linux right now. Ya I know big surprise coming from a /. post, but seriously -- I have seen a huge influx of Linux related admin jobs around here.

Second Post! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5098459)

Check out this [] !

Recommended if you're in Canada: ITI (5, Informative)

Tofino (628530) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098460)

Several coworkers, and myself, have taken courses with ITI [] . [] I've been impressed by the breadth and depth of knowledge they come out of the course with. I've always been disappointed by courses that skim the surface, or that pander to the lowest common denominator in the class. Instead, ITI tends to weed out those who can't keep up, rewarding the bright folks who pay attention.

ITI: Nonsense! (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5098565)

ITI is useless. You leave there with about $30k in student debts and in a field where the hiring is very weak.

I've met some really bright people that came from ITI, but the majority I've met (80%) are people who feel that they're supposed to earn a wad a cash without proving themselves. It sucks that one pays so much for schooling but that doesn't give you a right to demand a massive salary or delude yourself that you're better qualified.

Go to Sheridan College or some other technical school. It's cheaper, more well-rounded, and has placement people who actually care for you to get a good job.

Re:Recommended if you're in Canada: ITI (2, Insightful)

MarcoAtWork (28889) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098706)

at 20 grand US for an 18 month program in systems administration it better be good...

Volunteer (3, Insightful)

leerpm (570963) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098467)

Perhaps try seeing if you can get a non-profit organization to go along with you. They provide some of the hardware, and you 'learn on the fly'?

speaking of certifications... (1, Insightful)

Tuxinatorium (463682) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098472)

Every incompetant dimwit and his mother has A+ certification... Which is why it doesn't mean jack anymore except maybe to get a job at Best Buy.

Re:speaking of certifications... (2, Informative)

NoMoreNicksLeft (516230) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098512)

Not exactly. It's worthless for getting a job, but mine demands that I have it.

And I have been turned down for temp work, rollouts and what not, for lack of it.

Re:speaking of certifications... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5098640)

I once say some bum in the hospital emergency studying a A+ book. Must have been about 1997 or so, that was when I do the cert was worthless.

Re:speaking of certifications... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5098661)

I don't know about that.. I bet you could get a job at circuit city too.

Community college? (3, Interesting)

squant0 (553256) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098483)

Why not check out some local community colleges?
Many have expensive hardware that you can play with and will teach you lots of stuff that would never even be on one of those exams.

Re:Community college? (3, Insightful)

Jason1729 (561790) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098531)

In my experience, the community colleges are the worst for catering to the lowest common denominator of students.

Every time I've taken a course at one, the class is divided into two groups of people, those who are there to learn, and those who don't know why they're there. The ones who don't know why they're there don't do any of the assignments and try to learn as little as possible. Invariably, the class is dumbed down to suit them, and the most interesting half the of the material is skipped.

ProfQuotes []

Re:Community college? (1)

squant0 (553256) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098571)

That is opposite of my experiences, but I guess it all depends on the place. I understand what you are saying, but a good local college that has computer courses will probably have someone who knows their shit teaching, rather than just some schmuck that took the course last year.

Paying per credit hour at a university would work, seeing as just about nothing is ever dumbed down at good schools, and those who lag behind are usually told to leave the school.

Many universities have clusters and huge numbers of unix machines open for use, and by going there you may even get a leg into getting a job if you show that you know your stuff.

Re:Community college? (1)

acoustix (123925) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098620)

I teach at Iowa Central Community college and I tend to think that we have a great program.

EVERY class is hands on including the 4 semesters of Cisco Academy, 2 semesters of Novell Netware, A+, NT/2000 Pro/server, Active Directory, Unix, Security, Network Documentation, telephone systems, Fiber Optics, C prog, Visual Basic, Network+...

All of those are individual classes that we have. Every student gets their own client and server in most classes. Plus Cisco switches, routers, pix firewalls, AT&T PBXs...

Check it out:

Fuhget about it. (5, Insightful)

msfodder (610252) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098484)

Certifications get you exactly squat in a flat market.

It's all about who you know, how you know them, and your experience(maybe).
If you are a CCIE you may be in a certification niche where certs are noticed.
Otherwise you are a dime a dozen.

Re:Fuhget about it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5098516)

Exactly, your problem isn't lack of certificates, it being in a market that has been laying-off as many as 200,000 IT workers a month now for a couple of years.

Re:Fuhget about it. (1)

dazdaz (77833) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098631)

I'd like to know where did you get these statistics from, I did'nt realise it was as high as that, just in USA?

On your own (1)

bubba_ry (574102) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098485)

For my money, there's no better way than learning on my own. You can buy some used hardware cheap and play with that. Buy an OS or two and play with it. Buy a book or two, study them, and apply what you learned. Of course, it doesn't hurt if you can get some instruction, but having gained some knowledge on your own will help you in class. Hell, you may even be able to get credit for it, who knows?

Re:On your own (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5098611)

You're right. But I would never hire someone who is "self-taught". HR would never even pass the resume to me, because they would take a lot of heat if that person turned out to be a dud.

There's way too many people looking for jobs with a vast amount of education. I'd wouldn't resort with someone who is self-taught unless he/she 10+ years of experience and amazing references.

DeVry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5098490)

Perhaps you may want to try DeVry... They seem to have pretty good hands-on programs and we have had pretty good success with DeVry grads in the past.

Who needs classes? (1)

Joe the Lesser (533425) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098493)

If you can not find classes to teach the skills companies want, then teach yourself!

There are many useful books out there on every computing subject, and all you need is the self-discipline to assign yourself learning projects. While you may not have a 'certificate', you will be able to confidently add it to your resume, and walk the talk.

Re:Who needs classes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5098519)

"I learn best by demonstration and instruction so CBT CD-ROMs and 'go-read-a-book' aren't viable options for me. " .. did you even READ this article?

Re:Who needs classes? (1)

velcrokitty (555902) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098534)

There is unfortunately that 'x years experience' clause that a lot of employers look for. I used to hit that when I first graduated. Now that I too am out of the workforce, I've had to pick up new skills, but when I apply for a job I get the same old question.

Never mind that I've been coding in the workplace for 9 years, just focus on the unimportant fact that I've only learned Java and Perl on my own and applied this knowledge to my home projects...


Learn by doing (1)

jason_watkins (310756) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098498)

I understand about learning by demonstration, but you seem to have exhausted those options. So maybe learning by doing would not be ideal, but better than the instruction that is available.

I know there's a simulator for the CCNA. As for solaris, you could always get solaris x86, buy an old sun off ebay, or pick up the (relatively) cheap blade 100 to get some hands on.

The only individual training company I've heard good things about was DevelopMentor. Unfortunately they focus on software development, not administration or networking.

who knows who and the favor (3, Informative)

spoonyfork (23307) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098499)

It has been my experience (and others that I know) that getting a job is a lot easier if you know someone at the place you want work at. If they have enough swag to put in a good word for you, that foot in the door could push your resume to the top of the stack. Cold calls are a rough way to go.

Training? Necessary.. but experience is king.

Re:who knows who and the favor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5098605)

That's what I have found as well. In the end, a trustworthy known contact is more appealing to a person that is hiring, than the description of a person on a piece of paper - no matter how qualified. The person with the most education or skills may be a tremendous asshole to work with. It's always a gamble to hire a stranger.

I've been doing consulting work in the past year and ALL of my work has been via word of mouth for people I know directly or indirectly through others.

Re:who knows who and the favor (2, Insightful)

stefanlasiewski (63134) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098630)

Certainly, networking will yield the best results in terms of jobs.

Unfortunately, you need to know people who are working at a place that is hiring...

Right now, 50% of my friends are out of work and looking, or are working at a place that won't be hiring in the near future, or are in a completely different industry from me (I have a house, and switching careers would mean selling the house).

Employers up job requirements in tough times (5, Insightful)

t0rnt0pieces (594277) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098504)

You didn't discuss this in your article, but do you have a college education or are you self-taught? This isn't 1999 anymore, the job market is right. Really tight. Virtually every job ad I've looked at required *at least* a BS, and many even want a masters. It may not even matter how much experience you have or how good you are, someone with a BS probably has an edge over you (if you don't have one). Assuming you don't have a BS, I would start taking classes at one of the many fine universities in NYC. CUNY is a cheap public university in NYC, if price is a big concern. If you do have a BS, think about a masters or maybe take the teachers advice on going for certifications. These days, paper chasing may get you a job faster than hands-on experience.

so basically (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5098508)

you are an NT bitch who knows nothing and you want to take more classes so you can pretend to know more. fag . stick to xp

How about more specialized certifications? (1)

On Lawn (1073) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098509)

I've been thinking the same thing, but having been in a lowly sys-admin job for a while I have a taste for something more exotic.

I would really want to get credentialed in some high-end CAD administration like Catia, Cadence or Mentor Graphics (hopefully more mechanical engineering then electrical engineering since I have a degree in ME). It would be cool to be an admin of high end 3-D software also. The ultimate would be admining a Catia shop with its own NC-Mill and other machinist tools.

There the problem seems to be chicken and egg like on a level that is more extreme then sys-admining. I need to find a job that will support me through the multi-thousand dollar seminars. But the jobs all want me to have already taken the seminars and have the experience.

Is there any admins of more specialized exotic software that can share with me how they got there? Perhaps I need to quit this job and get a lower paying ME job to get there.

Re:How about more specialized certifications? (1)

SquadBoy (167263) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098546)

I don't know where you are at or what they are doing right now. But when i worked for PTC they hired a ton of MEs who they then trained to be pretty good sys admins. Granted you would have to answer phones for a while and it would most likely be a pay cut. But it just might get you there.

Re:How about more specialized certifications? (1)

On Lawn (1073) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098608)

when i worked for PTC they hired a ton of MEs

PTC? Is that an outsourcing company or an ME shop?

Re:How about more specialized certifications? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5098622)

I have got Cadence, Mentor and ADS certificates + 4 years of active experience with tool development, user support, library development, design flow definition, project management etc... job market still sucks.

Re:How about more specialized certifications? (1)

jessejay356 (625312) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098633)

As someone who's done support of CATIA, Pro-E, and other high end CAD software... (we're a development company that's uses alot of different software) I don't think it's any better then any other admin job. Besides, once the software is installed, there is not a lot of maintance so you end up doing other stupid crap. ACK. But, I got my job by just knowing what Unix was, and having some idea how to admin and it took me far. Now I'm a developer, and like it work then doing EVIL catia installs.

Training to get back into IT (3, Interesting)

nemaispuke (624303) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098520)

If you are looking for Solaris training, go right to Sun. Their courses are not cheap ($2500-3000 per class) but you get hands-on, books that are worth their weight in gold, and a good feel for Solaris. And the other benefit of coughing up that kind of cash is that only people "who want to be there" will be present. My previous job gave us three weeks of Solaris training (not by Sun), and three of us spent most of that time training everybody else! I wouldn't worry about Cisco training, there are lots of CCNA's out of work. And although many people will tell you "learn Linux", I think having some education and experience with a major vendor's product is more helpful (in my case Solaris and AIX). But that is just my opinion.

GlobalKnowledge (2, Interesting)

NetJunkie (56134) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098522)

I took the CCNP Boot Camp at Global Knowledge a little over a year ago and was very happy. A lot of hands on work with some of the best instructors I've ever had. We covered a lot of real world scenarios that I use constantly now.

I absolutely hate certification mills, and this wasn't one. Good facilities with plenty of lab equipment to go around. They also bring in snacks, which were great. :)

You may try Mandrake Training Center (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5098523) ers/search?country=us&wslang=en

Training is about certs, not learning (2, Insightful)

swb (14022) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098525)

Training is about passing the cert exams. Why? That's what most people want.

People want the certs because they think its the key to a job. Or people need the certs, because their PHBs require them to get/keep/update certs.

PHBs want certs because it shows they're hiring a "qualified" workforce. HR people screen for certs because they're usually too ignorant to look for anything else, and they all have nice acronyms they can type into search engines.

If you want to actually *learn* something, most IT training isn't the place to find it. Cisco training by and large is pretty good, but it still focuses a lot on "Psst, it's on the CCNA test". I've taken MS training that's been OK, although the "learning" was something that could have been compressed into 2 days, minus the bullshit and compulsory 20 minute cig breaks every 60 minutes.

I think the best learning is the hardest kind; pounding your head against the CRT until the manpages, HOWTOs and other stuff sink in and you can actually string stuff together. It's incredibly frustrating and time consuming compared to having someone teach you, but AFAIK there's no one actually *teaching* most of what most admins do.

experience = job (1)

just_to_post (642152) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098530)

everyone is getting the same certs you are, you need to set yourself apart from other. even if you're not getting paid for it, you're getting experience. wasting 3 grand just to add a line on your resume saying your certified doesn't seem worth it. study on your own to get the cert and get any experience you can...

I couple of things I must point out (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5098536)

  1. stay away from BSD. I hear it's dying.
  2. stay away from Steven King, too. Dying also.
  3. Those that can, do. Those that can't, teach. I suggest you teach.

Re:I couple of things I must point out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5098556)

That was three things.

Reality Check (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5098538)

No school is going to do more than get you to pass the exams - that's all they're there to do, that's all they get paid for, and they don't have the facilities to run a real-world environment.

On the plus side, most hiring managers don't know jack shit anyway and can't see past the certification letters, so even though it seems like a waste of time, it will open doors.

The other approach is to lie the heck out of your resume just to get it past the HR screener, then be honest once you actually talk to the manager on an interview. It's a bold approach that might backfire, but it might also work if you have the balls.

check out the vendor's sites (1)

iosphere (14517) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098543)

They might point you right back to the place's you've already been, but you might want to check the vendor's sites for training partners. I know Cisco and Checkpoint both have complete training subsections with links to locations and partners. That's where I'd start.

CCNA the ebay way (5, Interesting)

redbeard_ak (542964) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098551)

I recommend purchasing a 1700 router and/or a 2900 switch from ebay. You can set up configurations, learn the CLI and play around. Flash the rom, reload the O/S. All that. The cost is less - be patient and you can get a 2900 for less than $400 like I did.

After the test you can resell it for what you got or you can keep it and use it in your home. Can't do either with a class.

Re:CCNA the ebay way (2, Informative)

Kenja (541830) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098574)

Cisco 2514. Low cost, can run latest version of IOS, had dual NICs to setup and test firewall configurations and virtual networks. Add to that a 1600 and a serial x-over cable and you can simulate T1 connections.

Re:CCNA the Software Simulator Way (5, Informative)

kingmundi (54911) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098662)

There are some things you will only learn by having hand on experience with an actual router in your hands. Back in the day, it seemed like all the classes and training were using the 2501 for testing. I wanted to pipe in and mention a very good software simulator of a small LAN environment.

Ive used this software, and it is really good. You can drag and drop different routers and connect them up through swtiches or serial cables and run through all the commands of setting up a connection. Setup RIP, IGRP static routes, etc.. It feels very much like being logged in to a cisco router.

Nothin, and I mean nothing is getting IT employed (3, Funny)

t0qer (230538) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098555)

You and me both have been out of work since 2k...

Any drive up 101 in the bay area would tell you that the economy here evaporated like the water in the salt marshes out in the bay. The mass exodous of people OUT of the bay area since the crash hasn't helped things at all either, since the companies they are retreating from either closed shop, outsourced in some manner (domestic or foriegn) or they've made the coders become coder/tech writer/IT persons/janitors all rolled into one.

I hate to say it, but IT people seem like more of a perk to companies so the coders don't have to take on that roll. Unfortunatly having 20 coders arguing over the network setup usually results in a half-assed network that we IT guys end up cleaning up in the end when the company caves in and decides to make a budget for IT again.

After working for PHB's for 8 years, me and my IT buds are burnt out. Working for people you KNOW are dumber than you eventually might bring you to this conclusion..

If I know i'm smarter than this jackass who can't copy and paste something into his powerpoint presentation, then why is HE the boss, and why am I his lackey?

So my advice to you is don't worry about the job market right now in IT. Most companies are outsoucing IT to save money, so you could go down, file a ficticous business name for 40 bucks and be in business. Be your own telemarketer, call up the CFO's of companies in your area and ask them if they would like to "outsource" IT. PHB's love that buzzword "Outsource"

CCNA (1)

DaytonCIM (100144) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098558)

is about as good and respected in the industry as A+ certification. If you're going to get a Cisco cert, you have to get at least CCNP. In addition, check out the new security cert they're offering.

In my opinion, if you have experience with networks (NT or therwise) I'm sure you could home study for the CCNP (the RAS exam is the most difficult) cert.

I can tell you that the West Coast is FLOODED with MCSE and CCNA types... don't know about the East Coast.

Good luck.

Cisco (2, Informative)

unicron (20286) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098559)

A lot of community colleges have arrangements with Cisco to be authorized to teach thier Academy Program. The CCNA Academy alone is 4 semesters, so you can see they're aren't skipping much. And the end of the 4 semesters, you get to take the cert at like 1/3 the cost. Heck, if I remember correctly, they'll even give you a second attempt at the same price.

In Soviet Russia... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5098561)

certificates get ***YOU***

Do this (1)

dazdaz (77833) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098566)

Listen carefully.

Buy a PC and work with that. Install as many different systems and become comfortable with that, including Solaris x86.

Don't waste money on certifications, they won't help enough to give you the edge.

CCNA (-1)

Eso (205333) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098569)

I got to take the CCNA course in high school. I don't remember a thing.

MiG, this bud's for you.

Check out Netcom Information Technology (1)

Alpha27 (211269) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098570)

They offer a good range of courses and two locations, 1 in LIC (Queens) and 1 at the Empire State Building. their site is

Graduate School (1) (213397) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098576)

What you're really saying is that you want a CS graduate degree.

HP class I took was great (1)

Fluid Truth (100316) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098593)

I recently took a class from HP (it was HP-UX for experienced sysadmins) and it was a great class. There were only 8 people in the class, the teacher was very knowledgeable, and we were using modern equipment. We were learning for the sake of learning. No one was going to use NIS? Fine, we skipped that. If you want the exam prep, it was a totally different class.

Admittedly, this was just one class from one instructor, but the facilities should be at least comparable. There's one in the New York area. And, of course, you'd be learning something HP specific. Check out their web site [] for more info.

Woa (3, Funny)

houseofmore (313324) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098594)

"NT-based sysadmin"


MOD Parent Down - Lame attempt at humor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5098680)

Those Kiwis are so silly. Always feeling insecure about their standing next to the Aussies.

Re:Woa (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5098687)

This is the first post in awhile that actually made me laugh outloud...

Working rights (1)

dazdaz (77833) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098596)

Are you an American who worked in Canada and then decided to move back to USA?

If you are a Canadian wanting to work in America, do you require any form of work permit?

Re:Working rights (1)

houseofmore (313324) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098623)

If you are a Canadian wanting to work in America, do you require any form of work permit?

No... but may want to seek therapy.

Auslaender Raus! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5098650)

Typical touchy attitude from Westerners. The job market gets tight and right away people start looking at the foreigners.

Not everyone is after your job, girl, car, suburban home, etc ...

Grow up!

School of Hard Knocks (5, Interesting)

Ridgelift (228977) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098598)

I found that registering a business name and a business license is the _best_ form of certification.

Certification means "To confirm as genuine". People are more apt to believe someone with a business card can fix their computer woes than a stack full of resumes littered with acronyms (CNE, MCSE, CCNA, A+, WYSIWYG, ad infinitum ad nauseum)

If you know your stuff and can fix a clients problem, it doesn't matter what your certification is. All people want are results.

Get a Degree (2, Insightful)

Dougthebug (625695) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098602)

If you didn't mention you were unemployed, I'd say apply to your local university and get a B.S. in Information Systems Management or something similar. From what I've seen, most IT positions these days require a B.S. in a computer related field. A degree in ISM can be your ticket into a nice job. Plus, most Universities have great job placment programs.

However since you said you were unemployed, all I can say is get some student loans and/or hit up the local Junior College for some supplemental education. You'll have better luck their than at most of these technical colleges that advertise on tv.

Well From Experience a MCSA/E A+/CCNA/NET+/RHCE (4, Informative)

puto (533470) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098607)

Ok here is the skinny from my experience and flame away. But if you do it this way you can grab a lot of certs and learn a lot along the way. Nothing is better than real world experience but a little paper behind you doesn;t hurt.

A+ - Everyone and is brother does have it. So get it anyway. One book and one week studying. Took the tests back to back. Shows you have some basic hardware knowledge. Cause hardware and software knowledge don't exactly walk hand in hand.

Net+ - Another easy one but really good in the sense of getting you up to speed on networking essentials. Subnetting, IP, the language and eqipment.

Linux + - Learn the fundementals of Linux - Pass the test. Good starting block for your RHCE.

RHCE- Do I need to explain this one? Red Hat is the industry standard Linux at the moment.

AS for the MS stuff. It is good to have the hands on experience and the classes as well. the 2000 and net stuff is not all that easy. The 4.0 was a walk in the park. Professional and server are easy exams. But AD and the other ones are a bitch because they expect you to have experience with the product. And the exams are adaptive, very hard to teach the test with these. And also whose fault is it if you but cheat sheets?

I am a fairly good Linux Admin, and a Fairly good Linux admin. I do not code. Don't want to. I just like keeping the highways a rolling. I don't care what you drive on them.

But I will say this. A good Linux admin will not be a good windows admin and vice versa. Because both will be predisposed to see all bad in the opposite product. I look at windows and linux for the respective uses of each. Do not tie yourself down with one. Stay off of OS bandwagons. Learn as much as you can about both. Or any OS you can.

I find myself time and time again sitting in the middle of the fence. My linux pals who dog Windows cause, they ***gasp*** cant admin it, and are too proud to ask someone or check MSDN. Or the Windows bunch who are stuck on reinstall when something craps out.


Re:Well From Experience a MCSA/E A+/CCNA/NET+/RHCE (2, Interesting)

msfodder (610252) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098695)

If you don't know how to code then you are not a good linux or any *nix admin. That's the sad and sorry truth. You may be competent, but you are definitely not good.

hrmmm (1)

pummer (637413) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098609)

you should open the school you need, since there aren't any around

Certification Courses (1)

Herkum01 (592704) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098619)

Well, the best way to get a job, is to HAVE A JOB! I know, it is a catch-22 but it follows the logic of if you were any good someone would have hired you. It is an asine attitude but what can you do.

Most manager's don't at certifications so much as a evaluation of skill any more. Usually if you have 6 years of experience in something and get certified in that you will look good, rather than you have been in the business 6 years, got certified in JYMBO software, but have no experience.

So what I am basically saying is, get certified in the stuff you already know, people will respect that more than, the Course to Pass Exam

Tough market (depending upon perspective) (1)

BWJones (18351) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098629)

Now I find myself wanting to get back into IT professionally, but my resume is getting no nibbles at all (over 800 resumes submitted in the last year or so)

As the title of this reply says, the condition of the market really depends upon your perspective as one who does the hiring or if you are looking for a job. I can't tell you how many good resumes I have rejected in the past couple of years for a number of reasons. There are so many highly qualified folks out there looking for work right now that one can afford to be quite selective when hiring. Man, some of the resumes that have ended up on my desk almost scare me from being over qualified. These are really smart and capable people and I want to surround myself with people like that, but I can only hire so many.

I decided to take some training courses to get me back up to speed not just in the W-Intel world, but give me some usable knowledge of Solaris, a CCNA and Checkpoint.

I would suggest that getting a good all around knowledge of UNIX under your belt as Windows certification (as well as many others) does not really say much to me. What is most important is that you are capable of getting work accomplished, so perhaps including in your resume projects you have worked on and some description of what they were.

Additionally I usually take applicants out to lunch or dinner and talk about the task they are interested in applying for and seeing how they interact socially. As a former dean of our medical school once told me, "Hey, if I can't enjoy a meal with someone, I certainly can't work with them". So, yeah, the interview is very important and I have rejected a couple of highly qualified applicants because they needed some social skills. One highly qualified dude (on paper) with a PhD in computational chemistry actually snapped his fingers at a waitress during lunch and demeaned her in front of the entire resturaunt and I simply will not tolerate that sort of behavior.

I learn best by demonstration and instruction so CBT CD-ROMs and 'go-read-a-book' aren't viable options for me.

From your description, it sounds like you might be interested in going back to school? It's not as bad as it sounds and I know many folks including a brother-in-law who after looking for over a year for a job as a technical writer decided he wanted to go back for a formal theory based approach to his interests last year. He was able to get a second B.S. pretty quickly and grooved on the academic thing and is now in grad school.

WIA (1)

DaytonCIM (100144) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098637)

Workforce Investment Act of 1998

If they still have funding and you're currently unemployed, check them out. Government assisted retraining. Lots of paperwork and meetings, but if you're approved, you get up to $10k to spend on training: that's how I got my CCNP.

To start the process find your local One Stop [] . Go there and sign up and attend there introduction seminar. After that you should be assigned a case worker. From there do everything they ask and hopefully you'll be accepted.

Good luck!

An Opprotunity for Growth. (1)

Montgomery Burns III (642155) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098639)

Although there are facets of Information Technology that are subjective and difficult to measure, management and HR types are determined to try to find quantifiable ways to differentiate candidates. Hold your nose and get some certificates. Join the army as an Information Warrier. Get a meaningful Cert from an organization like SANS.

unintentional commercial follows.... (1)

jdvernon1976 (242485) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098652)

My advice would be to go with a company called TechSkills. They've got lots of offices across the US, and - as you seem to prefer - focus more on administration than software dev. I'm working on my Oracle DBA with them (one more test to go!), and they offer all sorts of cert training. The training itself is a combination of CBT, books at home, mentor-led classes (class sizes are limited to 5-7 people max) and all the hands-on you could want.

I'm not a paid employee, just a satisfied customer.

Well.. (2, Informative)

ZoneGray (168419) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098654)

Well, this may be a little off-topic, but when I was hiring (current position doesn't involve it), I NEVER looked for certifications. Never, ever, ever. It almost counted against somebody if they emphasized certs too much. Of course, that was me, and it's a fact of life that a lot of companies do look at them.

More to the point, though, is that hiring in IT is practically at a standstill right now, and it's not limited to Silicon Valley. As technology progresses, people are learning to do the job with fewer people. Five years ago, you'd figure one IT guy to support about 30 seats. Now it's more like one person per 70-90 seats. And the inrush of people during the bubble years means that the supply/demand balance is incredibly out of whack. My old boss in SF was the best I've ever worked for, he has the best connections you could have out there, 15+ years of big name experience, and he's been out of work for 18 months. So right now, it doesn't matter what you have on your resume, if you're not currently working, or don't know somebody who's hiring, it's going to be incredibly hard to get a job in IT. I wouldn't spend a nickle of my own money getting certified, because right now it just isn't going to help. A lot of the ads you see posted are just there so the hiring manager can say he did a thorough search, but odds are he already knows who he wants to hire.

Don't Count Out Books (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5098659)

Seriously, I would say books are your best bet to get a better understanding of everything, although having an instructor who knows thier shit would be better than a book. The problem is spending a day in a bookstore weeding out the books that are shit...but if you're looking to avoid paying a massive amount of cash for a class, grab a good book and practice...

We need a different approach (1)

dazdaz (77833) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098665)

I think we have to tackle this differently.

We need techniques for cold calling. ok you may have friends at a prospective company, but the chances are slim.

I think we need better techniques for resume application and a greater understanding of the HR screening process so that we know how it works, thus how to work with effectively.

Did you check out these? ... (1)

hazzzard (530181) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098666)

Mod this one redundant, but it has to be said anyway.

Hint: in the long run, you'll be much better off with a good university degree.
Do some research what universities fit your needs and get started ...

Here are some prominent pointers ... For more, check out the google directory [] , for example

Learn, and show them some tangible evidence (1)

Ryu2 (89645) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098667)

I'm in a similar position as you, although I'm slightly different: I come from a CS background, focusing a lot on graphics at my school. After I got my MSCS though in 2000, I went to work for a non-graphics related software company. This was during the height of the era, and I was sort of following the money instead of my main passions, I have to admit. ;-) I don't regret working there though, learned a lot, met cool people, got a overview of the entire SW dev cycle and then some. Now though, I'm on the job market again, looking to get back into my main interests, graphics/rendering/games (anyone want to hire me? See my .sig...).

While this may not be directly applicable to your situation as a sysadmin where you're not churning out a deliverable product, for me, I've been writing my own little demo programs and even articles, which helps both my own learning, demonstrates a genuine interest to employers (you're willing to take the initiative to learn on your own, outside of requirements), and allows you to have a tangible "portfolio" of work to show employers.

Perhaps you could learn on your own and do your own exploring (in conjunction with "formal" traning) write articles about various sysadmin tasks, or various tricks that would be helpful in the task. Post them on a website, and put that in your resume, for instance.

It's all about the Benjies. (2, Informative)

RunzWithScissors (567704) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098670)

How much money are you planning on spending? If you want really excellent training, it's going to cost a fair amount of money. Usually around $1500-$2500 ish a week. And you have to decide what you want training in. If you're interested in Solaris, Sun offers a bunch of classes in several New York facilities. Here's a link to their training site: Sun Solaris Training []

The couple of classes I've had from Sun have been quite good. Some hands on on equipment that I don't own myself at clean facilities with knowlegable instructors. If you want Linux training, probably the easiest/best place to get it is from Red Hat. They also have a site in NYC, in the financial district, and they provide lunch every day (very cool). Their classes also have hands on labs, but the equipment isn't anything that you wouldn't have at your own house. They teach their classes on PCs. Red Hat's site is Red Hat Leaning Services []

Going to the product manufacturer is usually the best way to get top notch training, I'm just using Sun and Red Hat as examples, they have been the ones that I was most happy with. They, product manufacturers, hire instructors who are familiar with the product and who can answer a fair amount (maybe even all) of your questions. And unlike CBT, can provide alternative explanations when the one they use just doesn't get through to you.

The big problem with going to these classes is that, while good, they can be prohibitively expensive. If this is a limiting factor for you, then someone above suggested Community College. I think that this was an excellent suggestion. They are far less expensive, but it's been my experience that the instruction is not always as good.


Um not to discredit you or anything but.... (1)

greymond (539980) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098671)

Certifications are for generally for people who ALREADY have the hands on and practical knowledge/experience and just need a piece of paper to prove it.

If your needing to be taught something new then you should go to college (just take classes that are in interesting to you - not that you need to go for another 4 years or anything). Thats what it's for.

Certifications vs experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5098674)

As a windows 2000 administrator, I have recently had a performance review. While they told me that my review is merit based, the $$ compensation reflected directly how much certification I received in the last year. There are companies (like mine) who only look at one thing, letters behind your name. For a lot of people, regardless of their qualifications, this gets them through the door while other, more qualified people still hunt because they're missing that little MCSE or CCNA. I'd like to think that there are companies out there who actually care about what you do and how you do it (and pay appropriately for it). It just seem that the "teach-to-exams" schools offer more immediate and direct results (regardless whether it benefits the individual or the market).

Too many resumes (4, Insightful)

EnVisiCrypt (178985) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098675)

Perhaps the problem is in that "Over 800 resumes" in one year.

As someone who does first line review and decisions of candidates, I can say with certainly that a resume that appears to be crafted to address each need that we state in the ad is more likely to get considered. Obviously, there are limits to this, but you may want to consider more closely the idea of putting more effort into fewer resumes, rather than a blanketing of 800 or so.

Re:Too many resumes (1)

EnVisiCrypt (178985) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098689)

Sweet hell. I sure looked bad there. I should have put more care into crafting my response. That should have been:

As someone who does first line review and interviewing of candidates, I can say with certainty

Alternative route... (1)

El Jynx (548908) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098676)

It's not exactly training, but it IS a job: set up your own company. It is difficult in the IT world, no doubt - but if you can analyse your local market and find the right niche, you will not only be able to bring bread on your own table but potentially also those of future employers. Setting up a company is 90% "just get out there and start doing it"-balls and 10% common sense. Good luck :)

Re:Alternative route... (1)

El Jynx (548908) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098692)

Iek... that should be employees, not employers.


I drink, therefore I spam.

Re:Alternative route... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5098693)

What a load of rubbish, why?

Because it's already been done by others. We're past that stage in the recession.

Now is not the time to gamble.

Practice Exams (1)

kruczkowski (160872) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098678)

My company sells practice exams ( Our main seller is the Cisco ones. But we also have all the other big ones (total I think 300+) We also have Linux/Solaris/Checkpoint/Java...

Also for those who are out of a job, we are looking for exam authors. Basicly anyone can start, and authours recive 40% of sales. Contact me at raphael at boson . com

Need help finding a good porn site (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5098679)

I am working on a research paper and need a porn site with:

1) good quality Mpeg > 10megs
2) young women getting fucked with closeups

I signed up with which was a fucking rip off because they only offered real player movies and my adviser said I needed mpeg format movies. Please help guys.

Re:Need help finding a good porn site (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5098704)

KnobRyder [] (250K streams, pretty high-res)

In the UK look for Adult Continuing Education (2, Interesting)

wilton (20843) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098686)

I have just come back from the first part of a Java course at City University [] . The teacher emphasised that he was not grooming us for the Sun Exam, rather the concepts of OO modelling etc. The course cost £240 (about $350 USD) for ten weeks of two hours a week lessons.

Shameless Employer-Promotion (2, Informative)

TheTrueELf (557812) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098688)

As an instructor for a little-training-company-that could, TechSkills [] , I agree with much that's been said about the glut of CompTIA (and Microsoft, for that matter) certified individuals. However, it should be very clear that the glut is irrelevant to HR depts.

To answer the original question, I refer you to the link above. ;)

I'm currently based in Phoenix, but TechSkills has thirty-some branches around the states, and, of course, distance-learning options.

And, yes, we do more than just 'teach to the exams'.

-ELf: A+, Network+, i-Net+, Linux+, CCNA, MCIWA, MCSA

It's [still] the economy stupid... (0, Offtopic)

smack_attack (171144) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098690)

The world will always need ditch diggers, or you could join the military and shoot brown people for fun and profit.

I'll be the hardass here (1, Flamebait)

Ensign Nemo (19284) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098698)

"I learn best by demonstration and instruction so CBT CD-ROMs and 'go-read-a-book' aren't
viable options for me. Since I'm not currently employed, I also need some form of
placement assistance as well."

If you aren't willing to learn by playing around, then get the hell out of this field. People who just want to be shown are part of the problem with crappy IT departments. Either GET willing to 'go read a book' or stay out of the field.
Sorry to be so harsh, but learning by trying is important. If you aren't willing to do it, then good riddance.

Inquire about the instructor's credentials... (1)

matthewcraig (68187) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098700)

These technical training centers will try to sell you on everything from class schedules to tasty snacks, but make sure you ask about the instructor who will be teaching the class. They'll be the most important factor, since you said you learn by demonstration.

There are instructors that use the text as an outline for conveying their knowledge, and there are other instructors who will simply sit and read it aloud word ... for ... word. The first class day will be introductions, so you won't know which you have until you've lost your opportunity to get your money back. Ask in advance!

An instructor should have some teaching experience, but they also need real world experience. Technical knowledge outside the simple lab examples will be very valuable, and it will rub off on the topics they present to the class.

High-quality technical talent is not impossible to find these days, so it is really a matter if the institution wants to hire talent, or not.

Go to the source (2, Informative)

supabeast! (84658) | more than 11 years ago | (#5098711)

Since you mentioned Solaris, I will point out that the Sun training classes I have been to were all superb. Sun's professors all have related college degrees and years of real experience. Classrooms are top-notch, with Sun boxes on well-configured networks. The books are actually useful, although some are the size of phone books. Sun's tests are designed around the courses and vice-versa, so you can take the class, actually learn something, and then get certified.

Sun's education program does have some downsides. First and formost, the classes are expensive, ranging from 2000 to 4000 dollaris. Second, Sun's certification exams suck, and some of them appear to have be written by people with a very poor grasp of the english language; some of the questions on the Solaris 7 Exam part II were so poorly written that none of the answers made sense.

If you want to try Sun, check out

One more piece of advice, many people in training are there because of new project ramp-ups, and have employers who are hiring, so take resumes on paper, floppy, and CD.
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