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What Certifications are Valuable in Today's IT?

Cliff posted about 8 years ago | from the more-letters-to-stick-behind-your-name dept.

185

ganjadude asks: "I am a twenty-something who took the CCNA classes back in 2001. College at the time was not an option, so I am mainly self-taught in the field. I was wondering if there were others on Slashdot who took this route, and what certifications they have found will best further their careers. Does college matter in the security field anymore, or are certifications the way to go?" What certifications would you recommend as the most pertinent in today's IT market?

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A Few to Note (4, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | about 8 years ago | (#16337425)

I'm going to list off the only ones I have heard my employer mentioning:
  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
  • Oracle Certification Program
  • Sun's Java Certification Levels
A few things I can tell you to steer clear of is Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer or Microsoft Office Power User. In my workplace, all I hear is people making fun of those certifications over and over and over again. I don't know if they are jokes but from what I hear, it's a stupid idea to pay for them.

I think in order to get good answers from people, you need to break down what division IT is. I know the CISSP is very important to my employer due to a lot of our apps requiring major security. If you're a glorified secretary making powerpoints with click-actions then maybe "Microsoft Office Power User" is right down your alley? What job are you looking for? IT is a HUGE and now diverse term. It could mean everything from networks to programming to simply moving hardware.

College at the time was not an option...
That's a shame, with a name like 'ganjadude' I think you would have enjoyed college quite a bit.

Re:A Few to Note (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | about 8 years ago | (#16337499)

A few things I can tell you to steer clear of is Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer or Microsoft Office Power User. In my workplace, all I hear is people making fun of those certifications over and over and over again. I don't know if they are jokes but from what I hear, it's a stupid idea to pay for them.
(Emphasis mine)

Just wanted to point out that this doesn't hold true for every employer. If you enjoy working for a PHB, go ahead and get those certs. In my case, the MOPU landed me a very decent position, based on the assumption I'd be able to
(1) Figure out what the hell my predecessor was doing with his spreadsheets, and
(2) Teach others (like the PHB) how to be more efficient with Excel (primarily).

That said, I'd rather work somewhere that wasn't run by PHBs.

Re:A Few to Note (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16337541)

These acronyms are getting out of hand. What is a PHB, again?

Re:A Few to Note (2, Informative)

PFI_Optix (936301) | about 8 years ago | (#16337625)

PHB = Pointy Haired Boss = Any management-level person in the Dilbert comic strip, or anyone who acts similarly.

Re:A Few to Note (2, Funny)

Red Flayer (890720) | about 8 years ago | (#16337631)

PHB is Pointy-haired Boss [wikipedia.org] .

Now please hand in your geek card.

Re:A Few to Note (1)

Gr8Apes (679165) | about 8 years ago | (#16339037)

If you don't know what PHB is, you don't have a geek card....

Re:A Few to Note (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | about 8 years ago | (#16339503)

Gah, does this clichéd joke really have to be explained?

Since he's posting on slashdot, it's implied that he has a geek card. Since he doesn't know what a PHB is, it's understood that he must have obtained his geek card fraudulently. Hence, his geek card is being taken away because he doesn't merit one.

Re:A Few to Note (1)

tekkguy (1006917) | about 8 years ago | (#16337659)

Pointy-Haired-Boss. [wikipedia.org]

PHB: Can you bring me up to speed before we go to the meeting?
Dilbert: No. You can't fit two gallons in a thimble no matter how fast you pour.
PHB (later, at the meeting): Wait a minute, which one of us is the thimble?

Re:A Few to Note (4, Informative)

MyLongNickName (822545) | about 8 years ago | (#16337687)

I hold the Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer. When I went job searching, I had so many folks calling me that I stopped returning calls.

Having said that, the credentials open up a lot of doors to interviews. However, once you get the interviews, you still have to prove the work experience and knowledge. The only places that accept credentials without verifying knowledge are companies I do not want to work for.

Bottom line: Certifications help you to rise to the top in the first cut. Work experience, personal skills get you through the second cut. In depth knowldge gets you the job. Business skills get you the promotions.

Ignore the certs if you want, but you'll have a harder time getting the interviews.

Re:A Few to Note (2, Interesting)

creimer (824291) | about 8 years ago | (#16338625)

Ignore the certs if you want, but you'll have a harder time getting the interviews.

I been in a few contracting situations where I show up with bunch of technicians to do a one-day job and I got treated with more respect since I was only the one who had certifications. Then again, maybe it was my ability to read the instructions. One place was doing a Token Ring to Ethernet network conversion. Each tech was supposed to remove the Token Ring cable and plug the Ethernet cable into the motherboard NIC. The techs without certification plug the Ethernet cable into the Token Ring card, didn't bother to check the software configuration and missed some work stations. I was collecting overtime cleaning up that mess.

Re:A Few to Note (2, Insightful)

mattwarden (699984) | about 8 years ago | (#16337747)

People make fun of MCSD? I don't know where you work, but I work at one of the 'Big Six' consulting firms, and this is about as untrue as it comes. We do .NET and J2EE development in our custom development practice. Surprisingly, no one cares about J2EE certifications. MCSD is big, though.

In our architecture and infrastructure practice, certifications are huge (and probably required, although don't quote me on that). So if you are going into networking, make sure you do the typical certs (A+, etc.) That is not my area, so I can't help you with specifics.

If you are a data person, no one cares about certifications. If you are a process/system designer, no one cares about certifications. If you are an enterprise applications person (SAP, Oracle/Peoplesoft, etc.), certifications are useful.

So, in summary, on the enterprise level MCSD and all EA and A/I certs are relevant. All others are a waste of money. YMMV on other levels.

Re:A Few to Note (4, Interesting)

zoomshorts (137587) | about 8 years ago | (#16338025)

I WORKED in several shops where the 'managers' thought certifications
were the best thing in the world. Sadly, most of the people thet hired
with 'Certifications - you name the cert' were simply test takers.

We replaced EVERY one of those people within 2 months of their employment.
WE ended up doing the work THEY were supposed to be able to handle.

They can line their bird cages with certs.

Re:A Few to Note (1)

jlowe (907739) | about 8 years ago | (#16338483)

I think the point is that certifications will give some validity to a job-seeker (other than just saying, "yeah, I've been writing programs for years on the side.") Whether someone with certs is qualified or not is another issue.

Re:A Few to Note (4, Informative)

ahmusch (777177) | about 8 years ago | (#16338391)

Certs are important to your bosses, because they're able to bill higher rates depending on the alphabet soup on your resume.

Such billing differentials may or may not roll down to your salary.

They're only important to you as a CONsultant because you're less likely to have to burn bench time if you've got more certs, because you can be placed in different roles on different projects.

Re:A Few to Note (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | about 8 years ago | (#16337851)

Microsoft Office Power User? That's someone who knows the correct syntax for asking Clippy, right?

Re:A Few to Note (2, Funny)

wild_berry (448019) | about 8 years ago | (#16337993)

Is that clicking on the 'never come back' checkbox before clicking 'go away'?

Re:A Few to Note (1)

Threni (635302) | about 8 years ago | (#16338409)

> A few things I can tell you to steer clear of is Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer or Microsoft Office Power User. In my
> workplace, all I hear is people making fun of those certifications over and over and over again. I don't know if they are jokes but
> from what I hear, it's a stupid idea to pay for them.

Having an MCSD helped me to get a job, given that it shows that I know how to, for example, use VB and SQL Server. Sure, some people cheat to get them, and some people without the qualification are good at VB and SQL Server, but if you want to get a job using Microsoft technology then it will help you to get a job.

Re:A Few to Note (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16338423)

College at the time was not an option...
That's a shame, with a name like 'ganjadude' I think you would have enjoyed college quite a bit.
But you wouldn't have remembered it.

Yes, college still matters (5, Informative)

Ankh (19084) | about 8 years ago | (#16337549)

A good university degree should help you to learn and reason, and will teach you stuff you don't want to learn but that will later turn out to be useful.

In some jobs, especially in larger companies, there's a ceiling, you can't be promoted above a certainl level without a degree.

And yes, if you want to be a consultant, the contacts and the prestige of being associated with a well-known university are worth an awful lot, like it or not.

In computer security you need to stay ahead. Certifications use a course curriculum which was set maybe a year, two years, even three or more years ago and updated; with a certification you'll always be behind the curve, ever so slightly. You need to learn how to be on top of reasearch, be comfortable reading research reports and know how to follow and understand citations. So there's a whole cultural thing that you may need to be part of.

Yes, all if this is vague and hazy, and all of it is long term. By the time there's a concrete need for it, by the time you lose out on a contract or are passed over for promotion, and realize you needed a degree, you won't have one :-)

Re:Yes, college still matters (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16338325)

On paper, that's all well and good. But you're neglecting that most incur a massive amount of debt by going to college, which is going to take years up years to pay off.

I disagree with your statement about a ceiling. I think it's the exact opoosite. A college degree gets you in the door but once you have a certain amount of experience, that degree is worth nothing.

Consider this: Who would you rather hire; A fresh college graduate, or someone with 4 years of experience but no college diploma?

Re:Yes, college still matters (1)

hal2814 (725639) | about 8 years ago | (#16338705)

"Who would you rather hire; A fresh college graduate, or someone with 4 years of experience but no college diploma?"

The better candidate. That might be the college grad or it might be the person with 4 years experience but without learning more about each, it's impossible to tell.

Re:Yes, college still matters (1)

happyemoticon (543015) | about 8 years ago | (#16338905)

Going into debt while going to school is not necessary for a 4 year degree. In California, for example, most people can get enough grants that their tuition at public schools is free. Then, on top of that, you can trade your subsidized loan money for work-study money, which puts a little bit of cash in your pocket and probably pays for your rent too. And seriously, most on-campus jobs are banal, have good pay, and are designed so that you can study while working.

And then there's community college. Did you know that a lot of community colleges have "transfer agreements" - whereby, if maintain a fairly decent GPA and take the right courses, the University cannot deny you admission? This is how my girlfriend got into the best public school in the nation. Also, most of my CS breadth classes at community college (with the exception of Diff. Eq. *shiver*) were a cakewalk. People who go into those gigantic CS classes where the curve says that the bottom 10% will fail are suckers, too. I find it pretty hard to believe that I learned much less than my Big U counterparts, as well. At this level you pretty much have to teach yourself, and you're basically either talented at programming or you're not.

In my opinion, you are more likely to find a fresh college graduate with the ability to research, reason, argue and comment his damn code properly than a layperson with four years of experience who can do the same. A lot of college students don't know how to reason worth a damn, too, but it is something that college at least attempts to instill in a person. Your 4-year degree does not give you in-depth knowledge of a subject. It gives you the ability to reason analytically, and the subject is almost a pretext. I admit that a humanities major is more likely to succeed in a humanities master's program than an engineering student, but (assuming equal desire and raw ability) either would be more successful at any higher-level study than some scrub fresh out of high school, because 4 years of professors have already installed in the Bachelor's holders the ability to think and the power to see what's there, rather than what they want to be there.

Re:Yes, college still matters (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16339391)

College gives you reasoning skills? Since when? Most undergrad programs are lectures and tests, the consumption and regurgitation of facts. ...because 4 years of professors have already installed in the Bachelor's holders the ability to think and the power to see what's there, rather than what they want to be there.

I think people who move beyond a B.S. probably already had the ability to see what's there rather than what they want. Having to get the degree was merely a road block.

Re:Yes, college still matters (1)

TPoise (799382) | about 8 years ago | (#16338469)

The only certifications that matter nowadays are three-letter varieties:

1. M.B.A.
2. P.M.P.
3. S.C.I. (Polygraph and Top Secret Security Clearance)

If you have any of those three you can get a job with no problems.

Re:Yes, college still matters (1)

Ankh (19084) | about 8 years ago | (#16338693)

Oh I don't know, "certified insane" seems pretty important too :-)

Re:Yes, college still matters (1)

timster (32400) | about 8 years ago | (#16338655)

A good university degree should help you to learn and reason

I live right next to a university, so I see college graduates everywhere. I try to tip them well...

Seriously, while some people learn how to learn and reason from their university experience, I'd hardly consider it the general case. In particular, those who are self-taught may find the real educational advantages to be minimal. The social and networking advantages are usually more tangible. That's why I have a problem with:

In some jobs, especially in larger companies, there's a ceiling, you can't be promoted above a certain level without a degree.

This is a trend we need to resist (not that you are wrong for saying so). As the cost of a university education increases, it's turning into a new class barrier. We need to harness those who are smart and capable, not those who have the wealthiest parents or those who are willing to enslave themselves to a bank. Otherwise, the costs of education will continue to rise, and it will become more difficult to compete with the emerging skilled labor force in China and India.

MCSE + A+ (5, Insightful)

Billly Gates (198444) | about 8 years ago | (#16337551)

= 7.50/hr job at Staples and moving back in with my parents. This was back in 2001 when the .com crashed and I had to compete with everyone with years and years of experience who were laid off.

Also I had no job experience in IT at the time and didn't go to college. I figured the certifications would be a way to enter the field yet I was wrong.

I am older now with some college as I continue to go back to school and the labor market is improving. With minimal certifications you can work at geeksquad or some help desk position for as much as $14/hr today to start out. I now repair computers but this came after a few years of taking bad jobs and getting my associates. But get your degree if you want to go anywhere. Colleges today have a record number of students in them compared to the past. Employers are taking note and requiring degrees for everything. The babyboomer generation only had %24 of those with 4 year degrees. Today generation Y has %70+ attending college!

Re:MCSE + A+ (1)

MrZaius (321037) | about 8 years ago | (#16337745)

MSCE and A+/Network+ certs do count for something. They shouldn't, but they do. If you have a CCNA or both A+ and Network+, a bachellors degree or x years of experience, and US Citizenship, then you meet the requirements to do IT work for the US Dept. of State. Many other governmental agencies have similar requirements.

A+, Network+, MSCE, and RHCE certifications don't carry much weight with people who are really qualified to judge the difficulty of the examination process, but they do provide an easy way out to the people who aren't qualified to do the work that their employees do.

Of course, other certifications like a CCNA or higher level Cisco, IBM, and Sun certs carry considerably more weight, especially with people hiring specifically for those specialties.

If you're considering certification, I'd say go to Dice.com or some other relevant search engine and trawl for those certs that are most commonly required/desired, and go after those.

Re:MCSE + A+ (4, Insightful)

SoulRider (148285) | about 8 years ago | (#16338307)

Yes but the number attending does not even come close to the number actually getting degrees. Back in the 60's I would say that the number of baby boomers in college was pretty close to what it is today. If "generation Y"? actually gets a 70% degree rate then bachelors degrees will become worthless and you will need a masters (already moving in that direction). It doesnt matter if you have a phd with a 4.0 gpa, if you cant do the work you are unemployable. My guess is the vp that threw away the resume because the applicant didnt have a college degree is probably worthless as an employee (probably the CEOs brother-in-law or something).

I dont have a college degree, no certifications and I have managed to keep a job in the IT industry for over 25 years, by the way I work for one of the largest outsourcers there is. How? network (who you know gets you a job), learn (what you know keeps that job), adapt (do the job that needs to be done, not the job you want to do), expect nothing but give everything (expectations only lead to disapointment, you work they pay you, you are even on that account, a little unpaid overtime at crunch time goes an extremely long way). In the end an employer will value you as an employee if you add value to that company. And unfortunately adding value usually entails doing the mundane, boring and unglamorous work that, that company has to offer.

Re:MCSE + A+ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16338641)

Tip: if you don't want to appear semi-literate, learn to write percentages correctly. It is standard practice is to put % after the number, not before. If a potential employer sees "I increased my department's revenues by %20", that's actually not going to be a point in your favor.

Re:MCSE + A+ (2, Funny)

Dorothy 86 (677356) | about 8 years ago | (#16339131)

Especially because you aren't supposed to put a space in front of quotation marks.

(C'mon think about it... it really is funny...")

Re:MCSE + A+ (1)

Maxwell (13985) | about 8 years ago | (#16339225)



That would depend on where the employer is based. My friend in France just got a 8.000,00$ raise. (That's $8,000.00 in the English (American) style.)

It's entirely possible that %10 is the 'proper' way of writing 10% somewhere...and since we should not assume that the job seeker is in the US...

JON

Tough Call (1)

aleksiel (678251) | about 8 years ago | (#16337595)

this is going to be somewhat tangential, and i hope i don't ramble.

as a recent college graduate with a degree in computer engineering, i found it difficult to find a job (i did, eventually, but i had a lot of frustrating interviews). why? because the philosophy of my degree, and i've found its similar among the same program in different schools, is that i'm taught to be an engineer. i'm taught to think well, and to be able to learn easily. i used a lot of languages, did a lot of things (with both hardware and software), and had a very wide base of experience when i was done with college. jack of all trades, master of none, if you will. and the job market didn't like that.

the job market, as it was a few months ago, valued specific skill sets. they wanted me to have X years of experience in C++ or Java or XYZ skill, or they weren't even going to talk to me. they wanted me to have experience doing specific tech work, or to be able to answer some detailed technical questions about their job opening. i found very few jobs that valued my broad skill set and ability to quickly learn and adapt and problem-solve (one of the few ones i found did end up hiring me, and its what i'm doing now).

to wrap up, my point is that the job market currently seems to be, by and large, looking to hire people with specific skills. so, to prove that you have these skills, certifications are a good way to go. i don't really think it matters WHICH certifications, either. you'll find someone who needs expertice in any area, eventually. the point is more that you can prove in a standardized manner that you have a competence and set of experience in a certain area. i'm trying to bulk up on certs while i'm getting them cheap/free. i don't even care which. as long as i can prove i have the competency and experience in the area. they look good on a resume, too. :)

also, to specify, i'm working on brainbench stuff right now because they're more convenient for me. will eventually get around to compTIA stuff and probably eventually oracle stuff.

security related certifications (2, Informative)

sammy baby (14909) | about 8 years ago | (#16337597)

(Note and disclaimer: I am not a security pro. I am a system administrator, and hold an RHCE. I also have a college degree, although I took a good long time to finish it up.)

The CISSP [isc2.org] is pretty much considered the gold standard of security generalist certifications. CISSPs rarely hurt for jobs for long.

If you're interested in something Linux related, you may want to look at Red Hat's Certified Security Specialist program [redhat.com] . To get it, you need to complete the RHCE first (which looks good on a resume in and of itself), followed by an additional three exams covering network security, distributed authentication, and SELinux. Each exam is offered by itself, or on day five following a 4-day intensive course. Not exactly for the faint of heart, though, so if you're focusing on network level security without a lot of system administration, you'll probably want to give it a miss.

Re:security related certifications (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | about 8 years ago | (#16337643)

Most CISSP's I've encountered have been buzzword-spouting chimps. They're all about process and procedure, and making someone else do any actual work. Their chief function is to tell you why whatever you're doing is "insecure", at which point they get an attaboy from Management, and you get to double your workload.

Re:security related certifications (1)

gizmateer (890979) | about 8 years ago | (#16338115)

I've noticed the exact same trend where CISSPs are becoming auditors which follow auditing plans and simply report on problems. They don't really get to tackle the hard, or fun security problems at most big companies anymore. You add a CISM or CISA and you really get stuck in the boring jobs!

Re:security related certifications (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16338173)

Oooooo... bitter much?

Tom (CISSP, CCNP, CEH, MEng)

Re:security related certifications (1)

Homology (639438) | about 8 years ago | (#16338315)

At my work place I work as a software developer, and recently the management has been so very conserned about processes. So we have to follow a scaled down version of RUP. OK, some kind of structure of the development process is nice (filled with acronyms, and an endless sequence Powerpoint slides).

Now, let me tell why I'm very sceptical of this: We do not have a working bug tracking system (be it an application or paper based). In bug trackin I include the entire process ;-) of reporting it, evaluate/classify it, assign it, fix it, test the fix, close the bug, or repeat as needed.

So we have a new process disconnected from what we developers actually do, but the administrative burden has increased much.

Re:security related certifications (1)

sammy baby (14909) | about 8 years ago | (#16338477)

Heh. I note that you say "scaled down version of RUP," which is good, because if you were using all of it, you might have been cited for failing to create the appropriate "post to community discussion site use case scenario artifact inventory," or something. Come to think of it, I don't know anyone who uses "vanilla RUP." You either cut things out, or it's completely intractable.

As for the bug tracking thing... are you guys using any of the Rational toolset? If you are, I predict that it's only a matter of time before someone mandates that you start using ClearQuest.

Re:security related certifications (1)

Gr8Apes (679165) | about 8 years ago | (#16339217)

mandates that you start using ClearQuest.

RUN

ClearQuest is less than "good", or even "acceptable" even. It's a bolted on POS that reminds me of CA products.

Re:security related certifications (1)

Homology (639438) | about 8 years ago | (#16339261)

We are not using Rational toolset, or any similar tool. Use of unversioned Microsoft Word documents with a homungus amount of acronyms is mandatory...

Re:security related certifications (1)

sammy baby (14909) | about 8 years ago | (#16339537)

We are not using Rational toolset, or any similar tool. Use of unversioned Microsoft Word documents with a homungus amount of acronyms is mandatory...

Phew! That's lucky, then. Off you go.

Re:security related certifications (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16338435)

I am a CISSP and I fully agree with this assessment. I have no idea why I even took the test. I'm a network engineer, which does overlap with security in many ways; however I don't believe the CISSP test accurately measured any of my skills.

The clown shoe grade CISSPs I deal with on a daily basis make me embarassed to have the cert. I've had CISSPs advocate disabling ICMP inside an enterprise network becuase it's "bad" or something. They of course don't realize that would supress many necessary ICMP error messages such as 'fragmentation needed but df bit set' or 'ttl expired'; the absence of which will break things.

Ah well, I'm back on the CCIE track now. That's a cert people have learned not to argue with.

Re:security related certifications (1)

sammy baby (14909) | about 8 years ago | (#16338653)

Most CISSP's I've encountered have been buzzword-spouting chimps. They're all about process and procedure, and making someone else do any actual work. Their chief function is to tell you why whatever you're doing is "insecure", at which point they get an attaboy from Management, and you get to double your workload.


Right. Which is why they're always in demand: anything that's wrong is never their fault. :)

More seriously, that's part of the nature of the beast. They're usually brought in as auditors for big organizations/companies that are worried about more than just security: they're also worried about stuff like regulatory issues and due dilligence. They're playing cover their butts because your company is playing cover our butts. Not that I'm defending unnecessarily chimpy behavior ber se.

Re:security related certifications (1)

Metzli (184903) | about 8 years ago | (#16338933)

Not all of us. I actually do the actual firewall, IDS, pen testing, etc. work. I tell you why something is insecure, but I'm expected to help fix it.

.NET Programmer here (1)

caffeinatedOnline (926067) | about 8 years ago | (#16337611)

I have been programming going on 10 years now, the last 4 or 5 mainly doing .NET C#/VB.NET stuff. I had this exact discussion with some other programmers the other day, and my boss chimed in as well. The general consensus was, if you are programming, certificates are about worthless in the MS world. My boss mentioned that not only does he not really care if someone is certified or not, he has noticed that those with certifications tend to not have the same amount of 'real world' knowledge as someone who is.

In my own personal experience, the only time a certification is worth it is if you are working for a company that pays more based on having one, such as a college or government entity. Sure, they may educate you on how to do things the right way, but a lot of the time the 'wrong' way is not only faster (both performance wise and coding wise), but also allows you to do things that are nigh impossible to do if you follow the conventions that certificates would show you.

well... (1)

revlayle (964221) | about 8 years ago | (#16337617)

...being certifiably insane helps you reach that coveted IT "prima donna" status.

Re:well... (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | about 8 years ago | (#16337739)

It also helps you actually want to get into the modern IT industry at all.

No way to know (2, Insightful)

mungtor (306258) | about 8 years ago | (#16337621)

In my experience, it depends on what your prospective employers are looking for.

Me, I'm a UNIX admin with a MS in Engineering, no certifications and completely self taught. I've never (knock on wood) been out of a job, and right now I'm working with a bunch of people who put more value on what I could do and how I worked with a team than what certifications I (don't) have.

A friend of mine is a great Windows admin. He knows his Active Directory stuff well and all the arcane Exchange best practices like the back of his hand. He has multiple MS certs and works in a shithole. The last place he interviewed at, everybody on the team loved him but when his resume got to the VP he threw it away because he doesn't have a college degree. Threw it away. Over the objections of all the people who actually talked to him.

So, given that, gather a few of the cheaper certifications you can to get your foot in the door with the ignorant. They won't impress people who really know what the story is, but it will get you in the door to talk to them and impress them with what you really know.

Re:No way to know (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | about 8 years ago | (#16337693)

he last place he interviewed at, everybody on the team loved him but when his resume got to the VP he threw it away because he doesn't have a college degree. Threw it away. Over the objections of all the people who actually talked to him.
But he's probably better off for it. Seems to me that the VP is obviously someone who doesn't value the input of his staff, and doesn't make sure he has the best information before making a decision. Not the kind of person I'd want to work under (though I'm in that boat at the moment).

Re:No way to know (1)

mungtor (306258) | about 8 years ago | (#16337725)

It's always good to put the best spin you can on it, but he really wanted that job. He could have been part of a team of 4 instead of a one-man show, always on call, etc, etc. And the people he works for now are no better really.

Re:No way to know (1)

aetherspoon (72997) | about 8 years ago | (#16337771)

Both that and the opposite (similar situation except instead of certs, multiple degrees - still having everyone in person that interviews you like you but HR throwing away your resume because of no certs) piss me off to no end.
Although in my case, most times I don't even get a chance to get an interview and I'm stuck in a rather crappy job.

Re:No way to know (1)

xenoarch (817676) | about 8 years ago | (#16337853)

That would be a bad company to work for then while the VP is still over that org. Sounds like he would micromanage everyone. He doesn't respect or trust his direct reports. I've had a few vp hired to lead my org that were like that. Those were bad years, both for the org and the company as a whole.

Your friend will find a better place.

It is not the certs, it is the use of them. (1)

xenoarch (817676) | about 8 years ago | (#16337639)

The exact certs, all depends on the job itself. But more importantly if you took it more then 6 months ago and don't use the knowledge regularly, IMHO its become almost useless. Unless you have photographic memory.

Day in, day out useage of the area is more important then any class one has taken. Not only because its a use it or lose it thing, but the area may have changed alot since the class you took.

Lists of certs alone means little to your future manager, its what youve done with those certs thats important. They want to know your thought processes. Thats what you should try and convey on your resume. Then reinforce it at the interview.

Certs (1)

Daemonstar (84116) | about 8 years ago | (#16337653)

I, too, am a CCNA (and working on other Cisco certs) which did help me get the position I hold now (similarly my basic peace officer license got me my last job as a security officer for the state forensic hospital). I would say that anything Microsoft or Cisco will definately help you in the job-seeking area; you will more-than-likely run into one or the other. The more you study for exams, the more you're (hopefully) going to learn, and the better you'll be at answering those tehnical interview questions.

I did get a temp job once with a company doing a project in my local area. They were looking for A+ Certified people. I told them I was a CCNA; that was good enough for them. :)

Of course, the fancy paper doesn't do much good if you can't do the work.

Hindi, Sanskrit (1)

Travoltus (110240) | about 8 years ago | (#16337697)

That's the degree you need now to get a job in that field. :)

Business management. (1)

EvilCabbage (589836) | about 8 years ago | (#16337719)

Unless there's a course these days that specifically covers outsourcing techniques, take a look at the management courses.

Don't overlook the small stuff... (1)

PFI_Optix (936301) | about 8 years ago | (#16337729)

A lot of really good certs have been mentioned here, and most of them will help you get a really great job. I just want to point out that there are a lot of people with the "big" certs (like Cisco stuff) that aren't nearly as competent as their certs claim they are. Grabbing a few smaller certs as well can pad out your resume a bit and help you stand out above the guys who just study to the test.

I have a friend who won't hire anyone, not even a database admin, unless they have an A+ cert (or something eqivalent) somewhere in their past. It's not that he'll actually expect them to do any hardware work, he just thinks it's important to have some experience with it. It could be that he and I once saw a guy with a half-dozen certs that couldn't diagnose a very obvious memory problem.

Re:Don't overlook the small stuff... (1)

orderb13 (792382) | about 8 years ago | (#16337819)

Your friend is a moron then. Making hiring decisions like that is just plain dumb

Atleast in my situation (4, Interesting)

otacon (445694) | about 8 years ago | (#16337769)

Personally I never had a desire to go to college. I started working at an ISP when I was 15 due to my desire to learn, not to mention Linux experience. I've had my share of crappy IT jobs working at a repair shop, or what have you. However all of that served as a good learning experience. I am 22 and currently hold a CCNA and MCP (I only did MCP because my ex-employer had an MCSE and I bet him I could pass an MCP without studying, and I won) I currently work in an environment where everyone else has a bachelor's or better. I'm a Network Engineer, dealing in a large enterprise Cisco network, I make about 25/hour when you break it all down without ever setting foot in a college. I'm not saying a degree is not the way to go, but it's not the only way to go.

Re:Atleast in my situation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16338479)

$25 an hour? hahaha. Yeah. I was making $50 right out of my BSc program, and it's only gone up since then. I graduated when I was 23. And that's the difference. I'm qualified for almost anything -- you're not.

Re:Atleast in my situation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16339431)

Your qualified for anything even being a dick.

Re:Atleast in my situation (1)

Cyphertube (62291) | about 8 years ago | (#16339497)

Of course, $25/hour is a lot in some places. If he's in a cheap location, and you're in, say, NYC or LA and earn even $75/hour, in the end, he wins with the $25. Especially if quality of life counts. Nothing lowers your real hourly wage like a three hour commute.

Re:Atleast in my situation (1)

Son.Of.Dad (1010199) | about 8 years ago | (#16338507)

I followed a similar path. The only cert I hold is a degree from the school of hard knocks. Granted, I work for a state university now and have decided to finally go to school (the discount helps - a lot), but I have never given much credence to certs in the past as I am too busy working in IT to spend time to study for a test that only shows I have the ability to learn how to work in IT. Go figure. Semper FUD.

99.999% of Certs are completely worthless (2, Insightful)

marz007 (72932) | about 8 years ago | (#16337781)

Have any or all of them and $0.75 and you might be able to buy a cup of coffee at 7-Eleven. Seriously, I have a few, didn't pay for them myself, and wouldn't ever pay my own money for them, nor would I pay for one of my employees to go waste time there.

If you missed the Dilbert about, 'I summon the powers of certification'... go find it, it hit this right on the nose.

Hands on, reading the f*ing manual, figuring it out in YOUR network situation, calling tech support, etc. is better, cheaper and more worthwhile than any certification you could pay for. Those classes just digest the manual for you, then give you a few brief labs on basic stuff that you will need to modify, extend, get help to do, back at your office anyway.

-=Marz

DEPENDS... (1)

HockeyPuck (141947) | about 8 years ago | (#16337813)

Depends on what field in IT you want to specialize... (this would have been helpful if you said more than you took the CCNA).

Want to further your DBA career... look to Oracle/IBM

Networking.. CCIE and it's various flavors (R&S, Security, SP, VOIP, SAN). IMHO this is one of the best as it requires you to pass a LAB exam in addition to the written. (BTW, the lab used to be TWO days and if you didn't pass the first day, you couldn't come back. Also, proctors would often 'break' your setup during lunch :) Other networking companies probably have their own certs.

Host OS: Look to the vendors.

Some old advice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16337871)

Some things go together and make you a lot more valuable than any one of those things alone. I was once (a long time ago) told by a recruiter something like the following: "Novell CNEs are a dime a dozen, same for Microsoft Certified Systems Engineers, Unix is good, Lotus Notes is good, on the other hand if you have any three of those you can go to work tomorrow and pretty much name your own price."

That advice was given more than ten years ago and is obviously useless unless you have a time machine. The question you ask needs to be asked on Slashdot at least every year. Conditions do change. The one thing that seems not to change is that being qualified on proprietary software is where the big bucks are. The trick seems to be keeping ahead of the rest of the pack. For a brief time, having a Novell CNE would get you a well paying job. Then world + dog took the courses and the value of a CNE approached zero.

The one thing that has worked over time is to find a niche. It's a fairly small market that doesn't attract a lot of attention so you don't have to worry about the competition. My brother has made a decent career of working with a specialized and not too common database. As a wild guess I would say that there are fewer than twenty job openings nationwide per year. On the other hand, only ninteen people qualify for those jobs. Given the non-competitive nature of the market, the pay is pretty good.

The economics of the situation are pretty simple: if you're trying to do what everyone else is doing, it's a race for the bottom and you won't make much money. What I would suggest is applying the old adage: "It's not what you know, it's who you know." Work on getting to know lots of people in the industry. Remember that most jobs go to people already known by the employer.

No (but yes), and no. (1)

pla (258480) | about 8 years ago | (#16337883)

Does college matter in the security field anymore, or are certifications the way to go?

Let me put it this way - College won't teach you to think like a geek. It gives someone who already has the right mindset a huge toolbox with which to work. If you need to ask "should I go to college or take a cert", go to college.

That said, you can still graduate college an idiot. Even in the engineering disciplines. Certs demonstrate to a potential employer that a particular group has accepted your proficiency in some fairly specific subject - Netware, Oracle, Windows XP, Redhat ASP, and so on. Although you can pass certs while still not having a clue about the target subject, you'll at least need to memorize most of the testbase, which I suppose counts for something.


So, which will help you more?

The 4-year degree. If you have an MCSE, you have fairly poor overlap of skills with a 'nix shop; vice-versa for an RHCE. If you have a BS in CS, you (most likely) have an understanding of the fundamental principles of programming and, with some learning curve, can write code on any target platform required of you.

Re:No (but yes), and no. (1)

Aladrin (926209) | about 8 years ago | (#16339165)

Well, isn't that like saying 'Would I learn more in 4 years or 3 months?' Of course the 4 yr degree is going to hold more clout and you'll learn more.

I think the real question is 'Can I get away with just certs, or do I -need- a college degree?'

I definitely agree that colleges don't teach people to think like a geek. But then, they couldn't teach me to think like an artist either, so it's all relative. 'How to solve problems' and 'How to be creative/artistic' have got to be the hardest things to teach, ever. And people usually are either good at one and bad at the other, or mediocre at both. Jack of all trades, master of none, and all that.

I think it's early childhood, and possibly genetics, that have the largest effect here. Once your brain is wired, that's who you are.

I would love to be artistic, but I would never give up my logic to do it.

So back on subject... I think the degree is still the way to go. Certs don't mean much in the 'good jobs'. If all you want is your foot in the door at a really crappy company, go for the cert and apply to anything and everything. If you want a good job that you'll love, get the degree.

Certified==Underqualified (2, Interesting)

Foofoobar (318279) | about 8 years ago | (#16337897)

The only people I know who get certified are those who feel they need something to prove they can walk the walk. This usually comes out when you ask then to talk the talk. Mainly a certification only helps those who need help; those who know what they are talking about and know what they are doing rarely get certification and generally don't need them. At least this is from all the interviews I have been in. It's usually experience that is the big qualifier and not certifications.

Re:Certified==Underqualified (1)

xappax (876447) | about 8 years ago | (#16339313)

those who know what they are talking about and know what they are doing rarely get certification and generally don't need them.

I dunno, it seems like if you submitted a resume that said:

"I'm new to the computer industry, but I'm such a totally confident, skilled, and versatile programmer that I didn't go to college or even bother to get any certifications!"

That wouldn't fly too well. Employers usually want some kind of third-party verification that an applicant knows what they're doing. A cert can provide that whiff of legitimacy that persuades the employer to take an applicant seriously, or at least do an independent test of his/her knowledge. And of course, if you really are skilled, confident, etc. that's all you need - your "big break" as it were.

Re:Certified==Underqualified (1)

Fujisawa Sensei (207127) | about 8 years ago | (#16339401)

When I'm interviewing somebody for a position they do have to have something to prove. A cert, depending on which cert, lends a little 3rd party credibility to that. But you're still going to have to convince me. Certs also help where you end up in the pile, If I'm interviewing you for a J2EE position, the bozo with the SCBCD and/or SCWSCD will end up higher in the pile than somebody with similar qualifications. So I don't know where you want to end up in the stack or how competitive you are for jobs, but as for me I want to be the first and last person that is interviewed for a position.

Re:Certified==Underqualified (1)

R_Harrold (669587) | about 8 years ago | (#16339467)

I'll have to dissagree here, holding a certification does not make you underqualified. I hold several certifications and am somewhat quallified. Many of my certifications were obtained at the behest of my employers (Something along the way of 'We need an A+ certified tech so we can do Compaq warranty service, Robert go out and get it'), others I obtained 'Just for fun' (If you test well and know your subject you can get most certifications with minimal prep). Many companies will pay for you to get job related certifications, so why not? I was up in Redmond last week and half the folks I spoke with had certifications, and ALL of them were quite competent. Yes, certifications don't guarantee the knowledge (I hold certifications for several fields I know little to nothing about), but they do aid in satisfying the HR folks who increasingly are saying 'If they don't have a degree at least make sure they have appropriate certifications'. Experience + Certifications + Interview + Degree, if these four add up then you have a good chance for a job, but in the current market if you have neither certifications nor degree then you are going to see very few calls for an interview at the upper levels.
Just my $.02

Robert

Dive into the field and it doesn't matter. (2, Insightful)

cornjones (33009) | about 8 years ago | (#16337925)

I have no certs but here is what I find:

Certs are a nice bump when the guy looking doesn't know what they need at all. College is useful b/c it shows you can complete a long term project. Good professional projects are their own certification (another reason I like project work). Being able to speak lucidly on working X problems through with Y technology and Z constraints is the most useful point to any employer and many will recognize that.

That said, if you don't know what you want to do, certs show that you know the domain of a technology. MS certs are not as useless as they used to be and are probably the most marketable. Just, never, never, never put your certifications at the top of your resume. As a rule of thumb, if the certs are the thing you are most proud of, I don't need to read the rest.

Certificates can get you in trouble (1)

ls-lta (681694) | about 8 years ago | (#16337927)

Here's one problem with certificates: people expect you to know everything about the subject area. A co-worker had some MS certs, everyone (including the co-worker himself) had the expectation that he should be able to figure things out- even when he really should have asked for help.

If you use certs to help you get a job. That's it, do not display them, wear the pin, etc. unless you really are an expert beyond what they test you on. Even so, no one on the job will care that you have certs.

One exception, if you are trying to get a better job and you don't need those skills for your current job, go ahead and leave your books around and ask for projects related to your cert. skills. "I can do c# programming and I have a little extra time, do you need any help with ...[insert project that they really need help on]."

5 year old CCNA (1)

MooseTick (895855) | about 8 years ago | (#16337929)

"I am a twenty-something who took the CCNA classes back in 2001. ... Does college matter in the security field anymore ,or are certifications the way to go?"

You got a CCNA 5 years ago and feel that qualifies you to work in the security field?

The short answer is that college does matter. Often, the stuff you learn in college doesn't matter but if you want to work in the corporate world then people like to see that piece of paper. Also, the CISSP is the hot cert to get now. Keep in mind that it has many prerequisites so you can't just pay the $$, sit for a test, and magically become a security expert.

Re:5 year old CCNA (1)

Ponga (934481) | about 8 years ago | (#16339625)

See, this just goes to prove that a 5 year old can get a certification!

I'm Certless (1)

QuasarBlazar (1010223) | about 8 years ago | (#16337945)

I'm certless with 2 years of college and no degree, and 4.5 years of IT experience. I've worked in call centers, then moved to a IT role in a hospital, and now i'm in "network support" although most of my work is Citrix related. If I get any certs I think I may actually go the citrix route, just because its a bit more specialized. I make decent money considering the small town I live in, this is a debate that has been around since the inception of certs... and I dont think there is a great answer. If you can get them they definately aren't going to hurt anything, but I wouldn't consider certs an alternative to college, and I wouldn't consider college an alternative to certs.

Get off the certification bandwagon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16337955)

Get off the certification bandwagon and go get a BS/MS in an engineering field. Chasing the latest certification will always leave you behind in the market. Get a degree and let others stay in the certification rat race while you will have real opptunities...

Cisco (1)

jhutchins (67384) | about 8 years ago | (#16337967)

The ONLY certifications I see required in job ads are for Cisco. Yes, Microsoft certs are occasionally mentioned as well, but only when experience is clearly a preferred qualification.
I have never seen a situation where paying for certification yourself would improve your compensation enough to cover the cost.

People Skills Cert. (5, Insightful)

PaulMorel (962396) | about 8 years ago | (#16338061)

Most of these posts are utter nonsense. If you have a college degree, even if it's not in the branch of technology that you're applying for, and even if you didn't go to the best college, it doesn't matter what certifications you have. The only thing that matters is WHO you know.

If you have been friendly to recruiters, to professors, and to peers/colleagues, then one of them will suggest you for a job, and you will get it, no matter how unqualified you are. I speak from experience. Why?

Because a smart person can be trained to do anything, but a jerk will always be a jerk (for the most part). If an employer can find out that you aren't a jerk ahead of time, then you're gravy.

I worked as musician when I came out of a good college with my CS degree. I finally broke into CS because the guy I was interviewing with happened to have been a poker buddy of my father's ... 15 years ago. Major coincidence, but since my father had a good rep, he thought that I would be ok too. In less than 2 years following that, my salary went up by $15k.

So, quit worrying about your certification, nerds. Worry about your people skills.

Re: People Skills Cert. (1)

hisstory student (745582) | about 8 years ago | (#16339383)

I can vouch for that. I went from Electronics Technician straight to Associate Design Engineer strictly by virtue of the fact that my uncle was buddies with a guy who knew a Manager at North American Aviation. I pulled a lot of irons out of the fire for people there and developed a reputation. I was at Senior Design Engineer level before I finished up my degree. If you're competent, it's definitely who you know first and then what you know and your ability to utilize that knowledge second.

Apologize for low-end certs (1)

wonkavader (605434) | about 8 years ago | (#16338075)

Not sure about this, because I've never had a resume come through that did it, but this has been my thinking for some time: Apologize for your certs.

Lower-end certs hurt you with techies. Most of us think that the lower-end certs are goten by people who cannot get jobs, and people who cannot get jobs are people who don't blow away prosspective employers or have working friends who can help them in, or who do have working friends whom they do not impress.

That means, if you have a cert in A+ or Security+ or Network+ or MCSE or Java developing whatever, you're more likely to be a loser than someone who doesn't have them.

But certs are a great way to get past the screeners who see your resume and don't have tech experience. They also make it easier to get found on a Monster search or some similar resume site.

So put the certs on your resume, but APOLOGIZE FOR THEM: Add a few words before the list of certs like "These certificates are much less important than my experience, but some employers value them:"

HR won't read that ANYHOW. They'll do a pattern search to find you, then skim your resume and pass it up to people who'll cringe when they see your certs, but who will sigh with happy comfort when they read right above it that you don't put a lot of stock in certificates and that you have experience in the things they tested on.

The only place this might hurt you is at a company where the techs have low-end certs and value them. That is: a company of losers who you don't want to work with. I know it's not a 100% rule, but it's close enough that you're going to get more out of apologizing than not.

Get a CCSP and a CISSP (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16338109)

If you want to work in the security field, these are the best combo. The CISSP shows you understand the breadth of what the secrity profession is about. It's a mile wide and an inch deep. People complain that it covers stuff irrelevant to their specific job, but I think that is exactly the strength of the CISSP. Auditors should be required to know something about network protocols, network engineers should know about security policies, etc.


For technical specialization, Cisco owns the network. A CCSP will show knowledge of Cisco firewalls, VPN, AAA services (TACACS+), etc. Probably the best practical security cert you can get.


After this, look at other vendor certs - Checkpoint, etc.


I will give honorable mention to the SANS certs. They are very practically oriented. They deserve much wider credibility than they currently have.

Almost got my A+ and MSCE... (1)

DaveM753 (844913) | about 8 years ago | (#16338191)

I've been doing desktop support for about 9 years. I took preparation courses for A+, Windoze 95 Support and MCSE (NT 3.51 and 4.0), but never actually took the certification exams. Merely having taken the prep courses and having some documented experience was sufficient for my first few employers. Once I had a few years working with some well skilled co-workers (leeching their knowledge...heh heh heh), there was no longer a need to get those certs . I never really wanted to get into network support, so the MCSE wasn't necessary. I probably could have benefitted from a few MCP certs, though.

Do I think certifications are important? In most cases yes: a lot of human resource departments will blindly ignore anyone without certifications as part their weeding-out process. That happened to me even back in 1999. I guess I was lucky in finding employers who were willing to take my experience in lieu of paper. But in 2006, I think that would be difficult task to repeat.

However, I can give you a handful of names of people who do have certifications, but who should NEVER be allowed to even touch a keyboard, much less provide any kind of technical support. With their certifications, they can apply for jobs that I can't!

We are hiring right now (1)

Mycroft_514 (701676) | about 8 years ago | (#16338609)

Every position requires a degree. No positions even mention certs.

I have no certs, nor am I interested in them. I have 2 degrees, a BSCS and an MBA.

The only guy around here who had a bunch of certs also had a degree, and ended up on Dateline. Now he is waiting for his court case to come up, and he doesn't work here anymore.

So, as far as we are concerned ---> Certs = loser

YMMV.

Re:We are hiring right now (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16338743)

"The only guy around here who had a bunch of certs also had a degree, and ended up on Dateline. Now he is waiting for his court case to come up, and he doesn't work here anymore.

So, as far as we are concerned ---> Certs = loser


That must be the MBA in you talking.

Employeers largely unrealistic (1)

Ponga (934481) | about 8 years ago | (#16338739)

Is it just me, or what? When I look for positions in the IT field, 9 times out of 10, I find that when employers post job qualifications, they seem to go a little overboard. Example: "Canidate MUST have, CCNA[P], MSCE or equivalent, Oracle DBA, Sun, blah, blah, blah AND 4 year degree in techincal field, at least 3 years experience in some GIS system I have never heard of.... (list goes on.)"
It seems to me, these employers are unrealistic, or do people out there REALLY have all this crap?? For this reason, I find myself slightly 'modifying' my resume/CV to cater to whatever posistion I am applying for. I should put this on my resume: "I can learn and master whatever it is you need to me do with little time, usenet and some O'reilly texts." Although that won't get me past the HR department, so I feel the need to 'fudge' my qualifications a little. In my opinion, if the employer would not be so unrealistic, I would not need to do that!

Thoughts?

Re:Employeers largely unrealistic (1)

boristdog (133725) | about 8 years ago | (#16338869)

I notice this too. I think they:

a) are using the buzzwords they hear
b) are using that to justify giving you a lower than posted salary
c) have someone in mind for the job and they are requred to post the job publicly, so they match the requirements to their candidate.

Re:Employeers largely unrealistic (1)

SSCGWLB (956147) | about 8 years ago | (#16339699)

In my experience, they put down a laundry list of skills, certifications, and education for their absolutely ideal applicant. They don't honestly expect somebody to meet all of those requirements. The few people who actually meet all the requirements are probably going to want more money then they are offering anyway. The trick is figuring out which requirements they really care about and which ones are flexible (or even don't care). Some things like work experience are usually flexible. They want 4 years and you have 3, they will probably accept that. They usually won't accept little to no experience. Lets say your a programmer that knows 5 languages but not the one they value, they usually accept that. Once you learn 5 languages, the 6th is pretty easy. Obviously, the higher you go the more stringent their requirements. If they want a PhD Astrophysicists with experience in particle dynamics, it's hard to eek by with a BS in Physics.

Overall, I will apply for a job where I satisfy (or exceed) a significant number of what I think are core requirements. You don't need to have every certification they list, know every buzz word they spew. However, I would strongly suggest reading up on all the requirements/buzz words they list that are unfamiliar to you. They ask you about something, its much better to able to hold an intelligent discourse about it then say 'it's not something I have much experience in'. i.e. Interviewer:" So, what do you know about the .NET framework?" Me: "dot who?"

Interpersonal skills #1 (1)

boristdog (133725) | about 8 years ago | (#16338781)

Three things are most important in an IT career, in this order:

1. Who you know (this has been mentioned many times in this thread) This gets you in the door. Get out and get to know some people. Join some user groups, make some friends.

2. Interpersonal skills. This is your most important skill. You want to be the kind of person people WANT to work with! People are sick to death of dealing with antisocial geeks who treat them like crap. A nice smile and a patient explanation goes a LONG way. And if you don't know something, ADMIT IT. People like it when they stump the geek. But when you find the answer, share it with them. They'll think you're a genius as well as a nice guy. All of my tech jobs have been acquired not on technical knowledge but on people skills. I'm making over $90K/year now on those people skills. And ALWAYS kiss up to the secretaries/admins. They have the ear of the management. You solve their problems FIRST and always be nice to them. Remembering their birthdays and bringing them chocolate is shameless but it works. (It can also get you laid, but BE CAREFUL with that on the job! Let them get YOU drunk and take advantage of you after work.)

3. Experience. No one cares about your alphabet soup (except for some higher Cisco certs) but a college degree generally puts you on a higher pay scale. It doesn't matter what degree you have, it's just good to have one. My degree is in Marketing, but I work in IT. It's what you have actually done that matters, not what tests you pass. I passed all the MCSEs (required by an old IT dept I worked for) on the first try just by cramming with the TroyTech study guides the day before. Do I remember it? No. Useless. But I've done just about everything, from programmer to server admin to network management to lowly IT tech. My resume knocks people over. If you see an opportunity to work on something different DO IT! It amazes me how some people are designers, some are programmers, some are hardware folks, some are software, some work network, some work servers but they have NO idea what to do when confronted with something from another area of expertise. Learn it all.

So, get some friends, get a good personality and get some experience and the world will be your oyster.

CISSP (0, Flamebait)

farker haiku (883529) | about 8 years ago | (#16338801)

The CISSP is a joke. That said, it's what management wants you to have. Do you know the difference between a rootkit and spyware? You can pass the test.

The only cert that matters (1)

JumperCable (673155) | about 8 years ago | (#16338901)

The Cert of Hard Knocks.

What about supplemental training? (1)

maestroh (595873) | about 8 years ago | (#16338941)

I graduated two years ago with a BS degree. When first got out of school I worked with .NET and a bunch of proprietary database software. So I have 2 years of experience working with VB.NET and C#, and almost no experience working with database standards like SQL.

Well, now I'm at a new job that's strictly an MS shop, and there's money in my department's budget for training. I thought that studying for MS certifications might help me get a leg up in the areas where I'm lacking, but according to the vast majority of posts, that sounds like it might be a waste. What supplementary training do you guys recommend for someone in my position?

Certifications are meaningless.... (2, Interesting)

GuyverDH (232921) | about 8 years ago | (#16338981)

I am a 30 something, who started in the field in '86 while still in high-school. Everything I know is self-taught. Experience is the key. Too many short term memorizations have made certifications not worth the paper they are printed on.

List your experiences, and areas on knowledge.

In most cases that's as good as or better than college / certifications. If someone out there won't even interview you because you don't have a college degree, or certifications, then they are an idiot, and you wouldn't want to work for them anyway.

I've been continuously employed in enjoyable and enriching positions (2 for the entire 20 year period). It took me all of 3 days to find a new position when I tired of the old company.

Re:Certifications are meaningless.... (1)

coop247 (974899) | about 8 years ago | (#16339377)

If someone out there won't even interview you because you don't have a college degree, or certifications, then they are an idiot, and you wouldn't want to work for them anyway
If you refuse to work with idiots, you'll never find a job...

I've got a MCSD and MCSE and they were very helpful in getting interviews, nothing else. But getting the interview in a crowded market is the hardest part of finding a job. You can have all the skills in the world but they don't matter one bit if your resume never makes it past the HR person. A certification is easy to filter and search by, making your resume show up when others don't.

idiots? (1)

Megajim (885529) | about 8 years ago | (#16339871)

"If someone out there won't even interview you because you don't have a college degree, or certifications, then they are an idiot, and you wouldn't want to work for them anyway."

Or perhaps the company/institution is looking for someone with a well-rounded background and a bit more interpersonal skills than your average I-learned-by-locking-myself-in-my-room tech professional. If I'm looking through a stack of 50 resumes and 15 of them have similar work experience, I'm going to interview the 5 who, on paper, demonstrate either some additional realm of knowledge or, as evident by continuing education, the assertiveness to keep learning.

Best advice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16339817)

When I reached the decision of enrolling in a technical school to get some certs, or go to college and get my degree my wife gave me some good advice:

"Certifications change and some you have to renew. A college education rounds you out and goes with you everywhere, and never expires."

So I am doing both. I am currently in college getting my degree and taking a few certs here and there to polish up the old resume.
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