IT Certifications- Be realistic

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IT certifications are an excellent way for individuals to learn and show they are competent in a certain area of technology. I am constantly looking at certifications and trying to learn as well as become more knowledgable in specific areas of the tech world.

Last week I had an interesting conversation with an internal IT employee. He asked me which IT certifications he should pursue for a desktop support role.

I am a strong believer that anyone working in IT should have an understanding of fundamentals and be able to troubleshoot effectively. For example, they should understand the very basics of TCP/IP and Share permissions versus NTFS permissions. Without a certain level of fundamental knowledge, it's very hard to troubleshoot problems. I can't tell you how many times I have received a call, txt, or Skype message where someone told me- "The server is down". When I asked- "Can you ping it?" The reply is "No, I haven't tried". I don't want to get too off topic but this example does highlight my point.

Desktop support technicians should look at the more entry level certifications to build that fundamental knowledge and then branch out to higher level certifications. I recommended this individual do A+, Network +, and then do the Microsoft Windows 10 cert. After obtaining those, they could look at possibly doing CCENT, CCNA, MCSA, or checking out one of the Azure or AWS certifications for cloud knowledge.

His response surprised me- I want to do MCSE. I think I can do it in about 6 months. I told him that would be extremely difficult and may not be relevant to his day to day job duties. He told me he really wanted to advance his career and he wanted to get one of the biggest certs out there.

This type of mentality is something I've seen quite often in the IT community. People want to get a high level cert just for the sake of putting it on their resume. Yes, you can advance your career by becoming certified but you need to be realistic about your goals and have a purpose/reason as to why you are doing it. Trying to do 5 + exams in 6 months is not realistic or practical. Even worse, those exams will not aid this person in their day to day activities. When someone can't access the guest wifi network having an MCSE will not matter.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to become certified. It's great if you are motivated and want to obtain an expert level certification. My only advice is be realistic about where you are in your career and develop a plan.

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