What kind of work am I getting myself into?

Hi, I want to know what kind of knowledge is required to get a job involving computers, hardware, etc. I am half way through High School and knowing what I'm up against so I can prepare seems like a good idea. From what I've read, things like: CompTIA A+ Certification and troubleshooting experience, are things everyone should know.

I'm willing to work my way up from the bottom of the food chain and learn to reach my goals. I don't come from a wealthy family so hardware related issues are usually out of my class. Anyways, if you've been through this before just say what you had to do or what you had to deal with.
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  1. I'll be interested in any replies from members of the professional field myself. To point you to a resource, the interview with Peterwood on hacker public radio (ep. 0529) has some general advice, and is quite interesting.
  2. I work IT in a bank. I got my start by going to a Vo-Tech school my senior year in high school. I learned A+ and Novell networking. From there I went to college and got into programming. A little diversity can be helpful. Do all the reading you can to educate yourself.

    It doesn't take a lot of money to learn basic hardware skills. You can buy a real cheap PC and play with it all you want with little risk. If you get your A+ certification, you can get a lot of entry level tech jobs, gain some experience, and start moving up. Experience is almost as big as certifications.
  3. In case you haven't been keeping up on HPR, they did an episode (no. 533) since I last posted discussing the merits of "Professional Certs versus Hacker Degree" for penetration testing. This is more of an English field, but you may find it interesting. Note: this show has some volume level issues with the different hosts. I recommend running it through a pretty agresive compressor in audacity before listening.
  4. hello,
    Be an independant contractor. Which means you basically are on call for anyone who needs you. You are not employed by any one company. I would call yourself “Technical Support”. Make a flyer or put an ad on Craigslist…make sure your parents are involved. There are many people who need this type of support and pay top dollar to get it.

    You have a lot of scope along with the technical knowledge which you have. You can at least make a $5000 month easily.
    Check this out: Sample Resume
    Good Luck!
  5. While the independent contractor route may seem like a good way to earn some money, I prefer a stable job.

    I recently went back to school and retrained. I'd say A+ isn't a bad starting place, nor is Network+. I'd advise getting them by the end of the year (if possible), as CompTIA is instituting recertification at the end of the year....

    If you are looking at networking, I'd check out the Network+ and the CCNA (as Cisco gives you a well rounded networking knowledge and is 70% of the market). Microsoft is big in the enterprise world, so playing around with Server 2003 and Server 2008 would be a good place to get some hands on. You could do this by building a Virtual environment and building VMs of these servers. You can get a technet subscription that will let you have licensed copies for a few hundred dollars a year.

    Another growing field is Virtualization. Get to know the big players - VMware and Hyper-V and even Xen. Get comfortable with the way they operate and if you can, download the free versions and play.

    Another huge area of growth is security. Once you understand how the network and servers work, get a good understanding of how people exploit them. Understand the CIA triangle and the ideas of risk, vulnerability, and mitigation strategies. You could get involved in Penetration Testing if the hands-on interests you as well.

    These are just starting places. IT continues to evolve, so our skillsets are always renewing and refreshing. The biggest thing I think you'll need is an interest/curiosity and a willingness to be constantly learning.

    Good luck. It's a great field, from hardware, to servers, to networking - I love it.
  6. A+ and other certs are nice to have. Even though they don't mean much by themselves, the simple fact is that they give you a leg up, and thus a much better chance, than someone who does not have those certs. Remember that you need to be able to talk to the average user, who knows less and more than you think, but also be able to communicate your fellow techies. I actually didn't get a programming job because I had spent too much time polishing sales pitches and marketing speak that I looked like a total n00b during a round table with some programmers. Couldn't believe it, but I got over it and am programming somewhere else now ^_^. Speaking of which, back to work :o
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