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Need help choosing a path..

Last response: in Work & Education
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July 30, 2012 6:12:07 PM

Hi everyone

This is my very first post on here, and wouldn't you know it that it involves seeking advice/help. My story is I've been a freelance tech for about 4 years now. Most of my knowledge comes from tinkering with my home network and desktop pc as well as fixing local computers in the neighborhood. I'm an ex-gamer (was heavily into them in the last 4 years but fell out about a year ago which is where a lot of my experience comes from in terms of computers)

Anyway, putting my skills and knowledge into a category is very difficult since I have no certs/degrees. I know my way in and out of desktops and laptops, virus scans and removal, back-up using external hard drives, running networking cable with cat5 including stripping/cutting/crimping etc. I've set up soho networks including my home network, pretty much your standard 5-12 node network using a wireless + 4 port router provided by verizon. setting the wireless controls and such. I'm currently hired by a staffing firm, but the days of work i get are way too inconsistent and not very worthy of putting on a resume (though, they are on there, since it's better than no experience i suppose)

I've studied very heavily into the Comptia a+ and n+ certs, and at this point i'm fairly confident I could go pass both of them right now, or with a little more time, so I guess you *could* say i'm at n+ approaching s+ level? the route i'm currently looking to go is something along the lines of a Network Security Analyst/Admin, or something to do with MCSE?

Sorry for all that jibber-jabber, I'm just trying to give as much information as possible, so now here's my question..

I don't have a whole lot of money to spend on certs, I'm trying to make my first cert "worth-while".. should I continue on and obtain the n+, when I could study some and most likely go right for the s+ instead? should I skip CompTIA altogether and go for something like the CCNA, or start right at Microsoft vendor certs? this has been rattling my head for the past week, and all forums say different things.. this seems like the best place to go to hopefully get some answers. any help at all will be appreciated!! :??: 

More about : choosing path

August 16, 2012 7:41:04 AM

Its up to you.
September 4, 2012 8:22:49 PM

Hey there,

So I find your situation very similar to mine, in terms of where to go and what certs to get. Also, my experience level is very similar as well... For a while I was overwhelmed with all the different paths to take as well but I myself and pursuing the route of A+, N+, and S+. A+ is great to have and will open a lot of doors for you, even if it's something simple like working at Geek Squad. At least they too have room for promotion and they pay decent. As for anything past Security+ I have yet to decide, but I would recommend getting your A+ and Network+ for sure.

Both of those combined will allow look great on your resume and it's a huge one up. But like with most trades I have found that experience is still just as valuable and while yours isn't exactly what you would like, it's still not something I would shrug off.

I wish I could elaborate more, but I'm pressed for time. Maybe I'll post back in a bit.

Hope this helps :) 
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September 4, 2012 10:40:16 PM

Speaking only for myself, I place a much higher value on actual hands on experience than a bunch of certifications. All a cert means is that you can read/study and pass a test. It doesn't mean that you actually understand the material.

I've lost count of the number of people that have walked into my office with a mile long list of certs behind their name that couldn't answer the first 3 questions I put to them. On the other hand I've had people with 3 years of hands on, and no certs at all end up teaching me a couple of new tricks.

So while certifications may look good on paper, and allow HR to check those items off on the requirements list, they'll never be a replacement for good old hands on, real world experience.
September 9, 2012 11:32:50 PM

ex_bubblehead said:
Speaking only for myself, I place a much higher value on actual hands on experience than a bunch of certifications. All a cert means is that you can read/study and pass a test. It doesn't mean that you actually understand the material.

I've lost count of the number of people that have walked into my office with a mile long list of certs behind their name that couldn't answer the first 3 questions I put to them. On the other hand I've had people with 3 years of hands on, and no certs at all end up teaching me a couple of new tricks.

So while certifications may look good on paper, and allow HR to check those items off on the requirements list, they'll never be a replacement for good old hands on, real world experience.


Knowledge and Wisdom are both useless without each other. It's harder to test for wisdom, but knowledge is very easy.

A cert just says you know something, not if you know how to use it, but it's still one half of the puzzle.
September 10, 2012 12:58:39 AM

Kewlx25 said:
Knowledge and Wisdom are both useless without each other. It's harder to test for wisdom, but knowledge is very easy.

A cert just says you know something, not if you know how to use it, but it's still one half of the puzzle.


A certification test only tells me that someone can regurgitate some memorized answers. That's not knowledge. 8 out of 10 candidates fail (miserably I might add) my interviews, which are 90% practical. Of the 2 that do pass, almost no one has any certifications. That's real knowledge. Now, that said, I do consider the Cisco certifications worthy as they test practical knowledge rather than simple memorization.
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