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TOPIC: "Lesser" certifications... any point?

"Lesser" certifications... any point? 8 years 10 months ago #31798

Hey folks. I've been fixing computers as a second job for years but a couple months ago finally decided to get off my butt and dive into business-level networking.

I started simply by studying for the Network+, and found that I didn't feel particularly challenged by the certification. I'm working on the CCENT/CCNA, and trying to decide whether I should bother picking up the Network+ certification at all, and whether I should shoot straight for the CCNA and not bother with the CCENT.

I'm making good progress on the CCNA and I'm not sure if taking the CCENT will be necessary.

The reason I ask this question is that I've been hearing a lot (on this forum, as well as others) about how people who "brain dump" (didn't even know the term until I Wikipedia'd it this morning) have been damaging the integrity of the certification.

Now, I take a fair measure of pride in what I know, but I'm concerned how a lonely CCNA certification will look on my otherwise tech-bare resume. I don't have a degree yet (had to drop out to look after my infant child), and I want to do whatever I need to do to avoid being written off as a risk by a potential employer viewing resumes.

Or, am I worrying too much? And on the flip side, might the "lesser" certifications make me look too wet behind the ears?

Looking for a bit from advice from someone who might be able to help me make a decision on whether I should bother taking these certs. I plan on aiming for CCNP as soon as I get the CCNA, and then working on other CCxP certs to broaden my horizons a bit. I'm trying to get my foot in the door in the tech industry, but in my home city (housing a tech institute and 2 major corporations that just outsourced a lot of their tech jobs), competition is fierce.

Re: "Lesser" certifications... any point? 8 years 10 months ago #31799

I don't think it would ever hurt you to get more certifications - even the ones that are not as powerfull. I did both the A+ and Network+ before the CCNA.

I think, if anything, it shows a company that you have the discipline to study and take a test...

Re: "Lesser" certifications... any point? 8 years 10 months ago #31806

I've been considering taking a test that will reflect my desktop support knowledge as well. Maybe the A+ but I could probably do better with a Microsoft Desktop Support cert instead for a bit of variety.

My understanding is that being well-rounded will help get me into the industry, and down the road, being specialized helps you land a decent salary.

Re: "Lesser" certifications... any point? 8 years 10 months ago #31816

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Personally I believe that the A+ was a waist of time and money.

They are priced way beyond the CCNA exam and carry so little value it's not funny!

I'd go for the Microsoft Desktop Support any time, rather than waist time and money on Comptia exams!


Re: "Lesser" certifications... any point? 8 years 10 months ago #31822

It depends how fast you want to get where you want to get. I had planned to capture the Security+ and Linux+, but I chose to focus on a specific track instead, rather than broadening myself more. By the looks of it, it sounds as if you're tired of simply repairing PCs and ready to quickly go deep in the IT field. If that's the case, I recommend that you skip the N+ and A+ and focus on the CCNA (especially if the N+ wasn't challenging for you). If anything, grab a N+ book and casually read it, just so you can get an idea of how broad networking is because the CCNA will get a lot more specific on a subset of the topics.

Different exams are aimed at different levels. You should chase the certs that add value to your toolbox of skills and knowledge. The A+ is aimed at the someone who wants to become a PC technician. You're already a PC tech, and have been doing so for several years, thus the A+ really wouldn't add value to your toolbox of skills and knowledge. The A+ will teach you intricate details about computer hardware, but when you want to quickly become a network engineer, you realize that memorizing IRQs and DMA channels isn't that valuable or needed in what you'll frequently be working on. I'm basically saying that you've met and surpassed the practical requirements for the A+, now focus on where you want to go! If you're still interested in that, the most I'd recommend you do is buy an A+ and skim through it, but that's about it.

If you want another certification to companion your CCNA, get a Microsoft Server one.

On a different note, the A+ is definitely overrated by IT enthusiasts trying to get into the field.

They are priced way beyond the CCNA exam and carry so little value it's not funny!

...couldn't agree more :-D

Re: "Lesser" certifications... any point? 8 years 10 months ago #31832

Yeah, I've read a Network+ book, wasn't impressed... it seems that basically all it does is test definitions and basic command prompt troubleshooting... nothing terribly amazing.

Working within a Cisco IOS however has been a much more enlightening experience. I've already got a Cisco 3725 chugging away next to my testbed machine, and, lacking a switch, I bastardized my Linksys router and set it up as a switch and WAP. I might be getting a managed switch soon to tinker with as well.

I've tinkered around with Packet Tracer, and while it's kind of neat as a student's tool, (I keep breaking it), I'm liking GNS3 even more, and may even gravitate to playing around with pure Dynagen as a bit more of a challenge (I mean, seriously, when in real life will I have a nice little network topology that I can set up purely through an easy little GUI?!)

I started rapidly to get ahead of myself in my studies however, and when a Cisco-smart friend found me getting in over my head, he pointed me to this website and recommended I read everything here. So I did. Well, pretty much... I don't think I've read the WAN Connectivity article (soon to be rectified after I complete this post) and a couple of the topics in the Articles section.

I'll quickly point out how very impressed I am with the articles I've read thus far. They really did an excellent job, and the color coordination that is used really works well with my visual learning style.

All of this aside, I've taken a couple A+ practice tests online and easily passed them by a wide margin. The only reason I considered the cert was not to provide me with any additional knowledge, but to try to give myself some tech cred since all of my tech work has been done privately.

I figure I'm probably going to have to land a Help Desk or Tech Support position first, and I want to have a certification that will be a good fit for the job. MCDST seems a likely pick.

That certification aside, I think I'll continue to focus on the CCNA. Not sure yet if I want to split it up yet into the CCENT and the CCNA but we'll see. If I work hard, I hope to see myself with a CCNP by this time next year.
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