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IT Professionals Please Help

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Old 10-17-2007, 11:27 AM   #1
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IT Professionals Please Help

Allright,

I'm looking to further my education and break into the IT field. I've spoken briefly (actually exchanged msgs) with a friend of mine, but still need some advice...

1) I don't have an idea of a career path.

2) Where do I learn?

I know there are a few places that offer things like Linux and MCSE programs that you can take, but what I need to do is find something extremely flexible, with being a father of 2, working nights and having a wife in real estate whos schedule is not set...

I also have to take into consideration cost. I will be paying upfront, as I do not want to take out a student loan.

Are there any fields I could "break into" rather cheaply that may offer the opportunity for further training and career advancement?

Please make reccomendations, guys and gals... THANKS!
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Old 10-17-2007, 11:43 AM   #2
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Re: IT Professionals Please Help

I'm interested in hearing more about the IT field too.

I briefly looked into it but I found that the programs aren't any cheaper than traditional college courses.
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Old 10-17-2007, 11:47 AM   #3
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Re: IT Professionals Please Help

Just about everything IT related is expensive when it comes to formal education. Usually in the 20K + range for a full complement of classes.

If you're going the Microsoft certification route, you can save yourself a ton of money by just buying the books and studying your ass off. I have an uncle that did it with no prior IT knowledge, so it is possible, but you have to be willing to put in a LOT of study time. And you can also take practice tests so that you don't go into the official test, not knowing what to expect.
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Old 10-17-2007, 11:52 AM   #4
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Re: IT Professionals Please Help

Take some IT classes somewhere. If you're still in Warrenton, check out GMU's Prince William campus, canthetuna. The entire IT department is located there now.

Take enough classes to where you feel like you know something. Databases, Java, MS/Linux admin, etc etc.

Apply for an entry level job that will sponsor you for a clearance. Once you have a clearance (and experience) in this area, you're set.

FWIW, I tend to value experience over certifications, when I'm looking at a resume.
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Old 10-17-2007, 12:01 PM   #5
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Re: IT Professionals Please Help

Quote:
Originally Posted by cpayne5 View Post
FWIW, I tend to value experience over certifications, when I'm looking at a resume.
I wish more employers had your attitude. I've been trying to get a government contract position for years now, and since my degree is incomplete, I rarely get to the interview stage. Apparently the piece of paper is more important than my ten years of database experience.
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Old 10-17-2007, 01:26 PM   #6
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Re: IT Professionals Please Help

Quote:
Originally Posted by Southpaw View Post
I wish more employers had your attitude. I've been trying to get a government contract position for years now, and since my degree is incomplete, I rarely get to the interview stage. Apparently the piece of paper is more important than my ten years of database experience.
I have the piece of paper and when I went to interviews, they said I needed experience!


Is there any particular area of IT you are interested in?

I have alot of the certification books in PDF format, Let me know what areas and I will send you what I have. If you need a specific book, I will try to find it for you.

I would read up on the basics:
IP addressing( Binary code, IPV4, ip address, subnet, gateway...)
OSI Model
Basic routing
and other stuff like that.

I work for a small networking company that sells and installs new and refurbished networking equipment. I design and Install networks for small to medium size companies. While I have no idea what to recommend on the client side, I know that IP telephony, IPS, and Storage are booming right now.
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Old 10-17-2007, 01:39 PM   #7
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Re: IT Professionals Please Help

To be honest, if you're good with technology, just find a place to get your foot in the door, even part-time. Like cpayne said, nothing replaces experience.

My degree is in Graphic Design, but I do IT for a living. I had an interest in college, and basically got the job I currently have from learning on the part-time job that I got here. If you can find a place that'll let you learn, a lot of them will pay for certifications. Pretty much where I am, the University has paid for me to get a number of certifications and I only learn more every day.
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Old 10-17-2007, 01:41 PM   #8
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Re: IT Professionals Please Help

Quote:
Originally Posted by cpayne5 View Post
Take some IT classes somewhere. If you're still in Warrenton, check out GMU's Prince William campus, canthetuna. The entire IT department is located there now.

Take enough classes to where you feel like you know something. Databases, Java, MS/Linux admin, etc etc.

Apply for an entry level job that will sponsor you for a clearance. Once you have a clearance (and experience) in this area, you're set.

FWIW, I tend to value experience over certifications, when I'm looking at a resume.
This is the most important thing. If you're a hard worker and a quick learner, you'll rise up quicker than you think.
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Old 10-17-2007, 01:44 PM   #9
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Re: IT Professionals Please Help

Most of the installation and setup type of work, in my experience, involves traveling. If you need family flex time, my suggestion is to learn software applications like Java or SQL. Database administration is always a good hot job.

I wanted more time with my family so I started a job recently working for the school system as a pc tech. Pay's not as good as it is in the public sector but I like the benefits and flexible hours.
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Old 10-17-2007, 01:46 PM   #10
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Re: IT Professionals Please Help

I work in the IT field as a software specialist/programmer. I don't care where you go or how much experience you may have initially, you're going to start at entry level...at least 9 times out of 10...UNLESS you "know" somebody. The real money comes into play after you have reached a senior level...such as senior programming. That takes a few years to reach, unless you're really, really good! Also, with my experience, I can tell you that 90% of what you learn to do on the job comes from the job itself. The "book" training helps, but never really, fully, prepares you for the career.

My advice to you is if you're unsure about which area of IT to go into, then just look into an overall Computer information systems degree. Don't worry about shelling out money on certifications up front, because most places are going to want you to have on the job experience first and foremost!

This is a very wild range field. It's also a crap shoot. You might focus your study in Windows operating systems, just to find out the the majority of IT positions in your area deal with Linux or Unix mainframes....or the other way around. Get your general IT degree first, and land an entry level position...even if it's just a help desk position. Networking and programming are usually the two most popular choices in IT.
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Old 10-17-2007, 01:54 PM   #11
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Re: IT Professionals Please Help

Definitely. I'm not going to get into detailed salary crap, but I'm in a small town in Virginia and make well over 40+ at 25 just doing normal desktop support.
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Old 10-17-2007, 01:55 PM   #12
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Re: IT Professionals Please Help

Just in my opinion, desktop support (especially if you get in with a higher ed type place) lets you walk around a lot during the day and you get SCADS of free time (hence the reason I have all the posts I do).
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Old 10-17-2007, 02:23 PM   #13
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Re: IT Professionals Please Help

how do you get into desktop support?
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Old 10-17-2007, 02:28 PM   #14
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Re: IT Professionals Please Help

1. You have to have passion for computers and software. If you just want to make a buck this is not the field for you.
2. You have to dedicate countless of hours outside of work or school to keep your mind in shape and evolve your knowledge (this is where passion helps).
3. You're going to start at entry level (tech support, support engineer, basically the guy people come to when they have issues they need resolved) and then move up.
4. If you want to get into the software development side a 4 year degree in a related field is a must if you don't have experiance.
5. Linux/UNIX administrators are in demand right now but times change very quickly. What I'm saying is you have to be versatile.
6. Get an internship of some sort while going to school. I would say this is an absolute must if you want to give yourself an edge.
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Old 10-17-2007, 03:14 PM   #15
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Re: IT Professionals Please Help

This is how I did it when I got out of the Navy 3 1/2 years ago:

(I already had some BASIC knowledge from being the guy in my family that always had to "fix" the computer)

LEVEL I tech support full time for an ISP, ITT Tech full time simultaneously for 2 years(not the best school but super flexible and most of the instructors were still active in the field). The level I tech support you'll learn basically everything you need for that job(basic fixes) within 2 - 3 months. It'll also help you grasp some more advanced concepts later.

Desktop Support/Network Technician for 1 year at a smaller company where I was able to do basically whatever I wanted.

Currently I'm in a position where my title is Network Admin but it's more like Admin's assistant. I work for an international company (M&M Mars) and I absolutely love my job. I learn every day, I get to play with all of the coolest toys and have a career I am more than happy to devote "off hours" to.

Like Saden said, be flexible. I am trying to get more open source experience as we are currently using Netware and will be heading that way within a few (2?) years. But the whole world speaks M$ so you really can't go wrong there, plus it's easy to break in.

Overall, just make sure it's what you really want and not just something to do for money...
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