I’m thinking of going to a computer school to get trained to be a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer. It’s a big decision, though. The school is only 6 months and costs $8,000. The thing that scares me is, if I can’t pass the Microsoft-issued tests, that’s $8k down the drain.
If there are any MCSE’s in SDMBland, I’d appreciate your advice. Is this school good?
They have 200 locations, so I’m sure someone must know of them. About what percentage of people who go to these schools actually get certified? Also a rough estimate of how many technical manuals I’ll have to read to pass these tests would be cool. Any other advice or information would be greatly appreciated, too.
My piece of advice is, be aware of what you are getting. Many schools teach you to pass the exams and give you very little in the way of real life skills. Many employers know this, so just having an MCSE doesn’t accout for much anymore. Experience is always more valuable.
If you do go for it and get certified, i suggest voulenteering your skills to a non-profit organization a few hours a month and getting in some practical time using them to get some experience.
She caught your eye like one of those pointy hook latches that used to dangle from screen doors and would fly up whenever you banged the door open again.
I don’t know about the school, but I can tell you that at least in my area of the country, an MCSE certainly isn’t worth $8K. We’re hiring engineers hand over fist, every one we can find. An MCSE isn’t going to hurt you, but if you are thinking it’s some sort of necessity, it’s not.
I don’t know about the school, but when I decided that I wanted to get my MCSE I had already been in the field for about 5 years. I had started working with NT 3.51, and then made the transition into 4.0. I found that experience counts for more in the job market than the actual certification does. The employers seem to be more impressed with my history with networking, TCP/IP, and just working with the OS than with the certification itself.
I basically used my experience and read the Exam Cram books just to brush up on the really obscure shit they ask on the tests.
Now when you want to go for your CCNA that is different. You have to have experience to pass that. And let me tell you…it is hard as hell.
“Daddy, was there ever a completely evil time?” - My son after wacthing a medieval movie
If you have a college degree that is at all computer related, don’t bother. Otherwise, it’s a good way to get your foot in the door to a great job. I don’t know about classes though… it depends on your learning style. Personally I’ve been going through just fine by reading books and playing with it. I took a class for the NT workstation part and it was worthless to me. I’ve never learned well from classes.
Many places offer single classes – I’d go this way over a full course. You can probably shave a few k$ off by doing Networking Essentials and NT Workstation on your own. If you can’t pass Networking Essentials using the guide book from QUE (It’s a blue book with clouds) then you’re not going to make it through anyways. And NT isn’t hard, it’s just a matter of using it. You can usually get good deals on NT server on Ebay, if you can accept the fact that it is probably gonna be technicallty pirated. (Ebay auctions are usually NFR copies… but you’re using it for academic uses, which MS encourages) Anyways, I decided MCSE was the way to go… YMMV
There’s a million fine looking women in the world, dude, but not all of them will bring you lasagna at work. Most just cheat on you.
Another thing to consider is whether you are going for NT4 MCSE (the current one) or the new, as-yet unavailable Windows 2000 MCSE track. In Microsoft’s wisdom, “MCSEs certified in the Windows NT 4.0 track will remain certified until December 31, 2001.” Microsoft FAQ on this.
I can’t believe Microsoft is ex post facto assigning expirations to past certifications when the original NT4 MCSEs were not told of an expiration going in.
“Never underestimate the power of the force.” - D.V./J.E.J.
I can speak from experience - I’ve been working on code that is being shipped with Win2000 for a couple years now. Win2000 is VERY different than NT 4, and just because you know NT 4 doesn’t mean you know Win2000. Sure, some of the concepts are the same, but a lot of 'em are different, too.
I wouldn’t bother with the MCSE unless you’re planning on working somewhere like Microsoft.
At my place of employment, we’ve got both Unix and NT servers - and MCSE is constantly referred to as “Must Consult Someone Experienced” because the classes and tests don’t really teach you anything. If you don’t use your skills, you lose them quickly.
The real test of computer-literacy is configuring a server from the command line - at least within the workplace. It’s not the papers you’ve got, though that might get your foot in the door… it’s what you know and what you can actually do.
As far as your money being wasted if you don’t pass, most schools gaurantee that you will pass or they will let you re-test. 8K is a lot for the MCSE. The most I’ve seen in my area is around 5K. You should be able to take the classes at a local Community College for less and probably learn more too. Don’t count on going from school to being an NT Admin. Most companies, unless they are desperate, want someone with hands on business experience building and supporting NT servers. Usually a minimum of 1-2 years actual experience. If you’ve never had any industry experience then you will have a hard time with these classes. If you already know some networking and understand networking concepts you may do pretty good. I worked on a helpdesk for a few years and learned to write some code in VB, C & C++ before I started the MCSE track. I don’t feel it was a waste of money to get the certification, but then again I had already been working with NT 3.51 & 4 and had built my own network at home. Like I said, I don’t feel I wasted my money, but I wished I would have been more focused on Unix because that is a much wiser investment in learning. Oh well, I’m working on the Unix now and also getting hands on experience at work, although I don’t get paid what those who are more savy with that OS are. But it won’t be long!
One last thing, if you have never worked in the industry then get a first level helpdesk job somewhere. A lot of places just need warm bodies that they can teach basics to and the best part is the company will pay for your MCSE!
The ever insensitive, politically incorrect PitBullDawg.
Political correctness is a disease. Cure it with the truth.
I’m in a really bad situation since I live in a very technology deprived area of the country. I live in a city of 130,000, yet there is about one computer-related job in the want ads every 3 or 4 weeks (this is not an exaggeration. Usually there’s NO computer-related help wanted ads at ALL). And when there is one, they want somebody who knows how to do 10,000 different things and has 5 years experience, etc, etc.
I figured getting trained and getting certified might be a good way to start, but judging from the responses to this post, I just don’t know anymore. I really don’t want to be stuck in my $20k/year job for the rest of my life. Gawd, this sucks…
Sounds like you either need to move to a new city or start your own computer related business in the one your in. Even in small towns there are computers. Someone has to fix them or advise on new systems. I don’t think I wouldn’t recommend someone with no computer or networking knowledge jump into an MCSE program. You’ll be lost. But I can promise you this, once you get into the industry, assuming you keep up with the times, you won’t be making 20K. If you do then that says more about your negotiating skills then anything. A lot of us in this field are self taught. I taught myself a lot of things then I applied for a simple job and got it because I had a customer service background and some basic computer knowledge. And that first level job paid 24K. I would spit on anyone that offered me that much now.
Solution? READ READ READ! Study computer manuals (yeehaw, there’s some stimulating reading, gag!) Pick up some old course material at a local school bookstore. Tear your computer apart and find out what all the parts are. Then put it back together and make it work. Buy an old PC (the first generation pentiums are really cheap now and they will support NT if there is enough memory and hard drive space). Get a used copy of NT Server and some manuals and set up a network at home. Trust me, with NT you’ll have plenty of problems to trouble shoot and resolve. Constantly.
Move to Dallas. I know places here that will pay you 20-30 K if you can spell PC. This city is always in desperate need of techs, etc. It’s a workers market here.
The ever insensitive, politically incorrect PitBullDawg.
Political correctness is a disease. Cure it with the truth.
No longer “recognized” by who? By Microsoft or employers?
My point is that, so long as one who was certified on NT4 lists themselves as “MCSE NT4”, that certification (in NT4) should be good forever, unless Microsoft explicity and clearly stated otherwise at the outset.
No one is suggesting that if you received an MCSE based on NT4 that you should be able to claim certified-competency in Win2K. Similarly, if you are an MCP based on MS SQL Server 6.5, you should clearly state that (probably not a great example, since you can be an MCP based on so many disparate tests…you’d probably list your specialty as a matter of course.)
The employer will recognize it, but Microsoft will not recognize you as an MCSE unless you are up to date, therefore attempting to maintain some credibility in the certification indicating the person is somewhat knowledgable to work in the workforce.
Also, when MS releases a new products and certification they always recognize one technology level back, whick meants the 3.51 certification will no longer be offered but W2k and Nt4 will.
The greater your dreams, the more terrible your nightmares.
Raza - MS does explicitly state that as technology advances MCSE’s who were certified on the older technologies will lose their certification. There’s usually a two version window. For example: let’s say you got yout MCSE back when NT 3.51 was the latest thing. You pass all your exams and you’re doing well. NT4 comes out, but you’re still ok 'cuz that’s only one version removed. Now NT5 is coming (renamed Win2k). Once those exams are ready the exams for 3.51 will be retired. Since retired exams don’t count towards certification, any MCSE’s using these exams to qualify will no longer be MCSE’s. Now that’s way its supposed to work, but MS has thrown a new loop. Instead of waiting for NT6 to retire NT4 exams they have flat out said NT 4 exams will expire on Dec 31, 2000 and MCSE’s must upgrade to Win2K by Dec 31,2001.
I am MCSE trained, not certified (I suck bad at tests.)
One of my instructors, also a friend, is freelance and has taught with New Horizons. Personally, I didn’t chose New Horizons because the “sales rep” had little knowledge and couldn’t answer my questions. I ended up getting my training from ExecuTrain of Colorado.
I didn’t have any real world experience as an IT professional, in fact everyone else in my classes were working in the industry. I started my interest in computers in 1995 with the purchase of an NEC for my sales job. Since I ran my office out of my home, 300 miles from our corporate offices, I had to learn very quickly how to support myself. In this, I learned my true love, computers.
My classmates were truly shocked that I was able to catch on as quickly as I did. The hardest class I had though was TCP/IP, I had a lot of problems with subnet masks etc…but it opened my eyes a lot.
Today, I work part-time as a network consultant for my brother’s company, I truly got lucky. I have had to rely upon my training in some circumstances, but in reality hands on experience is the best way to learn.
As for 8 grand, that seems a little high to me, I received my training at $6900 and unlimited ability to retake a course if I wanted. I personally liked the fact that most courses were 5 day courses and not strung out over a semester like in traditional schooling. I don’t learn like other people and cramming the course in a week works best for me. Also, the State of Colorado recognizes ExecuTrain as a part of the educational system. I received half a credit for every day I was in class so if you do go down that route, check to see if New Horizons has a similar deal with your state.
Same thing here in Denver. If you’re having trouble finding a job in computers, come on out here. There’s such an employee shortage that anyone who shows any interest at all will have no problems finding work. And I doubt any of 'em pay as low as 20K.