Certification options?
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  1. #1
    Senior Member roswell1329's Avatar
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    Certification options?

    I recently just changed jobs from a large UNIX IT department to the support staff of a small MS admin/security software development firm. While I've been able to keep up alright with the MS stuff, I think it's time I start looking at ways to enhance my MS knowledge. I've been looking into studying for an MCSE, and I have some questions for any existing MCSE's we have in the house:

    1. Is it reasonable to think I can achieve an MCSE from books alone? I'm a pretty technically savvy guy, and I earned an MCP for Windows 98 a few years back from one or two books. I just don't have the funds for these $10,000 boot-camp intensives.

    2. Should I ignore the full MCSE goal for now, and just concentrate on 1 MCP exam at a time? Is it even possible to study for these things all at once?

    3. How much time is reasonable to achieve a full MCSE? I realize that's highly dependent upon how much I study, and how well I learn, but if folks could give me some example stories, that'd be great.

    4. Any other advice you can offer, would be greatly appreciated!
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  2. #2
    Right turn Clyde Nokia's Avatar
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    Dpending on your knowledge of MS, a good starting point maybe would be to speak to your company and see what MCP's the would like/recommend you to do, if you dont feel confident with the whole MCSE course.

    I really would not recommend studying from books alone for MCSE, you need a hands on course, not just to pass the exam but to have the practical experience for your job after you get the qualification. There is only so much you can learn from a book.

    You are obviously clued up on networks etc so I would say a 3/4 week course would be ample for you to confidently pass it. Maybe even a bit less if you are confident enough.

    A few years ago, I went from my CCNA course straight onto a 4 week MCSE course and passed it without to much trouble but i did struggle a bit.

    In a nut shell I would say long term a full MCSE makes you more employable but short term maybe a few MCP's untill you find your feet in the MS world?


    Hope it helped!
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    Right there with you

    I am also currently studying for my first MCP. I have the transcender practice exams for some of the courses. I am way to cheap and broke for any other options but found someone who gave me their copies since he was finished with them. My plan is to take the practice exams and then track the missed questions. Look up and experiment with the solution and then retake the exam. When I can finish multiple practice exams without missing a question then I will be ready to put the money down for the real test. While this will be a very slow process it is the one my friend successfully employed.

    Falcis

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    Take a look at the exam track you want to pursue. This site should help:
    http://www.microsoft.com/learning/mcp/mcse/Default.asp

    Then, take one exam at a time. Some are tougher than others, and some contain a lot of information that you'll find in others. This can make sequencing important. Google MCSE and look at the various resources available. There is a lot of good information and advice, and some not so good.

    You learn a lot in the process, so no certification program is a waste of time and effort.

    Remember, the exams and books are based on "whitepaper" systems. You rarely find those in the real world. So, when you are prepping for an exam, set up a system that will help you run through the exercises and provide the standard feedback you would expect in a whitepaper deployment. You can use the eval of VirtualPC and VMWare's free player to create and run your "prep" systems as virtuals, and that may help those who can't afford to build and tear down multiple hard systems.

  5. #5
    Senior Member roswell1329's Avatar
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    Thanks for the advice everyone. My company recommends either focusing on the MCSE 2003 track or the MCDBA track (our main product uses MSSQL server as a backend). It looks like to get my MCDBA I would need to take one of the exams for the MCSE 2003 track. I think I'll start with that one and see how it goes.
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  6. #6
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    Beyond the MCSE you might also want to look into the SANS/GIAC GCWN training and certification.
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    MCSE is good, but take time to learn the materials. In the 2003 track there are now many simulations, if you dont know how to use Windows in a admin role, and are not familiar with these simulations you will fail.

    Some of the MCSE courses can also be used towards your MCDBA as well. You might also elect to just go the MCSA route if you dont think you need the full blown MCSE. The materials for the MCSE are not hard if you have been networking, it is almost more of an endurance thing to get through all the certification exams.
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    Cool

    Originally posted here by roswell1329
    Thanks for the advice everyone. My company recommends either focusing on the MCSE 2003 track or the MCDBA track (our main product uses MSSQL server as a backend). It looks like to get my MCDBA I would need to take one of the exams for the MCSE 2003 track. I think I'll start with that one and see how it goes.
    Hey! You got picked up across the street, way to go! Knowing their products and environment, I think you should play to your strengths...as you've suggested yourself, look into the MCDBA, and take advantage of any cross-cert classes/tests as they come up.

    We have a former co-worker, Steve L., who passed the MCSE/NT and MCSE/2000 exams with nothing but the books...and his extensive home network of cobbled together PC's, where he in essence created his own hands on lab. So I'd say yes, you almost certainly need to do some hands on stuff as well as book work. I can't speak from experience, but as I've often heard, you need a blend of BOTH book knowledge and real world experience to get a true, lasting grip of the MCSE subject matter.

    Good luck!
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  9. #9
    Right turn Clyde Nokia's Avatar
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    Yeah, good luck with whichever track you choose to take buddy.
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  10. #10
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    Originally posted here by Juridian
    Beyond the MCSE you might also want to look into the SANS/GIAC GCWN training and certification.
    Those are awesome but expensive courses, but probably the most intense and technical courses!
    Been studying for the GIAC/GSEC cert.

    As for the MCSE course, I agree with Nokia when he said the Hands on portion is well worth it.
    Nothing beats having a good teacher to ask questions to, show you work around and practical shortcuts. You don't even need to go to a fancy school to get it. Got mine from the local community college. Took one course evey 8 weeks at night. Including books, I think it cost around $320 a class. Best money spent when learning the Microsoft network. Its obviously no the end-all be-all cert for Microsoft, but definately lays a great foundation from which to build the rest of your Microsoft based knowledge.
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