1. Network Administration / Security - These two subjects are complimentary to each other. As a network administrator, you are concerned about the security of your networks. As a security specialist, you are consulted on the security of not only networks, but any information technology device that stores or transmits sensitive information. You are the gatekeeper for a company or a client.
2. If you want to move into management, you need to pursue a business information technology degree. If you want to work with technology, you can pursue a specialized degree in Secuirty, Network, Programming, or Database. Web development falls under programming, but it is specialized in itself because of the various technologies used.
3. Certifications are useful for personal development, learning new technologies, and providing a vehicle to employers that tell them you have met some basic objectives. Certification tests are not cheap: CompTia will charge $225 per test for most of its "plus" series; Microsoft charges $125 per test; and Cisco can range from $200 up to thousands depending on the test and if you have to travel to one of their labs. Nobody should pay full price for a test
because GoCertify and GetCertifiedForLess have vouchers that cut the cost in half, or a smaller percentage of the cost. Vouchers have one rule: they have to be sold with something. You can buy a book and get a percentage off, or buy a test suite and get a voucher for the test (sometimes the test is free, but the package costs over $100+).
4. If I were you at this point, I would grab an A+ book and a Network+ book, two computers, and a copy of VirtualBox. Make sure the two computers have at least 4GB of ram each with 8GB being ideal. Go to TechNet
and download limited day evaluations of Server 2008, Server 2003, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 if you don't have a license for any of these packages.
Another option would be to purchase a subscription to TechNet Professional
for $349 per year. You'll get fully licensed products to evaluate, support, and learning tools to help you become proficient.
If you plan on running a computer shopt, I recommend becoming a Microsoft Register Partner
(free) and subscribe to Microsoft Action Pack $299/yr. It's similar to the TechNet Pro subscription, but you are now in the Partner Network and have access to sales, marketing, and even financing resources so you can build your business. There is an OEM section
of the partner program for computer shops.
5. If you are not ready to put up the capital for the subscriptions, try ACM or IEE Computer Society. Both of these organizations have Safari Books Online (600 each), Books 24/7(ACM included 500 books; Computer Society gives a discount on subscription), and Element K online courses (ACM has more virtual labs and the ability to download the course for offline study). Both of the subscriptions cost $99 per year. An Element K subscription at the lowest tier is about $1800.00 or more! Safari is above $600 last time I looked. I've been using both of these resources for the last four years, mostly for reference, but I'm starting to get a course schedule going to complete my Comptia "plus" series certs.ACM
and IEEE Computer Society
6. As for formal education, I'm struggling with the choice of going with a business information degree or a specialized degree. My choices are Security, Web Development, Programming, or Networking. I chose Western Governor's University because it is 1)Online, 2)Relatively inexpensive for what they offer, and 3)They have the degree programs I want.If you decide to go to a college - online or contact - please research and question everything!
Tuition increases are going to determine what you can afford or what your debt burden is going to be. I made the mistake of thinking I was Devry material - the school was too fast for my learning ability at the time, and trying to support myself at the same time was a challenge. Devry is a good school - they have to be to get their University desginator - and they are serious about success but you have to be willing to commit. I can say that for any college, but it is a must if you attend a school like Devry (a four year degree in three years)
I forgot to add Western Governor's University
- my choice for my education. They are online only, so if you don't work well in an online environment, then it's not for you. However, they have better pricing than most online offerings at other colleges. Check them out!
7. Finally, you will need to subscribe to an IT blog such as Slashdot, sign up for newsletters like Windows Secrets, TechTarget, and TechRepublic. Get a Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter account. Let everyone in the world know who you are and what you are about. Character goes a long way in this industry because anyone can fix an IT problem with a little knowledge and a book. It's the people who have good character that can be trusted with a server closet and keys to the kingdom!
Edited by dinotech, 20 March 2010 - 04:44 PM.