General Question

luminous00's avatar

MCSE, is it worth it?

Asked by luminous00 (350points) March 14th, 2008

I’m going for my MCSE Certification, I’m starting the training course on March 24th. I’ve been in IT climbing the ladder for the past 4yrs, and am at the highest point as far as desktop support, but I want to break into network/system admin positions. Unfortunately without this certificate, noone will even look at me without experience….but how do you even gain experience without it? My question is if it’s worth it, if you can, share your success with this certificate.

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21 Answers

softtop67's avatar

As someone who has been hiring for network and system admin positions for years here is my take.
If you have a college degree and can tech out an interview its not necessary. If you have good experience in network or sys admins positions possibly in a small company where helpdesk and sys admins are one in the same its not necessary
If you meet neither then it is probably a good thing to have and even if you do it wont hurt

luminous00's avatar

I can’t even GET an interview, haha. I have no experience with the backend due to our company being so departmentalized. We get no cross training, I’m strictly a LAN Analyst and that’s it. I’m so interested in the Windows Server 2003 environment and being a network admin though. I do have a Bachelors of Science degree in Internet / Networking Design, but again, it’s the lack of any backend experience that is my problem. So I’m guessing having this cert will benefit me greatly so I can finally get to an interview.

softtop67's avatar

You will probably have better success then in a large company with an IT staff over 50 as they will offer junior, middle and senior roles. When looking for a junior in a position their technical expertise is not of great concern to most folks hiring for large companies. Be sure you are looking in the right places, if you are applying to SMB’s they proabably do not have the ability to take on junior admins

luminous00's avatar

Thanks so much for answering me! Will do.

tekn0lust's avatar

I’ve been a senior systems admin for 11 years and I have to agree totally with softtop. I put very little importance on paper certs for anyone who’s got more than 5 years exerience. I can usually tell within 5–10 minutes of interviewing someone if they went to a boot camp or not. There is no substitute for experience. I do also place heavy emphasis on a person’s people skills and demonstrated ability to learn and problem solve. These are traits which are highly coveted in IT and usually you either got’em or you don’t.

Good Luck!

cwilbur's avatar

The MCSE is a worthless certification because there are so many bad MCSEs—getting an MCSE is not a good predictor of competence, and so the people considering hiring you have to make the distinction based on the interview anyway. Having the MCSE without any supporting experience won’t get you an interview, and having the supporting experience means you don’t need the MCSE.

Your best bet is probably to get yourself a Windows Server 2003 machine at home and play with it, and be honest about what you want in interviews and cover letters. “I have X years of experience in desktop support, and I have studied this and that, and I am looking for a junior system/networking administrator role so that I can develop professionally.”

(Full disclosure: I work in software development, interview about one-third to one-half of the candidates for server software development and system administration here, and am completely uncertified myself.)

iceblu's avatar

Question to all, will the company’s start paying you less because you don’t have those cert’s? And i believe what you guys said to be true, and its funny how the schools around here, preach to us about how you can’t do anything or get a job without having your cert.

cwilbur's avatar

@iceblu: that’s because the school is trying to charge you money for teaching you to pass the certification exam. Follow the money.

tekn0lust's avatar

I have never seen a bigger disconnect between academia and industry than that that exists in IT…

I sit on an advisory board for a local university and am constantly amazed by what the professors think is important to teach.

to iceblu: I doubt it. A private non unionized company will generally pay you what you are worth. Certs don’t add worth in my opinion. All they show is that you could study for and pass a test based upon simulation not on practical experience.

iceblu's avatar

makes sense, i have sat in on 2 collage courses and was basically teaching the class myself…cause the teacher didn’t know anything…. it was sad, even worst to see the they were having a sit in, to judge the teachers… and well, lets just say they REALLY wanted me to join…as much as i hate being nonprofessional in front of higher ups, i chuckled and left the class…

cwilbur's avatar

The things you need to do computer science research and the things you need to be an IT monkey or coder are very different. If your aspiration is to be an IT monkey, skip the CS major and major in something you enjoy; it won’t hurt you, and you’ll enjoy college more. If your aspiration is to be a coder, anything you learn after the second year is likely to be useless; get a CS minor and major in something you enjoy, preferably something you enjoy that gives you people and communications skills.

Also, schools vary considerably. I was a computer science major at a good school, where the computer science department had just spun off from the math department. What I learned there was mostly theory, with a little bit of practical stuff; but it meant that I could pick up any language quickly and be productive with it. This didn’t look useful to other students (though I was just taking it because it was interesting), but I fared (and am faring) much better in the long run against fellow-workers who had been vocationally trained in “industry relevant” Java but had no theory or deeper understanding to back things up with.

And when I got to graduate school (in music), for fun I took a graduate-level compilers course—and found that what my graduate school considered PhD-level computer science was easier than what I had done my junior year in college, and that I knew practical C and computation theory stuff better than the teaching assistant who was grading my homework.

softtop67's avatar

I think so many of the responses are off base. If you have the experience yes the MCSE is useless. But as I read it that is not what is in question. Here is someone just trying to get their foot in the door and has 0 experience. Therefore who will hire him? Not somoeone whose requirements include technical competence, I assure you. But someone who has the ability to educate junior level folks, in both time and budget. Someone who is willing to take the exam, whether boot camp or not may have a slight edge for a hiring manager, all else being equal. Will the cert raise you above someone with 5 years experience, no it wont, but it may help you going up against someone with 0 experience as yourself. There is nothing better than real world experience, but you need to be able to play thye cards in your hand, not just wait for a full house to come around

cwilbur's avatar

@softtop: the problem is, the MCSE is no guarantee of technical competence or anything except a willingness to take a Microsoft certification exam.

The MCSE doesn’t give you an edge if you’re applying for a job where the hiring manager is competent. At best, it’s neutral; at worst, it gets you laughed at by people who know the MCSE is useless.

softtop67's avatar

@cwilbur your first sentence is 100% correct it is not a measure of techincal competence but it is a measure of what you are looking to do to get a job ie you arent sitting home doing nothing. Technical competence is generally not a consideration for entry level positions

Also most large firms that hire Junior level people you have to go through HR long before you see a hiring manager, keywords and certs are big on HR’s resume searching. Keep in mind that most HR folks cannot tell you the difference between a BIT and a BYTE. So although the hiring manager may know the “true” value of the cert, you are going to deal with folks who do not first. Very few hiring managers I know do their own recruiting. I am not suggesting it is a replacement for experience but all other things being equal….
To respond to your comment about getting laughed at its doubtful that an experienced hiring manager would do this. First if they are experienced they know that this is more of a measure of the person then of the technical ability, which for most junior positions is not a requirement. Second, they will recognize that in a tough job market someone who is out there trying to better themselves is not a neutral thing.

cwilbur's avatar

@softtop: so companies should hire people who do useless things because it shows that they’re desperate for a job?

And yes, I know quite a bit about the technical competence of most HR people. Padding your resume with useless certifications isn’t the answer.

softtop67's avatar

@cwilbur Should they no, but do they…everyday.

Looks like we will just have to agree to disagree on this one

luminous00's avatar

@ softtop – thanks for backing me up here. My question wasnt if it was better than someone with 5yrs experience, but rather better than someone with certs and no experience in that particular field. If theres one thing I’ve learned about IT, is the bigger the company, the more departmentalized it is, and that sucks because I want to break into the administration side and I have 4yrs of excellent desktop support experience. An HR recruiter looks at my resume and goes “that’s great, we can recommend you for a help desk position or a management position”, um no. I’m spending the 7k (yes in sure I’m being ripped off but this program is completely hands on and slow paced, unlike a bootcamp) to better myself in my career and put myself up a little higher and say, look I care about my career and am doing something about it. I have a bachelors of science degree, I just need to prove I have determination.

softtop67's avatar

7K is way too high there are alot of good programs out there for the 4–5K range as well as the 3k boot camp

archananair's avatar

Thanks for this informative post because I have no complete idea about that.

rtctechnology's avatar

Is always good to get certification. Microsoft is changing many of their certifcations so make sure you are getting the latest ones. Do research the market and make sure an MS certification is right for you.
http://ruiztechnology.com

rtctechnology's avatar

Is always good to get certification. Microsoft is changing many of their certifcations so make sure you are getting the latest ones. Do research the market and make sure an MS certification is right for you. You can reach out to experts in the industry and ask questions as well. MSCE used to be a great certification but the industry is leading towards cloud. Try to find somethign realted to cloud technology as well.

Best
http://ruiztechnologies.com

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