Also, I am not sure where to look for the training. My company won't help pay since it is "not job related." I don't really care for self-studying, and I don't want to go to a college where it will take me five to six years to get a degree going to night classes. Your help and suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
As for Microsoft certs in general, and MCSE in particular, I'd recommend jumping into those programs only if you want or plan to work in environments where you'll be substantially involved in managing and planning for Windows-based servers and networks. The same is also true for Cisco certs, except they apply to network infrastructures based on Cisco equipment and tools. On the MS side, start with MCSA and work your way up to MCSE; on the Cisco side, start with CCNA, then go for CCNP and other professional-level certs that might interest you like CCDP (design) or CCSP (security).
If you don't want to self-study and you have a limited budget, Web-based training would be a good place for you to start your learning adventures. If that works for you, stick with it; if you really need instructor-led training, investigate offerings at local community colleges, most of which have adult learning/continuing education programs that are both reasonably priced and conveniently scheduled on evenings and weekends to accommodate the needs of those who are working but who also want to take classes.
HTH, and good luck with your upcoming certification efforts.
This was first published in April 2003