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I am currently employed as an inside sales consultant for a major telecommunications company. I would like to ask you for your advice, as I don't feel satisfied with the idea of selling Business Class DSL Service via the telephone for the rest of my career. I am very interested in becoming a network administrator with a specialization in the storage/backup area.

I have an irrelevant degree (economics), and I have been told that I need to get certified. I plan on getting certified in A+ to show that I have basic knowledge of computer parts and operating systems, of which I know I do anyway.

My question is where should I go from there in terms of certification? I have been given conflicting advice but most people have told me to continue to get certified in Network+ and Storage+. I wanted to know if you think this is a good plan, and coupled with my experience and these certifications, if I could expect to get a "decent" job in this area? Also, is the demand for people in this area overrated, and do you think this plan is worth it? Thank you for any advice.
There's nothing wrong with the advice you've been getting, except that it probably doesn't go far enough. Indeed, A+ and Network+ are a good idea. Currently, CompTIA does not list a Storage+ cert on its docket, but I do understand they've got one in the works for release later next year. That said, you'll find that system vendors like Sun, IBM and HP/Compaq offer storage-specific certifications, as do storage vendors like Brocade, Emulex, EMC and so forth.

If you really want to work in this field, you'll probably need to specialize in one or more specific implementations. Obtaining relevant certifications will help your chances of working in the field, but obtaining relevant on-the-job experience will help even more. That's why you might want to consider taking a detour after you finish A+ and Network+ to go after an MCSE, Sun Solaris, Linux LPIC, Red Hat RHCE, or other similar network/system administrator credential.

By working in that field, then working for a company that uses SAN or NAS technologies, you can start working your way into your chosen area of specialization -- namely, storage. This will also help you decide what products, platforms, or solutions in which you should specialize further.

Good luck!

--Ed--

This was first published in July 2002

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