Q

Best next certification track

I have seven years of System Administraton field and was working mostly on Windows platforms. I had completed MCSE on NT 4.0 but did not upgrade to 2000, but I am currently working on Windows 2000. Kindly let me know your suggestion as shall I go for windows 2003 Exchange 2003 Certification or move to Linux / Solaris Certification as I feel the growth and income is better in Unix Fields. Or could you please suggest some good career track for me which I can achieve in one year's study and practice?
It's difficult to get a meaningful return from one single year's effort for study and practice, career-wise, without some prior knowledge and investment to leverage as well. To me, that criterion argues strongly for staying with Windows and upgrading your certification for Windows 2000 (which also leaves the door open for the upgrade exams for Windows Server 2003 as well) rather than changing fields.

I'm not sure I agree that growth potential is necessarily brighter for Linux/UNIX professionals than for Windows professionals, either. Indeed growth rates may be bigger on the Linux/UNIX side, but absolute populations are still bigger on the Windows side of that equation.

Then, too, there's the issue of whether you'll be able to learn enough in one year not only to master a new and very different operating system, learn a complete new set of administrative tools, utilities, and interfaces, and finish one or more certifications all in the course of a single year.

My advice is to rethink either your goals or your time frame. If you stick to the time frame, Windows is really the only option. If you decide to switch to Linux/UNIX, you will probably have to give yourself more time than one year to reach your goals.
This was first published in June 2005

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