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How and which certs will help me towards being a database analyst or security manager?

I am 22 years old and graduating this summer with a double degree in psychology and computer science. For the past five years, I have been consulting as a Web developer. I have strong proficiency with Java and XML-related technologies, Unix (Solaris and Linux, shell scripting, job management and networking) and database work with MySQL, PostGres and SQL Server. I have intermediate skills with LAN networking in Win2k and .NET programming.
  1. Would I seem out of line to seek senior/lead project management positions without any certs or an MBA?

  2. I feel as if my skill set is too diverse. How do I tie in or narrow my qualifications without impeding my ability to be well rounded?

  3. Which cert will help me towards being a database analyst or security manager?
Your valued consultation in these matters is very much appreciated.
Thanks for writing. I'll repeat your questions, then provide answers.
  1. Would I seem out of line to seek senior/lead project management positions without any certs or an MBA?

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  1. No, but you should be prepared to talk about how and why you're qualified to fill senior or lead positions. Ordinarily, somebody right out of school would gravitate naturally to entry-level work; in your case, you'll need to "talk up" your prior experience, the projects you've completed, discuss your role in such projects and talk about how and why you're ready for something more serious than an entry-level job.

  2. I feel as if my skill set is too diverse. How do I tie in or narrow my qualifications down without impeding my ability to be well rounded? I disagree; you have a pretty common basket of qualifications for somebody who builds Web-based services or applications. It's more important for you to be able to explain how and why you came by the collection of competencies you currently possess and what you can do with those competencies for a prospective employer, than it is for employers to be able to put such a picture together for themselves. Make sure your cover letter and resume address this to whatever extent is reasonable, and come prepared to any interview to turn your mixed bag of tricks into a well-organized and compelling story.

  3. How and which cert will help me towards being a database analyst or security manager? For database stuff, I wrote a survey of such certs for InformIT.com called The database certification landscape that covers what is available in this field. Read through it, then come back at me if you have specific questions in this area. Please note that MySQL has launched a certification program since that story was last updated -- given your prior knowledge and interest in this DBMS, perhaps it would make a good choice for your DBMS cert interests? For security stuff, I'd recommend reading through my security landscape surveys at SearchSecurity.com. (A new set should be showing up soon around the beginning of May, would be my guess.) In your case Security+ leading to SANS GIAC or CISSP probably makes sense.
Good luck with your upcoming career efforts. It sounds to me like you're already off to a very promising start!

--Ed--

This was first published in May 2003

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