I administer a LAN and handle all software and hardware "help desk" for 80 users. I have no prior experience or training. What I have learned is mostly self-taught because I do not have funds for expensive training. I want to minimally get A+, Network+ and MCSE. Are there good books that will teach me what I need? What do you recommend?

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Indeed there are lots of good books for A+, Network+, and for most of the MCSE exams (especially the core exams and those for the more popular of other related MCP exams). Also, don't forget, if you do earn A+ and Network+ you can count that combination for one of your MCSA exams, as well as for your MCSE elective exam. For A+ and Network+, I'd recommend my own Exam Cram 2 series from Que, the Osborne All-in-One Exam Guides, and the Course Technology college textbooks. For the MCP exams that lead to MCSA and MCSE (among other certs), the Que Exam Cram 2, Exam Prep, and Training Guide titles are all pretty darn good, as are the Syngress Media and Sybex Training Guide titles.

You'll also want to acquire practice exams for these various topics. On a per exam basis, you'll probably need to spend from $300 (per MCP exam) to $500 (for A+; and somewhere inbetween for Network+) for each exam for the exam itself, study guides and Exam Cram books, and practice exams.

Good luck with your certs. You can earn these credentials if you're willing to expend the time, money and effort necessary!

This was first published in December 2005

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