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What is the next step after becoming A+ certified?

I am A+ certified. I want to advance to the next level, but I am confused about which direction to take. There are so many levels to the IT industry -- how can I move beyond the title of Administrator?

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Those with A+ certs usually work in help desk, tech support, or PC technician roles. These jobs actually fall short of system/network administrator roles and responsibilties. Getting there usually requires a platform cert of some kind (Novell CNA/CNE, Microsoft MCSA/MCSE, Red Hat RHCE, Linux LPI Level1&2, Solaris 9 Sys/Net admin, etc.). Only after that is is reasonable to talk about getting past the title of administrator. At that point, all kinds of specialties become possible, including information security, database analyst, protocol analyst, infrastructure specialist (CCNP, CCDP, CCIP), telephony or VoIP specialist, and so forth. If you've got specific technical interests, I suggest you follow them to see where they will lead by researching certs available, jobs possible, and so forth. You'll find sites like,,, and to be valuable sources of information in helping you get educated on these subjects.

This was first published in January 2004

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