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Certifications: Getting work with MCSA and the value of PMP

The following is a collection of expert responses to reader questions by Ed Tittel.

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Ed Tittel

As part of my States Workforce training initiative, I am being offered a no-cost MSCA study program. My employment counselor claims MSCA certification will provide access to entry level IT employment. I have no IT experience now. I am computer literate, have an average-high IQ and am fully capable of learning.

My question: Is it a reasonable assumption that I will be able to obtain entry level IT employment with MSCA certification and no IT experience?

Your insight will be greatly appreciated.

Ed Tittel: A wise man once told me that the answer to any good question always begins with the same two words -- namely, "That depends." In your case, it will depend on your location and your ability to get to where the entry-level IT jobs are (or might be). If companies or organizations are indeed hiring entry-level IT staff in your locale, having an MCSA can make a difference. Though you didn't describe your educational background, the combination of a college degree (even a two-year associate's credential) and the MCSA could potentially vault you to the head of the list of others like you with some credentials but no work experience.

That leads me to a second, unsolicited suggestion. You might also want to consider volunteering at a local school, church, or charity for project or ongoing IT related work. Many schools and churches invite volunteers in for special projects (such as wiring up a building or other facility for networking, for example), some also invite volunteers to help with more routine IT tasks (updating computers, performing backups and restores, and so forth). With a little volunteer experience under your belt as well as an MCSA you might be able to position yourself even more attractively.

My question is related to project management certifications.

How valuable is the PMI PMP certification? Also, does it help to be PRINCE2 certified?

ET: According to recent salary surveys, PMP holders are likely to earn fairly high salaries (averaging over $80 per annum in the United States, higher in major metropolitan areas). I assume that outside the U.S. the same general condition prevails, but that compensation must be adjusted for local circumstances. That said, the PMP is and continues to be an attractive, valuable, and well-recognized credential.

The PRINCE2 credential is a somewhat different story: it's far more likely to be recognized and valued in countries that are (or were) members of the British Commonwealth, because it is based and focused primarily in those parts of the world. That said, within those sizable regions and countries, it is reasonably well recognized and regarded, though perhaps not quite as much as the PMP.

What do you think the hottest certifications will be for 2006 and beyond?

ET: This is the kind of question which many publications and some authors (including yours truly) devote considerable time and effort investigating and reporting on. Rather than answer your question directly, I'd urge you to consult Top 10 lists at CertCities.com, annual cert surveys at CertMag.com, and an article on top-earning certifications I've written recently for SearchWinIT.com, "What are you worth? IT Salary Surveys Shed Some light". These will not only help you answer that question for yourself, but will include pointers to other resources you can consult for even more information on this always-interesting topic!

EDITOR'S NOTE: More information on future cert options can be found in SearchWinIT.com's featured topic "Certification trends for 2006."

I have a MCSA, Network+, A+, MCP and the Project+ certifications. What should I do now as far as my next certification? I'm currently a senior network engineer.

ET: That really depends. In your case, the answer depends on where your technical interests lie. Certainly, the MCSE (and later, the MCTS and MCITP credentials for Windows Vista that should probably start showing up in the second half of 2007) is a logical next step. After that, your technical interests will probably help you decide whether specializing in something like databases, information security, or messaging makes sense, or if Cisco and network infrastructure topics might be of greater interest.

If you can tell me more about what you do on the job, and what kinds of technology areas you find particularly interesting or appealing, I can probably do a better job of helping you put together a medium-term career development plan -- because that's really what you're asking for, whether you know it or not!

Thanks for posting, and good luck with your career development efforts.

Is there any certification for SAP-ABAP modules?

ET: Indeed there is, with prep courses and books to match. Visit Google or your favorite search engine and query on SAP-ABAP certification and you'll find all kinds of interesting and potentially useful information.


Ed Tittel is the Series Editor for Exam Cram 2, and a contributing editor and columnist for Certification Magazine. He also follows certification topics for InformIT.com, and has written numerous books on MS certifications. E-mail Ed at etittel@techtarget.com.

This was first published in March 2006

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