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MCSE Question

Old 05-05-04, 04:52 PM
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MCSE Question

OK, so I'm considering going back to school. My current job is draining the life out of me. Not a bad job, just not challenging anymore.

So I went to a local computer training center today, New Horizon's Computer Learning Center, and talked with one of the consultants about taking some classes and getting certified with Microsoft stuff through them.

I am also considering getting my MBA. I already have most of the pre-reques, due to my minor in business adminstration while attaining my bachelor's degree a few years ago. The MBA is about half the cost of getting MCSE certified.

I've talked to a few people who work in IT, and most say that getting these certifications are totally bogus. In their opinions, no employer seems to care how many certificates you have, just what work you've done in the real world. I think by earning a certificate, I would learn quite a bit more about networking/hardware/etc, but it seems that I could also learn quite a bit of this on my own, without paying for the classes.

So what do you guys think? Anybody have any of these certifications? Are they worth it? Which would you do? Thanks in advance.
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Old 05-05-04, 05:09 PM
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Save your tuition dollars for a curriculum that will grant you a terminal degree.

I'm studying for the MCSD exams now, and as long as you have a smidge of self-motivation, you can do it outside the classroom setting. Just find the right textbook set and start reading. (Note: The Microsoft textbooks suck, as I found out the hard way. I think Que or another publisher produces a set of textbooks that are highly regarded for the MCSE exams - just do some research.

The certificates are not enough to land you a job - and those who seem disenchanted with them probably hoped they could just bank on their MCP status. But not having them will prevent you from doing a lot of things. Personally, I'm going after them because I find the subject matter interesting and useful.

An MBA is a worthwhile degree, but really, you should have some idea of what you want to do with it before you start. Don't plan to just figure it out once you get there. I would suggest attending some business classes now, just to see if it's the sort of thing you want to study for two years.

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Old 05-05-04, 05:19 PM
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Originally posted by sfsdfd
Save your tuition dollars for a curriculum that will grant you a terminal degree.

I'm studying for the MCSD exams now, and as long as you have a smidge of self-motivation, you can do it outside the classroom setting. Just find the right textbook set and start reading. (Note: The Microsoft textbooks suck, as I found out the hard way. I think Que or another publisher produces a set of textbooks that are highly regarded for the MCSE exams - just do some research.

The certificates are not enough to land you a job - and those who seem disenchanted with them probably hoped they could just bank on their MCP status. But not having them will prevent you from doing a lot of things. Personally, I'm going after them because I find the subject matter interesting and useful.

An MBA is a worthwhile degree, but really, you should have some idea of what you want to do with it before you start. Don't plan to just figure it out once you get there. I would suggest attending some business classes now, just to see if it's the sort of thing you want to study for two years.

- David Stein
I've got quite a few business classes under my belt already. The minor that I got a few years ago with my bachelor's degree was pretty intense, around 27 total hours. I already have a good idea of how they'll be, but I really don't know what I want to use it for yet, so that's a really good point.

Where are you getting your MCSD from? The person at the computer learning center made it sound that if you got it from anywhere else, it wouldn't be as good. Tooting their own horn so to say.

I find them interesting and useful too, and I would like to think that no matter what I really end up doing, I would at least use some, if not all of the information contained in them in a future job.
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Old 05-05-04, 05:22 PM
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Re: MCSE Question

Originally posted by Kaiser Soze

So what do you guys think? Anybody have any of these certifications? Are they worth it? Which would you do? Thanks in advance.
seems that everyone that applies for our IT job openings are fully mcse certified anymore.. but we rarely ever hire any of them because most of them lack the education (much more important, experience, or just dont know what the hell they are doing

there are so many "paper mcse" overrunning the market, it makes it hard to put much stock in them..

that said.. if you add it along with education and experience.. it cant hurt
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Old 05-05-04, 05:42 PM
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Re: Re: MCSE Question

Originally posted by Kaiser Soze
Where are you getting your MCSD from? The person at the computer learning center made it sound that if you got it from anywhere else, it wouldn't be as good. Tooting their own horn so to say.
You get the certifications from Microsoft... but in order to do that, you need to take certifcation exams at certified testing centers. Taking them one place or the other will not make a difference with the final result. However, the person you were talking to was most likely refering training.
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Old 05-05-04, 08:37 PM
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Re: Re: Re: MCSE Question

Originally posted by jrobinson
You get the certifications from Microsoft... but in order to do that, you need to take certifcation exams at certified testing centers. Taking them one place or the other will not make a difference with the final result. However, the person you were talking to was most likely refering training.
For the people who have taken them, how much do they cost? The person at the Microsoft certified training center that I went to, quote me around $20K for the MCSE. Is it really that much? Can you take the classes individually, and pay as you go?
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Old 05-05-04, 09:36 PM
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Don't do it! Study on your own and take the tests one at a time. I actually went to that same "school" once upon a time (NT 4.0)and it was a waste of money. I had no problem passing the tests, but realized that I could have easily done the whole thing on my own. It all depends on your motivation.
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Old 05-05-04, 09:54 PM
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Save your money. I spent 12k for the tech support, (it was 20 for networker) at a similar school and all we did was sit around and read the same books you can buy for a lot less at amazon.com while the intructor played solitare on his computer. The "hands on experience" didn't exist.
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Old 05-05-04, 10:07 PM
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Re: Re: Re: Re: MCSE Question

Originally posted by Kaiser Soze
The person at the Microsoft certified training center that I went to, quote me around $20K for the MCSE.
Holy crap, what a terrific scam.

Real cost:

The exams are $125 apiece. You can earn your MCSE by passing seven exams. Total exam cost: $875.

You'll probably need one review text for each exam. Maybe two more comprehensive review texts, with sample exams and questions. The texts run maybe $50 each, average (cheaper if you get a bundle of them.) Total textbook cost: $500.

If you really want top-notch study materials, you'll find yourself buying the review materials from transcender.com. The sample exams are virtually identical to the actual Microsoft exams (though harder), and they come with invaluable explanations of the correct answers, along with flash cards. The bonus-deluxe-all-inclusive MCSE review materials are available in a set for $900.

Overall cost: $2,275. Max.

Twenty thousand dollars is absolute highway robbery. They'd better fly Bill Gates in from Redmond to teach the class.

- David Stein
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Old 05-06-04, 07:28 AM
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don't do it!!! I'm currently going after my MCSA for 2K3 (already have A+, Net+, BA in CS and 3+ years in field), but no way would I pay that price for something that can be self taught.

I'm not sure by your posts, but do you have a CS degree yet? What about any IT experience? IMO, I won't even try and budge through the IT field now without at least 4 things. 1) friends/connections in the business 2) a CS degree (either BA/BS or higher 3) already having real world IT experience 4) multiple certifications.

Getting an MCSE isn't that difficult, but paying 20K for it is ridiculous. My suggestions is to stick with a business degree. Honestly, I wish I had one of those now as there are 100x more jobs for business degree majors than CS majors in places I'm looking.
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Old 05-06-04, 08:22 AM
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Yeah, if you're even halfway decent at studying on your own, you can do the training yourself with the right study material. I did the school thing six years ago when I went for my NT4 MCSE. I paid five grand to sleep in a classroom while some kid my age rambled off DIRECTLY from one of the study guides. I bought a great set of books for each test, did research from some great websites and worked with Transcender programs (I think that was what they were called) at home, and had no problem breezing through the six tests.
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Old 05-06-04, 09:53 AM
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Don't do it.

For 22 grand, you could buy the books, tests, and setup up a test lab in your home.

note: you get to keep the lab after your done.
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Old 05-06-04, 12:04 PM
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Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: MCSE Question

Originally posted by sfsdfd
Holy crap, what a terrific scam.

Real cost:

The exams are $125 apiece. You can earn your MCSE by passing seven exams. Total exam cost: $875.

You'll probably need one review text for each exam. Maybe two more comprehensive review texts, with sample exams and questions. The texts run maybe $50 each, average (cheaper if you get a bundle of them.) Total textbook cost: $500.

If you really want top-notch study materials, you'll find yourself buying the review materials from transcender.com. The sample exams are virtually identical to the actual Microsoft exams (though harder), and they come with invaluable explanations of the correct answers, along with flash cards. The bonus-deluxe-all-inclusive MCSE review materials are available in a set for $900.

Overall cost: $2,275. Max.

Twenty thousand dollars is absolute highway robbery. They'd better fly Bill Gates in from Redmond to teach the class.

- David Stein

Throw in some additional $$$ for a VMWare license, download some of the 90 day trials of the Windows products in question, and you'll have plenty of time to get some hands on experience.
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Old 05-06-04, 12:32 PM
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i have NT4 and win2000 MCSE's. NT4 I got through some hard core studying and never touched a server in the process. I think the classes are a waste of money.

Personally I would get an MBA. I'm in IT and working on an accounting degree to give me a wider scope of knowledge. There are so many MCSE's out there that finding a job is going to be hard with no experience.
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Old 05-06-04, 12:42 PM
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Originally posted by kneijst1
don't do it!!! I'm currently going after my MCSA for 2K3 (already have A+, Net+, BA in CS and 3+ years in field), but no way would I pay that price for something that can be self taught.

I'm not sure by your posts, but do you have a CS degree yet? What about any IT experience? IMO, I won't even try and budge through the IT field now without at least 4 things. 1) friends/connections in the business 2) a CS degree (either BA/BS or higher 3) already having real world IT experience 4) multiple certifications.

Getting an MCSE isn't that difficult, but paying 20K for it is ridiculous. My suggestions is to stick with a business degree. Honestly, I wish I had one of those now as there are 100x more jobs for business degree majors than CS majors in places I'm looking.
Here's a little more background on my situation. I have a bachelor's degree in Communications and Business Administration. I have almost all of the pre-reques out of the way for the MBA, so it would be pretty easy to jump right into it in the fall.

I don't have a degree in CS. I do however, work in quite a bit of IT in my current job. I'm a newscast director at a local TV station, work 2nd shift, so at night, after the IT guy leaves, it's up to me to make sure everything runs smoothly. I do a lot of web updates, and trouble shoot problems that people have. So I do have a little real-world experience. I do have quite a few contacts in the industry. So that should help.
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Old 05-06-04, 12:45 PM
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Update:

I went to my local community college today and signed up for some classes. They offer the MCSA and MCSE. I will be going part time for the next year and a half or so, and I should be done with both by then. I only have to take one pre-req, and it's available over the summer online. It is a fraction of the cost of the Computer Learning Center that I went to yesterday. I pay as I go, just like earning a regular college degree. After each class is completed, I set up a test with a private company, that is affilliated with the college and take the test.

I am really excited. I'm not sure if this is what I'm going to end up doing with my career, but it sure as hell won't hurt me. I find computers very fascinating, and I love to learn, so I really don't think that motivation will be a problem.

I do realize that a lot of people already have these certifications, but I just needed something else in my life. My job is not bad by any means, just really routine and boring sometimes. Thanks a lot for all your help everyone. If you can think of anything else I should know, post it.
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Old 05-06-04, 12:47 PM
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Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: MCSE Question

Originally posted by sfsdfd
Holy crap, what a terrific scam.

Twenty thousand dollars is absolute highway robbery. They'd better fly Bill Gates in from Redmond to teach the class.

- David Stein
So true.
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Old 05-06-04, 01:46 PM
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Originally posted by Kaiser Soze
I went to my local community college today and signed up for some classes. They offer the MCSA and MCSE.
OK, and good luck - just realize that you're paying for them to tell you stuff that you could learn on your own, for much cheaper, while earning the exact same certification.

- David Stein
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Old 05-06-04, 01:48 PM
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Originally posted by sfsdfd
OK, and good luck - just realize that you're paying for them to tell you stuff that you could learn on your own, for much cheaper, while earning the exact same certification.

- David Stein
Yeah, I'm definitely aware of that, but I am the type of person who just learns better in a classroom setting. I rarely miss class, and it just provides a better motivation for me to learn.
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Old 05-06-04, 02:36 PM
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Originally posted by Kaiser Soze
I am the type of person who just learns better in a classroom setting.
Sure, and that's a common (and commendably realistic) observation. It's also the reason why my post wasn't more acerbic.

Anyway, three final comments:

You may find yourself doing lots of out-of-class independent research anyway. Based on my studies for the first MCSD exam, the tested material is very broad - no one prep book (or course, probably) will teach you enough for an absolute 100%. DivxGuy and others have cautioned me that the exams test real-world experience, and from what I've seen, it's entirely true. So just prepare for that.

Also, remember that unlike every other class you've taken, these classes don't earn you a degree. If you find that you're getting less han you're paying, feel free to drop out and try a different study method. You might also find, after two or three exams, that you have the preparatory process down cold and don't ened the courses. You don't need to "graduate" to succeed with your goal of getting certified.

Finally - I'll also be studying the MCSE 2003 material at the same time! I'm spending the summer taking four of the MCSD exams, but by the Fall I should be starting on the MCSE exams. Might be fun to compare notes about study techniques and material. Good luck!

- David Stein
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Old 05-06-04, 02:58 PM
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Originally posted by sfsdfd

I'm studying for the MCSD exams now, and as long as you have a smidge of self-motivation, you can do it outside the classroom setting. Just find the right textbook set and start reading. (Note: The Microsoft textbooks suck, as I found out the hard way.
Shit, I was afraid of that. My work is encouraging us to do Microsoft certifications. I'm thinking about following the C# path to an MCSD as a motivator to start working with .NET. They'll reimburse me for tests I pass, provide books, but won't pay for instructor led training. I'm pretty sure they're just passing around the Microsoft textbooks.
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Old 05-06-04, 03:06 PM
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Originally posted by AndyCapps
I'm pretty sure they're just passing around the Microsoft textbooks.
Have a serious talk with the decisionmakers at your workplace, and show them the comments from Amazon.com about the MCSD review texts. They're all true.

I posted about this here back in February. I spent a month reading every page of the MS preparatory text for 70-316 (Windows applications in C#) and knew the material cold. I started taking the sample exams - and found myself averaging 50% (~70% is passing.) The exams contain tons of material not convered in the texts. Even worse, these were the sample exams PACKED IN WITH MICROSOFT'S STUDY GUIDES. Some of the tested topics aren't even in the index of the MS text.

The Microsoft review text is 550 pages. The Que training guide text is 1100 pages.

I switched to Que and read it for a month, and learned all about the stuff missing from the MS text. My exam scores are now consistently passing, and I'll be taking the real test in two weeks.

And it's not just me. The reviews on Amazon.com, transcender.com, examnotes.com - they consistently feature these complaints, in loud volume, with regard to every MCSE/MCSD-exam prep text by Microsoft.

- David Stein
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Old 05-06-04, 04:11 PM
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Originally posted by sfsdfd


Finally - I'll also be studying the MCSE 2003 material at the same time! I'm spending the summer taking four of the MCSD exams, but by the Fall I should be starting on the MCSE exams. Might be fun to compare notes about study techniques and material. Good luck!

- David Stein
Sounds great! We can either post stuff regarding the classes on here, or email directly. Really doesn't matter to me. Thanks for all your input. I look forward to learning a lot in the next year or so.
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Old 05-09-04, 10:40 AM
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do a lot of businesses run entirely on microsoft products these days to make it worth the personal investment?

stein, i though you were lawyering.....
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Old 05-09-04, 10:44 AM
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Originally posted by crankyman
do a lot of businesses run entirely on microsoft products these days to make it worth the personal investment?

stein, i though you were lawyering.....
From just researching a little here and there, most companies use either Microsoft or Cisco. I am going with the Microsoft certifications, but Cisco is just as good.
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