Cisco Systems, Microsoft, and the Rewarding Trade of Information Technology

Microsoft112 Cisco Systems, Microsoft, and the Rewarding Trade of Information Technology
Donald Carroll asked:

My name is Donald Carroll. I am the President and Webmaster of Green Planet Fantasy Theater. How did I get here? I have over ten years of work experience in the field of Information Technology (IT). I also have five years of teaching experience as an instructor in both Microsoft and Cisco technologies as well as other networking technologies such as Novell Netware, Unix, and Linux. I am twice certified by Microsoft as a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE), and twice certified by Cisco Systems as a Cisco Certified Network Associate, or CCNA?

The field of Information Technology has been very good to me and is an excellent trade to get into for those of you looking at entering a career or changing careers. As a former instructor, I can tell you that as a prerequisite you must be at least comfortable with using computers; better if you have a knack for fixing them when they break! Those of you who are very familiar with using, repairing, and even building computers are perfectly cut out for the lucrative field of Information Technology.

The purpose of this article is to help you in getting started on the path towards earning your industry standard certifications in the field of Information Technology while also gaining hands on practical experience with computer networks. I will tell you on the next page exactly what to do if you are interested in entering the field of Information Technology, even if you have no experience whatsoever. In the field of Information Technology, it is often not enough to just earn your certifications as employers generally favor IT professionals with work experience.

I will also share with you more about my own background and how it helped me to enter the field of Information Technology.

In the early 1990′s I was working as an administrative assistant, and as part of my duties I learned how to use a number of different computer programs; common business applications including word editors, spreadsheet programs, and databases. After my stay as an administrative assistant, and while I was seeking new and interesting employment opportunities, I sent away for a PC (Personal Computer) home study course, mostly because it came with a PC! I learned computer hardware, and computer software, including operating systems such as Microsoft DOS and Windows version 3.1. (Learning computer hardware and computer software, including operating systems such as Microsoft Windows XP and Microsoft Windows Vista is the first step in training for a career in Information Technology. I will explain more about this on the next page.)

I was also able to connect to the Internet using a modem; at that time, the only real Internet choices there were was “GopherNet”, and the America Online Network. (“GopherNet”, which is still in existence today, allows you to view folders and files on a remote computer, not web pages. The America Online Network has merely changed over the years.) Besides then connecting to a rather bleak Internet, in comparison with today’s Internet, you could connect to what were called “BBS’s”, or electronic bulletin boards. These “sites” allowed you to chat, play online games, and both upload and download content. ( I would have to check to see if any “BBS’s” are still in existence today!)

In 1997 I relocated to the Silicon Valley (San Jose, California), and I began applying around for administrative assistant positions. One recruiter pointed out that I “had a list of computer skills a mile long” between having learned a number of business applications, and having also completed a two year home study course as a PC Specialist. I was offered a high paying short term contract to provide computer support for employees at NEC Computers. I was basically an apprentice to what I would call a “guru” in terms of computer and computer networking skills.

I also entered college again to earn an Associate of Science/Information Systems Degree. After my contract at NEC Computers ended I applied at Honeywell Automated and Industrial Controls, and I accepted a position as a hardware technician. At this point now in my life I was pursuing a second degree in Information Technology, and working in the field of Information Technology, developing on the job skills critical to become a real expert. (At that time, the field of Information Technology was called Management Information Systems (MIS). Later it was changed to Information Specialist (IS), and today it is known as Information Technology (IT)).

That was the beginning for me. I soon continued on to teach networking technologies, and I accepted senior engineering positions with a number of different companies and corporations. I WAS EARNING WAGES and BENEFITS PACKAGES I HAD NEVER DREAMED OF!!! I essentially climbed the ladder from working as a computer hardware technician to working as an instructor, a network engineer, a senior network engineer, and finally as a consultant! Today I work as a contractor and as a webmaster.

If you would like to enter the field of Information Technology yourself PLEASE CONTINUE READING!!! I have myself graduated over four hundred computer networking students, and I can teach you how to learn computer hardware and software, and computer networking. I will tell you what course books to study and how and what certification tests to prepare for.

The field of Information Technology is not about computer programming, or application development; this field is all about the designing, building, maintaining, troubleshooting and repairing both the computers and the computer networks that companies use to store and use their data. In considering computers, there is the computer hardware; the disk drives, cd-rom drives, memory, motherboard, processors, power supplies, mice, keyboards, and other parts and peripherals. There is also the computer software; namely, the operating system, like Microsoft Windows XP or Microsoft Windows Vista, and computer applications or programs, such as Microsoft Office or Adobe Acrobat Reader.

When one or more computers are connected together to form a computer network they are connected using network devices such as hubs, switches, routers, and other network devices. In the field of Information Technology some IT Specialists prefer to work on computer hardware and computer software, and special computers used in a computer network called network servers. Other IT Specialists prefer to work more with network switches, network routers, and other telephone and telecommunications equipment.

If you would prefer to work with networking devices more than with computer hardware, computer software, and servers, you might want to pursue getting certified as a Cisco Certified Network Associate, or CCNA. (The CCNA certification is either one or two exams; you have a choice of taking it as either one or two exams depending upon your preference.) Your duties as a CCNA would revolve more around configuring and troubleshooting network routers and switches, and working with leased line providers and telecommunications equipment. Cisco Systems also offers other more advanced routing certifications beyond the CCNA, namely the Cisco Certified Network Professional, or CCNP, and the Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert, or CCIE.

If you would prefer to work on computers; installing and fixing computer hardware and computer software, and administering network servers and network databases and applications, you might be interested in pursuing first the A+ certification followed by the Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer, or MCSE certification. (The A+ certification exam is given as either one or two exams; one exam is based on computer hardware and the other exam covers special software known to IT Specialists as operating systems. The Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer, or MCSE, is awarded upon the successful completion of seven individual exams.)

Many IT professionals maintain proficiency in computer hardware, software, network servers, and computer networking devices such as routers and switches. Many employers demand that their IT staff be able to help employees with simple computer problems while also being able to solve complex network problems on network routers, switches, and even firewall systems. Many positions in the field of Information Technology require an A+ certification, an MCSE, and a CCNA. Other positions require only one of these certifications, plus or many any of a number of other industry standard certifications.

Unless you decide to pursue the Cisco Certified Network Associate, or CCNA certification, you will probably want to begin learning the ins and outs of a single computer before studying computer networking technologies. You can purchase the textbooks for the A+ certification, the MCSE certification, and the CCNA certification at almost any book retailer.

Focus first on the A+ exam material before proceeding to the MCSE exam material and/or the CCNA exam material – this is best if you are an absolute novice. It is also a good idea to set up a small computer network at home to practice with – hands on experience with these technologies is essential to success! It is also a good idea to attend a technical school to learn the basics of networking technologies, but you can study and become proficient with these technologies on your own just as well.

With your A+ certification behind you, you can work as a PC technician, or even as a Help Desk Specialist (helping employees with their hardware, software, and basic network problems.) While pursuing your MCSE and or CCNA, you can apply for positions as a junior systems administrator, network administrator, and even a junior network engineer.

Study your exam materials, setup your own home network that you can use to practice on, and by all means try to meet people who work as IT Specialists so that you can learn more about working in the field of Information Technology. Maybe you can spend a day at work with them working for free as an apprentice? (Companies usually do not mind extra help for free!)
Create a sharp resume’ listing your certifications and/or technical school degrees, and your work experience…if you do not have any work experience, try to get some working with an IT Specialist. Though certifications are important, most employers prefer work experience. Some job interviews have a required technical interview where you are tested on your fundamental knowledge and your ability to troubleshoot and resolve computer and computer network problems.

Once you have passed you A+ certification exams you can begin applying to work as a computer technician (hardware and/or software technician.) From there you can continue your studies in networking, earn your MCSE and/or CCNA, CCNP, or CCIE, and become a network engineer, a senior network engineer, a contractor, or even work as a consultant.

Good luck to you…if you have any questions about the field of Information Technology please feel free to contact Donald Carroll at Green Planet Fantasy Theater.

(For more great “how to” articles, plus DVD Movies, Music Collections, PC, XBox, Wii, Sony Playstation and Nintendo Games, Software, E-Books, Audio Books, and Adult *** Material FREE, visit Green Planet Fantasy Theater online at

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