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MCSE as a part time job?
Old 06-04-2008, 11:32 AM   #1
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MCSE as a part time job?

Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer??

I have a little over ten years until I can retire from federal service. My wife will probably have to work a few years after that. We were talking the other day and I told her I need to start planning now for my second career. Many people I know go on to teach at a community college or 4 year college. I don't have a masters so that is probably out.

I figured I could do something with computers. I don't mind spending time in front of a computer my job now has nothing to do with computers I am an investigator. I would like to find a part time job when I retire.

In 10 years who knows if microsoft will still be the powerhouse in systems but would it be possible to get some type of certification and be able to find a part-time four hour a day job. My organization has a contractor that does IT but only works 8am to noon. That would be perfect.

I would love to get involved in computer forensics and I know some people who have gone on to work for law firms and accounting firms doing that but they have retired and moved on to more work and more stress.

Do any computer type people recommend a certification that would be in demand and could lead to a part-time gig.

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Old 06-04-2008, 11:41 AM   #2
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I would recommend the certification only if the companies you're targeting prefer it... or if your employer will pay for it. Any chance they would cover part of the cost of getting a masters degree?

I interview now and again and I've never given preference to anyone because of their certification. In fact, given the propensity of unknowledgeable MCSDs and MCSEs tech colleges crank out, I often, subconciously, mark any certification against them until they can prove that they can back that acronym with relevant experience.

Also, if there's no incentive to get the certification now, then I'd wait a few more years. The tech world will surely be different in a decade. Otherwise, if you're going to pursue it now, then you might want to look into the possibility of part-time work now as well. If you have the time, you might as well start adding relevant experience and contacts now so you've started to build a name for yourself when you retire.

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Old 06-04-2008, 11:54 AM   #3
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I agree with Marquette. I haven't been in a hiring position, but I haven't been impressed with certifications, and nor have my coworkers/bosses.

I got halfway through a master's in computer engineering, then realized I hated it and it wasn't going to help much if any.
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Old 06-05-2008, 10:14 PM   #4
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I think Marquette is correct, especially about getting the employer to pay for it. Otherwise bring your checkbook.

Before retiring I did computer forensics/computer crime investigations. Don't bother getting any certifications until perhaps six months or less before you intend to apply for a job. That field changes so fast that any certification you get now will be all but useless within a year. Also targeted on a specific employer is good advice. For a law firm, maybe all they want is an English translation from geekspeak, other times they want you to be able to duplicate the exam.

That was one of the reasons I retired: Frustration over getting the needed ongoing training, equipment and software. It was a great gig, I enjoyed the work and for a long time looked forward to Monday mornings, but the bureaucracy wore me down.

But to answer your question, a certification from Guidance Software on Encase would be a good place to start. It's good training, although targeted on their software of course, but they readily acknowledge that Encase is not the only tool one should use. In fact they encourage people to use other software to compare results. It is also not a given that you will earn the certification just because you paid for the class. Instructors are almost all retired law enforcement and have little patience with slackers. BTW, I have no affiliation with the company but I have used the software and taken a couple of their classes. The only reason I suggest Guidance is that the majority of the very good classes/certifications are restricted to law enforcement or military.

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Old 06-06-2008, 08:21 AM   #5
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I should have realized those ads on the radio for MCSE certification were the same types of ads that appear on TV during the day.

Walt34 - that is the type of work I'm interested in but unfortunately our agency uses non-sworn personnel for all our computer forensics. Of course alot can change in 10 years especially in the government.

I should be looking to make contacts and target where and what I want to do when I retire. Who knows what will be the hot post retirement career for investigators in 10 years.
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Old 06-06-2008, 09:50 AM   #6
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Now, on the other hand, that's not to say that an MCSE wouldn't be valuable if you use it as a tool to force yourself to learn... but there are plenty of other ways to learn if you don't need to pay for that sort of motivator =)
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Old 06-06-2008, 08:19 PM   #7
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What kind of tech background do you have? If you don't have much background you might want to look into getting an A+ certification, then a Network+ certification, then going on to an MCSE or MCP. You can find information on the A+ and Network+ here: Certification Program, Information Technology Education

The A+ and Network+ certifications are more basic and geared to people with no IT experience. Hiring managers also view those certs favorably because they are more hands on and geared to real world problems. Finally, much of what you learn studying for the A+ and Network+ you can use while studying for and taking the MCSE exams.

I've been in the field on and off for about 14 years now. I would highly recommend getting some experience, any experience, under your belt before or during the time you are working on your certs. In the late 1990s we were hit by a wave of paper MCSEs, people who were able to study for and pass the test but had no real world experience. A lot of people got burned by that. Now many hiring managers will count it against you if you have an MCSE but no experience.
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Old 06-07-2008, 08:16 AM   #8
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I was an MIS director before retiring. In my opinion, and MCSE without experience is not worth much. The MCSE means you can read and pass the test, that does not necessarily translate in to being able to run or fix a network.
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Old 06-07-2008, 01:50 PM   #9
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I have some alphabet soup certs (MCSA, MCP, MCDST, Security+) and would recommend getting them if you can. When you have experience and show that you take the time to get some professional certs you set yourself apart from other applicants.

Currently, the security certs are big. I'll be working on CISSP as well as some project management certs. You can self train, and it's $150 for a test, so I think its worth it.

Check with some contractor firms and see what they require if you want do so some part time contract work.

If nothing else, the certs on my email sig at least let people know I know what I'm talkng about and I'll usually get passed the first tier of tech support and get to talk to someone who knows their ass from their elbow.
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Old 06-15-2008, 08:40 AM   #10
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I received my BS in Systems Analysis and have been working in the computer field for 30+ years. The company that I was working for in 2001 was bought out and moved their corporate offices and I was let go. Due to unemployment after the 9/11 event, the state of Florida paid for retraining and the MCSE classes that I took were fully paid for.
Since they were free to many unempoyed at the time the classes were packed and the training company was having their trainer work double shifts. 8am to 11pm.

The MCSE training has helped me a bit, however, I would have been disappointed if I had to pay the $7000 to take the classes.

I never bothered to sit for the exam as I felt the extra amount of time needed to study for and take the exam was not worth it. I was never asked in a job interview, about an MCSE certifications.

Employers want the experience. Someone leaves or retires and they want to replace that indivual with a person with similar experience to get the job done.

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