What the IT Cert Strategy Project is About
IT Cert Strategy is More Than Certifications
Even though IT certifications are great and fill a needed gap, you shouldn’t lean on them too heavily. Age old questions regarding certifications are:
- Should you get them?
- Are they worth the time, effort, and cost to get them?
They’re great for testing your knowledge and can often help you get jobs you normally wouldn’t be able to get. I often disagree with the vehement attitude some people on the other side of the spectrum have against them, whether they’ve had issues with the certification bodies or how they actively try to break down certificate holders to prove how superior they are.
I tend to find that a happy medium between both extremes work well here. This doesn’t absolve you of planning and working hard though. Get the certifications that make sense to you.
Methodology on Which Certs to Get
Here’s my opinion on which certifications to pull the trigger on:
- Get certifications that make sense to you and your career.
- Get certifications that are paid for, whether you get your employer to cover the cost or you start a new side project that produces income to cover your education costs.
- Get certifications that are in demand by employers.
- Get certifications that are proven and have been around for a while, at least the certification body anyway.
- Get certifications with reasonable and fluid continuing education demands.
Here’s my opinion on bad reasons to get certifications:
- The certification sounds nice. Plan to use it somehow.
- You think the certification is good. You need to know it’s good.
- You want to collect certifications like they’re candy. There are diminishing returns to how impressive certifications are.
- You want to learn a new skill. Do you really need a certification to do this? Ever hear of the concept of a home lab?
- You think the certification counts as experience. This is how the A+ was marketed back in the day. Newsflash, it doesn’t count as experience. Yes, it’s useful, but don’t position yourself with it as a sole highlight.
About the Study Guides and Exam Tips Here
The next 2 headings describe the methodology behind note taking, why I take a certain approach to studying for exams, and how you could best use the materials on this website.
Why These Study Guides and Exam Tips Exist
A lot of the information here is organized for my own purposes. I want to open it up to future IT and Security superstars as there is a significant shortage in a few tech areas, especially security.
I’m one who takes notes of meetings, webinars, studying, and even light reading where applicable. Not everyone likes to take notes, especially while they read but I find that it helps retain and process information.
How to Use the Study Guides and Exam Tips
Use them as a review. You should be nodding your head to most of the concepts. Maybe they’ll be a reminder or maybe you’ll finally understand a few sticking points after seeing them presented in a different way. With the exception of the first 2 A+ study guides, the organization of the study guides are in such a way to flow, hopefully allowing you to mentally organize the material.
These writeups are thorough, going in-depth on select topics that may or may not be featured on the actual exams. Context is given to help learn the material as employers value someone who understands material beyond memorizing it for exams.
Even though these writeups are in-depth in some areas, they are not complete. Some areas may be very brief. They are not intended to be sole study materials. Everyone has a different understanding of the material and as such may need to put more work in some areas than others.
It’s great to know whether the person that gives you advice is credible or not. Here’s a few tidbits from my history:
- 15 years of IT experience, including 5 years specifically in cybersecurity.
- Masters of Business Administration with a track in Management Information Systems.
- Bachelor of Science in IT with 3 minors and 3 university certificates.
Note: For more details on my background, including what drives me, head over to the about page.
- CS0-001, CompTIA CySA+, 2018-Sep-19
- SY0-401, CompTIA Security+, 2015-Sep-21
- SY0-201, Security+ (2008 Edition), 2010-Dec-29
- N10-004, Network+ Exam (2009 Edition), 2010-Dec-13
- 220-602, A+ IT Technician, 2008-Feb-13
- 220-601, A+ Essentials, 2008-Feb-13
These certs took anywhere from a week to a month to get with dedicated time to read, study, and practice. I’ve passed every IT certification on the first attempt, every time. You’ll notice the Security+ is on there twice. I had the last good for life (GFL) version of the Security+ and an employer in 2015 required the most recent version of the Security+, which was SY0-401 at the time.
Note: See all the certifications in their badge glory by heading over to my Acclaim profile page.
IT Cert Strategy Wrap Up
Thanks for joining me. Let me know how I can best serve you in your IT or Cybersecurity journey!
Cert Study Notes
Starting off with certs I have and then expanding into other IT and Security certifications.
IT Reading Lists
Important (and favorites) books, publications, articles, and more.
Job Hunting Tips
Traditional job hunting doesn’t slice it anymore. Let’s find some stuff that works.
Skill Up Info
You have to be more than a test taker. Keep building those tech skills.
Soft Skills Help
Got experience, certs, and education? Awesome. There’s still one extremely important thing to work on.
Not everyone’s break into their field of choice is straight forward.
IT Cert Strategy Articles
Career advice, certification study notes, instruction in IT and cybersecurity concepts, and more on the Blog page.
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Trying to break into the cybersecurity field when you are on the outside may seem like a dismaying task. With so many qualified candidates vying for a limited number of positions, it can be tricky to land your first cybersecurity job in the industry. However, there...
Soft skills can mean the difference between success and failure in your career, especially the IT industry. Soft skills will help you interact better with coworkers and clients and will make you a more well-rounded employee. Soft skills can be learned and developed...
What’s Your Path?
In IT and cybersecurity, there’s a multitude of options. How do you want to serve people?
Let Me Know
If there’s additional content that lends itself to the IT Cert Strategy project, reach out and let me know.