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Training and Career Path Planning

Hot Skill Of The Month


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Sometimes, the easiest way is to get exposed to new technologies is to attend the free seminars. Once you go to one, you get on mailing lists, and before you know it, you get an invite or two a week. To start, try subscribing to Information Week's newsletter. It's helpful, informative, and keeps you up on IT news. will also feature other seminars under their Events section as available.

Career Path Planning

There's a fairly easy way to figure out your career path planning. On the one hand, you can decide that some day you want to be a firewall/security expert, and in between you take jobs that involve systems administration, tech support, web hosting - those kinds of jobs (see chart). But suppose you don't even know where you should start? Don't waste time learning COBOL when there's only a limited market for it. Go to the salary surveys. What jobs pay the most - and over the next several years? What skills seem to pay the most money? For instance, if you already make $80K as an Oracle DBA, why get the MCSE for Windows 2000? It only pays about $68K. Look at higher-end skills like systems architecture. They top out after a while, don't they? Management jobs have a wide range that often starts higher than a lot of the technical specialties. Keep that in mind if you decide to "cross-train" and take a project management assignment - you can work this into valuable management experience later. However, when a recession comes and layoffs start, management jobs are often among the first to be cut. Operations jobs, such as keeping the mail server running, are usually left alone. It all depends what kind of risk you can take with your career, and where you want to go with it.

Career Path Planning Chart
Length of time to do... Title Training/Skills needed in order to do job
To start right now Help Desk Basic knowledge of Windows and how to use a computer
6 months to a year later Tier I Support In-depth knowledge of Windows, be able to install software and peripherals, reformat hard drives, apply software patches, kill virii - should be taking MCSE courses, or working on A+ courses towards certification
About 6 - 12 months later Tier II or III Support Very in-depth knowledge of Windows, in the case of tier II support, be able to support every aspect of a particular application, such as Lotus Notes, MS Exchange, or SQL Server. In the case of tier III support, be responsible for server-level issues, such as trusts and domains, DNS, creating/deleting new users, shares, applying patches to the operating system, solid knowledge of networking issues, especially routers and hubs. Should have completed certifications such as CCNA, MCSE, or A+ by now. Also good to have: hardware certifications such as Compaq.
12 months or so System Engineer Often does system administrator type duties along with the engineering aspects of the job. The environment is larger or more complex. Person should be learning in-depth about Cisco routers and monitoring tools such as HP Openview or Site Scope. Should be taking an active part in installing and configuring firewalls such as Checkpoint or Pix. Vendors offer specific training on their products, you should be pursuing their certifications.
12 - 24 months later Security Engineer or Architect Should be certified on at least one vendor's firewall product. In order to be a network or security architect, should have experience with large deployments or new installs at a site. Helpful to be able to plan using the Visio tool. Should know all network protocols, should have experience with network monitoring and intrusion tools. Imperative that technician stay on top of anti-virus efforts and tools, hacker tools, and be fluent in methods of evading server attacks and detection intrusion.

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