Q

I'm currently working as a PC technician but want to work my way to a system administrator position.

I am currently working as a PC support in a company and they have about 100 PCs I have to support and troubleshoot.

The PCs are running Microsoft Windows.

The question is -- am I on the right track if I intend to be a system administrator? And will the working experience I get from that company add value to my resume?

What is more important for me to achieve now -- an advanced diploma or IT certifications? MCSE, SCSA, or RHCE?
Indeed PC support is a very traditional "foot in the door" for a later job in network administration. Just make sure you learn as much as possible about the server side of things, as well as the desktop side, because netadmins tend to spend as much (if not more) time on server stuff as they do on desktop stuff. And yes, as long as you can talk intelligently about what you learned, what kinds of tasks you can perform, what kinds of tools and utilities you can use, and so forth, you can indeed use your current experience to good future effect.

As for your other questions, the answer to the advanced diploma versus IT certifications depends on what you'd like to do AFTER you become a network admin. If that's what you'd like to do for the next 5-10 years, a cert will probably do you as much good as a master's or other advanced degree; but if you want to climb higher in the ranks, move into management, or develop software/do research/write books then an advanced diploma might be worth more. As for MCSE versus SCSA versus RHCE, that depends on where you think the market is going (because MS undeniably rules the market today).

Alternatively, if you're dead set on administering Unix server rather than MS ones, the choice between RHCE and SCSA will depend on if the places you think you might want to work are more in the Sun/Solaris camp or the general, Open Source Linux camp.

This was first published in February 2004

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