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I am trying to look at all the available options my local technical institute provides for systems administration. There appears to be various technical bachelor course sets, diplomas of technology, associate certificates and I am not entirely sure what most businesses would be looking for specifically, if anything at all.

Would an associate certificate and experience, and other computer related courses (relating to computer security or networking or server administration in general) be in good standing compared to what most people in this general field have when they are hired?

I will appreciate any critique or insight in to this, it will further my resources in choosing a good goal for me. I've yet to see an academic advisor for advice on what is currently a good choice so I ask here.

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closed as off topic by John Gardeniers, womble, Scott Pack, petrus, Michael Hampton Dec 16 '12 at 23:55

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Some may consider your question off-topic here, but I'll share my thoughts with you.

I kind of fell into IT. I got a job doing DSL tech support for an ISP during the Win95/98 days and supported those operating systems as well as OS9 and OSX for Macintosh. From that, I got some practical knowledge of how to troubleshoot in "layers" and a really great understanding of how DSL works both physically and logically.

This helped me get a job as a "help desk guy" at a fairly large company, where I picked up a ton of knowledge (XP and Active Diretory) on the fly.

I did however realize massive gaps in my knowledge as I was the cowboy as they called me from the older Admins. I was able glean tons of good information from them but lacked some serious foundations. I enrolled in ITT, and since a lot of my Music Education credits transferred over, I was able to pull it off in 3 years, all while working in the field.

What did I get out of that? Well, $45,000 in debt, and probably some good baseline knowledge in the OSI model, how AD REALLY works, and networking fundamentals. It was not until the very end though that I got the most useful thing out of it. I learned HOW to learn, how to give some real effort, and how to be a professional at something. So was all that worth 45k? To me, yes, it's resonating deeply into how I work now. I could probably have learned all those subjects without the schooling, but now I have a Bachelors, a work ethic, and I know how to learn.

So my advice to you is this: if you are disciplined, learn on your own and get a job in the field and procure certifications starting with CCNA (EVERYONE in IT should have this or the knowledge required for it).

If you're not, then look at a school.

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I had considered but forgotten that a good route would be a help desk, this would considerably help my communications skills that would be required of course to be on the job during administration, I would love to provide basic technical support until I am comfortable and (stable financially), part time studying is seven years for the diploma, not sure whether I should study during slowly or after. –  Ken R. Aug 10 '11 at 5:59

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