Many employers looking for Windows NT/2000 skills specify Microsoft certifications as a base requirement rather than an option. In addition, many are looking for experience in a computing environment to match those skills, although there are plenty of employers willing to take on those with the right approach and attitude, even if they have no formal experience. Another common occurrence is that of employers looking for people who are not just skilled in Windows NT/ 2000, but also in other Microsoft products as well. Quite often, businesses that use Windows NT/2000 elect to take advantage of the integration of other Microsoft products, such as Exchange (email), SQL Server (database system), or Systems Management Server SMS (network management). If you want to make it easier to get a Windows NT network administration position, you would do well to learn one of these other products along the way.
It should also be noted that the demand for skilled Windows NT/2000 candidates makes for a happy hunting ground for those who do not have the appropriate skills or experience. In such cases, those that lack the required skills hope to cash in on employers who are finding it difficult to hire suitable staff. Although few of these applicants make it past the resume stage, you should go to the extra effort to ensure that your resume communicates your correct level of skills and experience, so that you are not mistaken for one of these other job seekers.
Training Options and Resources
The popularity ofWindows NT/2000 has had a dramatic effect on many satellite industries, and training is no exception. There is an abundance of traditional training methods, such as classroom-based instruction. There is also a wealth of other resources, such as computer- and Web-based training modules.
Courses and Certifications
The MCSE program is recognized throughout the world as a measurement of an individual's knowledge ofWindows NT/2000 and their associated products and technologies. To become an MCSE, candidates must pass a series of Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) exams. However, the method of preparation for each exam is at the discretion of the individual. Once the required exams are successfully completed, Microsoft grants the designation of MCSE, allowing the holder to use the credentials and accompanying logo on resumes and business cards. For more information on the MCSE program, visit the Microsoft training Web site at www.microsoft.com/trainingandservices.
Microsoft itself provides a range of training options, including full instructor-led courses, that are delivered through a worldwide network of training centers.
Many other companies also offer training that will help you learn Windows NT and prepare for the certification exams. For a list of training companies in your area, check the Yellow Pages under Computers -Training. Training companies that are approved by Microsoft carry either the Microsoft Certified Technical Education Center (CTEC) designation or the Microsoft Authorized Academic Training Partner (AATP) designation. CTEC programs are designed for individuals who are already working in the IT industry and so are normally short in duration and presume a certain level of prior knowledge. AATP institutions are often community colleges or private colleges that run courses aimed at those new to the industry or those with little experience.
Online, or Web-based, training continues to grow in popularity and, predictably, there are a variety of Windows NT and Windows 2000 courses available to those who prefer this method of learning.
A list of companies that provide Internet-based training on Microsoft products can be found on the Microsoft Training and Certification Web site at www.microsoft.com/trainingandservices.
Another online resource for Windows NT training is www.freeskills.com.As the name implies, the training is free and can be downloaded and studied at your own convenience. Although targeted at general training rather than toward specific exam objectives, it is professionally written and very useful.
The sheer volume of information and material available can make self-studying for a Microsoft certification an attractive choice. As well as traditional books, there are CDs, videos, flash cards, CBTs, and a plethora of other training aids that can help you understand Windows NT networking. Be forewarned though. There is only so much that can be learned from a book. The only real way to gain the knowledge you need is to use the product. The fact that Windows NT runs on any reasonably specified Pentium PC means that this goal is well within reach.
Although it cannot simulate a complete networking environment, building a small network at home can be of unfathomable benefit to those studying for their MCP or MCSE certification. The ability to try out scenarios, use a utility, or install the product over and again is experience that cannot be bought. To set up a suitable "lab," you will need two PCs of sufficient power to run the version ofWindows that you want to load.
Even though the actual Windows NT or 2000 software costs hundreds of dollars, evaluation copies can be obtained with relative ease, and many Microsoft Self-Study kits come with 120 day evaluation copies of the software. This fact, coupled with the knowledge that you are "getting the straight goods" make the Microsoft kits well worth considering. It's also worth noting that some of the kits are designed to teach you overall network administration tasks and principles and do not necessarily focus on exam specific objectives.
Finding out more information about Windows NT/2000 is an easy task. There are countless resources available on the Internet, through newsgroups, and in your local bookstore. The following sections contain resources that you may find useful as you start to look at Windows NT/2000 in more depth.
Professional Associations can frequently be helpful as a resource as well as a means to "meet" and associate yourself with other professionals with common interests in the field.
The Association ofWindows NT System Professionals (NT*Pro), with over 33,000 members, provides a wealth of information and resources to those with an interest in Windows NT, Windows 2000, or related products. It offers a comprehensive Web site at www.ntpro.org that contains, among other things, a list ofWindows NT usergroups in almost every area of the country. Membership in the association is open to any Windows NT computer professional and is free of charge.
Windows NT has become one of the most significant developments in PC networking to date. It's relative ease of use, coupled with its capability to fulfill a wide range of roles, has made it the first choice of companies all over the world. For those electing to pursue Windows NT skills, it is a solid career choice, and one in which the demand for skilled individuals shows little sign of diminishing.