Certification Spotlight: Joe Schueler

Joe Schueler works as a sales engineer for Cloud Solutions at Verizon Terremark.

Me

Why did you first pursue a professional certification?
As part of a corporate-wide migration from NetWare to Windows NT, many of the IT staff were given free training manuals and a free pass to one Microsoft exam. I took and passed the Windows 3.1 exam to become an MCP and have continued the certification process ever since.

Are you considering getting any additional credentials?
Always. I’m not currently pursuing anything today due to some continuing education credits I need to work on, but I will probably look at expanding my cloud certifications in the next few months.

What advice do you have for someone pursuing an IT certification?
Stick with it. Make yourself committed to getting that one exam out of the way. Don’t try to learn material for 3 or more exams at once, or worse, different vendor’s material. It will confuse and distract you. If you are new to the field, start with something simple like a desktop operating system exam. Don’t try to jump into CCIE or CISSP. Assuming you own a home computer, you can probably use a couple of self study books and go pass the exam. The trick will be for the person that needs to upgrade their certifications to the server level. That may take some time and money if your company isn’t helping you out with expenses.

How has being a certification holder helped you make strides in your career?
I’m not even sure if you can get hired anymore without multiple certifications.  At least not at my level. When I used to review resumes, I always wanted to see experience and a variety of certifications. I think it helps round out the person’s knowledge base.

Can you describe a valuable professional experience that may not have been possible without certification?
Certification doesn’t always mean that the person knows what they are talking about. But at the same time, when I’ve done consulting work, I doubt I would have been taken seriously by the customer if I wasn’t certified on the solution I was recommending. I’ve done security audits, and showing the customer that I hold several security, 2 operating system, virtualization, project management, and networking certifications together all present that I have a broad skill set to work with for assisting that customer.

How has the field changed over the years?
I love “new” products that are really just old solutions with a new name. Most of them have new features, but the core concepts are all the same. Once you understand that, I think you can adjust to the various changes this industry keeps going through. One other change I am seeing is the shift back to centralized control over the IT. I think that compliance issues forced this change, but I do think it is time for the enterprise to take ownership of the various networks and platforms their departments have been purchasing in the past.

Certification Spotlight: Victor Armbrust

Victor Armbrust works as an Infrastructure Solution Architect for 2Worx Technology and has been in the IT industry since 1998.

victor-dba

Why did you first pursue a professional certification?
IT companies are always looking for specialized professionals. Getting specialized for a specific product (or products) is really important to make a difference among others. My first certification was related to Oracle Database, which I´ve worked for the last 5 or 6 yeas, so I decided to study and take my credential.

For many years, I thought getting certified was not an important thing; today I know I was wrong.

Are you considering getting any additional credentials?
Yes. Specially for Oracle Database 12c and Systems (Exadata and Exalogic). I´m also studying for Solaris 11 Certified Professional.

What advice do you have for someone pursuing an IT certification?
My main advice is: “Don´t look for excuses! Time goes by too fast. Opportunities are always available to anyone, but being prepared depends only on your wish to be a great specialist.” Most people don’t have time to study on a daily basis, so you should manage your agenda and find some time to study (depends only on yourself.)

How has being a certification holder helped you make strides in your career?
It has helped me a lot for the last few years, especially when I had a job opportunity. I have worked with IT consulting companies since 2004, so I have some experience with database consulting. Experience is (in fact) the most important thing in your career, but companies are always looking for new contracts or customers, and it is very important to have certificated professionals in their portfolio. At the same time salary negotiation can be more easily discussed.

Can you describe a valuable professional experience that may not have been possible without certification?
Basically all activities for a Database Specialist need a higher level of technical skills, including Operating Systems, Network and Storage knowledge. Certification helped me a lot during all these years as I need to study a lot of material to do a great job, especially in database migrations and backup/recover implementation.

How has the field changed over the years?
I’ve been working in the IT industry since 1998 and I can tell you it has changed a lot. As technology grows, we need to adapt ourselves to it. Back in 1998 I started my career as a Novell Network administrator, and at that time there were not too many certified professionals. In today’s time, companies are looking for a complete professional with great skills not only at the technical side but also at business and internal process side, that´s ITIL. What I’ve learned as a DBA is: To keep doing a great job, it is necessary to study a lot and maintain your technical skills and your certifications updated so you´ll be prepared for any further challenges.

Certification Spotlight: Pete Warchol

Pete Warchol is currently employed by Randstad Technologies as a consultant. He is under contract to TD Bank as a Senior Technical Project Manager of IT infrastructure projects. Pete has a total of 100 professional certifications. 

pete

Why did you first pursue a professional certification?
I first pursued getting certified in 1986, with Institute for Certification of Computer Professionals (ICCP) Associate Computer Professional, with COBOL (ACP). Since my undergraduate degree was in psychology, sociology and political science, I was interested in increasing my technical credibility.

Are you considering getting any additional credentials?
I have 100 professional certifications, and I’m always looking at new ones. I use the certification process as a way to measure my command of new material. Currently, I’m looking at the Microsoft Windows 2012 certifications and renewing my ISC2/CISSP certification, which I foolishly let expire.

What advice do you have for someone pursuing an IT certification?
Carefully consider your goals, then make good use of your time and money. You can use certifications to both reinforce your knowledge in your current role and to prepare for what you would like to do next. The road to a certificate can be time consuming and expensive, so careful planning is needed.

Here is how I usually break it down:

  • Determine what certification has value to you, your current employer or a future employer.
  • Determine what study materials are available, like books, CBT, hands-on classes; then which ones you can afford and that you are most comfortable with using.
  • Establish a plan, with time-related objectives. If you don’t, the time will pass, nothing will get done, and you won’t achieve your goals.

How has being a certification holder helped you make strides in your career?
In the past 20 years, they have consistently helped me get interviews. Employers like having independent verification of a prospective employee’s knowledge.

In my case, with so many certifications, many people are curious to meet me, even when I don’t perfectly match what they are currently seeking.

Can you describe a valuable professional experience that may not have been possible without certification?
There are three great jobs I’ve had that I never would have been considered for without my certifications, including my current one. My current client manager has many certifications and appreciates their value.

How has the field changed over the years?
As the saying goes, the more it changes, the more it stays the same. The current popular technologies are always changing, but old ones never completely disappear. There are always new and improved methodologies, but in the end it always comes down to the people implementing them in order to be successful. Information Technology is and always will be about input/process/output, just the mechanics change. Hard-working, flexible and well-trained people will always have opportunities for success.

Articles Pete has written:

Certification Spotlight: Clarke Porter

Clarke Porter was one of the founders of Integral7, a SAS-based credential management system. Integral7 was acquired by Pearson VUE in 2010, and he currently leads the technology businesses that support credentialing. Clarke has a long history in the IT certification industry, having worked with Novell in the late 80’s to establish the first IT certification. He was also one of the founders of Drake Prometric and VUE (Virtual University Enterprises) and served as their President and CEO, respectively. 
ClarkeP

Can you tell us a little bit about the professional credentials you offer at Pearson?Pearson VUE is the leading global computer-based testing organization, not only for the IT industry but many other industries and professions from health care to insurance to financial services. We partner with the leading credentialing bodies to deliver millions of exams to aspiring and continuing professionals. To see a complete list of IT certifying bodies we work with, click here.

Where do you see IT certification going for Pearson or technology in the next few years?
IT certification is a key market for Pearson VUE – we have a pervasive global network of Pearson VUE Authorized Test Centers (PVTCs) over 5,000 strong. Pearson VUE offers expanded delivery options, which include internet-based testing, and mobile testing to compliment our test center delivery offering. We continue to innovate and expand our offering to meet changing market needs. Today, testing organizations are demanding more options to deliver exams and measure professional competency. We understand and help our clients demonstrate the value of certification for employers and professionals – in terms of improved quality and productivity for employers and better career opportunities for professionals.

Who would you recommend consider getting certified by Pearson?
We see certification as a career readiness and advancement strategy. The certifying bodies we work with are providing the core technologies that companies rely on to operate their businesses. IT professionals are required in every market segment, and there is currently a shortage of IT skilled professionals in the workforce. IT jobs are plentiful and rewarding, and IT certifications help positively differentiate workers seeking jobs.

What is the best way to prepare for a certification from Pearson?
Pearson VUE and its partners offer a wide array of training and test preparation materials for IT professionals. There is also a wealth of content online, through higher education institutions, vocational schools, and independent for profit training companies. MindHub offers a sampling of test preparation products for IT professionals.