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From Desktop Support to Systems Administrator

This is a discussion on From Desktop Support to Systems Administrator within the Certification & Career forums, part of the Tech Support Forum category. Hi all, I've received some great advice from some of you in the past that helped me get into the


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Old 08-27-2013, 06:13 PM   #1
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Hi all, I've received some great advice from some of you in the past that helped me get into the IT field full time, and now I'm back again :D! I am currently in a Desktop Support role, which I really enjoy, but within the next two-three years I would like to transition into a Systems Administrator type role. My question is, what should I work on, and what skills, certifications, and experience do I need to obtain yet to become qualified for said role?

Right now I am supporting about seventy five users, and I have access to about thirty servers in our environment (something like twenty five of them are virtualized), but don't really do much on them other than standard maintenance (disk cleanup, disk defragmentation, making sure they all have anti-virus, troubleshoot them if they go offline, etc). Right now I reimage users' computers if it needs to be done, I fix all manner of hardware problems, I troubleshoot application issues, network connectivity problems, set up new computers, fix printers, add printers to our print server, coordinate with management to schedule downtime for servers if they need to be worked on, do remote support at times, virus removal, etc.

I am currently have three certifications from Microsoft for Windows 7 (deploying, configuring, and desktop support), as well as my A+ and Network+ certifications.

So, basically, what should I do from here to pursue a Systems Admin position? Do I need to get my CCNA, or would MS Server certifications be enough? I have more experience working with MS Servers than with Cisco products, so I would feel better about getting server certifications. Also, I am weak on scripting. Would this be a problem? What type of scripting would be best to learn? VBS? Powershell? I've also noticed VMWare is being used a lot in business environments. Would it be good to get some sort of virtualization/VMWare certification as well? Is SQL server needful to know for an IT Admin?

Thanks in advance for any advice you can give me! I appreciate it, you guys are awesome :)
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Old 08-27-2013, 06:52 PM   #2
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Do you have any experience with Active Directory? Adding user accounts, configuring Group Policy, that sort of thing? If not, are you able to ask your supervisors if you could start getting some light server admin experience like that?

Once you get a bit of AD experience and have installed a server or two, you'll probably be ready to start looking into a Microsoft server certification.

Getting the CCNA won't help you become a systems admin... that's network admin stuff.

My advice regarding certifications beyond entry-level is always the same: certify on things you have experience working with. If you get VMware experience, get VMware certified. If you get Cisco experience, get Cisco certified. If you get Microsoft server experience, get Microsoft server certified. :)

Scripting is a bonus, but it's not absolutely essential. I rarely scripted when I was a systems admin, but I knew how to do so when the need arose.
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Old 08-31-2013, 08:41 AM   #3
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Hi Michael, thanks for the reply. I work with AD on a daily basis for my job, adding or removing users, resetting passwords, enabling and disabling accounts, etc. As far as configuring Group Policy, that is handled by a separate Administration team, so I don't have access to that unfortunately. I have done some group policy work in a virtualized, practice environment that I set up to practice for certain Windows 7 certifications, but I don't have experience with Group Policy in a production environment. I've also never set up a Microsoft server before in a production environment, but have done so in practice, virtualized environments. So I guess from what you're saying, I should wait until I set up a server or two in a production environment, and get some Group Policy experience, before going for Server certifications?

Thanks again for the advice :)
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Old 09-02-2013, 09:00 PM   #4
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Sorry for the delay - I was out of town all weekend. :)

Eh, I'd say you're probably close enough to start studying for them. Keep in mind that the GPO stuff will be incredibly confusing at first... it's hard to envision when to use something when you haven't ever used it in a real-life application. Hopefully, though, you'll read something that helps everything to make sense. So... give it a shot! Let us know how your studies start out. :)
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