Next Move: What can I do to become a specialist?

I started in IT 10 years ago doing application development. I got an MSCE in 2002 and started working with a Microsoft certified...

I started in IT 10 years ago doing application development. I got an MSCE in 2002 and started working with a Microsoft certified partner, where I did some upgrade/migration of Microsoft products. Presently, I work as a second-line support engineer. I have good knowledge of Active Directory. I also have interest in security and networking and have a CCNA and an ITIL qualification. Please, advise on how I can progress to become a specialist in a particular field.

Build on the skills you already have

It strikes me that you are technically minded, having been a developer, and pursuing your career down the Microsoft server route seems the most favourable. Although MCSEs are prevalent nowadays, specialist Active Directory and server engineers are much rarer.

Going down the Microsoft route will open up more job opportunities as it is the most widely used technology, but you also have the option of using your technical ability to pursue a specialism in server solutions. This could also bring you closer to your other interests in security and networking.

I suggest applying for roles within small infrastructure teams, where they look for complementary skills in each of the team members, ie one good server person, one good security person, one good networking person, but each having an understanding of the others' specialism.

Your CCNA and ITIL qualifications will only serve to complement your specialist route, as more IT departments seek ITIL alignment and they will need qualified staff to achieve this. And having knowledge of Cisco technologies will always be an asset. 

Solution by Robert Nunn, senior account manager, Plan-Net Services

The panel: Plan-Net Services, Spring Group, E-Skills UK, British Computer Society, Computer Futures, Hudson, Elan, Reed Technology, Zarak Technology.

E-mail your career questions to computerweekly@rbi.co.uk

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