Next move: Which supplier course should I take?

I am hoping to move into network or system administration and need to decide which certification course to take. I initially...

I am hoping to move into network or system administration and need to decide which certification course to take. I initially thought about doing a Microsoft course, but should I choose another supplier such as Cisco or Novell? Or should I be doing an independent course such as N+? With the IT climate as it is, I want to give myself the best possible chance by choosing the correct course.

IT professionals have to adapt to change

The IT market is an ever-evolving beast and a skill that is hot today might be yesterday's news tomorrow.

As a result, the emphasis for all IT professionals should be on continual improvement of their skills, as there is certainly no such thing as an IT job for life.

It is difficult to suggest one of the above skills over another as demand fluctuates on a regular basis. There is still a demand for employees with Cisco, Microsoft and Novell certification, so these specialised skills are very useful. At the same time, N+ courses give participants a good overall grounding of a network or system administration role without going into as much product-specific detail.

The decision should really be down to the type of job you are looking for. If you keep an eye on the jobs pages of the IT trade magazines, this will give you a good idea of the skills required by different types of employer.

Computer Weekly's SSL surveys report on the number and type of job vacancies for each skill, which should also help you.

One final crucial factor to consider is that firms employ people, not skills. Your attitude and experience, along with the way you present yourself, can often be more important than the type of qualification you have.

Solution by Terry Watts, chief operating officer, E-Skills UK

The panel: MSB International, Best International, BritishComputer Society, Computer Futures, Computer People, Elan, Reed Technology, Zarak Technology, E-Skills UK.

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