WHY CERTIFICATIONS? Computer certifications haven't necessarily made me an expert in the subject areas, but it has exposed me to important concepts having to do with networking, OS's and web site management. It also has given me experience in teaching myself technical subjects and following a learning strategy. Usually the skills tested by these certifications were skills I was intending to learn anyway, but the certifications served as "reality checks" to verify how clearly I understand the concepts.
HOW I PREPARED: For each certification I prepared in a different way according to the learning objectives being tested. For A+, for example, I joined a local PC hardware group. For Network+, I participated in many online study forums (where I confess to having relied a little too much on brain dumps and not enough on learning projects). Because the first exam of Linux LPI 1 covered command line switches and text processing commands, I studied by playing around at the command line and reading good introductory linux guides. The second exam of LPI covered networking services and system configuration, so I set aside time to perform standard configurations of most of the things covered in the test (compiling a kernel, setting up samba, etc). I also relied on mailing lists and newsgroups when I truly became stuck.
FUTURE PLANS: In the next few months, I'll take three exams for the Master CIW Certification. For the Server Administrator exam, I plan to prepare by setting up Windows 2000 Advanced Server, an SSL-enabled web server and more advanced configurations of samba and sendmail. For the second exam, "Internetworking Professional," I will set up DNS service and Apache 2.0 in the test environment as a way to learn about ip6 and conventional name resolution. For the third exam, I plan to learn the test material by setting up an open-source intrusion detection system, chroot jails, a security logging system and perhaps a software firewall.
LPI Level One (Linux Professional Institute) Passing Date: 2002
Certified Internet Webmaster (Prosoft) Passing Date: 2002
I recently passed CIW Foundations, the first of four exams for the Master CIW Administrator certification. I expect to pass the remaining three exams (Server Administrator, Internetworking Professional and Security Professional ) over the next few months.
Network+ (Comptia). Passing Date: 2000
A+ PC Hardware Technician (Comptia) Passing Date: 1999