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MCSA or Network+ — Which Offers the Biggest Benefit?

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By: Tatianna

October 30, 2018

MCSA or Network+ is on the list of the most asked questions in Cybersecurity. Depending on the path you choose, or job you're interested in, the answer of which offers the best benefits might surprise you. Let's dig in, shall we? The IT job market is heating up. As noted by Bloomberg, demand for IT professionals such as software developers has pushed unemployment in this field down to 1.9 percent, while GQR reports that even non-tech industries are ramping up IT recruiting as they look to leverage new technologies and drive increased revenue. Combined with an increasing IT skills gap, these trends create a seeker’s market: Organizations are looking for the best talent in the industry, and understand the value of keeping technology professionals satisfied with above-average salaries and benefits.But there’s a caveat: Strong competition among skilled professionals for top-tier jobs in the IT marketplace. Cutting-edge companies are now talking about IT skills in the boardroom, including CIOs and CISOs in round-table discussions about the strategic value of IT. As a result, it’s essential to stand out from the crowd and make sure your application gets noticed if you want to own the interview and land the job.One of the best ways to bolster your resume? Earning reputable certifications such as Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) or CompTIA Network+. But which one offers the biggest benefit for your IT career? Here’s what you need to know.

Certified Assurance

Experience is the great equalizer. Companies are looking to hire IT professionals with at least 3-5 years of experience in their chosen field — and with a proven track record for thinking outside the box and willingness to take on challenges that might fall outside their specific area of expertise.What does this mean for IT job seekers? That work in the field, even in entry-level positions, is critical to grabbing the attention of recruiters. But it also creates a situation where HR managers may have multiple resumes that all include requisite experience. Without specific knowledge of IT roles and responsibilities, it’s easy for similar applications to get lost in the shuffle — even if you’re the best candidate for the job.Putting in the time and effort to earn certifications such as MCSA or Network+ not only offers the benefit of enhanced abilities and knowledge but makes you stand out from the competition. By combining recognized certifications with industry experience, you significantly increase your chances of becoming a short-list candidate for mid- and high-level IT positions.

MCSA Benefits

Why choose MCSA? What sets this certification apart?Microsoft Windows and Microsoft server technology remain the backbone of many organizations, meaning there’s always a need for Microsoft-certified professionals. In addition, the Redmond giant regularly updates its training materials to ensure students have access to relevant skills and information and given the ubiquity of Microsoft products it’s a safe bet that MCSA certification will remain valuable over the span of your career.Specific benefits to MCSA training include:
  • Network Access Protection — Learn to configure network access protection for DHCP and workstations. Discover how to monitor and troubleshoot network access solutions.
  • Remote Access — Remote access is more important than even in a mobile-first world. With MCSA, learn to install and manage remote access roles, implement VPN controls and deploy Web proxies.
  • Encryption — Learn to protect critical data with BitLocker, deploy advanced encryption with EFS and conduct audits across Microsoft servers.
Once your training is complete, you’ll need to pass three separate exams with a score of 700 or better.

Network+ Advantages

CompTIA Network+ is one of the most recognized and respected certifications in the industry. It provides the basis for a career in network administration, management and security and is often a key job requirement for higher-level IT positions.Key advantages of Network+ certifications include:
  • OSI Training — Learn more about the OSI model and Layers 1-7 along with TCP/IP.
  • Virtual Networking — Gain knowledge of virtual network computing, virtual switches, virtual desktops and NaaS network protocols.
  • Authentication and Algorithms — Learn about the value of authentication, single sign-on (SSO) and the algorithms that govern advanced encryption.
  • Network Topologies — Gain the skills necessary to map and manage large- or small-scale networks in multiple configurations.
Certification requires the completion of a 90-minute, 100-question exam. Students must earn 720/900 or better to pass.

Tailored Experience

So what’s your best bet? Network+ or MCSA? The answer depends on your career aims. Network+ prepares you to manage networks of any size, providing the foundation for jobs such as network technician, field engineer, administrator and support specialist. MCSA, meanwhile, prepares you for jobs such as information technology manager, senior systems administrator or IT director. Also worth noting? MCSA offerings often include Network+ training as well, allowing you to complete multiple certifications simultaneously.Bottom line? Both MCSA and Network+ provide advantages for IT job seekers. If general network management is your area of interest, opt for Network+. If Microsoft server and system oversight is your priority, choose the MCSA certification.
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