Certification Spotlight: Joe Schueler

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Joe Schueler works as a sales engineer for Cloud Solutions at Verizon Terremark.


Why did you first pursue a professional certification?
As part of a corporate-wide migration from NetWare to Windows NT, many of the IT staff were given free training manuals and a free pass to one Microsoft exam. I took and passed the Windows 3.1 exam to become an MCP and have continued the certification process ever since.

Are you considering getting any additional credentials?
Always. I’m not currently pursuing anything today due to some continuing education credits I need to work on, but I will probably look at expanding my cloud certifications in the next few months.

What advice do you have for someone pursuing an IT certification?
Stick with it. Make yourself committed to getting that one exam out of the way. Don’t try to learn material for 3 or more exams at once, or worse, different vendor’s material. It will confuse and distract you. If you are new to the field, start with something simple like a desktop operating system exam. Don’t try to jump into CCIE or CISSP. Assuming you own a home computer, you can probably use a couple of self study books and go pass the exam. The trick will be for the person that needs to upgrade their certifications to the server level. That may take some time and money if your company isn’t helping you out with expenses.

How has being a certification holder helped you make strides in your career?
I’m not even sure if you can get hired anymore without multiple certifications.  At least not at my level. When I used to review resumes, I always wanted to see experience and a variety of certifications. I think it helps round out the person’s knowledge base.

Can you describe a valuable professional experience that may not have been possible without certification?
Certification doesn’t always mean that the person knows what they are talking about. But at the same time, when I’ve done consulting work, I doubt I would have been taken seriously by the customer if I wasn’t certified on the solution I was recommending. I’ve done security audits, and showing the customer that I hold several security, 2 operating system, virtualization, project management, and networking certifications together all present that I have a broad skill set to work with for assisting that customer.

How has the field changed over the years?
I love “new” products that are really just old solutions with a new name. Most of them have new features, but the core concepts are all the same. Once you understand that, I think you can adjust to the various changes this industry keeps going through. One other change I am seeing is the shift back to centralized control over the IT. I think that compliance issues forced this change, but I do think it is time for the enterprise to take ownership of the various networks and platforms their departments have been purchasing in the past.

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There’s something about the word “certified” when it precedes a professional title that conveys the consumers and employers a sense of trust, credibility, knowledge and an official “stamp” of approval. This is not a coincidence. IT certification has long been a proven means of differentiation and qualification among professionals in the industry. Employers often include certification as a prerequisite when seeking qualified candidates to fill positions; consumers often trust only those IT professionals who boast credentials proving they have attained a certain level of knowledge.