How to Go From Support to Engineer

Jan 8, 2022

5 Min Read

One of the most gratifying and demanding professional sectors in the world today is information technology. It’s one of the few professions that evolve daily, requiring you to keep up with the current trends to remain relevant. This post aims to motivate you to pursue a career in IT or learn what it takes to progress and thrive in this field. Everyone needs to start somewhere; if you’ve been through the highs and lows of the IT ladder, consider some of the suggestions in this article.

Start With Baby Steps

A wise man once said that a 10,000-mile trip starts with a single step.

Okay, no one taught you that, but it’s an excellent saying to keep in mind when you choose a job in IT. Look at a few potential occupations you may undertake to get your IT career off to a strong start. What’s the best way to take the initial step?

Help Desk Technician at the Bottom of the Ladder

The help desk technician is the first port of call for practically everyone regarding IT issues. When an employee’s IT fails in most firms, they either open a help desk ticket using their online interface or pick up the phone and contact the help desk. You’re on the other end of that ticket as a help desk technician, and you’re answering the phone. The help desk professional is entrusted with triaging the problem, much like a first responder in an emergency (hey, email is an emergency!). You’ll submit the ticket to the Exchange Admin queue if the problem concerns a user who needs a copy of their Exchange.pst file. If you need a password reset, the tech is likely to help. You’re a traffic policeman, and your job is to keep things flowing while also addressing minor issues.

This job, to be straightforward, does not pay handsomely. It is the role for you if you’re just getting started. Paying attention can teach you a lot about what’s going on around you and ask many questions. It’s also a profession where you could have some downtime, which, if utilized carefully, can be a fantastic opportunity to study for certifications or learn more about a subject you’re curious about. It will help you get where you want to go. Instead of a dead-end, think of it as a stepping stone.

Certifications for Entry-level Positions

  • CompTIA A+
  • CompTIA Network+
  • CompTIA IT Fundamentals
  • Microsoft Certified Professional
  • CompTIA

Network/Systems Administrator at the Middle of the Ladder

After working as a help desk technician and earning appropriate entry-level credentials, you may expect to pursue a network administrator or systems administrator career. A systems administrator is unlikely to answer the phone as often as a help desk technician. You’ll be required to know how to install, configure, and maintain operating systems from the server level down to the desktop level as a system administrator. With virtualization technologies and other storage systems, you may begin to get some data center expertise. It is where you can start to carve out a niche for a particular software or technology and base the rest of your career on it. It is where you learned VMware, and it took off from there, propelling you to where you are now. It’s possible that you’re interested in networking or storage. If you come across anything that does, seize it and learn all you can about it.

Look for a mentor or teacher who can help you learn the ins and outs of your company’s technology and attend any architectural or design meetings. Take notes and invest in getting an expert-level grasp of how and why the firm built its infrastructure. Working as a system or network administrator will provide you with most of your IT experience and expertise, enabling you to rise to more technically demanding jobs later in your career. Expect to work in systems administration for most of your career, beginning as a junior sysadmin and working your way up to a senior admin before moving on.

Certifications for Mid-level Positions

  • Cisco Certified Networking Associate CCNA
  • Cisco Certified Networking Professional CCNP
  • VMware Certified Professional-Datacenter Virtualization VCP-DCV
  • VMware Certified Professional-Network Virtualization VCP-NV
  • Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator MCSA
  • Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer MCSE
  • Red Hat Certified Professional RHCP, Red Hat Certified Engineer RHCE

Systems Architect and Design Expert Are at the Top of the Ladder

You’ve made it to the top. A Systems Architect or Design Expert is not for everyone. A C-level executive, Director, Independent Consultant, Analyst, or VP is a step beyond the top of the hierarchy. Some individuals labor for 30 years and never reach the proverbial “tipping point.” That has nothing to do with the quality of your job or your career. You could work as a Senior Systems Engineer until you are ready to retire and fully satisfied. To plan or create a solution that meets a company’s goals, you must have a thorough grasp of every area of its infrastructure (networking, storage, virtualization, OS, and security). It is not a simple task, but you can get there with years of expertise and education.

To reach this point, you’ll need a lot of hands-on experience, both with successful and unsuccessful deployments. There isn’t a single architect who hasn’t experienced failure or made a mistake in their profession. You are an influencer, trusted adviser, and link between decision-makers and the administrators/engineers who will put your concept into action at this level. It helps an administrator appreciate the team’s challenges at some point in your career.

Certifications for Advanced Positions

  • VMware Design Expert VCDX
  • Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert CCIE
  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer MCSD

Success Doesn’t Require the Use of the Ladder

You don’t have to “climb the ladder” to be successful. You don’t since it has nothing to do with happiness or success. In reality, climbing the “ladder” may annoy you and cause unneeded concern. Happiness is anything you do is a sign of success. If you like working at the help desk and find it fulfilling, go for it and excel at it. If you want to design and build, don’t worry about progress. Working hard and going above and beyond at work will not make you successful. Finding delight in what you do daily is the true definition of success.


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