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Career Focus Tip #3: Server Careers

GUEST BLOGGER: Brian Parker, Technical Instructor: MCT, MCSE, MCTS, CCNA, CCDA, A+, Network+, Security+

I personally believe that a server career gives you the most versatility to float between jobs.  In other words, you can always find work because your skills are vast!  Server admins and engineers are typically working behind the scenes to improve productivity in the workplace, enhance security and watch for problems.  They integrate software, hardware, programming, networking, databases, security and more into their daily job routine and make it look easy!  Within the server administration field, there are many paths to specialize in.  Here are my top five server paths to consider with extra-high geek factor!

  1. Windows Administration
    These admins not only know Active Directory inside and out, they also tend to branch into managing messaging servers (such as Exchange) and database servers (such as SQL Server).  This is your jack-of-all-trades server role but it is by no means the least!  A good server admin can saves the company a lot of money by utilizing spare resources.  Using built-in technologies such as DFS, Performance Monitor and Delegation not only makes our lives easier, but also makes us look good to the executives!
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  3. Web/Hosting Servers
    This is the kind of job to look for if you are a Linux admin.  Many people think Linux is a shortcut to success but what they do not realize is, the field is a little limited.  Your best source of jobs include co-location/cloud facilities (server farms) and online web hosting companies.  These companies typically employ a LAMP technology: Linux, Apache Web Server, MySQL database, and PHP programming scripts.  If you want to specialize in Linux, make sure to explore the other related technologies.  
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  5. Collaboration
    Business collaboration is one of the fastest growing technologies that you might never realize.  Software such as Microsoft’s SharePoint is starting to revolutionize the way businesses build corporate intranet sites.  The power behind collaboration software is endless – from a simple message board to building your own MySpace/Facebook site!  A good SharePoint engineer will never have a problem finding a good job, although there are not as many options available.  I recommend becoming a Windows admin first, then focus on SharePoint.  This field pays well!
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  7. Virtual Servers
    Virtualization is rapidly becoming the way of the future.  It saves money and maximizes potential.  Whereas not every company is employing this yet, most are at least considering what it can do.  There are many technologies to learn if you get into this, including Microsoft’s Hyper-V and VMWare to begin with.  Both are useful and are widely becoming used in the field.  If you can master this, you will also have good job security since there are not many virtualization experts in the job market yet.
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  9. Communication
    In the end, we all need communication.  If the email goes down, most companies sit around helplessly without any idea what to do next.  We are so tied to our email, Facebook accounts, smartphones and tablets now that companies are employing experts in not just email systems such as Exchange, but also in communications platforms such as Microsoft Lync.  Companies are beginning to merge email, chat, presence and telephony into a functioning system to increase productivity.  Still an emerging field, this promises to be a very bright career choice and well worth considering for future high salaries!

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