The $5,000 Lesson

The company that trained Ed Garrett to be an MCSE stated that if it didn’t land him a job, it would pay him $5,000. Garrett’s got his certification, but no IT job and no $5,000.

Ed Garrett figured he was safe. After all, he had a signed contract with the company that trained him to be an MCSE that stated if it didn’t land him a job, it would pay him $5,000. Garrett’s got his certification, but no IT job and no $5,000.

It all began Feb. 7, 2000 when Garrett signed a contract with ExecuTrain of Oklahoma City (ETOKC). The contract, which MCP Magazine has seen, states that ETOK guarantees that should the company not provide a job within 90 days of Garrett’s completion of his MCSE, it would pay him $5,000. The total cost of Garrett’s training, for which he took out a personal loan, was $12,799.

On May 25, 2001, Garrett passed his final test and received his MCSE on Windows NT 4.0. At about the same time, the owner of ETOKC, Julie Chapman, informed Garrett that she’d sold the company; according to his statement, she told him the new owners would have no problem finding him a job.

After several months, Garrett had heard nothing from the new owners of ExecuTrain. He called them and was told that they wouldn’t honor the contract of the previous company, leaving Garrett in debt for his training, with no job and without the promised $5,000.

Garrett has since been in contact with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the Better Business Bureau of Central Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Board of Private Vocational Schools and several attorneys. It’s all amounted to nothing thus far.

“From what the attorneys tell me, it’s fairly tangled,” Garrett said. He’s been told that he can sue, but the lawyers would have to determine who to sue, and the whole process would add more expense to what he’s already paid. “I’m not anxious to throw good money after bad,” is how Garrett puts it.

Following Garrett’s complaint to the BBB, Richard Oertle, one of the new owners of the ETOKC franchise, stated in a written response to the BBB that he purchased the company on June 1, 2001. “We purchased some of the assets of Technology Solutions [the name of Chapman’s company that owned ETOKC], but not their debt or their obligations.”

The letter ends by stating, “the current owners did not promise him [Garrett] anything, we assumed no obligation or liability and will not be paying him $5,000.”

Chapman, the former owner of ETOKC, doesn’t dispute Garrett’s version of events. When MCP Magazine asked her about the contract and whether it promised the $5,000, Chapman replied “As far as I know, that’s correct. The facts are that the company is no longer in business and there’s nothing I can do about that at this time.

“The company would love to do everything in its power to help everyone, but we can’t,” Chapman continued. “At the time when we were in business, we were actively working with him and helping him.”

Asked if Garrett has a right to feel cheated out of $5,000, Chapman said, “No, I don’t feel like that.”

Garrett feels differently. “I trusted them and I got burned, it looks like.” He’s still paying off the loan he took out to get trained and can’t just close down and say he won’t pay people to whom he owes money. “I thought that’s what a contract meant. I took my contract seriously,” he said.

Garrett’s only IT experience since getting certified was a two-month gig doing backup and restore. He’s talking to his current employer about a possible job as a junior administrator on a Novell network, not what he had in mind, but at least he’d be working in the field.

Given his experience, Garrett has some advice for others who may be looking into certification training schools. “First of all, don’t spend so much money. Talk to students, and make [the prospective school] provide you with a list of former students you can talk to. Check with the Better Business Bureau.”

And one last tidbit, which would have saved Garrett $5,000 if he knew then what he knows now. “Maybe even talk to an attorney first, about what happens if the company changes ownership.”

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Visual Studio Magazine.

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Reader Comments:

Tue, Nov 23, 2004 Brian Philadelphia

I have worked for training companies as a sales representative for many years (8 to be exact) ending this career about 3-years ago. In the mid to last 90’s, if you took two NT 3.51 classes, I could drop you in a company with just a phone call on Friday, start on Monday. Everything has it’s time to market and specific bell curve. Besides 2000 being a saturation point for new entrants to the networking field, we were also entering a strong recession. Most of the glitz & glamour of the .COM bubble was coming to a head and employers began to take a look at the old rules of employment (education, experience, references). What was your background prior to becoming an MCSE?

To be quite frank, there is not one training provider (for-profit - college - EDA) that can "guarantee" placement. Sure, anyone can go the web and download open positions or email your resume on your behalf, but it really has a lot to do with your immediate job market and also, what “you” put into it. Of the hundreds of MCSE, MCP, MCT, CCNA, CCNA, A+, N+ and other programs I sold, our placement was good (97% to be exact as recorded by the PA Board of Privately Licensed Schools). This was done not by training people and faxing resumes, but by also holding resume writing classes, interviewing classes, running pre-training assessments to gauge your IT abilities, engagement principles with HR reps from hiring companies in the area, etc. The other 3% were the folks that expected me to bring it to them and I had no problem turning these folks away.

As for the job market, a farmer with an MCSE is still a farmer. It just allows him to network his home and send email to his sons and daughters on the internal Exchange server ( Given your statements about being taken, misled and treated unfairly, I agree and do feel sorry for your loss. I don’t see one area outlining how “you” tried to find employment yourself. Not by sending resumes, but by calling companies, calling recruiters, going to networking events / job fairs, taking an HR executive out to lunch to hear what sets a new applicant apart and other related processes. To have a Novell offer is awesome for a new IT employee as many of the things you learned outside of your MCSE had a lot to do with theory. A Ford & Chevy both drive down the road, they just do it with different parts, the concept is still there.

I’m truly sorry that you did make this investment and it seems that you have lost out on the “placement” aspect, but what other qualities to you have? Please be aggressive in pursuing your dreams to be a high level network administrator. The jobs are there, it’s just how you approach them that will make all the difference.

As for ExecuTrain, this is one of the firms that I worked with in the past. This was also the worse firm as each location in privately owned normally by someone who does not know anything about training, education, retention, certification, placement, etc. What they do know is how to get credit card orders and drive nice cars.

I guess my point in all of this is to say, don’t give up. If you really want it bad enough, you will find it. If you need to take 2-steps back to gain 3-leaps forward, sacrifices will be made. I hope you are the 97% of students I used to work with and not the 3%.

Mon, Sep 6, 2004 Ed Garrett Independence, MO

The same thing happened to you? Tell me more!

Thu, May 27, 2004 Misty Oklahoma

I also attended Executrain of Oklahoma City and the same thing happened to me. To the comments about MCSE being worthless I disagree. It at least gets your foot in the door for an interview and then yes you can prove yourself. I did find a job on my own starting out at $45,000. So it turns out having my MCSE was useful. I do agree with some of the comments of how people should not expect a $60,000 job right out of school. I expected to take whatever was offered and work my way up. That's what I've done over the past three years. It offends me when these few posts say it is worthless. It may be worthless once you get a job, but there is a point where it is useful and that is to get them to look at your resume.

Sat, Oct 5, 2002 Ed Garrett Independence ,MO

Mark, have you contacted the Federal Trade Commission? Or your federal senator or representative?

It looks as if the thieves and thugs flocked to the IT certification training racket with care and comfort provided by government subsidized finanial providers like Sallie Mae.

Thu, Oct 3, 2002 Mark Powell Alexandria VA

Let's talk about AmeriTrain.

Douglas Davis, CEO of AmeriTrain Inc., never intended to do anything except keep the money the students paid.

The instructors did everything the could to teach us at our Tysons Corner, VA location, but despite the fact AmeriTrain was drawing new students everyday and
more importantly to Mr. Davis, they were receiving Tuition everyday, AmeriTrain closed, leaving students without the education for which they paid and Instructors without a paycheck.

AmeriTrain started closing in North Carolina, they closed them and then seemingly acted like they were reopening them to buy time for when they were to close three other sites on August 6th.

Atlanta, GA home of over 125 active students, Columbia, MD home to over 100 active students, and Tysons Corner, VA home to over 150 active students, closed and those 375 students were not informed.

After calling AmeriTrain, Inc. in King of Prussia, PA, the students were told the classes would resume in about two weeks. On August 16th, AmeriTrain's website was ammended with a link that informed the students the schools were closed.

There are no refunds! Douglas Davis had a personal policy, despite what was written on the contract, of absolutely NO REFUNDS!
Many students are left with loans or empty college funds over $15,000.00

In addition to the 350 (confirmed by the respective state Department of Education or Higher Education Commission) there are an estimated 150 students in PA and NC.

Douglas Davis, Tonya Davis, Steven Gouveia and others have stole at least $5,000,000 dollars from students.

If anyone has information to help in our fight, or if you are someone in one of many governement agencies who we have contacted and would like to finally help, contact me. 703-461-8720
Mark A. Powell

Mon, Aug 5, 2002 Ed Garrett Edmond, OK

You are correct Slave. I just got off of the telephone with an OBPVS Field Representative who confirms that they have lost their liscense. However, they can still do corporate training, they just can't solicit business from the general public.

Thu, Aug 1, 2002 Ed Garrett Edmond, OK

I heard a rumor that their bond with OBPVS may have been claimed and that the Board has ordered a fact finding proceedure into the activities ETOKC.

You don't happen to be in contact with any former students or employees do you?

Thu, Aug 1, 2002 stefano Alexandria, VA

A+, Network+, MCP NT, MCSA, MCSE 2K
Total cost: Just over $1000

Jobs are scarce: Make a good impression!

Thu, Aug 1, 2002 Stefano Alexandria, VA

We have a lot of different opinions about the value of certifications but very few about what price to attach to dedication and determination...The efforts and time you invest in yourself, learning and experimenting with building your own lab and how creative you have to be to land a job, even lower level so you can still remain afloat while searching for a better one. Schools are in to make BIG Money, the outrageous prices are competing even with college tuitions. Watch out! SAVE your hard-earned Dollars and self-study then apply the knowledge with your own hardware. That's my 2-cents!

Thu, Aug 1, 2002 Slave OKC

Chattel pretty much hits the nail on the head. Let's just say it was for much too long and leave it at that. I did hear recently that ETOKC lost their OBVPS license. That's gotta hurt! :-)

Thu, Jul 25, 2002 Ed Garrett Edmond, OK

When were you Dave & Julie's chattel?

Thu, Jul 25, 2002 Slave OKC

If you think this sounds bad, you should have been a loyal employee! Constant benefit cuts, forced to use your vacation time for company "down time" between Christmas & New Years, uncompensated weekend & holiday work, layoffs with no warning or severence, demotions... Quite the inspirational environment!

Sun, Jul 14, 2002 John C Anonymous

Only $5,000? I 'paid' $15,000 of my mother's money-her credit,her loan-and a cost of living load for 4 months...$10,000-mom's money and what do I have to show for it? An MCP,A+,N+ and $13/hr as a computer tech. No networking opening in my area.

Fri, Jul 12, 2002 Ed Garrett Edmond, OK

Personaly, I intend to attract as much attention as I possibly can.

It's easy for people to rail against business in general as a response to the immoral acts of some businesses. I don't see anything wrong with limiting one's liability through a corporate structure. Anyone who owns stocks or mutual funds does it. I would hate to be in the position of losing everything I had worked for due to business failure caused by volitile market conditions.

Fri, Jul 12, 2002 Anonymous Boston

Two things - after 5 years consulting, its obvious to me that a certification is not equal to expertise. nevertheless they are a respectable goal to attain, tho I advise people to shoot for mastery of the topics in question, not just a passing grade on the exam.

Secondly, the point of this article for me is to remind us how easily a consumer can be screwed when a company is bought out. Examples from my life: DSL access down for 3 out of 12 months, a $1000 direct deposit amount lost in space for 6 months, software for my clients going unsupported, etc...

The lesson anyone could learn from this would be to see exactly what incorporation does - it provides a way for individuals to get rich exploiting individuals through an entity (the corporation) which can both a)attract the consequences of bad actions done by the owner and b) dissolve at the owners will, giving nobody an accountable *person* to pursue. Need I mention Enron and Worldcom, whose fatcats are practically guaranteed to keep their posh standard of living while the public and the employees they exploited suffer and lose theirs.

It is politically sanctioned robbery, and like it or not, the America in which we live does allow it. But you don't have to -try to stick to doing business with people who are not hiding behind this facade of inculpability. Yeah, s*@t happens sometimes and even good people must default on their debts sometimes. But be wary, be vary wary. Ask the 'what-if' questions and be demanding of the answers. Make them worry that you're not going to go silently into the night if they screw you... Good luck to all of us.

Wed, Jul 10, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous

Experience, Experience! That is worth more than the title. I have my MCSE and achieved it in three months just by studying for the tests in my spare time just because my company felt it necessary. The tests were not as difficult as many people told me they were. I attribute this because I have 13 years of industry experience and constant hands on with the product and many others. I have interviewed several people who achieved their MCSE cert through these types of programs and they weren't able to answer simple questions regarding domains and trust relationships. Daniel Williams is dead on in the real world you need a through understanding of so many different disaplines including the product you have a certification in. I believe many of these training facilities focus on the answers on the tests which leaves the person ill equipted for the real world.

Tue, Jul 9, 2002 Loren Shirk California

Why in Feb of 2000 is Executrain selling NT 4.0 certs??? Christ, why not get certified in Win 3.11 too? I'm a MCSE2K and 4.0, MCSA, MCP+I and MCT. The writting was on the wall for NT certs: thier dead, and Executrain (the former owner) should pay this kid back. Another lesson is to stay away from "paper mills". If you attend a school, and you cannot set up a entire Win2K LAN (at a minimum) you have been wasting your money.

Sun, Jun 30, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous

If you want to know where the real money is it's in teaching MCSE courses at these various training schools. The average hourly rate runs from $30-$70/hr depending on the certs you hold and the courses you can teach. Teaching experience and job experience seem to have little relevancy. Training is a high-profit market with minimal overhead.

Fri, Jun 28, 2002 Ed Garrett Edmond, Ok

There are quite a few of these guarantees floating around. I was in class with several students with whom I discussed it. Like the inexperienced fool I was, I never did get their contact information. I'm sure that it could be obtained via deposition though.

Fri, Jun 28, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous

Wow! I wonder how many of these "guarantees" are floating around out there to be collected on???

Fri, Jun 28, 2002 Little Birdie Anonymous

Why stop with $5,000. That's only the guarantee. If it was me, and I relied upon that guarantee to spend $12k, I'd be going after the whole amount. And it DOES matter what the owners have, as a fraudulent inducement lawsuit could help pierce the coporate vail that corporate principles are normally protected by. Just the risk of that happening might encourage the owners to try harder to settle up with Ed! Why do you think the thickest section of the Yellow Pages is entitled "Attorneys"?

Thu, Jun 27, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous

doesn't matter what owners have corporation is liable. It is not worth $5000. Get on with your life.

Wed, Jun 26, 2002 Ed Garrett Edmond, OK

Thanks Little Birdie!!

Wed, Jun 26, 2002 Ed Garrett Edmond, OK

Hello Terry,

I have discussed the situation with Richard Profit. He agreed with me that ETOKC should be liable for. However, he also told me that enforcement is beyond the jurisdiction of his agency. The best that he said he can do is compel Oertle to sit down with me in person and negotiate. This took place in November 2001. He mentioned nothing about the owners being required to post bond with the state. I guess I may need to question him a little more closely.

So far, Oertle has put me off with one excuse or another. The last time I tried to contact the Sales Manager, Scott Barton, I found that he had blocked my e-mail address!!

I will be happy to receive any advice or information you have to offer. I'm not experienced at this sort of thing and I'm having trouble finding an attorney who will tell me exactly what my options are.


Ed Garrett

Wed, Jun 26, 2002 Terry Hines Tulsa, Oklahoma

Have you talked to Richard Profit at OBVPS? When Richard Oertle DBA Digimark assumed some of the bills and purchased assets from Technology Solutions Inc, DBA Executrain Oklahoma it had to receive certification from OBVPS in order to offer public classes. There was a stipulation from the board of OBVPS that Digimark honor the training obligations and and refunds of Technology Solutions.

A Bond is required in order to become certified by the state of OK that bond is an assurance to pay. This should be enough leverage for you to get your money back.
Email me directly if you need additional information.
Terry Hines
Enterprise Trainer

Wed, Jun 26, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous

Jerry, tanking companies sell the good parts and bankrupt the bad parts all the time. Now, if they took on new debt and obligations while knowing that they intended to dump them, those obligations can be excluded from bankruptcy discharg and I would guess could be pursued as a fraudeulnt inducement to inter into a contract.

Wed, Jun 26, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous

A little clarification for how the sale of a business works... It sounds like the owners of this comany just sold assets, not the company. If this ET was a franchise, then the franchise itself is an asset, just like the computers, the copier, the pencils, the customer base, etc. It's no different than a farm auction. The bits and pieces are sold to whoever wants them but the debt stays with the farmer who incurred it to begin with. It sounds like the owners simply sold the stuff of value, to the new owners. Whether the new owners have any legal liablity to Ed or anyone else for that matter, depends on whether they bought those items as well. As for the actual original company, unless it's been closed down, and any remaining valued liquidated somehow, it's entirely possible that it's still a legal entity that may still have bank accounts, and other assets to chase after.

Wed, Jun 26, 2002 A Little Birdie Anonymous

Hange in there Ed. Make sure your attorney does a thorough asset seach. It's pretty common knowledge that the Chapmans have owned race cars, apartment buildings, produced TV shows, etc. You need to pierce the corporate vail and put their personal assets on the line. Good luck.

Tue, Jun 25, 2002 Erick Anonymous

This goes goes to show you that no one is guaranteed a job. Certifications will not get you the job! They might enhance your already established work experience
and education but do not go and get your certification and think it will land you a job. Degrees and experience get jobs certifications are the icing on the cake.

Tue, Jun 25, 2002 ANON OKC, OK

Typical ETOKC Crap. What a joke...sorry dude.

Sun, Jun 23, 2002 Ed Garrett Edmond, OK

Kevin from Atlanta, thanks for the comments. However, Executrain of Oklahoma City is not out of business, they are just under new ownership. If anyone believes that the price I paid was exorbiant, I have a copy of a Windows 2000 MCSE program, e-mailed to me by the Sales Manager. The price? $12,000--without an employment guarantee!!

Sat, Jun 22, 2002 Tom NY

I love it when I hear that MCSE is worthless, maybe for you it is, but in my area it is still a good thing to have, I agree that you need to be able to prove your skills once you are out in the field, and also that there is nothing like on the job experience. I find that most of the IT pros out there that have been in the business for 10+ years resent certifications, If you don't want them, don't get them, but it isn't as easy as it seems. What these people did to Ed was way out of line, I also went to a school, paid an aweful lot of money, and found out that these instructors were useless, one actually asked us if we ever configured an Exchange server (the class he was supposed to teach)! At that point I left never to return to the school, and did it all on my own. I now have a great job, and not only am I using some of the skills I learned from the books, but I'm learning everyday.
I never memorized anything, that is only cheating yourself!
Sorry, just tired of hearing that certs aren't worth anything.
Tom P.

Sat, Jun 22, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous

Take the NetWare job. You'll learn more about REAL networking on a Novell Network than any Windows Admin. job.

Fri, Jun 21, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous

That's too bad about losing all that money but not really surprising. These schools have been making these promises for years churning out armies of underqualified wannabees. Now that the Tech and Telecom industry is in a nosedive you'll be hard pressed to find a job any time in the near future. I got my certs by buying the books/materials used and working as a NT system admin for many years. I've been unemployed for over a year and a half with no prospects for employment this year again. I'm looking forward to getting back to work eventually, and in particular, watching all those bootcamp MCSE's go back to yoga instruction, making fries, driving cabs, selling used cars.

NT 4.0 & Win2K MCSE, CCNA
10 years real experience

Thu, Jun 20, 2002 Kevin Atlanta, GA

Hey! Great comments...from most of you. But most are missing the point. The guy got taken for an incredible loan with interest that is probably just as much a crime. Certifications are as good as the person delivering the material. You can pass and just be good at deductive reasoning and be a hell of a test taker. Or, you can actually have an instructor that cares to let you know about learning lessons in the field that you will encounter, and the history of the material being delivered. A contract is a contract, and this site should be used to let people green in the field know the pitfalls out there. On your first cert, you're so gung-ho all you can think about is the good it can do. I applaud the uncovering of this bootleg institution, and lets be glad they're out of business.

Thu, Jun 20, 2002 wolf359 Cincinnati, Oh

The fact is... all certifications are practically worthless even if you have the experience. Employers in this economy aren't paying enough to make the price of getting the paper worth it period. Even if you go the no classrom room route (to save 1000's) it is still not worth the cost... the only good thing about it is that Publication 508 from the IRS says its tax deductible.

Tue, Jun 18, 2002 John P. Anonymous

All these tech schools are a big hustle. Most of these paper certifications are all but worthless. Their real goal is to put money in the parent companies (ie. Microsoft, Oracle, etc..) and the training companies pocket. Book smart does not cut it. I know MCSE's that are braindead. Some are not but you can be sure they did not learn what they know from a book. Besides all these certifications don't carry any weight anymore - EVERYBODY has them. Kind of like MBA's...

Tue, Jun 18, 2002 Richard FL

This is not the first, nor the last of stories like this. Companies have been making promises of jobs for years, in and out of the "Computer" Arena. NO company can promise a job. My advice to write and petition the members of your state and federal government to pass laws that make these claims illegal and the companies that make these promises for the penalties of their statements. Experience and education together make a resume that gets you a job. I hope that everyone who aspires to be a true, dedicated and professional with or without certifications, not only gets the education, but also the experience to back the certifications up. Do some consulting work on the side, volunteer at local schools to help them out with their IT endeavors, donate time to local churches and places of worship to establish networks and training centers. These are experiences that will make you not only a good MCSE, but also a good person. As an employer, I want a well rounded and educated person in the IT department, a leader, a go-getter, a person with initiative and the willingness to think outside the box. The ability to make decisions, not based on a book or an exam, but based on what the needs of the client are, the desires of the end user and the insight to see into the future, so that I don't have to rebuild my systems and company every time Microsoft or any OS company changes the Operating System.

Mon, Jun 17, 2002 David McLemore Germany

Well, I just got out of the Army after 10 years, and let me tell YOU! You want a job? Go with the military as a civilian paid GS-level worker. Yeah, you might have to relocate to Bahrain or Germany, or Quatar, but the money and bennies are DAMN GOOD! Of course, I am STILL trying to get a job with them, but most of you have way more education that I, as I have only been dealing with Win2k and WinNT for a little over 5 years as a Systems Admin guy for networks ranging from as little as 10 clients in one place to 450 clients all over Germany. Go with Uncle Sam. He NEEDS experienced IT professionals!

Sun, Jun 16, 2002 Ray Anonymous

I have a similar story except I lost my $5000 to Ameritrain in Columbia, MD persuing my MCSD. My story began in 1999 when I decided to do a career change from being a pharmacist to becoming a programmer. I chose Ameritrain because they said that you would have up to 2 years access to their facilities and courses. I figured that this would be sufficient time for me to get my training and be successful in the four exams. My initial 8 weeks of courses began in Nov., 1999 and lasted until Jan. 2000. Then, in the Spring of 2000 when I went to return for "rephasing" as they called it I ultimately learned that they had abandoned the MCSD program. Despite all this I landed a job in Oct. 20001 as a Jr. level programmer with a Baltimore-based IT consulting firm but was laid off 6 months later primarily due to my limitations in programming knowledge and experience as my duties began to expand. At this time, the only certification I had passed was Visual InterDev where the training was provided by my new employer. Ameritrain never had sufficient course content for either Visual InterDEV, SQL Server or Analyzing Solutions. The Visual Basic training they provided was ultimately also poor preparation for the Visual Basic exams as well which I learned since I recently passed the VB Desktop exam (70-176) just this month. I have done this essentially through self study since I have returned to full-time work as a pharmacist. The plot thickens since in August 2001 I represented myself in a small claims court suit against Ameritrain to attempt to recover all or a portion of my $5000. Prior to the trial they offered me $1000 to settle out of court which I refused. Ultimately, I paid almost $1000 in legal fees to do some initial discovery for my trial but at $180/hr I could not continue to engage a lawyer and on the day of the trial I stood alone. Ameritrain was represented by a new branch manager (who was not familiar with the time frame when the MCSD program was dropped) and a local lawyer and they ultimately prevailed to my dismay. I felt I had sufficient written and verbal testimony but I think the fact that I did not have a lawyer present with me at the trial really counted against me. My goal, at this point, is to take 70-175 and 70-100 before the end of the summer so I can say I finished what I started even though I will probably remain a pharmacist especially during these uncertain times in the IT field.

My sympathies to Ed Garrett since I feel his pain.

Sun, Jun 16, 2002 eRIC pARIS

well i'm going to sound harsh but if you have to dish out 5k or 12k to get your cert , either you dont have the required exp. and running after a paper cert , or you are just plain too stupid/lazy to do it on your own .

i had ' years exp on various flavors of netware and 5 years exp on NT4 doing what no one else wanted to do for 5$/hour ,when i got certified , sure the learning curb for W2k is rough , but i did it on my own , i'll even admit to flunking exams , but my bill came 5 times cheaper then yours and i got a job within the day of my final exam , and now i manage a subsidiary for the third largest petrol producer
going to class to learn IT is ridiculous , i have never seen a school that can respect moores law , by the time a class is set up (teachers trained , class materia etc) the industry as already shifted , only the constructors can do it , and they charge a tousand $ a week. sorry way out of my budget , so i did my early achiever W2k MCSE and MCDBA (that would be 11K worth of classes and i did'nt fed / clothed or paid my rent yet) ON MY OWN ad it only took me 6 months ............... the few , the prowd , the self made man

Fri, Jun 14, 2002 V Miller Anonymous

I agree that taking the MCSE course will not prepare you for threal world. However, the tests are not necessarily geared for the real world, as they put in so much superfulous info as to make some questions downright confusing. I tooke an MCSE course so I could at least make the attempt to change careers. This alone is not enough. But I must point out that how can you get the experience if no employer will give you the ooportunity. My employere sure won't, and I can't afford to take a contract job as I am obligated to my employer for a certain time frame and I must consider benefits as well. As for Ed, he may have a case for small claims court, $5000 is the limit I believe. Ed should explore small claims as well.

Fri, Jun 14, 2002 Malagon Florida

These schools which are capitalizing on the last strands of IT glory, where will they be a year from today? Nowhere, once their scam is publically known. I took all my MCSE exams in two weeks. For thirty dollars per guide you will get all the answers to all exams. I you don't believe me, email me and I'll give you my password to my "Vue" account where you will see scores and dates. There's putting a sock in your mouth. The only money out there right now is a school franchise. In 2000, the owner of the worthless school I attended barely owned a toyota. Today the bastard drives two porches, enjoys an awesome yacht, has a great million dollar home. Thanks to all the f***ed up hype out there. Hope he's saving for the future, because that ride is almost over...unless there is another technology boom??!!!!

Fri, Jun 14, 2002 Anonymous US

It's the economy Stupid! Years ago you could get a good job with just certification. I new guys in the late 80 early 90's that got jobs by just becoming CNEs. It's unfair that he was ripped offed go to the local DA and go see your US congressman. Crime shouldn't pay espicially in a bad economy.

Fri, Jun 14, 2002 Michael California

I once worked with an MCSE straight out of a MCSE mill that had never touched a server. To me, that shows how worthless Microsoft certifications can be to proving someone’s level of knowledge and experience. The state of Microsoft’s certification program is rather sad. Look at Cisco. CCIE certification is one of the toughest to achieve, but you know that when you work with a CCIE, that person is for real. I earned my MCSE thru experience and self-study. With over ten years of IT experience I have run circles around nearly every other MCSE I have ever met. I don’t even use the MCSE tag after my name anymore; the certification has become such a joke. The certification has been marred by too many paper MCSEs with no experience or knowledge.

Fri, Jun 14, 2002 Louis New York

It seems that most of the comments regarding the MCSE certification and certifications in general are negative in that experience is perferred to certification. Whereas experience is undoubtly invaluable we should not trivialize the importance of certifications. I've worked with computers as an end-user for over 17 years plus over that time owned several computers. I am also a MCP in NT 4. I've worked in several "Fortune 25" companies and I can unequivocally say that most of the IT tech. people do not know or understand what they're doing when it comes to computer networking. As an end-user, it seems that the tech. people with just experience learned their jobs in a robotic fashion without really understanding the theory behind their jobs. When confronted with a situation that requires thought, the tech. people call their systems admin. or the person with the certifications for help to solve the problem. I thought this was the norm until I studied for the NT4 exams and discovered that with a little book knowledge these tech. people could have resolved a lot of my and my co-worker's computer networking problems themselves without wasting valuable time trying to figure out the problem then giving up and calling the systems admin. or as T. Bowman stated the "unofficial go to guy".

Anybody who support a medium to large numbers of nodes should be require to have some form of certification because learning from textbooks about networking standards, TCP-IP, Routing, IP addressing, token ring, ethernet speeds, cabling types and correct lengths, etc. is invaluable and could save someone alot of time when trying to logically figure out a network problem which will occur over and over again. As the saying goes "Time is money".

Fri, Jun 14, 2002 Ken Guidry EWU-Washington

I find it incredibly interesting that so many people down grade the certifications they have spend so much effort, if not money, to achieve. I work at a university as the only MCSE. In fact, out of 60+ personnel devoted to IT, I know of only two others with any certification on campus. I have had ample opportunity since receiving my first certification in 1995, to be scorned by those without -- "because", they say, "its just paper". Well folks, its all just paper! Your college degree, your certifications, your birth certificate, your marriage license, and most of your entire resume -- its all just paper! For those of you downgrading the use of certifications in this industry, I want to suggest that you stop using them as credentials and see how far you get. Otherwise, consider that the reputation you save may just be your own!

Fri, Jun 14, 2002 Dave Minnesota

I train for a local CTEC here in MN. When a student asks what is the best way to get experience, I suggest working for a non-profit as a volunteer administrator. They are glad for the help, and it doesn't look half bad on a resume. You also get to run shoulders with a lot of corporate volunteers and may be "discovered".

Fri, Jun 14, 2002 Robert Malden, MA

It think that in view that the promise made to Garret was not honored, IT professionals should think twice about doing any business with Chapman, the former owner of ETOKC or Richard Oertle and all of the new owners of the new acquired ETOKC franchise. They obviously have no regard for their customers or former customers who supported their business to begin with. This is of small restitution, but it does send a message to companies that contracts should honored regardless of how insignificant the company may feel that their customers are.

Fri, Jun 14, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous

You nay sayers are all wrong. As a general proposition, if you are smart enough to pass all of the MCSE exams, then you are good enough to obtain a well paying job. You people aren't happy unless you've got something to knock.

Fri, Jun 14, 2002 Rick Indiana

Our economy is slow and jobs are much tougher to land now than just two or three years ago. An expensive lesson learned...just chalk it up for experience. If you waste more time worrying and extending yourself it'll just eat at you. What a waste of time for you. Take an entry level position for 10-15 bucks an hour at a local PC & Services company for experience. After two years you'll know so much, the economy should be rebounding and you'll be able to look for a good job or even better...get a real promotion.

Fri, Jun 14, 2002 A.Rippey orlando, fl

I have dealt extensively with Executrain and New Horizons in the Orlando Area and have found worlds of difference in quality and service. New Horizons is "The king of the Hill" in Computer Training and executes all the tools like a king. It's in who you pick not the method of training!

Fri, Jun 14, 2002 Roger Germany

To Dude in Germany...Well, if you go after electives for the NT 4.0 and had the core before 28 Feb, you could be awarded the cert after 28 Feb.

I have similar case, but didn't spend 5K. I obtained MCSE through books, self study and playing at home. I sought the MCT and received it, and then taught over 30 classes in NT and 2000. Yet I still can't get in the door for the first job to work on a real LAN. Don't get me wrong, each class I have valid sys admins and can stand par with each one, but no jobs are open for people without 'experience'

Fri, Jun 14, 2002 Anonymous Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Here too in the UAE there are several such computer institutes which lure people to pay exorbitant fees to obtain certification. The joke is that they do not inform the students that experience in the field is essential to obtain a job; not just a certification. So many have paid the course fees and then the exam fees (which too are a princely sum in these parts of the world), obtained certification, and then are still looking for that elusive job to obtain experience. A vicious circle you might say. No job, no experience. No experience, no job!!!!!

Fri, Jun 14, 2002 Dude Germany

Corect me if I'm wrong, but I thought all the NT 4.0 exams retired on Februarary 28, 2001!!!!

Fri, Jun 14, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous

As a Viet Nam veteran in Texas, I get free schooling at state supported schools.
My MCSE 4.0, CNE 5.0, and CCNA 2.0 cost the price of the tests and books. A lot less than $15,000.00. Plus I got an Associate Degree in IT. What a deal.

Thu, Jun 13, 2002 Anonymous Toronto

I have a suggestion for all the guys trying get certfied by spending big bucks.

Please remember that certification is no match for experience. All those institutes are out there to make money by giving false promises. It's pretty tough toland a job these days. There is no harm in pursuing certs., but don'y spend too much on these. Buy a few good books, do self-study, set up a lab in your house and practice everything. There is no real need for class-room training to do an MCSE.

Thu, Jun 13, 2002 Jerry Huntsville

First comment is an MCSE is practically worthless. Take the certificate and a dollar if you want to buy a cup of coffee. The boot camps are cranking out MCSEs faster than Sony can crank out TVs.
The company I worked for agreed to reimburse me the cost of exams if I passes so I did not have to pay for that. As for learning, I just bought some books to study. I did not feel the certification was worth the expense of classes. I got experience working as a tech and talking to / helping system admin over a two year period.
An individual may be able to memorize enough to pass exams in a couple of weeks but the amount of useful infomation retained will be practically nil. Do it the old-fashioned way. Buy books and study. Boot camps benefit the schools, only. There is such a glut of people with MCSE cert looking for jobs employers place almost not weight in them.
As far as this case, how can you buy a company with it's assets without it's liabilities? If that is the case every time a company starts having problems all they have to do is sell themselves to a new company they formed and, voila, no more debts. What a scam. What an idea!

Thu, Jun 13, 2002 Anonymous Florida

This is a bait and switch tactic. The FTC would be interested in this, except that the original firm is no longer in business. You will have to sue the original owner who sold the company, but not the financial obligations of the company. That makes this a personal liability on her part. I took the W2K MCSE based on Microsoft's contention that they would weed out all of the paper NT MCSE's by allowing their certifications to lapse. By the time I finished, I had spent a great deal of money on books, tests, study sessions in a classroom environment, etc. Nevertheless, with a Masters degree, two MCSE's and 30 solid years of IT experience, I am just consulting and not making a very good living at it. So don't feel bad. This economy is bad despite what is being said to the contrary.

Thu, Jun 13, 2002 Anon US

While Todd has a good thought, a small claims judgment (if the limit is $5K or greater in his jurisdiction) would give you a 'claim' but it is virtually impossible to enforce. I used to do this part time. Basically, you have to find assets (provided they aren't all protected) of the person or entity sued and lien them.
So if you go this route, try to either sue individuals or attach a liquid asset such as land, vehicles, equipment. Rules vary by state... so research it or you may be holding a worthless piece of paper.

Thu, Jun 13, 2002 TBowman Alabama

Daniel hit the nail on the head. And right now, it's even worse. I've been actively searching for a job for a year. I too have 17 years experience, MCSE, MCSA, CCNA and have worked with NT since it's first beta. I've worked with various flavors of Unix (but am not a Unix expert). There are just simply very few jobs. I'm overqualified for many jobs and there are precious few for someone with my experience. I'm now relying strictly on contacts I've made over the years and interviews are far between. I even sold cars for a while to tie me over!
The funny thing is I knew WAY more than the guy doing their IT work. I was the unofficial go-to guy when anyone had a problem. Sometimes, the good guys really do finish last...

Thu, Jun 13, 2002 Todd Aridzona

This isn't about whether taking courses at an ATEC or passing tests should get you a 60K/yr job, it's contract law. Is this too big for small claims court? Has Ed contacted the OK Att'y General? Unfortunatly, barring a small claims judgement, this would probably cost more than 5K to litigate....

Thu, Jun 13, 2002 Daniel C Williams Knoxville, TN

Sorry to see you out the $5000; but I can't really feel sorry for anyone who believes the sales pitch of 'Get a Cert, Get a Job'.

I have been in this field since graduating from the University of Florida in 1985 with a BS in Computer Engineering and have been working on PC LANs from day one. I have seen the industry go from a joke to the "GLASS ROOM" boys to a replacement of the "GLASS ROOM" boys. Along the way I have also watched the deterioration of my profession to the point that someone with no experience believes that they can take a training course and come out making $60,000 or more.

These coarses do not prepare you for the REAL world. They teach you a vendors product in a perfect in environment. Get outside those parameters and most MCSE's are lost.

BTW over my 17 years in this business, I have worked on and with most every platform, OS, and protocol out there. I have managed Novell, UNIX, and Windows networks, not to mention a 100 location WAN.

I tell you all this to give a little justification to my next statement. I have yet to meet any MCSE graduate who has taken classes only, that is worth hiring at anything but an entry level $20,000 to $25,000 position.

After that, if they can prove that they have the skills not only to take care of the ordinary but also the unusual then pay raises are in order. But until then, don't count on that little piece of laser printed paper to get you a job.

Daniel C Williams
CNE 3.x, CCNA, MCP, MCSA, and one test shy of MCSE but who really cares except the HR people.

Thu, Jun 13, 2002 Chevy South Hadley, MA

Nine of us paid $11,747 for what we assumed would be a first-rate MCSE program at UMass in Amherst last August from Spectrum. Halfway through the 2nd course, Spectrum went bankrupt and we limped through the remaining courses. I have my MCSA after passing 5 exams in a row, but wasn't even hired for one of ten temporary (3-4 mo.)positions with a local company setting up 4,000 computers for a W2K Server/XP conversion at a local hospital. That's after over six years experience as a setup/connectivity specialist and A+ certified onsite technician. (Ironically, that's also after donating over 3 gallons of blood at that hospital!) Still, I have hope that someone will give me a chance. Hang in there, Ed! P.S. How does one "practice" - practically speaking - without doing the actual work? I went after MCSE certification to get to the next level in my career.

Thu, Jun 13, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous

MCSE certification only states that you know about the exams you've taken. Good IT background and a certification is what makes the difference here.

Thu, Jun 13, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous

By the way, being MCSE is not as it used to be, but with MCSE W2K, at least is more difficult to become just a book MCSE, with no practice at all.

Thu, Jun 13, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous

MCSE by itself will lead you nowhere. It will not make the miracle of generating an IT career form the scratch, but will help if you already have one, and aspire to a system admin position. If you are looking higher, consider it just a plus, not the center of your academic achievements

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