I'm committed to an IT career, and I want to know where to start. What certification can you recommend as a good starting point, one that won't require much money or time?

A. In the early days of the MCP program, the Windows 3.1 test was the logical entry point into the Microsoft certification program. When Microsoft added Windows 95 as an MCP certification, it introduced a substantial amount of networking material that was not in the Windows 3.1 test (remember that Windows 3.1 wasn't natively network-able. That functionality came later, with Windows 3.11). Consequently, more entry-level people had problems passing the Windows 95 test. With the introduction of NT 4.0 Workstation and Windows 2000 Professional, finding a friendly entry point has become increasingly difficult for newbies. The CompTIA A+ and Network + certifications have become a good starting point for IT beginners. The tests are easier than the Microsoft tests and will help the beginner become accustomed to the testing format students face if they decide to move on to the Microsoft certifications in the future. The A+ offers some good hardware information that would be very useful in a help desk position.

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