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How To Become A SharePoint Administrator

By - Source: Toms IT Pro

Breaking into the Unified Communications & Collaboration arena to become a SharePoint Admin involves completing a few key certifications and getting experience with the technology.

Our correspondent this week is mid-career IT pro who has spent the last 15 years working as a web developer using C# and .NET. Although she wants to remain in IT, Kim is interested in becoming a SharePoint admin to help organizations realize the full potential of this powerful platform. She has some experience developing web parts for SharePoint, but programming no longer interests her.

See: Microsoft Certifications & Career Paths

Kim may be able to turn an interest in Office 365 and SharePoint into a productive career switch move. First, there's the matter of earning the MCSA: Office 365 and then MCSE: SharePoint, with an option for PMP in the background, but those are all solid, proactive career moves. While this will take some time (two to three years is my best guess) it should help produce the desired results.

Dear Kim:

According to your responses, you are in something of an interesting position in many dimensions: a "near-degree" in a technical field some time ago, a secondary but reasonably robust employment market where job search is a hit or miss proposition requiring some luck to land work, and some dissatisfaction with your prior engagements as a web developer using C# and .NET. You also evince a strong interest in becoming a SharePoint administrator. Given all those ingredients in your situation, I'd recommend the following career path:

  1. Keep looking for and taking short-term jobs in your current area of expertise, especially if you can get into development projects that involve SharePoint. I assume you need the income, so I'm not comfortable telling you to get a SharePoint certification first and then start looking for new work. Instead, alas, you will have to work two jobs for a while: one doing what you already know how to do (web development), the other training up for what you want to do, as described below.
  2. Start with the MCSA on Office 365 certification, then start working on your MCSE: SharePoint. This could take you up to a year to work your way through, which is why I recommend number 1 above, believing you'll need to keep some money coming in the door, even while gearing up for a new technical incarnation. As far as job hunting strategies go once you get close to the MCSE: SharePoint, I'd recommend trolling the online study groups and forums devoted to SharePoint, and seeing what you can find in your area through that lens.
  3. Longer term, project management is a great idea for SharePoint admins. I'd recommend starting off easy with the Project+ certification from CompTIA, capped off later with PMI's Project Management Professional (PMP). Project+ should take you two to three months to complete; the PMP usually takes most people at least one (and sometimes two) college semesters to complete (and you can find plenty of good college-level courses to help you prepare for that cert).

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Once you work your way into the SharePoint admin job, you should be able to meet your salary and company type requirements without too much difficulty. In the meantime, you'll need to expend some serious elbow grease to work your way from where you are now, to where you want to be.

Best of luck with your career and certification planning. Please let me know if I can answer any more questions, or address and further concerns you might have.

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