I was recently scrolling through employment forums where people go to share their frustrations about not being able to find work. I was shocked by the amount of negativity toward IT networking certifications. Through all these threads of negativity, I found a common theme: These people were expecting an engineering job to fall into their laps immediately after receiving their certification. Let me tell you something. If you want to be a network engineer, then YOU HAVE TO PUT IN THE WORK!
Step 1: Get Certified
Cisco certification exams are not easy. A CCNA exam will test your knowledge of computer networking theory, the OSI model and TCP/IP. The exam will also test your practical knowledge and ability to perform tasks. (Want to be sure that you're ready for that? TestOut networking courses have the best simulations on the market.) You can also find out where your knowledge is at right now with free practice quizzes from GoCertify.
The CCNA certification is the best entry-level cert to get you on the path to becoming a Network Engineer. Colleges use curriculum from CCNA courses to train students, and CCNA is recognized around the world. Last year, IT training company Infosec Institute interviewed 8,137 CCNA’s and found that their average annual salary ranges between $40,000 and $96,000. A similar survey conducted by Certification Magazine found that the average annual salary of a CCNP (which is the next rung up the Cisco certification ladder from CCNA) is $90,590.
Step 2: Get Experience Anywhere You Can
Any potential employer who gives you an interview is going to ask about the level of experience you have. You can’t just expect to land a top-level network engineer job with a certification alone. Once your certification is in hand, your focus should turn to gaining experience. Get an internship, and if that doesn’t turn into a job, take the best entry-level job you can get. At the same time, get more networking certifications to build your resume.
Step 3: The Other Kind of NetworkingGet to know some IT professionals. They can lend you an important helping hand. By conversing with people who work in IT networking every day, you can gain an understanding of the industry. Ask someone to help you make your resume competitive (which will be easy, if you're already working and have a couple of certs). A referral from some who knows you professionally can be one of the most valuable assets in your employment toolkit.
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