CCNA

CougTek

Serial computer killer
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Although it is quite late in my career, I've finally managed to start a CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Assosciate). I master several skills teached during the certification, but I've never had the paper to prove it. In eight months, I will. I'll also learn a lot of stuff I didn't know by heart (like the Cisco CLI, which I have to Google every time I need to use it since I've never formally learned it).

It's about damn time.

Surprisingly, I'm not the oldest student in my class.
 

CougTek

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Well, I'm stuck in my career and I figure that I need something like this to keep advancing. I don't really like programming switches and setting up networks, but it is a necessary evil. You're not good at that, you often won't have access to the other fun stuff. At least in my case. There are others who are luckier, like you or Handruin.
 

ddrueding

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For me, it was a number of years ago when I decided that I needed to get stuck in on the technical side and specialize or head towards management. Neither particularly appealed to me, but the money is better on the management side, and specialization limits the number of fields you can get into.
 

Handruin

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Congrats Coug and best of luck with the process and training. I've heard that some of those certifications can be pretty challenging but rewarding in many ways. I think it's normal to feel stuck in a career. I do feel lucky and fortunate for the opportunities I've had but like you, I've chosen to grow either on my own or with the assistance of the company I was with. One of the things I wanted several years back was to be able to write code. I know it's not for everyone but it has proven to be a very useful skill in many areas. I'm not a full-time developer/programmer in my current role(s) but it does open the doors for many areas and makes it easier for you to solve problems and build things. A little over two months ago I made the decision to move on from my last career because I also felt stuck. I was very fortunate to have a great boss and good coworkers/friends but I needed something different. You sound like you're in a similar position and would like to progress in one way or another. At least with the CCNA and Cisco products in general, it seems like a strong area to be in. The more things converge (IP, WAN, SAN, etc) the better it will be for you to know the fundamentals and the specialized hardware that Cisco offers. When I managed portions of my former team's Cisco UCS, the Cisco switch configuration was one of the parts I knew the least about and I would get help from the lab team. It would have been nice to have the time to learn the specifics but my point is you'll be that person people will want/need for setting up a proper architecture. If you can graduate out of the support role and into the architect role, that might help you advance.

I don't know what your interest or abilities are for coding/scripting, but I suspect it'll make you more-versatile if you can spend time picking up the fundamentals regardless of the underlying language. If you need a language to get you going, try python and checkout codecadamy.
 

Handruin

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Also keep in consideration that if you're having a bad day because equipment isn't behaving...smashing the packets out of a Cisco product will likely result in cost/repairs worth as much as your car whereas destroying your PC was not quite as bad.
 

Mercutio

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I had a CCNA a zillion years ago (seriously, like 2001-ish), but I never got anywhere with it. The feel I got from employers was that I still didn't have the knowledge to be trusted to actually work with their network hardware. Since it never really did anything positive for my career and it was a lot of work to obtain in the first place, I never bothered to renew it.

That being said, you ARE actually working with that equipment, so it's a great idea to get the cert. You might as well, since it'll make you that much more valuable both to your current employer and anyone else who might be interested.

Another good, general purpose IT cert is ITIL.
 

CougTek

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What the Hell have you done to my thread?!?

First time I hear anything about ITIL. It doesn't seem to be popular around here. If I do another certification, it will probably be a CCNP afterward, even if I don't really like networking all that much

What I like to do is doing server architectures at large. Virtualization, OS choice, hardware choice plus the racking equipment surrounding it. Becoming better with the networking part will give me credibility on the entire hardware design. I leave database and programs inside the VM to programmers. I have little interest in that and I know I'll never become good at it (mainly because I have very little interest). I've met very few people who are good in planning server hardware architectures. Of course, you don't need a lot of people to be good into this, because once it's done right, your skills aren't supposed to be needed before the next upgrade. But the great majority of businesses I deal with have very poorly designed IT architectures and there is money to be made there.
 

Chewy509

Wotty wot wot.
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Coug, congratulations on doing continued study! The way I'm seeing things in the near future, solid understanding of networking will be a hard requirement, as the industry is moving away from centralised architectures to heavily de-centralised architectures especially with the growth in the utilisation of "cloud" services and telecommute/remote workers. (Hybrid setups being the most common, some services are still in-house, but others are outsourced, and you need the knowledge on how to tie these togther).

Like some of the others here, I've done my share of certifications and also let them lapse (MCP, Sun, etc), mainly because obtaining them opened doors, but once you had the door opened and had experience, most employers cared little that you actually continued to hold the certification via re-certifcation in the cases were they lapse. (unless they were a gold-partner/reseller and current certifcation of employees was required to maintain partner/reseller status).

Regarding ITIL, in this neck of the woods, ITIL is only really done by some government departments (at least that's the only place I'm seeing ITIL certification as a requirement in job adverts). But now working on the software development side of things were everything is "Agile", ITIL is loathed by many developers, mainly due to the philosophically differences between ITIL and Agile. (ITIL is very rigid in planning,requirements and development,deployment with set stages and little allowance for change, where as Agile assumes it will all change in the future and the project workflow reflects that). I did my ITIL certification when I did my Uni degree (it was one of the courses I elected to do as part of my degree program), and while interesting to learn how some organisations like to do things, unless there is a requirement for the actual ITIL certifications, a really good Project Management course will offer more value over the course of ones career. (At least with a PM course, you'll learn how/why some of the project managers are doing things they are, and be able to work with them more effeciently because you understand their mind set). Also, the local job adverts are starting to specify PM training/experience even in infrastructure/architecture roles, as it's starting to be expected that the person who designed the architecture should be able to manage the project implementing it...
 

CougTek

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I wouldn't mind to be a manager, but I bet many of my mollusk-like co-workers would be quite worried if I became a manager. As you might have guessed, I'm not renowned for my people skills. My current "boss" (I act like I have none and I regularly blast him) is doing most of the paperwork. I call him my secretary. I planned on buying him a chocolate box and a card during the secretary week, but he took the entire week off this year. There's always next year...
 

CougTek

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My boss before that was all eager to show us his new iPhone one day. He tried to show us the voice recognition feature on his "smart phone", but the little junk never obeyed a single of his orders. After a few trials, I told him : "Wow, your phone is trully smart! It knows you're a boss, so it stopped listening to you!" He didn't come back to the IT department for a week afterward.
 
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