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What kind of job requires CCNA?

Discussion in 'Employment & Jobs' started by anthonynowlan, Jan 9, 2008.

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  1. anthonynowlan

    anthonynowlan New Member

    Hello Everyone,

    I am wondering what kind of jobs require a CCNA.
    I have recently moved to the Uk, after recertifying my CCNA back in Sep 2007.
    Previously did a Cisco academy program 3 years prior.

    Prior to that I had been working for a business grade ISP, doing technical support and managing 800 series cisco routers.

    When I came to the Uk I found the local ISP market wasnt that receptive. I think the local industry terms (BT) and higher end routers were expected. (Crock).

    I eventually started looking at the local market and felt torn between level 1 and level 3 desktop support roles.

    I have worked 12 months doing tech support for the ISP back in Australia, and 6 months in their customer service team. Prior to that I was working for a small computer outfit, but we were a Visp (virtual isp) and computer refurbisher.

    After falling on deaf ears for the local ISP market, I have been applying to the desktop level 1-2 roles.
    Unfortunately, due to the nature of what I was doing (ISP), we used a lot of pop and smtp email.

    All the jobs advertised that want CCNA, seem to want Small Business Sever (and exchange).

    In fact I am pretty put off by the fact they ask for MCSE etc, and then ask you to support MS SBS 2k3.
    1 site and 1 domain.

    I have previously done the NT 4 MCSE and subsequent win 2k upgrade exam. (effectively 4x MCP).
    But as I havent been dealing with MS servers day in day out, i am very rusty.

    The other thing that has me irked, is that job advertisers are expecting a CCNA to support their (pix) firewall or voip solution.

    Back when i was studying the CCNA, my instructor told me it was effectively a high school subject in the USA. At the end of it you were only expected to understand basic networking and how to configure a cisco router.

    I am now with a dilemma of whether I should start studying Win 2k3 exams to fill in the gaps people want. Honestly I am not that interested in spending time in 2k3, when 2k8 is coming out.

    My passion is networking, and I am keen to keep learning cisco gear. But if it means i need to learn PIX and Voip i have 2nd thoughts. My real interest are Qos and MPLS these days.

    So I am asking what roles require a knowledge of cisco, that arnt bottom rung desktop support role (read: email and printer support) ?

    am I stuck having to jump through the MS hoops again or locked into ISP work?

    lost for words,

  2. BosonMichael
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster


    Your post seems to jump around a little bit. I don't really have a clear picture of what experience you've got. I'm not sure if you've got 12 months IT experience, 18 months IT experience, or whether you've got Cisco experience at all other than studying for it on your own.

    I'll attempt to answer your concerns - forgive me if I don't address something.

    I'm not sure why someone would be torn between Level 1 and Level 3 desktop support roles. Someone who doesn't have much (or any) experience would be a Level 1 desktop support tech, regardless of what they wanted... and someone with a lot of real-world industry experience wouldn't be aiming for a Level 1 tech job... they'd go after a Level 3 job. But that also typically means they've already worked their way up through L1 and L2 tech job roles.

    Although the CCNA is taught in some high schools, I don't believe it helps out high school students much, because entry-level jobs do not involve working with Cisco equipment. The "bottom-rung" tech support jobs involve NO work with Cisco gear. The CCNA is targeted towards those who already have a bit of real-world IT experience doing networking, and are starting to get to the point where they're being allowed to work with Cisco gear - again, not first line techs.

    I'm going to put this as delicately as my blunt self can put it: if your passion is networking, you can't really pick and choose what technologies YOU want to support until you've built up a LOT of experience so you can afford to be choosy with what opportunities come your way. Most network administrator jobs involve working with the ENTIRE network infrastructure... QoS, MPLS, PIX/ASA firewalls, VoIP, everything. You might find specialized jobs in VERY large corporations where you work with only one particular networking aspect, such as QoS and MPLS... but by and large, there's not enough work in most companies for there to be a QoS expert or an MPLS expert... you're expected to do everything. And not only Cisco work... but also server administration, firewall administration, and anything to do with the general infrastructure... E-mail, Anti-X, security, GPOs, software rollouts, patch/update management, you name it. A network admin often wears many hats. If this is disturbing to you, or you feel that you don't want to have to do this sort of work, then you can certainly limit your job opportunities to those companies that have specialized positions. But that's a risk you must choose to take.

    My last senior network admin job involved supporting a 450-user healthcare company. I did everything. But it consisted of one domain, with one main office and eight branch offices. Did they need an MCSE? Most definitely. Did they need a CCNA and/or CCNP? Definitely. They needed someone to handle ALL their advanced support. I was that person. So don't think it's strange that someone would need an MCSE to handle their relatively small environment. If they're willing to pay for a certified tech to give them good support, then rather than complain about it, just let them hire who they want to hire. Apply if you're interested; ignore them if you're not. But since there are a TON of small businesses out there, there's a LOT of those kind of opportunities out there.

    As far as whether you should study Server 2003 or Server 2008... considering that Server 2008 isn't out yet, businesses haven't upgraded to it yet. Thus, if no businesses use it, there's no demand for people certified on it... yet. Consider this: there are companies out there who are STILL using Windows 2000 Server and Windows 2000 Professional! As late as 2006, I had a client who still had two NT4 servers. So *please* don't get all "elite tech"ish and refuse to study "old technology" because YOU think it's old... companies still use that "old stuff", and need someone to support it.

    You need to ask yourself this question: do you want to do what YOU want to do, or do you want to provide support for what companies need? I can tell you which one will get you employed...

    Best of luck to you!
    Certifications: CISSP, MCSE+I, MCSE: Security, MCSE: Messaging, MCDST, MCDBA, MCTS, OCP, CCNP, CCDP, CCNA Security, CCNA Voice, CNE, SCSA, Security+, Linux+, Server+, Network+, A+
    WIP: Just about everything!
  3. anthonynowlan

    anthonynowlan New Member

    Hello Michael,

    Thank you for your response.

    I don't mean to come off arrogant or narrow sighted.
    I'm doing some soul searching, trying to decide where I am heading.

    I was hoping to hear what other people who have done their ccna are doing.
    The remark about high school subjects, was just to say I view it as a demonstration that you understand basic network fundamentals.

    My work experience has been mainly working with end users over the phones.

    I havent had an opportunity to work with Microsoft servers in a production environment. We tended to use linux for workgroup customers and the ISP used unix for their back end servers. Desktops were win98 or Xp.

    I have set up labs etc with 2000 and NT. I didnt have a reason to worry about 2003 (i didnt see that much had changed). Unfortunately employers are demanding 2003 now.

    Now that I am looking at other avenues career wise, and wondering if I should pursue cisco or not. I am considering enrolling in a CCNP course, but starting to think it becomes too specialised.

    At the moment, I can only see it leading to
    - isp work
    - firewalls/security
    - voip

    Alternatively, if I want to be more generic, then I have to look at skilling up in other areas.

    Its the lack of hands on experience that is killing me here, and I was hoping someone could give me some other options, other than study 2003 and do 'printer and email' support for 12 months.

    The comment about QoS was that I see it becoming important (voip etc).
    I have been reading up on mpls just to understand it, but Im not sure it has any relevance outside for an isp.

    Finding it easier to read up on new topics, than looking at 2003 and thinking I've already seen this before.


  4. BosonMichael
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

    No worries, mate - I just like to inject a heavy dose of reality into my posts. I also don't mean to sound arrogant, nor condescending. Since it is difficult to convey emotions into forum posts, I truly hope that you don't think that I come across that way - I've occasionally been told that I sometimes do, and I try to be careful about that... not always successfully. :)

    People with CCNAs often don't work with just Cisco gear. Sometimes they do, but more often, they're responsible for more than just routers. After all, if you're good, you configure a router, and it works... and you don't have to mess with it much after that. In most places, that doesn't require a full-time tech.

    Some CCNAs work for an IT services company, who provide support for companies who don't have a full-time tech, or who have techs but don't have a qualified tech to work on Cisco gear.

    The CCNP is a good plan... but only if you're working on Cisco gear already and wanting to advance. If you got the CCNP at this stage of your career, you'd be a bit overcertified for your experience level. You can certainly do that, but I wouldn't recommend it. I've got the CCNP... but I've also got experience working with Cisco equipment. So what did I do as a CCNP? I was a senior network admin - sure, I did Cisco stuff... but I worked MUCH more often with Windows servers and providing technical guidance to the IT Manager regarding IT decisions.

    In my opinion, the Network+ certification shows that you have basic network fundamentals. The CCNA shows that you have knowledge about networking as it relates to Cisco gear. Those are two different animals, in my opinion, and to be honest, they're useful at different stages of a career. If you don't already have Network+, I'd highly recommend it.

    What have you been doing with end users over the phone? Desktop support work? Network configuration work? Cisco support work?

    If you haven't done real, hands-on desktop support, it's not a bad idea to do that for a little while. Your WinXP experience will certainly come in handy with that.

    If there's a hierarchy of techs (desktop support, systems admin, network admin), then you can learn from the techs above you (provided you're with a good group of techs who would rather nurture you than backstab you). Better yet, when management sees you doing well, they're likely to promote from within, giving you a clear path to advance.

    Your Linux/UNIX experience will make you more well-rounded, giving employers more reason to hire you if they use Linux or UNIX at any point in their infrastructure.

    Employers want people who know Server 2003 because just about every place I've worked and every customer I've supported uses Microsoft-based server products. Thus, that's where the jobs lie. If you want a server admin or network admin job, the road largely lies through Microsoft-land. No, that's not the ONLY way... but the roads around it are narrow, and the opportunities to travel them are few. So to maximize your ability to climb the IT career ladder, you should get into employment where working with those technologies is an option. If that means desktop support, so be it... you'll advance from there, especially if you're intelligent.

    There's no silver bullet, no magic potion, and no secret shortcut to getting around experience... you simply have to get experience. The so-called "printer and e-mail support" job can turn into a job where you're not just assisting users with printers, but you're configuring printers on the network and integrating them into Active Directory... where you're not just assisting users with software and hardware problems, but you're configuring a patch/update management server to roll out changes to them... where you're not just troubleshooting e-mail and setting up accounts, but you're configuring and administering an Exchange server. But you have to work your way up to that. With several months of call center support, you're getting there! It's not a waste of time. If you need to make the switch to a more advanced job (and I'm assuming your experience level a bit), get a desktop support job where you can learn systems and network administration from a real-world business IT perspective... not just how to do it all in a lab. :)

    QoS, VoIP, security, MPLS (yes, basically, MPLS is only relevant for ISPs)... all that stuff IS important... but all that is a few steps up from where you are now. You can certainly aspire to do those things... but you have to crawl before you walk, and walk before you run.

    I sincerely hope that you don't see working your way up the IT ladder as "drudgery". Users are the reason ANY of our jobs exist, and support of the user is crucial. Use this time as a positive learning experience. Everything you experience builds a solid foundation for things you will learn and do in the future. Use this time to your advantage. You WILL advance... but you can't shortcut real-world experience, and the time it takes to build it. :)
    Certifications: CISSP, MCSE+I, MCSE: Security, MCSE: Messaging, MCDST, MCDBA, MCTS, OCP, CCNP, CCDP, CCNA Security, CCNA Voice, CNE, SCSA, Security+, Linux+, Server+, Network+, A+
    WIP: Just about everything!
  5. Theprof

    Theprof Petabyte Poster Premium Member

    All I can say is Michael gave you some sound advice and welcome to CF!
    Certifications: A+ | CCA | CCAA | Network+ | MCDST | MCSA | MCP (270, 271, 272, 290, 291) | MCTS (70-662, 70-663) | MCITP:EMA | VCA-DCV/Cloud/WM | VTSP | VCP5-DT | VCP5-DCV

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