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Starting A Career In Computer Networking

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While at work, many IT help desk people ask me what is the best way to begin a career in computer networking.
They already have some IT experience for the most part, but want to further their careers in something a bit more challenging.
The good news is the IT experience that is being gained today by working on the help desk will help them later down the road.
The experience that is being gained today will be added to the aggregate of all of their experience.
In other words, they will have x number of years in IT, and most salary levels coincide with overall experience.
Considering Cisco Systems has been the industry leader in computer networking since the beginning, I generally steer everyone in this direction.
You can be pretty confided that if you are going to work in computer networking, you will be working on Cisco equipment.
Even if you aren't, the chances are very high that the equipment you are working on will be interfacing directly with Cisco routers.
For this reason, the knowledge of Cisco that can be gained will help you out in your career no matter what.
As with most career choices, the best bet is to start at the bottom and work your way up.
Of course, everyone wants to become a CCIE and earn a very large salary.
However, this is simply not going to happen quickly and you should ignore anyone that tells you any differently.
Even if it did, you are still not experienced enough to get a high-level job, much less do a good job in that position.
Therefore, it makes much more sense to start at the bottom to get your basics covered, and gradually increase your certification level as you gain experience.
Once you know the basics of computer networking, the subsequent lessons and study materials will also come to you much easier.
To achieve this goal, I recommend the CCENT certification.
This is a relatively easy path to take and you should have no trouble getting through the material if you have a little bit of knowledge about computers and how they interface with each other.
The certification can be obtained quickly via classes or you can take your time and go the self-study route.
Either way, it shouldn't take too long.
Once the CCENT certification is obtained, you will be eligible for a low level position at any number of companies.
This position probably won't pay that great, but you are gaining valuable experience and getting exposure to all types of network equipment.
Consider this kind of an internship, but you will be paid for your time.
This is the perfect opportunity to study for the higher level certifications such as the CCNA.
Once you obtain the second level certification, your value to an employer increases dramatically.
At this point you will have an associate level certification and some experience to go along with it.
This is another reason why it may pay to work as a contractor during your CCENT phase.
Once you obtain the higher level certification, you can move onto a better job without burning any bridges.
Indeed, this same logic may work for the CCNA time as well.
Just be sure to always keep moving towards your goals and before you know it you will be at the top of the computer networking food chain.
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