I currently have an Associate degree in Network Administration. I've been working in the field as either an assistant network administrator or a network tech for over three years, dealing with Microsoft servers and a little with Cisco switches/firewalls. Ed, What would you advise me on for my next step? Should I get certified in any area or go back to school? The one reason I'm hesitant about school, is that don't they mainly teach theory only?
You might be surprised at your academic options nowadays. There are numerous programs that require students to earn certifications like MCSE, CCNA/CCNP, and CNE as part of their matriculation requirements, or that grant credit for certifications undertaken and earned. That said, the biggest distinction is between an institution that is designed to prepare undergraduates for the work force versus one where research, development, and graduate education are the top priorities. I'd suggest looking into programs from online or national education outlets like Phoenix University (and Phoenix University Online), DeVry Institute, ITT Institute, and the University of Maryland. They target adult learners who are seeking credentials designed to help them on the job, and as such, are well-suited to your needs.
Given your current experience and interests finding a program that included MCSA/MCSE and CCNA/CCNP among its offerings...
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or requirements sounds like it would be ideal. I can only hope you agree. Thanks for posting, and good luck with your search for training and credentials.