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Are CCNA and MCSA good starter certs?

I'm working in the engineering sector, but I'm thinking of jumpstarting a career in IT. I'm planning to take the CCNA and MCSA for a start. Are these good starter certs? How is the CCNA and MCSA job market?

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You're right in observing, however coincidentally, that both CCNA and MCSA are start-up credentials. While pursuing either or both is indeed a good idea, that's more from the perspective of where it can actually take you than from providing any kind of strong expectation that either or both of these entry-level credentials will substantially increase your employment prospects. This is particularly true for positions outside help desk, tech support or the most entry-level of systems or network administration jobs (I don't know that much about the job market on the Indian subcontinent, but if it's anything like North America -- which I cheerfully confess may not be the case -- such jobs are rare and hard to find). Thus, I can't be too encouraging about the job prospects for somebody with no relevant work experience to draw on who holds only those two specific certifications. Were one to lead to an MCSE, and the other to one of the Cisco professional certs (CCNP, CCDP, CCIP, CCVP, or CCSP) that could be a different story, however.

Good luck in your cert planning and preparation activities. You may need to commit to further study and exams before you can count on a vita that will make a noticeable difference in your IT employment prospects, however.

-- Ed

This was first published in November 2005

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