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I'm at a crossroads in certification land. Which way should I go?

I am undecided on which path to head down. I have my A+ Network+, CNA 4.11 and Advanced Administration (4.11). My next step is where I am undecided. Should I pursue MCP/MCSE or should I try to tackle the Cisco certifications? It seems to me that the MCP is truly a paper certification. I really liked Novell, but it is getting harder and harder to find companies that use it anymore. I enjoyed the behind-the-scenes work that Network+ gave, even though it was only the tip of the iceberg. The Cisco certifications would really get down and dirty behind the scenes. If I do go the Microsoft route, I'm afraid I will be forever updating my certifications everytime they offer a new OS. Can you offer your advice?

I realize it may hinge on what businesses are currently in my area. I do not wish to move at this time. (I live in Reading PA if that helps.)

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Given your technical interests and your attitude toward the Microsoft certifications -- which in light of their "toughening up" for Windows 2000 certification are no longer warranted, IMHO -- I think you'd be best served by pursuing the CCNA-CCNP sequence, then going on to the CCIE if you can get sufficient work experience with Cisco, and remain interested in pursuing their premier certification.

I agree that it's a shame about Novell -- I worked for them from 1988 to 1994, so I still have a soft spot for NetWare, NDS, and so forth -- but it's true that finding NetWare admin jobs is getting harder all the time.

Given your location, you might want to give MCSE a second look, but if you really want to work on network infrastructure, Cisco is the way to go. On the other hand, if you want to be a day-to-day network administrator, MCSE probably makes more sense.

This was first published in September 2001

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