Q

What is the best way to pursue a career in networking?

I have just completed my BBA in Computer Information Systems and have developed an interest in networking. Here are my questions: (1) Can you direct me on what is the best way to pursue a career in this field? (2)Should I do the MCSE course? (3)Is it worth pursuing a networking career with all this outsourcing taking place? What you don't say in describing your recently earned degree is how much networking training you've already had....

If you're starting more or less from scratch, you may want to consider the CompTIA Network+ as a good way to get your feet wet in the subject matter; if you've already got that level of knowledge and experience, you'll need to decide if you want to work on the infrastructure or the server/local side of networking. For the former, Cisco certs (CCNA, CCDA, CCNP, and possibly CCSP or CCDP) are a great path to follow, for the latter MCSA/MCSE is one path, but Linux, Apple, and Sun (Solaris) are also viable paths. In the latter case, you need to pick a platform you'd like to learn or work with, and certs will follow logically from that choice.

As for outsourcing, there will always be a need for some local presence when it comes to installing, troubleshooting, upgrading, and maintaining networks: so far, nobody's figured out a way for somebody in India or China to lay hands on equipment over the Internet. This is an area where opportunities are diminishing (especially for help desk, tech support, and routine monitoring/management positions) but where a person on the scene will always be required (but not as often, hence your very real cause for concern). That's why I'd recommend you also pursue some kind of specialization along your career path, depending on your interests. This could be something like protocol analysis, information security, or other fields where opportunities remain strong and jobs available.

This was first published in October 2004

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