Ask the Expert

What is the proper certification path for becoming a network administrator?

I currently hold an A+ certification. The course direction that has been suggested for me is the following:
  • Comptia Network+
  • MCSA with MCDST
  • CCNA
  • Do you think this a good plan for becoming a network administrator? I am currently in my mid-to-late 40s. I am looking for a career of 20 to 25 years. Do you think this a good direction to head into? Thank you!

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    Given your age, I'd like to know more about your educational background and prior work experience. Without that information I can only say that the course direction being recommended for you is a decent start into entry-level network technician and junior administrator work. However, to become a serious, senior-level network administrator you'd want to go after MCSE or the newer MCTS/MCITP certifications as well (and I'd also strongly recommend getting to the Windows Server 2008 curriculum which launches next February, as soon as you can).

    Windows Server 2003 is all well and good, but with a new version immanent, you might be better off waiting six months and starting right out with the latest and greatest Windows Server version, plus the certifications that go with it. You could, for example, tackle Network+ and CCNA first, then dig into the new Microsoft curriculum a little later, and save yourself the need to retool anyway in the next two years.

    Once you get into the field, if you like the work, there's no reason why it can't see you all the way through to retirement age. At 55, so far it's working for me -- it should be able to do likewise for you.

    Best of luck with your career planning and training.

    This was first published in October 2007

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