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What path should I take to be a sys admin or network engineer?

I have over three years of full-time help desk experience. I have supported multiple areas of IT -- network, Web, AS/400, PC hardware and software, Microsoft, Novell, Windows 2000, NT, Windows 95/98, etc.

I want to start gaining some certifications to reinforce my "hands on" experience. I don't know where to start, though. I want to move up the IT ladder with more than just general experience. I was thinking of A+ and Network+, then MCSE and Cisco to follow? And maybe Novell, which seems like it is going away? I would like to become a systems administrator or network engineer at some point. Could you please offer me some advice? I would greatly appreciate it.

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You are absolutely on the right track with your initial proposed slate of certs. And while Novell is on the wane, there's still a surprising demand for certified Novell professionals. Why not wait until you've obtained your CompTIA, Microsoft and Cisco certs (and on that last front, I'd recommend going at least as far as the CCNP, if not into some area of the Cisco Qualified Specialist program), and then re-assess the market and your personal interest in Novell certification? Other than that, it seems like you've got a good plan and should get to work on it as soon as you can!

Good luck,
--Ed--

This was first published in March 2003

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