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Can I break into the networking field with no experience, just certs?

My college background is non-IT related. I am interested in obtaining my A+, Network+ and CCNA certificates. Assuming I successfully complete all three, what is the job market like for someone without experience?

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Though the A+, Network+, CCNA combination is a good one to begin a career in IT, it's the kind of thing that qualifies candidates only for entry-level jobs in tech support or help desk (to pick the two most likely places you'd wind up), or perhaps in a junior system or network administrator position (if you get extremely lucky). Though entry-level jobs are a little bit more available today than they were in the great trough of the "dot-com bust" two or three years ago, numbers of positions are still low enough to make competition ferocious in most parts of the country (and elsewhere in the world). Thus, I'd have to characterize the job market as "tough, but not impossible."

Look hard, look creatively and keep at it. You can (and will) eventually find work. Do some quality volunteering (schools, charities, non-profits and political organizations are all routinely staffed at least in part by volunteers, even in IT-related positions) and you'll get some experience you can add to your resume as well.

This was first published in October 2005

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