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How can I make the successful jump into networking with only rudimentary networking skills?

Currently, I am working in a profession that requires rudimentary networking skills and does not deal with Cisco routers. On top of that, my degree is non-IT related. However, I have recently obtained a CCNA certificate. How can I make a successful career switch?

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Sometimes, the only choice is to continue down the path you're already on. Let me explain:

By itself, the CCNA is a basic, entry-level credential. While it might (and I stress the term "might" in this context) help you land an entry-level IT position, by itself the CCNA is no free pass to an IT job. What the CCNA really represents is the first step down the road toward more advanced Cisco credentials, such as the professional certs (CCNP, CCDP, CCIP, CCSP and CCVP for networking, design, internet service providers, security and voice, respectively) or the many different Cisco Qualified Specialist credentials, with the ultra-premium CCIE credential somewhere off in the more remote distance.

Alas, it's really necessary to work around Cisco equipment and software to tread down this road very far, so you might want to look for that elusive entry-level IT job just to put yourself in a situation where you can learn what you need to by doing such a job. I see from your e-mail address that you're in Singapore, so perhaps your chances are a bit better than in other parts of the world, given the sustained growth of your local economy.

Thus, my advice is to try to find a job as an entry-level help desk, technical support or computer operations staff member, and then to use what you can learn in that position to help you pursue more advanced Cisco certifications, or perhaps to dive into other programs as your growing base of experience and interest may dictate.

This was first published in January 2006

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