Q

Just getting started in networking

I have completed my undergraduate degree in computer science and my interest is in computer networking. What should I do next to break into the field? Also, what are my job prospects and expected salaries as I gain more experience in this field?
Given your background (but alas, you don't indicate how much you already know about computer networking, nor how much of your studies were focused on that topic), you could start with something as elementary as Network+ if you're in need of basic background, or something as advanced as CCNA or MSCA/MCSE, depending on whether your networking interests lean more toward the infrastructure side (in which case, Cisco makes more sense than Microsoft) or more toward the network administration side (in which case, Microsoft, Novell or various Linux certs probably make more sense depending on your platform interests and allegiances).

Your best source of job prospects and pay information are the various annual salary surveys that major computing industry and certification magazines conduct. These are usually adjusted for location and particular competencies, and thus provide the breadth of information most people find useful. I find those from publications like InfoWorld, ComputerWorld, and eWeek helpful on the general industry side.

This was first published in September 2005

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