Q

Looking for a career change

Network career, training and certification expert Ed Tittel explains how to make a career change into the networking feild. How many certifications do you need to get your foot in the door? What's the average starting salary for someone CCNA certified? What are the best hiring and CCNA learning websites? All of these questions are answered here.

I am a former police officer who was injured on the job and had to leave that career. I have a wife and two children and obviously need a new career, not just a "job." The local college where I live has an online Cisco Networking Academy course for the CCNA certification. I know nothing about networking and was wondering if only a CCNA certification is enough to get a job with a company, or do I need many other certifications to even be remotely considered ? If only having a CCNA certification is enough to get my "foot in the door," so to speak, and get hired, do you know (or have any suggestions on where to look) what the average starting salary for somebody with only a CCNA cert is in Corpus Christi? Could you also give me suggestions on industry websites that have information about the CCNA, and also some industry specific career hiring websites?
First, my condolences on the job incident that forced you to make a career switch. I wish you the best of luck and results in your switch to IT.

That said, the CCNA by itself is probably not enough to put you into an entry-level job nowadays. But there's a

lot more to the Cisco Networking Academy curriculum than the CCNA as you can see for yourself here. You'll find training on HP IT essentials (1 & 2), Java, network security, UNIX, Panduit network infastructure essentials, Web design, wireless LANs, and more - including the CCNP in some programs.

My advice would be to start with the CCNA, go after the HP IT essentials, and to add network security, wireless LAN, and possibly even the CCNP (if available, and you have time to take that many classes) to your program of study. That way, when you get finished you'll be able to claim a much broader body of knowledge. I'd also urge you to get involved with your program by volunteering or part-timing as a network technician or administrator and getting as much hands-on exposure and experience as you can.

With that combination of studies and activities, not only will you be more likely to find work, you'll also no longer be in the "certification but no experience" situation that stymies so many job searches nowadays.

In Corpus, salaries tend to be about 20-25% lower than there are here in Austin where I live. Here an entry level network technician position usually starts at $28-32 K, so you'd have to expect something in the $24-28 K range down there.

This was first published in March 2006

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