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Should I try for the CCNA certification or the CCDA certification?

I am an R&D network engineer in high performance networking, but I'd like to enter the 'real world,' so to speak. I have 10 years of experience in the telecommunications Industry that I'd like to take advantage of. Should I try for the CCNA certification or the CCDA certification? CCDA looks more impressive, but there are far more jobs for CCNA certification holders.

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Why on earth would you want to enter the real world, when you get to play in the candy store every day? At any rate, neither CCNA nor CCDA by itself is enough to do you a whole lot of good. That's because both are pretty much entry-level, single exam certs that don't carry a lot of weight in the marketplace. On the other hand, the CCNA is a stepping-stone to nearly every other Cisco cert (except CCIE, which has no pre-requisites, surprisingly), so if you're going to start somewhere, that's the place to start. But please don't think the CCNA (or CCDA, for that matter) will be enough to get you a job by itself. I have to guess your experience in your current job would be worth as much, if not a lot more, to prospective employers. Why don't you look around at the job market in your area to learn (a) what kinds of Cisco certs are requested by name in job postings you might be qualified to pursue and (b) to find out if anybody's advertising for CCNA or CCDA without more advanced Cisco certs. Good luck!

This was first published in November 2004

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