So you've studied for the test and earned your Network+ Certification; the certificate comes in the mail and you receive that ever-important small blue-and-white card with your name and CompTIA ID number on it. Where do you go from here?
One aspect of the Network+ is its universality. Unlike earning a CCNA or MCSE, earning a Network+ certification certifies you to work as a network technician in multiple platforms; it is not vendor-specific, but rather, vendor-neutral. As a Network+ certified technician, you should be prepared to work on (at least at a basic level) most types of networks, because the exam covers the generalities of networking and not so much specific information about certain types of networks.
More immediate than being ready to work on multiple networking platforms, however, is the ability to work in multiple functions. The Network+ Exam certifies you as a "CompTIA Certified Networking Technician," but "help-desk specialist" is certainly not the only position open to you as a Network+ technician. Actually, there are many paths open to you as such a technician, as we explore below:
This path is of course the most obvious, but there are many opportunities for advancement. Of course, there are many industry certifications that are vendor-specific available to you. In fact, Network+ counts as a credit towards some of these certifications. As a technician, you will generally be involved in troubleshooting network issues
The security field is perhaps one of the fastest growing fields of expertise in the industry, and several certifications are available in the Security field, including the CompTIA Security+ certification. Networking is the most integral component of information security today and network knowledge is a requirement to be a proficient information security specialist.
Several certifications, such as MCSA/MCSE and CCNA, have been designated specifically as "Administration" certifications. You are, as always, open to pursue these. An administrator is typically charged with the duty of managing day-to-day network issues, attempting to troubleshoot these issues, and maintaining quality of service throughout the network. He also generally takes flak for "what goes wrong with the network," but is paid handsomely for this burden in many cases.
Training and teaching
One of the best aspects of getting any certification is that it almost automatically qualifies you to at least train others in that discipline. It adds credibility to your claims of knowledge, perhaps the most important qualification for any trainer or teacher. One of the most rewarding careers following certification is not to be a tech or administrator, but rather, a trainer for future Network+ students.
Web Services Networking is invariably connected to the Web services industry (especially the Web and data hosting industry); your knowledge of networking can therefore be useful to a Web services firm. Many web hosting companies require "live" help-desk technicians to assist with customers' connection issues, while others need technicians to assist them with their own networking issues.
Here are some other career paths, just to name a few:
- Web/network systems development (PHP, CGI/Perl, Java)
- Networking forensics (often linked with information security)
- Networking equipment purchasing/sales specialist
- Systems Analyst (speed, bottle-necks)
Keep an open mind
Beyond the aforementioned tracks, there are still other valuable career paths available to you as a Network+ technician that you may not even consider viable options. Allow me to introduce a small personal anecdote. A friend of mine got laid off a few years back from a large corporation that will remain nameless for now. He was Network+ certified as well as CCNA certified, and also had a great deal of experience working at the company he worked for. Yet, he took a job as a grocery store clerk at the local chain store. Today, he works at "Corporate" as one of the senior network analysts and frequently recommends networking solutions for older stores that have not been fully integrated into the company's supply chain system. So, what seemed to be a menial offer proved to be a gateway to an even more rewarding career than the one he had prior. The point is this: never let what seems to be a "menial" job detract you from participating in what could potentially be a rewarding opportunity.
ProProfs Free Online Network+ Certification School provides free study aids for the Network+ exam such as study guides, practice exams and practice questions. ProProfs online learning center for Comptia Network+ exam is located at: http://www.ProProfs.com/certification/comptia/network-plus/index.shtml
This was first published in September 2006