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BA in networking or certificates

I have a Bachelor's and a Master's degree in Computer Science and I have been working as a computer programmer for the past three years. I love my job but recently I have been reading up on Networking and found myself very interested in the field. I also took three networking courses in college. What I would like to do is to become a Network Engineer (specifically Cisco.) I would like to know what is the best way to get a job as Network Engineer since I do not have any work experience in that particular area?

Furthermore, I did not find any traditional college that has a "Bachelor's in Networking". The only schools that I found that have that degree are technical schools such as "ITT Tech" and "Devry". These technical schools claim to have both theory and hands on training that will make you a better Network Administrator or Network Engineer. For example, ITT Tech has a Bachelor's in networking offering a concentration of 12 core Networking courses (i.e., wireless networking, cabling and routing, operating systems, Novell, Linux, Windows NT, Cisco etc.) Those courses seem to be hands on and that is something that I never did in college. Most of the stuff we did was theoretical. If I go into networking, I would like to be the best network engineer I can be. Therefore, I think I have two choices:

1) Enroll to a school like ITT Tech to do their Bachelors in Networking, and then take the Cisco certifications (CCNA, CCNP)?

Or can I just...

2) Take the CCNA test, then look for a job in Networking since I already have a technology background?

Which one is best or is there another alternative?
Thank you.

As an entry-level, single-exam certification a CCNA is not enough to get you employed. That said, you should probably get the CCNA and follow it up with a CCNP, possibly a CCDP, and a CCIP, then start looking for some work. Your background may permit you to start looking sooner rather than later, because it's pretty germane, even though your specialization in school was in writing code rather than in working on networks.

Eventually, you might even want to consider pursuing the CCIE as the pinnacle of all Cisco certifications, and perhaps some security or other Cisco Qualified Specialist certs in-between.

Good luck with your certification efforts.
--Ed--

This was last published in February 2003

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