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Certifications for network or systems administrator

Hi Ed,
I am currently working as a technical support representative and would like to get into administrative field and would like to know what certifications to take in order to become network administration/system administrator.

Could you give me more insight if it is better to take CCNA with N+ certification or MCSE with N+ certification?

I am currently doing a course on CCNA. What are the opportunities after doing this course?

Waiting for your valuable feedback.
Dear Smitha:
You're on the right track with your prospective slates of Network+ and either CCNA or MCSE. But the CCNA is a single exam entry level certification so to really compare "apples to apples" as the old saying goes, you might want to extend your Cisco path to reach for the CCNP beyond the CCNA (and look at CCIP or CCSP if either infrastructure or security topics might interest you more). Right now, the job market is pretty tough for IT professionals, especially network administrators, according to a recently published study from the Information Technology Association of America about which I blogged recently for InformIT.com (ITAA; https://www.informit.com/isapi/st~{9B521AE9-6212-44A9-A2AE-46BD4A7D6458}/topics/index.asp)

What you really must decide is whether you prefer to work on desktop and server administration, in which case the Microsoft path makes the most sense, or on routers, switches, and other network infrastructure devices, in which case the Cisco path makes the most sense. Then you can start plugging away at the various exams to help you reach your goals.

As for job prospects with a Network+ and CCNA, the best you could hope for would be a help desk or entry-level technical support position, or a junior-level networking job if you were to get extremely lucky. As I said earlier in this e-mail, as a single-exam entry-level cert, the CCNA is a great stepping stone to other professional level certs, but not terribly intrinsically valuable in and of itself.

HTH, and good luck,

This was last published in May 2003

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