Has certification improved or changed your career life?

Unanswered Question

Test takers spend their valuable time and money to prepare these certificates. Most of them do this to fulfil their dream of nice career or job advancement. Apart from certificates, you need to have good college degree and relevant work experience to end up with good career which certifying industries failed to mention.

In short, has CCNA or CCNP has changed or improved your career life? If “yes” how?

Do you think your life has changed-because of your

1. Good college degree

2. Your work experience

3. CCNA/CCNP?

(Or Combination of All)

What you advice to people who lack 1 and 2? ---Why?

I have this problem too.
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sirdudesly Mon, 05/26/2008 - 04:45

1) Working on a university degree at the momment

2) don't have any yet

3) CCNA

I earnt my CCNA when I still had over a year to go for highschool, so for me it was more for personal enjoyment (yes that sounds sad)

gaining CCNA enabled me to apply for better jobs, although I already had a college degree and 7+ years experience most empoyers still want to see the industry 'badge' i.e. CCNA, CCNP etc and as such make it a mandatory qualification in order to get an interview... Once you've got the interview the combination of all the three you mentioned above should help you land the job.

In short I would say gaining certification improved my career life, in order for it to stay that way I plan to continue up the certification ladder.

If you lack a degree or work experience then you may find it equally hard to land your first job, even though your a ccna/ccnp you may still need to spend a few years at the bottom i.e. 1st / 2nd line but you should quickly progress if you know your stuff and are eager/keen to work hard

Hope that helps

jrensink78 Tue, 05/27/2008 - 05:13

Yes, it helped me make the jump into networking.

I started in my company's helpdesk with limited experience and no college degree. During my time in the helpdesk, I completed my degree. Right about the same time, I also earned my CCNA. That allowed me to be considered for an open networking position in my company.

HR rule said I had to have my 4-year degree to apply for the job. But I think the CCNA made the difference in terms of actually getting the job. But I also had a great track record in the helpdesk, which helped them feel good about taking a chance on me since I had no networking experience.

So in the end, it was a combination of all 3. My advise would be to do whatever you can to build all 3 yourself. Keep working on certifications. Grab any experience that you can get your hands on. Think volunteer work if you can't get any experience in your current company.

Also, some people will disagree, but do what you can to get your 4-year degree. It doesn't have to be at some great college. Many HR departments (like mine) will require it. Not having your degree will limit your opportunities. You can still find a job without one. But odds are it will hold you back at some point in your career. If you can find a job that offers tuition reimbursement, you can get your degree for pretty cheap if yo pick a reasonable school.

svermill Tue, 05/27/2008 - 09:04

Certification programs offer a structured learning approach to what typically amounts to a fairly large volume of information. Earning certifications allows one to demonstrate the acquisition of much - if not most - of that information.

I think the days of certification craze are safely behind us forever. They remain a solid indicator for hiring managers/clients, which is all they ever should have been. I can recall when a CCNA or CCDA was an automatic ticket to a high-paying job with lots of responsibilities. That simply wasn't sustainable and we, as an industry, seem to be over it now. Whew!

But in answer to your main question, degrees and experience are certainly very valuable assets in the job market. I don't think you'll encounter too many job reqs which are certification-based only (unless they are very focused/advanced certs not widely held throughout industry). But there are many of us who lack the degree and are earning a decent living. Gaining experience with only a degree or only a certification will ever be a challenge. Probably more of a challenge with only a certification vs. only a degree, but I suppose it really comes down to your specific career goals. I personally would not pursue a four-year degree program if I truly wanted to be a router jock who bangs out stuff on the CLI every day. Neither would I pursue advanced certifications if I had some aversion to actually working with the gear.

YMMV

suelange Tue, 05/27/2008 - 09:27

I had 4 yr degree in CS, 25 years experience. I've seen a lot of changes in the industry in that time. Short of going back to school every couple of years, the cert programs are a good way to keep up.

During my career I garnered many Novell certs as that was the path I was on. They never cost me as much in time, money or energy, as they paid back. Well worth every effort and dime I spent.

When I could see the writing on the wall where Novell was concerned I took a hard look at my career and decided to pursue what interested me. I quit a good paying mid-level management position "cold turkey" and spent 6 months full time self-studying for my CCNA. I landed a job shortly after. It doesn't pay as much as the management position did, but it pays a lot better than, as a manager, I had been able to pay my network engineers. The difference has to be the CCNA cert, which is directly applicable to this position. I'm now working on my CCNP just for fun.

For someone who has reached my age and career level, the real thrill of the cert is just knowing I can still learn. Some days I really wonder about that!

But to answer you question I now have all 3 of your qualifcations. None of them has ever hurt me and I think they have helped open doors that otherwise would have been closed in a very competative market.

If you lack # 1, that's easy to fix. Many companies offer tuition reimbursement programs. Look long and hard at that benefit before you leave a job that seems dead-end or low paying.

If you lack #2, that can be tricky. How are you supposed to gain experience if no one will give you any? Expect to work for less until you've paid your dues in the trenchs. I kid you not, as a manager, I had one guy who lacked the experience but had the degree. He was so intent on getting a job that he said he'd work for 2 weeks no charge. If I liked him, I could hire him if not, he'd leave and I'd owe him nothing. Not many firms would not even consider that but mine did, and it was a win-win deal.

More practically speaking, if you need experience, consider doing after hours volunteer work for non-profit agencies or churches. Such entities always need engineering and can't afford to pay for it. It's good experience and there are contacts to be made at the "board level" in such organizations. There's more than one way to "network", if you know what I mean.

Good luck to you!

jim_berlow Wed, 05/28/2008 - 13:36

I want to say that there is some really good advice and perspectives posted here. My experience matches up nicely with what others have already said.

With regards to your question of advice to those who have no college degree or work experience, I want to offer some more advice. Education is extremely important in this field. If you don't have a college degree, then I recommend that you find some way to get into a college. It is extremely difficult to get that first job in IT if you are competing with new graduates who possess the same level of experience that you have (i.e. zero experience). Companies are discriminating when it comes to entry level positions - ideally they want college graduates with experience. If they cannot find that then they look for non-graduates with experience and then if they still can't find anyone they will look at individuals who have little or no experience with certifications.

I know that college isn't for everyone, but neither is a career in IT for everyone. The marketplace expects IT professionals to have a degree.

What to do if you absolutely cannot attend college? Volunteer. Find someplace where you can get practical work experience while completing your certifications. If you do that, you might get lucky and find an employer who will look past the lack of education and give you an opportunity. This is an extremely difficult way to get into the field, however.

Wilson Samuel Tue, 06/03/2008 - 11:43

Hi,

I guess I have a very unique position in the market. Having studied Bio sciences in the college degree (I grew up in India, and there its 3 yr degree course) some how I was tricked into Novell course (thanks to the media which was crying day in and out about 'Information Superhighway' now called Internet).

But, soon I learnt the hard way, that my degree and certs are totally opposite and really did counter productive for initial years, as in those days everyone wanted to know "How come one can study Bio and System Admin together, and were highly skeptical of my capabilities and thus never bothered to give me a chance, other said, If I had experience they might consider me, and without job how I could have got an experience.

Fast Forward 3 years, which somehow I managed to survive even in the gloomiest days of 2001-2002, and then came the radical change in the networking/system admin, and the market went hungry and I started on.. ever since no looking back!!

However all these years ( I got about 8 yrs of exp.) all I have had relied upon is Certifications, which I would say is God's provision that I was able to do it.

So, the moral of the story, Certs alone wont work, Exp. alone wonth work, Degree alone wont work. Best is to have the mix. of all, a superb combination.

However if one has Knowledge+Cert (to proove in the workplace + interview), one is good, or rather I should say excellent.

HTH,

Kind Regards,

Wilson Samuel

Kevin Dorrell Tue, 06/03/2008 - 22:56

Soon_writeme,

It seems to me that you have a lot of helpful replies here. Some contributors have spent a lot of effort to reply in detail to your interesting question.

I suspect that you have (or someone else has?) misunderstood the rating system. A rating of 5 is for helpful replies, and 1 is for unhelpful ... not vice versa.

Also, some feedback would make for a more interesting discussion. What are your views on this?

Kevin Dorrell

Luxembourg

Eric Hansen Wed, 06/04/2008 - 09:46

I got my CCNA and I am working on my CCNP. While I would say the cert hasnt really affected my career I would say the process of getting my cert has effect my career greatly. I was a Network Admin before I started on the cert and I am persuing the cert to fill in the holes in my knowledge and honestly to give myself that good feeling of acoimplishing something. And thus far it has worked on both regards.

e-

svermill Thu, 06/05/2008 - 06:50

Hey Kevin,

Someone has been rating nearly every single post under "Certifications" as "not helpful" for at least the past couple of weeks. It's not unique to this particular thread at all. Just someone trying to cause michief for some unknown reason. Pretty sorry life if you ask me! But then again, this whole rating thing is overrated if you ask me, so I don't worry about it much. I think it actually underscores what a bad idea a rating system really is for a professional board such as this.

Cheers,

Scott

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