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John Palmer

My name is Ryan Wetzbarger and my major is Associates of Applied Science Degree in Computer Science/Networking.  I am A+ Certified and have some work experience with repairing computers and accessories.  My goal is to earn additional IT certificates such as Cisco CCNA, Cisco CCNA Security, Linux, and Security+.  I want to troubleshooting, fix, and maintain computers and servers for a living.  I am more interested in a technical side than management side.  With an Associates Degree, additional certificates, and experience, I don't think a four years degree is necessary.  What do you think?

Answer
Hey Ryan -

Getting a degree is not a bad thing at all, it definitely does help when HR and recruiters look at resumes.  However, I can personally vouch that a 4 year degree isn't needed to land a decent job.

There is the catch-22 that I've seen a LOT of people fall into, which is they will study hard, and get their technical certifications (CCNA/CCNP, JNCIS/IP, etc), but can't get a job due to not having enough experience in the field.  If you work on getting the rest of your certs, and then work in a job that gets you from the bowels of IT starting work (pc repair, deskside and help desk), and move your way upwards from there, it gives the people who hire those people a good idea that you're the person who will work for what they want.

From your description, I definitely would go next for your Net+, as this gives you a solid grounding in network theory.  I would also recommend to NOT just rely on only one vendor to get certs in, like Cisco.  most to all companies have a variety of different equipment in their portfolio, and I'd recommend branching out.  Getting a CCNA/CCNP, CCNA security are definitely good things to get, but I'd also recommend that if your goal is to get into network security (like it sounds), then you've got several other major players in the field you want to learn as well.  My current job has thrown me into learning Palo Alto Networks firewalls, which is one I'd recommend learning as they are a company that is growing FAST and will get footholds in a LOT of datacenters, so check out their ACE and CNSE certification tracks.  I would also recommend working on getting some Juniper certs as well, at the very least if your going into security, go for their JNCIA-JUNOS (basic cert on their network OS; in my opinion it's easier to learn if you don't have much history on IOS), and then going for your JNCIS-SEC.  

Next, I would also recommend going for some of the network appliance certs.  Some I would recommend would be load-balancers, since these are used across the board.  the 2 major names to check out are F5 BIG-IP systems, and the Citrix Netscalers.  

Another item that would REALLY help in rounding out your resume, is getting a VERY good grounding on Layer 2 devices and technology.  Switches are used for network segmentation, aggregation, links and all kinds of other fun stuff.  Working on the Cisco Catalyst, Juniper EX-series, Avaya, HP, etc.   

I know that this is likely far more information than you may have been looking for, but I don't like to provide half-assed answers if I can avoid it, and I don't like to sprinkle glitter on the prospects.  There is a good long road ahead of you, but if you are ready and willing to put in a lot of work on your own personal side, it's worth it.  I myself spent over a decade in the trenches, working some jobs that gave me no career options, no opportunity, crappy pay and some really anal customers.  But, after working hard, studying and getting myself pulled through the ranks, I'm now pulling in over 100k/yr, and have an awesome job, where I work at home 1/2 the time, and 1/2 the time I'm flying out to customer locations to do system installations and configs.

You will get frustrated with the system, you will yell, cuss, and question the ability of getting away with murder at times :)   keep to it, plow ahead.... speak up (professionally) when the situation calls for it.

Hope this helps! :)  

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John Palmer

Expertise

I'm certified as an A and Network Technician, and I can help explain the theory and praticality of any of the questions you might have in the study of these fields. I've had my A for 10 years, and Network plus was recently obtained

Experience

I've been an IT technician for 10 years, as well as a printer technician.

Education/Credentials
MCP in NT Workstation/Server, A and Network certified.

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