You should feel a great sense of pride and satisfaction once you have achieved your CCNA certification. The biggest question is, “What do I do now?” Don’t let your time, effort, and money go to waste! Utilize this new certification to boost your IT career!
What you can do with your CCNA certification depends on your current situation. If you are new to the field and looking for your first IT position, then your strategy would be very different from the experienced IT pro who has recently obtained their certification. In either case, the good news is that the CCNA certification from Cisco is considered to be a valuable and highly sought after credential, so job opportunities should be abundant.
Here are my thoughts on how to proceed for both the new entrant to the IT field and the experienced IT Pro:
CCNA Without Experience
Never stop learning!
Working with technology means that change is part of our daily lives, so we must stay current with the latest advancements. Staying on top of the advances in a given field or area of expertise is critical to your relevance in the work place, so take advantage of all learning opportunities. Join study groups or Meet Ups to learn from others in the field, read blogs and Cisco websites to stay on top of new or evolving technologies. One strategy that I have found critical is leveraging Twitter which can funnel information to me rather than spending hours searching the Internet to find important announcements or relevant changes.
Utilize social networking tools like LinkedIn to promote your newly acquired certification and effectively connect with other professionals and placement specialists. Also, attending Cisco conferences can help you meet the right people to further promote yourself. Again, join various study groups and learn enough to become a presenter/mentor for others.
Gain real-world experience
Hands-on experience in a production environment can further set you apart from other candidates, so be willing to gain experience through different channels. One solution would be to purchase a home lab and work through all of the setup, configuration, troubleshooting, security and optimization procedures taught in your studies for the CCNA. Labs kits can be purchased off of EBay and can be a difference maker when it comes to thoroughly understanding these technologies.
Also, pursue other forms of experience by offering your services for free. For example, work as a volunteer for smaller companies who may not be able to afford high priced consultants and full-time IT staffs. Often family and friends work for or know of small companies who need some basic assistance with networking, etc. so become a valued technologist by assisting these companies free of charge or perhaps at a discounted rate.
Experienced IT Pro
Explore new technologies
Few technologies have the staying power to be relevant throughout your IT career, so be open to learning new technologies which can lead to new opportunities. Be willing to self-study some technologies in order to gain a rudimentary understanding of potentially relevant fields of study.
Embrace the Cloud and Security
The cloud and cyber security are two areas of interest are two of the most sought after skill-sets and will likely be in demand for several years, so embrace learning and being an advocate of both of these fields. Both may require a steep learning curve and constant attention to evolving technologies, but these types of skill-sets will certainly open doors for qualified practitioners. LeaderQuest offers a complete Cyber Security program and also several individual cyber security courses.
Engaging with other technical specialists can be enlightening as to what skills gaps you may still have and can assist with improving your overall understanding of this constantly changing field. Take opportunities to attend sponsored events and conferences to learn the latest technologies directly from the experts.
If you haven’t achieved your CCNA certification yet, stop thinking about it and just do it! The bottom line is that the CCNA certification can help you boost your career and increase your pay. You will need to network, market yourself and your certifications, and continue growing your skills and experience. Our Network Support and Network Security Specialist training programs will prepare you for the CCNA certification and help boost your professional profile.