CCNA Career Path
The CCNA career path has been a proven accelerator for any technologist or an aspiring to be. It is a motivator to keep pushing on with CCNA studies and use it as leverage for a network focused career.
Within the studies, valuable skills are learned to make the learner competent for the network role they move into. This is the de facto certification in all environments, including non-Cisco. Because of the level of leadership Cisco takes in being the infrastructure of the majority of the world’s communication backbone, other network technologies adapt integral to Cisco’s framework.
Employers thus view the CCNA as a value-add. It becomes a benchmark to determine competency of a candidate to come into a diverse network environment.
Because the niched demand of network technologists, many of the Cisco certification will make them more in demand for the role companies want from them. But this gets into the latter part of the CCNA career path – other specializations. Before getting there, the first step must happen into the CCENT.
CCENT Salary and Jobs
The most proven track record for the CCNA is to begin with the CCENT certification.
Many people postpone their job search past an accompanying CCENT salary to straight for the CCNA and its’ accompanying salary. However, having the CCENT can open initial doors into the networking world.
As the acronym spells, Cisco Certified Entry Network Technician, the CCENT qualifies technologists for ‘entry’ level network technology positions. Thus, the CCENT salary can be pursued in relation to the job roles.
So, what are these roles that can be filled with the CCENT?
It’s really what you make of it. Ideally, you would want to pivot into the next job role with the CCENT and specific experience. To get that specific experience can be hard, but volunteering entrepreneurship can be that path to take. Someone is usually willing to take an eager person looking to exchange gaining experience for volunteered help. But this isn’t always required. Job roles can still be filled with just the certification. Below are this of job roles:
- Network Hardware Installer
- Network Cable Technician
- Network Operator
The CCNA pushes the qualification for these roles further. You can also add on roles like:
The CCNA career path gives a better leverage for the path to become a network engineer with no experience. It also means a CCNA salary will usually be better paying than a CCENT salary.
Either way finding roles with a CCENT or CCNA as soon as possible is the most advisable. Learning networks to become a network engineer is less theory and more practical. It makes the goal more attainable.
How long should you stay at your first role?
Your first CCNA role will teach you troubleshooting skills and give you a framework for how communication systems are built for companies. These entry roles may provide a decent CCNA salary. More often than not, this is just the lowest rung. There’s more.
Don’t neglect the value your first role will provide. It’s an opportunity to get paid to learn. So learn. Learn fast. And then pivot.
Pivoting is a strategy that requires understanding of what recruiters are looking for. So begin interviewing once you’ve established some knowledge of real network from your first role in your CCNA path.
You should really have some measure of understanding between 1-3 months into the role. Start figuring out what the market wants then and start interviewing to learn what other companies want.
If there are skills mentioned in interviews that you don’t have, write them down. Follow up on these questions until you understand job descriptions that are posted. Practice these skills in your current job so you can build your skill set portfolio in response to what the job market wants.
For people who are motivated and putting time in, there’s no reason to stay at the first role for more than 6-9 months. The demand for skillful technicians complements higher paying salaries.
The Next Step in your CCNA Career Path
Getting the CCNA helps you get your foot in the door.
But what’s more important is to pick up the skill sets the job market demands.
You can find salaries of higher certifications that have a huge medium, but if you can’t interview into those roles, there’s no point.
The next step could be the CCNP. That’s an important certificate to learn more theory and harden what you know about the CCNA. But it is NOT a requirement. Proven experience is.
It’s possible to make six figures with a CCNA salary.
But the logical progression of certifying for higher certifications make sense. If you want to gain skill sets that way go for it.
Here’s the certification path after the CCNA:
- Another CCNA – Depending on market demands, you may consider other specialties apart from routing and switching. Take Collaboration, Data Center or Security for instance. These are in demand and can be more fitting if you are able to work your current experience with these roles.
- CCNP – As with the CCNA, there are other specialties that can be possible with this.
- CCIE – This and the CCAr are the holy grail of the certification world. If you’re not making six figures having these certifications, you’re probably doing something wrong.
If you’re in the middle of your CCNA studies, keep pushing forward. The CCNA career path provides a worthwhile end game ie ccna salary. And don’t forget to gain that in-market experience!
For more resources that are clear and concise, please see:
- Odoms CCNA book