What Does a CCNA Do?
I was able to get a networking related job when I first switched from the food industry to I.T. It was mostly help desk level work regarding home routers. I didn’t have a CCNA, but it could be related. When I finally got the CCNA, I was able to jump ship to job that was more honed into CCNA work. You might be wondering exactly, what does a CCNA do?
A CCNA is a certified technologist that is able to understand, operate and maintain network administration. This can include work done on specific Cisco technologies such as VOIP Phones or Switches, and a broader range of network technologies. Although it is considered entry level, it can command higher salaries in how can pivot in the Information Technology industry.
Between you and me, I was able to get a six figures salary without getting the next certification up, the CCNP. It is still something I plan on doing in the future though. With the CCNA I have been able to work from basic network support all the way to configuring and troubleshooting advanced network technologies.
Entry Level CCNA
You obviously won’t start your network career designing the topology for a 50,000 user organization. It’s more likely you’ll be on the phone answering basic technology questions which you can escalate.
For instance, you might get a user who calls you. You’ll then probably reference a script and checklist. If the issue can’t be solved with those tools, you are likely going to escalate that issue to another level.
At this point there is a broader scope of technologies you will encounter. Which is good, because it’ll give you a good base as you progress up in the Information Technology.
There is a career path in this broader type of work which some people do well in. As a CCNA, this isn’t a path you’ll probably stop at.
It’s possible to have this more ‘customer support’ role for a short time. For some, without experience, it’s going to be a requirement. As you understand more of the networking topics in the CCNA you can move up in a fairly quick amount of time.
Entry to Mid Level CCNA
As an early CCNA, you will quickly find out how fast you can climb up the ladder. Good network talent is truly difficult for recruiters to find.
If you have some experience in Information Technology, let’s say around six months, it would be okay to start looking around for next steps up the CCNA career path.
The next path may have customer support involved, which is something you can’t get rid of entirely, but it will be much more specific to a network technology role.
Network Technician or Network Administrator would be a good title to aim for after some experience. You’ll get the chance to switch the broader scope of technologies you’re supporting to something more in line with the CCNA.
Titles don’t matter so much. Rather, it’s the roles you do. You’re doing well at this point if this is one of the roles you’ll be doing:
- Installing network hardware
- Taking phone calls specific to network issues
- Remoting access into network hardware
- Working with other technicians to solve lateral or vertical network issues
The bottom line is that, the role for a CCNA is more network specific. Plus, there’s a nice bump in pay.
With some time under your belt, you might want to review the CCNA. You’ll realizing you understand it more than when you first took it. You’ll realize that there are more technologies that you have to work that was not covered in the CCNA, as well as dealing with different types of personalities.
An advanced CCNA will realize they have to self-study on topics that doesn’t necessarily have a direct path to a certification. But it will help for the job. It also doubles as a way to understand the technologies that companies want a skill set for.
The skill set that you’ll find to be useful include working with systems level technologies.
Otherwise here are some points on what you may be doing, or have to understand at an advanced level:
- Understand how devices like computers and phones communicate through the network
- Implement and verify security measures on how these devices access the network
- Troubleshoot and implement safe guards for Spanning Tree
- Deploy and configure new network technologies to the enterprise
- Design and engineer a more robust and efficient topology
The above might seem intimidating, but it just takes time and a willingness to learn for it to become second nature. At this point you’ll be able to look back and see how quickly the pay bump has increased.
You might even consider certifying for a higher Cisco certification, like the CCNP.
Types of Jobs for a CCNA
For the most part, the I.T. career industry is based more on experience and knowledge of the skill set over what a piece of paper says. If you have that, then you can qualify for a lot of jobs. Especially with having a CCNA skill set. Some jobs that CCNA roles can fill are:
- Network Administrator
- Network Technician
- Field Engineer
- Network Engineer
- Network Designer
- Network Support
- Help Desk Technician
Obviously some of the jobs mentioned require more experience than the other. But the CCNA is a ticket that allows you to get the experience to move up these ranks. Because there are in depth topics covered in the CCNA, having this skill set will impress.
Can you get a job with just a CCNA certification?
A CCNA certification alone will provide opportunities in the network technology field. The best way to do so is have some general technology experience first. Meanwhile, using your CCNA knowledge to understand more of the labs you can build yourself. This certification will allow advancement in the technology industry without requiring other certifications. In general, I.T., is more of a field where you can prove your skill set with knowledge and experience than a certification or a degree.