Hello, I am looking at going into this field as a career and am looking for any advice I can get. I am sure there are some knowledgeable here so let me have it. What certs are recommended and are there any preferred degrees I should look into?
You'd probably want to look into the Microsoft MCITP and Cisco CCNA exams. They are a good starting point in regards to certifications. Most employers also ask for a bsc in computer science or related field.
After the CCNA get the CCNP and you will be good to go. CCIE you can try but its a long waiting list and has two very very hard tests. Most people fail the the Hands on CCIE test which is super ridiculous.
I personally got to SE w/ a business admin degree and no certs... but I consider my case pretty lucky... Whatever you do, don't sell yourself short just cause you dont have certs... if its really what you want, go prove to someone you can do something related to it, or maybe a step under it...
network admin is kind-sorta-really vague. try and find a specialization: for starters, windows or *nix, though both will be really good for you. If you specialize in windows, be prepared to be proficient in MS Exchange and Active Directory, etc. It's also really helpful to know what kind of employer you're looking to work for. For instance, a small office or a large enterprise. When it comes to large enterprise, more certifications are needed for more specialized jobs, while with smaller orgs you will need to be well rounded. I suggest looking at job sites like monster.com or dice.com and look at the requirements employers are looking for, for the kind of jobs that sound interesting to you. whatever you do, do something!
one more thing: understanding core security practices is also really helpful in interviews. i highly suggest this book-- from amazon used is 5 bucks. that's a steal. you don't need to know everything this small book has in it, but it's an outstanding resource for the job seeker, and it breaks down security basics quite well.
The title is too vague, it really depends where you apply, some require degree + experience, some require certificate, if you do have a comp sci/networking degree and a bit of experience then companies usually pay for you to take the test providing you pass, if a test/cert is required.
If you decide to go down the pathway of network administration certification, you can choose to gain certification using the particular hardware and/or software you are working with, for example Novell Networks or Cisco, or you can choose to gain generic certification, for example using CompTIA's Network+. Generic network administration certification gives you the advantage that it is applicable to all possible networking situations, but you may be able to gain more and more in-depth certification in vendor certification schemes. You may find that your particular installation has a pre-defined certification pathway that they expect you to take, but whatever you decide to do, certification will certainly help your career
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