What it takes to get into the networking field

I have read many forum posts about people wanting to get into the networking field and how to do it. I believe that the networking field is a great field to work in. Some times the hours are rough, but it’s well worth it. Here are my suggestions on what to do in order to get into the network field.

1. Be willing to learn, and continuously learn. Network vendors continue to come out with new equipment and new protocols. Each time, there is more to learn. I recommend reading in detail about each and every device on the network. As a network engineer you need to know what the limitations are of each product and module or line card in each product. You need to know where the over subscription is in your equipment. After 12+ years in the networking field, I continue to read release notes and configuration guides of each platform, even if it’s from the same vendor.

2. Get the basics. In the year 2000 I graduated from Illinois State University with a BS in Computer Science. I had a couple of programming classes, the rest were networking and telephony classes that taught me the basics. I learned about parity, IP, TCP, ASCI, TDM, Network Modeling, bottlenecks etc.. I even learned how to count in Base2 in order to understand IP addressing and why all of the numbers are divisible by 8. All of these basics still apply today. With out the basics, I would not be able to troubleshoot issues as well as I can today. I suggest finding a community college to take some courses that will teach you these NON-Vendor specific basics.

3. Vendor and Part specific knowledge. You need to get hands on experience and training on specific equipment.

There are a large number of community colleges that have CCNA (Cisco Certified Networking Associate) classes. I suggest taking one of the classes that are spread out over several weeks. Week long classes are very difficult and it doesn’t give you time to learn at your own pace. I worked with a guy that took week long classes and got his CCNA and CCNP certifications from these classes; he forgot everything and wasn’t worth the money we were paying him.

4. Get a JOb!!! Get an internship or a entry level position. Find a place that is willing to train you and allow you to work and grow. You may have to take less money then you make, but it will be worth it. If you continue to improve your skills, your salary will increase over the next few years. Don’t ever take a job at a company thinking you are getting your foot in the door with hopes that you will move into the networking group. Most likely, you’ll forget what you learned and not achieve your goal.

I had a guy tell me one time that he got out of IT because he was tired of learning something new every day. If your not willing to learn something new everyday, the Networking field is not for you.

Please give me your feedback about how you got into the networking field, or if you found this to be helpful!!!!!


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About Scape

Over 10 Years in the networking field. Have worked in the Service provider and Enterprise environments. I have worked with Cisco, Foundry/Brocade, F5, Riverbed, Scientific Atlanta, Routers, Switches, Firewalls, Load Balancers, WAN Accelerators, DWDM, SONET, Multicast etc...

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