What should you do once you’ve obtained your CCNA certification? For most people, the logical next step is to get a job as a basic networks engineer either designing or supporting the network infrastructure of a small to medium sized corporation. Many people might also be looking to switch career paths from a more general role in technology to a networking specialization. In either case, you should note these 2 things to improve your chances of success:
1. Practical Knowledge – The CCNA, being the entry level Cisco networking certification, is possibly the most common network certification these days. Just having the CCNA does not guarantee you a job as employers are getting more demanding. The one thing that will really set you apart from the other applicants is your experience with the configuration and troubleshooting of real Cisco networks, rather than something you read out of a book and only know how to do in theory.
You should aim to obtain such configuration and troubleshooting skills. A good way to do this is to build your own Cisco lab either at home or if you employer allows it, in the office. This will allow you to practice in the lab before doing it for real on a production network.
A good alternative to using real Cisco devices, is to use Cisco simulators such as the dynamips simulator or buy other Cisco simulator packages. However, one downside of these simulators is that you will only be able to practice your configuration skills but not problems like patch cord faults and other physical layer issues.
2. Networking Technology – It’s important to keep yourself apprised of the latest networking technology. In particular, if you know what your future company uses, this will help a lot when it comes to being interviewed because they will tend to focus on those areas.
Please note, however, that some companies consider this information to be a business secret. If you obtain the information unethically, you will not only not get the job but word will probably get around pretty quickly. Please only do this if the information is freely available and they are OK to tell you what technologies are being used. If you have this, do take the opportunity to brush up on the relevant technologies before going for the interview.