Is CCNA the ticket off of the help desk?

KandinskyKandinsky Posts: 108Member ■■■□□□□□□□
I worked at an ISP for 12 or so years until I got laid off last year. I qualified for a grant to go back to school, so I went to New Horizons and took a track with them. Over the past year I earned 4 MTA certifications, and A+, Network+ and Security+. I have recently begun work with another ISP that I have been with for about a month now. Help desk job again.

As thrilled as I am with all my new shiny certs, I realize that they are all still entry-level certifications and I question their usefulness beyond obtaining help desk positions.

The question I pose is, would the CCENT/CCNA + my other certs + my help desk experience be enough to get me to a non help desk position? I'm really tired of help desk to be honest. I'm not talking about some senior systems engineer role or something crazy like that. I just need something that would get me off the phone. Before I invest the time and money and mental anguish to take on the CCENT/CCNA do you think that this cert(s) would help me to get off the help desk? If not, what would you suggest? I truly appreciate any feedback.
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Comments

  • RemedympRemedymp Posts: 834Member
    State of Florida is hiring for IT.

    State of Florida is hiring.

    A CCNA may help, or it could hurt you.

    I would also look at the MCSA in Server 2012.

    Your lack of post secondary will hold you back from a human resource aspect.
  • koz24koz24 Posts: 766Member
    Go CCNA R&S if you want to be on the network side of things. Go MCSA Server 2012 if you want to be on the system side of things. Get both if you want to be a jack of all trades. These certs will get you interviews that you otherwise would not get, so to answer your question, they are absolutely a first step into getting out of Help Desk.
  • E Double UE Double U Posts: 1,469Member ■■■■■■■□□□
    Along with four years of NOC experience, the CCNA helped me land a role on the configurations team. When I left config for the SOC, the CCNA was required. When I left the SOC for a bank security role, the CISO liked that I had the CCNA.

    Since the CCNA has helped me land three roles, I highly recommend it.
    "You tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try." - Homer Simpson
  • KandinskyKandinsky Posts: 108Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    RemedyMp: just curious, how could having a CCNA hurt me?

    koz24: I noticed you have a CCNA R&S. How has that been working out for you? Has it opened a lot of doors for you?

    E Double U: Good to know. icon_thumright.gif
  • kMastaFlashkMastaFlash Posts: 1,012Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    It can hurt you if you lack certain networking experience to back up the cert (real world application + cert = big money) and if you don't have a college degree of some type to show an academic education background. If you combine all 3 you are in good shape. It's like saying you have a triangle with one side missing then you don't have a triangle if that makes sense at all. With having helpdesk experience and CompTIA certs, I would start with CCENT 100-101 to see if it is a good fit for you. No sense in doing the 200-120 to find out you hate doing the stuff/lose interest and being discouraged because it is a hard test to do it in one go. Take the 2 exams and pace yourself to see if it works for you. I did mine in 2 parts and I can say from having it that you need the hands on experience for it to open doors. There is no one all be all solution for opening doors. It's a combination of factors but the CCNA is a start indeed. I hope this helps you out some. Best of luck!

    Also note this, a certification shows a minimum understanding of a subject not full mastery. A cert lays the foundation to gain the experience and build on top of it to complete the pyramid and reach the top (even though there is no top in IT) just for philosophical purposes.
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  • RemedympRemedymp Posts: 834Member
    Kandinsky wrote: »
    RemedyMp: just curious, how could having a CCNA hurt me?

    koz24: I noticed you have a CCNA R&S. How has that been working out for you? Has it opened a lot of doors for you?

    E Double U: Good to know. icon_thumright.gif

    It's as Kmastaflash said. If you don't have real world experience to back it up, it will hurt you. Routing and Switching is a major portion of the fabric of any enterprise. It should be second nature to you like breathing. You can't "google" your way through it either.

    I work in Network Security and we get resumes all the time with guys putting "CCNA" this and "CCNA" that on their resume and when Engineers see it and bring the guy in for an interview, they lay right into him. We had one come across last week. The guy had CCNA, CCNP, all this alphabet soup on his resume. Once they got him for an interview, they tore this man apart and he didn't even bother finishing the interview. Just decided to walk out.

    My advice to you is to focus on what your current scope of responsibility is cert wise. If you can get your MCSA in Windows 7, I don't see the problem. However, maybe going back to school may have more financial gain than debt than you think.
  • koz24koz24 Posts: 766Member
    Remedymp wrote: »
    It's as Kmastaflash said. If you don't have real world experience to back it up, it will hurt you. Routing and Switching is a major portion of the fabric of any enterprise. It should be second nature to you like breathing. You can't "google" your way through it either.

    I work in Network Security and we get resumes all the time with guys putting "CCNA" this and "CCNA" that on their resume and when Engineers see it and bring the guy in for an interview, they lay right into him. We had one come across last week. The guy had CCNA, CCNP, all this alphabet soup on his resume. Once they got him for an interview, they tore this man apart and he didn't even bother finishing the interview. Just decided to walk out.

    My advice to you is to focus on what your current scope of responsibility is cert wise. If you can get your MCSA in Windows 7, I don't see the problem. However, maybe going back to school may have more financial gain than debt than you think.

    Couldn't disagree more with this post. Why are you advocating he gets an MCSA in Windows 7 when this guy is clearly trying to get OUT of Help Desk. MCSA win 7 will do NOTHING for him. It's cool that "they" tore "someone" apart in an interview, but it means nothing to the OP. If he legitimately gets the CCNA R&S, he will be closer to his ultimate goal which is getting out of Help Desk, and he won't be torn apart in an interview. Also, going back to school is not the best advice either. Certs over degrees in his case, and it's not even close.
  • RemedympRemedymp Posts: 834Member
    koz24 wrote: »
    Couldn't disagree more with this post. Why are you advocating he gets an MCSA in Windows 7 when this guy is clearly trying to get OUT of Help Desk. MCSA win 7 will do NOTHING for him. It's cool that "they" tore "someone" apart in an interview, but it means nothing to the OP. If he legitimately gets the CCNA R&S, he will be closer to his ultimate goal which is getting out of Help Desk, and he won't be torn apart in an interview. Also, going back to school is not the best advice either. Certs over degrees in his case, and it's not even close.

    So explain which experience does he have coming from the help desk with Routing and Switching?

    We see these types of resumes come across on a regular basis. People with a multitude of certs and no experience in any of the certs they have. It's exactly why the certifications have lost any sort of credibility and why Help desk has become a revolving door some. I'm not trying to slam OP, but this is what I do for work, so I see this day in and day out.

    No one is going to let you administer their network if you don't have that experience.

    Although, this is JMHO, and I could be wrong.
  • LeBrokeLeBroke Posts: 484Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    Remedymp wrote: »
    So explain which experience does he have coming from the help desk with Routing and Switching?

    We see these types of resumes come across on a regular basis. People with a multitude of certs and no experience in any of the certs they have. It's exactly why the certifications have lost any sort of credibility and why Help desk has become a revolving door some. I'm not trying to slam OP, but this is what I do for work, so I see this day in and day out.

    No one is going to let you administer their network if you don't have that experience.

    Although, this is JMHO, and I could be wrong.
    Out of curiosity, from someone in your position, what would you recommend for the OP to do?

    The way I see it, getting a CCNA can help the OP move to either a different department (i.e. the NOC) by showing he's interested in the source material, or get an entry/junior level job (again, at a NOC for example) by showing his previous IT experience.

    Is helpdesk super relevant? No. But if you can frame it as both customer service experience, and as semi-relevant experience, it's possible to turn it into something better.
  • pevangelpevangel Posts: 342Member
    I think you need to actually find a direction you want to go in. What do you enjoy doing?

    I don't know much about the systems side, but if you want to get into networking then go for the CCNA. As long as you study it legit and don't ****, then you should be fine on interviews. I know some people will disagree but it's an entry-level cert, so I don't know why it would hurt.
  • KandinskyKandinsky Posts: 108Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    Thanks for all the replies. It's been helpful reading the different opinions.

    FWIW, I have an A.S. in network administration and computer programming. I'm not sure how much weight if any an associate's degree carries in IT or if the minimum is a bachelor's, etc. I keep seeing that the cert alone is not enough to get the "big money" and that you also need "hands on experience." Which I'm not sure how I can get hands on experience if I can't get out of the help desk. I would love for someone to take me as I am so to speak, at my current skill level and show me hands on how cisco works etc but I'm not sure where to find positions like that.

    RemedyMP: I can understand that there are probably quite a few cert holders who unfortunately just brain dumped it or whatever and can't do anything when actually placed in front of the equipment. That being said, I'm not sure I'd apply for an organization like yours that prides itself on "tearing people apart." Sounds draconian. It seems more appropriate to maybe sit the candidate down in front of some kind of router or workstation and have them demonstrate their knowledge by going through a few tasks, rather than just trying to humiliate someone in some kind of knowledge fight. But whatever works for you.

    I think I will go after the CCNA. Or at least the CCENT. I know it won't get me the job by itself, but maybe if I can interview for some positions that I wouldn't normally be able to get into, I might have a shot at something better.
  • techfiendtechfiend Posts: 1,481Member
    If you are interested in networking CCNA is the next logical step. These days I think a bachelors is almost a requirement for moving up quickly and above admin level. If you do pursue I strongly suggest taking the ICND2 shortly after the ICND1 because there's so much overlap. 3 weeks ago I started studying ICND1 and remember thinking there's so much in the material that wasn't on the test. Now I'm starting to see it in boson's ICND2 practice exams, ie port security, ipv6 and a lot more subnetting.

    We're kind of in the same situation. I'm going to test the CCNA this week or next and hoping it'll translate into getting some experience in the near future. I'm currently an smb sys admin with no chance of cisco experience there and finding it complicated to find a position that can give me some experience. I do get approached for many sys admin positions but stop pursuing after I learn there's no exposure to networks. Not sure where to go from here, guess I'll have to wait to find out.
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  • KandinskyKandinsky Posts: 108Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    pevangel: I'm not so sure what I enjoy doing, I can tell you that I don't enjoy programming and I really don't enjoy the help desk. Servers, networking and security all seem interesting to me at the moment, but I am more inclined currently to learning cisco than I am to pursuing a higher level MS cert. I don't use ****, I try my best to actually comprehend the concepts rather than just try to memorize answers, I attempt to understand why the answer is right and also why the other answers are wrong. If this can get me into a NOC or some kind of junior networking role where I am no longer on the phone talking to people all day then it will be totally worth it.

    Techfiend: Good luck on your test and once you get CCNA keep me updated on how your job search/interviews go. I agree we seem to be in a somewhat similar situation and I'd be interested to know how it works out for you. I will get off this help desk it it kills me!
  • CleverclogsCleverclogs Posts: 95Member ■■□□□□□□□□
    While the CCNA R&S won't automatically get you a new job (Although it'd be great if it did :) ) it does help. I have my ICND1 and am currently studying for ICND2. Since creating a Linked-In page and revamping my CV I've had much more interest. Last week I was offered a job because the company was looking for someone that had Cisco experience. Unfortunately it was at best a sideways jump, so I've decided to stay put and keep job hunting until the right position comes up. I'm aiming to be out of Helpdesk by year's end. Good luck.
  • JimSweJimSwe Posts: 15Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    I agree CCNA won't automatically get you off the helpdesk, however it's a great resume booster. It's also fun and interesting to study and learn about. It gives you something to think about while you're doing the mindless helpdesk thing.


    I was stuck another 2 years at helpdesk after I got my CCNA, before I managed to get a better job. It wasn't directly because of the CCNA, but who knows, it might have helped.
  • kurosaki00kurosaki00 Posts: 973Member
    I dont see how CCNA would hurt you with 12 yrs of help desk experience...
    I think it would be a great addition to your resume at this point.

    You need to do something about the whole help desk thing man. You got 12 yrs of help desk experience and then go back to it?
    Certifications are awesome but experience alone you should be out of help desk years ago.
    Get some confidence, get some new skills, polish resume, polish interview skills and go out and apply to some jobs!

    Also, if help desk is definitely the only thing that shows up, at least try to get a better position from the last (more config duties, more pay, etc).

    Good luck
    meh
  • bpennbpenn Posts: 499Member
    I understand your blight with help desk. There are many help desk jobs (mine included) with no opportunity to touch infrastructure or the ability to move up. It makes it really hard for us to get experience when we don't get the option to touch the equipment that will get us there.
    "If your dreams dont scare you - they ain't big enough" - Life of Dillon
  • E Double UE Double U Posts: 1,469Member ■■■■■■■□□□
    bpenn wrote: »
    I understand your blight with help desk. There are many help desk jobs (mine included) with no opportunity to touch infrastructure or the ability to move up. It makes it really hard for us to get experience when we don't get the option to touch the equipment that will get us there.

    I was in the NOC when I was studying for the CCNA. Since my role didn't allow me to touch certain equipment, I asked the 2nd level team if I could have access to their lab environment for practice and they said yes.

    If you know any upper tier engineers within your organization then I recommend that you make a similar request.
    "You tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try." - Homer Simpson
  • Fulcrum45Fulcrum45 Posts: 557Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    You don't have to be born and die in the same place. If you cant get the experience get the cert anyway. There are plenty of places out there that will be more than willing to train you (albeit at a reduced salary compared to experienced techs) if you're willing to learn.
  • KandinskyKandinsky Posts: 108Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    kurosaki00 wrote: »

    You need to do something about the whole help desk thing man. You got 12 yrs of help desk experience and then go back to it?
    Certifications are awesome but experience alone you should be out of help desk years ago.
    Get some confidence, get some new skills, polish resume, polish interview skills and go out and apply to some jobs!

    At the time I sort of fell into a comfort zone. I was making pretty decent money for help desk and I guess I had no drive really to do anything better. Now that I was forced out of a job, it sort of awakened me to my situation and that's why I went out and got all those certs and am still thinking about CCENT.

    I took help desk again because I needed a job and I knew it was something that I could get without too much hassle. I did apply for a NOC position but when I spoke to the hiring manager on the phone, he seemed like he only wanted people who had cisco experience. I told him I had A+ and Network+ and he was like "that's nice, keep working on your CCNA." How some of you guys managed to get NOC positions without cisco please enlighten me, I would love to know. Because all the hiring managers I've talked to act like you're nothing if you don't have a CCNA.

    Also, it's like bpenn said, you have limited exposure to learning new technologies when you're at help desk, it doesn't matter if you're there for 2 years or 12. In that time, I got to be a lead tech, but I still wasn't in a position to touch servers or the network.
  • adam220891adam220891 Posts: 164Member
    Easy answer is it will definitely help.

    Get the CCENT first, and lab with Packet Tracer. Just follow along with the training materials (books, videos, whatever) and get used to typing commands and going through the motions. Do the CCNA after, and perhaps buy yourself an old catalyst switch and a cheap router on eBay. Then, you can tell employers about your home lab and they will likely be impressed (you should, obviously, actually use said lab).

    Many NOC roles require nothing more than an understanding of common LAN/WAN terminology and the ability to respond to SNMP alerts. You may not even configure network equipment, though you may login to switches/routers/etc. to see if a port is down or if there are error messages. With good interview skills and a good resume, this is a very achievable opportunity.

    Look for small companies where you can get in and be there help desk guy but in reality will be a JoAT. In my current environment, I was told I would not ever configure Cisco equipment and started by removing viruses and fixing printers. I've been there 19 months and I configure all new network equipment (not limited to just Cisco) and was able to instill the trust largely by obtaining the CCNA. We're not a very advanced network but it is a stepping stone.

    What no one else has mentioned, so I will, is that if you do get the CCENT/CCNA, as well as the other certifications, the IT Security track at WGU would make sense as a lot of the courses are waived with your certs. I do not know if the A.S. will still be valid due to the age, though.

    TLDR; Get the Cisco certs. Lab at home. Polish your resume and interview skills. Get into a NOC or a more hybrid role that is not just help desk, and then perhaps work on a B.S. degree or more certs to advance your career.
  • RemedympRemedymp Posts: 834Member
    LeBroke wrote: »
    Out of curiosity, from someone in your position, what would you recommend for the OP to do?

    The way I see it, getting a CCNA can help the OP move to either a different department (i.e. the NOC) by showing he's interested in the source material, or get an entry/junior level job (again, at a NOC for example) by showing his previous IT experience.

    Is helpdesk super relevant? No. But if you can frame it as both customer service experience, and as semi-relevant experience, it's possible to turn it into something better.

    Actually, I posted in my first post that there are jobs with his state government that he would more than likely qualify for with his experience. Good paying System Analyst and Jr Sys Admin positions with benefits. With his two help desk positions and the certs he currently holds, I don't think the lack of another cert is the problem. It could be something as simple as the format of his resume being discarded by HR systems looking for keywords of responsibilities that isn't being listed.

    I never worked a Help Desk per se, but I worked as contractor for almost my whole career just starting off with Desktop Deployments on a 6 month contract and quickly got my A+ and Server+ was offered a Data Center contractor to help build a data center from the ground up. I got my Network+ and moved on to Sys Admin position and then was offered Security Analyst position and got my Security+.

    Keep in mind, I have my bachelors in Information Security which is what kept opportunities coming.

    My advice to the OP, is to try and apply to your State and City positions I posted earlier. If those don't pan out, I would go the contractor route and take more money and keep working with the recruiter until you find the position you're looking for. I used RHT and NTT and they were extremely helpful in placing me into the opportunities to move me up.

    If you want to PM, I may be able to talk to a guy who knows a guy that can help you.
  • aderonaderon Posts: 402Member
    As long as you can interview well, a CCNA and your background could definitely land you a job in a NOC if that is what you desire. (This is all under the assumption that you're not just studying to pass).
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  • bpennbpenn Posts: 499Member
    E Double U wrote: »
    I was in the NOC when I was studying for the CCNA. Since my role didn't allow me to touch certain equipment, I asked the 2nd level team if I could have access to their lab environment for practice and they said yes.

    If you know any upper tier engineers within your organization then I recommend that you make a similar request.

    Its funny you say that man, our network engineers are located in DC and I am in Florida but they agreed to create a limited permissions account so that I can access our switches and routers to play with the CLI. So happy to get to touch something!
    "If your dreams dont scare you - they ain't big enough" - Life of Dillon
  • E Double UE Double U Posts: 1,469Member ■■■■■■■□□□
    bpenn wrote: »
    Its funny you say that man, our network engineers are located in DC and I am in Florida but they agreed to create a limited permissions account so that I can access our switches and routers to play with the CLI. So happy to get to touch something!

    You have arrived my son!
    "You tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try." - Homer Simpson
  • LeBrokeLeBroke Posts: 484Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    Congrats! Now play with that stuff like no tomorrow!
  • KandinskyKandinsky Posts: 108Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    adam220891: Thanks for the feedback. I noticed that you have the same certs that I do except you also have CCNA and that you were able to get a jr network admin role. Something like that is basically all I'm after right now. I don't expect some senior engineer role, just a noc tech or jr network admin but something beyond the help desk. It's encouraging to hear that getting the cisco certs was pivotal in your case to getting to actually work with the networking equipment hands on.
  • IIIMasterIIIMaster Posts: 233Member
    Seem as if they brain **** through the exams. A true CCNA or CCNP can hold his own in any technical screening process regardless of experience.
  • koz24koz24 Posts: 766Member
    Remedymp wrote: »
    So explain which experience does he have coming from the help desk with Routing and Switching?

    We see these types of resumes come across on a regular basis. People with a multitude of certs and no experience in any of the certs they have.
    Let me put it this way, how are you supposed to get any experience if EVERY company out there was not willing to give any? The truth is entry-level positions are out there and companies will hire someone with zero experience, but you need the education to be qualified.

    It's exactly why the certifications have lost any sort of credibility and why Help desk has become a revolving door some. I'm not trying to slam OP, but this is what I do for work, so I see this day in and day out.

    Certifications have not lost credibility if the company does it's due diligence in technically grilling candidates before making offers. If the hiring manager is clueless himself then you have a case of the blind leading the blind. What does a CCNA R&S mean to you? To me it means that the candidate SHOULD be able to talk about in very technical detail of every topic on the blueprint and be able to lab it out if asked to. Can everyone do this? No. Should they be able to? Yes. If you are legitimate, you'll be able to.
    No one is going to let you administer their network if you don't have that experience.

    Chicken and the egg problem. Yes, they will. NOC positions will hire on a CCNA with no experience.




    I think your problem is not people with certs and no experience but people with certs who got them in illegitmate ways.
  • IsmaeljrpIsmaeljrp Posts: 480Member
    It will help, go for it. Learn as much as you can and get certified. Just do it.

    My CCNA helped me, not much experience but I had the minimum expected at the time. Due to company being understaffed I was trained up to be able to work with pretty much every piece of network and system equipment in the company. 1 yr in I'm sort of a JR. Systems Admin, NOC Network Specialist getting hands on with every level of the network, including WAN, Metro Ethernet, VoIP, only guy really managing our vSphere cluster that's hosting PBX systems....

    The pay is crap, but I get trained and when I decide to leave, I'll have a strong resume.
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