Fresh CCNA with lots of Mac experience. Next move?

drewbert87drewbert87 Member Posts: 16 ■□□□□□□□□□
Hey Guys,

I just passed my CCNA today and I'm considering several options for my next step. I'd really value some thoughtful opinions on these!

A little background, I do not have any college education. I am a manager in an independent Apple repair shop. I've worked there for 8 years and I'm 29 years old. I was a tech for most of 6 years and then was assistant manager for about 6 months and have been manager for just over a year.

There is little to no networking beyond restarting peoples routers over the phone in my current job. I am not sure I want to move on from this job yet for various reasons, including personal ones, but I do want my next job to be a heavily network focused role if not entirely.

I really enjoyed CCNA R&S studies, particularly OSPF, EIGRP, and switching technologies, thought I'm considering trying out voice and security tracks as well.

There is a local military base that contracts with many third party companies which are constantly hiring for networking jobs. They often request or require the Security+ exam (even though the CCNA security technically meets the same qualification, none of the postings mention it). There is also a local university and a couple of community colleges that may value my Mac experience quite a bit higher than others.

All that said, here are the things I'm considering:

Study for the security+ (In hopes of getting in at the military base)

Study for the CCNP routing and switching

Study for the CCNA Security (Branch out a bit rather than going deeper, hopefully base employers will count this the same as security+ but no promises)

Study for the CCNA Voice (because demand)

Also sort of separately, whether to search for a networking role right away, even if it means a step down in pay?

If I were to go for the CCNP would I be a "paper" CCNP since I have no networking expereince? I have a ton of technical experience, but a lot of employers might not value Mac that well, though I do prove obviously a troubleshooting and technical mindset with my experience as well as leadership.

I'm worried about losing the stuff I've worked so hard to learn if I wait to long to pursue it further, even if I did the security+ and then the CCNP I'd worry about the gap in time since I don't use my networking knowledge at work.

What's your take on all this? Which track would you take and why? Hiring managers- what's your perspective on my job experience?


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    networker050184networker050184 Mod Posts: 11,962 Mod
    If you want to do networking long term I'd start trying to get a related job ASAP. MAC support manager experience isn't really going to help you much on that side.

    Cert wise would depend on they type of job you find next. Certifications are best served with corresponding experience.
    An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made.
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    TechGuru80TechGuru80 Member Posts: 1,539 ■■■■■■□□□□
    To be perfectly clear...for the 8570 Security+ and CCNA:Security are the same but if you need a computing environment certification, they are not the same thing.

    The faster you can get into a networking job the better to get the hands on production experience.

    Breaking into anything military could be challenging because you have to get a clearance and not all companies will be willing to wait for you to clear. I probably would start CCNA:Security and keep trying to get in networking...if that happens to be via a military contractor you should be given ~6 months to get Security+.

    Everything I've read on voice is it's basically a whole different world where R&S and Security still complement each other nicely. Always be flexible because you don't know how things will change.
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    OctalDumpOctalDump Member Posts: 1,722
    Another possible sideways move from Mac is Linux. Depending how deep you went with the Mac stuff, a lot of it is similar - identical even.

    Security+ is worthwhile in itself. It is much broader than CCNA Security, and is probably a good thing to do before CCNA Security.

    CCNA Collaboration (what CCNA Voice is now) is a bit odd at the moment, since they've taken the Voice stuff and the Video stuff and mashed together. I think the Voice stuff is still much more in demand, but if you just do the Voice exam, you don't get a CCNA certification.

    Sticking to the paths you've outlined, I'd suggest Security+ then CCNA Security. And find work that takes advantage of networking skills so that they stay fresh. The CCNP is a bigger task, and probably best to pursue after you have 12 months or more experience. At that point, I think, it's better to look at it all again and see what makes sense considering what work you are doing etc.

    An option might be to find work with an MSP. They might have the variety of work available to make use of your Mac skills and networking skills.
    2017 Goals - Something Cisco, Something Linux, Agile PM
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    ananth234ananth234 Member Posts: 10 ■□□□□□□□□□
    You can try out CCNA security.CCNA cyber ops certification will be released soon.

    Cisco is offering scholarship for the training and cert- Here is the link

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    danny069danny069 Member Posts: 1,025 ■■■■□□□□□□
    I'd keep studying for your CCNP, sure you'll be a paper CCNP until you get a chance to apply those skills. You should also apply for jobs at your local university because then you can utilize tuition remission to your benefit, and get a degree while you work there. Octaldump brought up a good point, if you ever used terminal in OSX, its basically using unix/linux commands, so if you were interested in IT Security you could apply those commands in Kali Linux for example.
    I am a Jack of all trades, Master of None
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    thomas_thomas_ Member Posts: 1,012 ■■■■■■■■□□
    I will always recommend to anyone who lives close to a military base to get Security+. Having that cert in hand at least puts you in the running for getting a job there. There's a lot of other great advice. Ultimately you are probably going to have to be willing to go from being a manager to being a junior guy on the team, so be ready for that. I would recommend applying for as many jobs that you can find that match the direction you want to go in your career.
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    drewbert87drewbert87 Member Posts: 16 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Thanks for the great replies, you guys are awesome!

    I have definitely considered Linux as an option and almost put it in my write up. I do have some terminal experience and am pretty sure I can get a good handle on Linux quickly. I'm mainly just worried about investing a lot of time in a non-cisco environment right now will cause my knowledge to fade since I don't use it at work yet. Maybe it won't take that long to get Linux down though and then I can go back to a Cisco track.

    I guess one thing I should mention is that in the long run I am probably more interested in R&S then security, at least so far and I'll admit I know little about security. I mainly would go to the CCNA security to get a basic knowledge of it down and really investigate it to see if it would interest me, but the CCNP is where my heart is right now probably.

    The security+ is good knowledge but I would go after it mainly to fulfill the DOD requirements if I did.

    I'm sort of ruling out voice at this point and I'm down to CCNA Sec, CCNP, Security+ or maybe Linux. Security+ and/or Linux probably make the most practical sense, again just have to figure out how to not let the Cisco skills fade. I work quite a bit and my commute is long, with a family as well so study time is limited and often just an hour or so a day.

    Thanks again for dialoguing with me, it really helps me in the decision making process.
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    TechytachTechytach Member Posts: 140
    Get sec+. Its relatively quick and easy compared to CCNA/CCNP. Even if you have no interest, you want it so you can broaden your job search. Networking jobs can be hard to come by, especially your first. CCNP is a pretty big investment time and learning wise compared to sec+ when you don't even have a job in networking yet. Plus I've heard it's difficult to pass CCNP without some actual networking experience.
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    drewbert87drewbert87 Member Posts: 16 ■□□□□□□□□□
    I am interested in Linux as well though I haven't explored it beyond a few basics. I do know some OS X terminal stuff along side of that as well. Can you give me an idea about where to start cert wise? RHCSA vs Linux+? Pros and Cons? Which distro would be good to work with specifically to compliment networking?
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    OctalDumpOctalDump Member Posts: 1,722
    You don't need to go deep with Linux and get a certification. Just covering the basics will get you a long way, especially if your focus is networking. There's always time to learn more later. Linux certification is a fairly big commitment, so it's best to leave it until you can really focus on it.

    In terms of career, the Red Hat certification track is probably most useful. However, if you just want to dive in and start learning some Linux, then Ubuntu or Fedora are good choices - mostly due to their large and active communities. Fedora is like upstream Red Hat Enterprise Linux, so its a good choice if you know that you want to pursue the Red Hat track.

    Any Linux distro will complement networking, since all have the basic tools. You can set up DHCP servers, TFTP, FTP, ssh, web services, mail services, MySQL/MariaDB etc. And then use those to support learning your networking.

    OS X already has ssh, FTP, TFTP, web and mail (and I think DHCP server, but it's been a while). So you can do almost all the same just using built in OS X tools.
    2017 Goals - Something Cisco, Something Linux, Agile PM
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