From help desk to Network Engineer, is that right???

SWriderSWrider Registered Users Posts: 4 ■□□□□□□□□□
Hello everyone,

I a brand new to this forum and I have spent several hours just reading thru various threads. I must say that some of the information I keep seeing is quite the eye opener, to say the least.

First of all, a little of my background:
10yrs in the Navy as an Electronics Tech
6yrs and going in Industrial Automation - Basic network setup and maintenance, with PLC programming and HMI build/maintenance.
Will be finished with a Bachelor's in Network Communications Management from DeVry.

I am looking to continue on and become a Network Engineer and I am looking for information on how to get there from where I am. AFter my BA I want to go ahead and complete my CCNA and CCNA Security.

Now, from what I've read, a lot of people on here claim that you need to start as a helpdesk person. Why is that, I have knowledge of networks, some related experience maintaining, designing and operating networks in an industrial environment, and many years with management background.
I just don't see the correlation between starting at a help desk job and becoming a Network Engineer...

Also, something else I noted, many people on here discourage others from pursuing a Masters degree, either in a Technology related field or an MBA. Why is that, and more importantly, if you have little experience in IT but have a background in management, how can having an MBA hurt???

My short term goals are to transition from Industrial Automations into Network Engineering, obtaining my CCNA and CCNP. On a longer view, I want to complete my MBA with concentration in InfoSec or MIS and move into management position.

Well, I didn't mean to run on so long, but any and all comments are greatly appreciated.
Thank you all for reading.


  • Options
    stuh84stuh84 Member Posts: 503
    I'd say there are a couple of reasons. The reason most people mention the helpdesk is because a lot of people asking have no experience in IT, or little experience. The helpdesk gets you working with customers, starting off in a role to prove that whatever role you end up in, you can at least be relied on to be civil and courteous with their clients as they are usually the ones supplying the money to get everyones wages. You can be as knowledgeable as you want, the moment you annoy a customer your name is as good as dirt.

    It also gets you started working on a companies infrastructure, giving you a familiarity, without going as far as to let you make massive changes. This is how trust is built up in an employee. If they start making changes when they shouldn't, or seeing how they approach any changes they have been given to make is the difference between a lifelong helpdesk employee, and someone who wants to make it further up.

    That's not to say its the right path for everyone, but its the most typical one, and usually the easiest one to get into a higher level role from as it's the most visible a lot of the time.

    As for how having an MBA can't hurt, I agree it can't hurt. However, if someone has little to no management aspirations (someone like myself, I have zero interest in ever being in management) then the time spent working on an MBA is wasted time, which they could spend on something more relevant to their chosen career path.
    Work In Progress: CCIE R&S Written

    CCIE Progress - Hours reading - 15, hours labbing - 1
  • Options
    cxzar20cxzar20 Member Posts: 168
    I have a technical MS in addition to a non-technical BS. It has helped me tremendously in my career and I would encourage it if you can get a good amount of financial aid. I ended up getting 60% off thanks to a good undergrad GPA.

    You don't really need to start at help desk, especially if you have an MS. My progression was as follows:

    NOC -> Engineer -> Architect
  • Options
    Mrock4Mrock4 Banned Posts: 2,359 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Here's my $.02...

    Working a helpdesk helps you develop a troubleshooting methodology, and helps you discover what occurs on the user side, and how to best remedy issues there- which in turn will make you a much better engineer. Not to mention, those network changes you made are going to DIRECTLY affect the helpdesk folks, so it's nice to know how things are on the other side.

    Here's a scenario: A user reports to the helpdesk that several users are experiencing slow response, dropping off the network, etc.

    -With ZERO helpdesk experience, you jump to checking interfaces for utilization/drops, check your logs, running in circles..

    -With helpdesk experience, you ask more pointed questions to determine the scope of the issue, and realize it was only one users computer, and that he moved around his system without authorization and probably broke the fiber in the process.

    So, it helps. Not required, but it'll make you a better network engineer. It's like jumping from no experience to building engines. Being a mechanic first helps..
  • Options
    CodeBloxCodeBlox Member Posts: 1,363 ■■■■□□□□□□
    I have to say, I was and still am eager to get into networks. I currently work at a helpdesk and while the place is starting to be less desirable of a place for me to work it has definitely changed the way I think about problems in the 4 months that I've been here. Makes you ask the right questions to problems presented.
    Currently reading: Network Warrior, Unix Network Programming by Richard Stevens
  • Options
    the_Grinchthe_Grinch Member Posts: 4,165 ■■■■■■■■■■
    I have to agree that the helpdesk is the best place to begin. A lot of people say they want to get into networking (I was one) and then find that they enjoy another aspect of IT. I feel you can only find this out on the helpdesk as you will touch everything. I see a lot of people say that being in a NOC is the best way to go, but I believe it truly depends on the NOC and in my experience helpdesk is the better route. Our NOC (which I am on now) during the day merely responds to alerts that come in. If a circuit goes down or there is some form of networking issue, they either call out the circuit or maybe do a quick check on the network before handing it to the helpdesk or a network engineer for review. Is it like that everywhere? I am pretty sure not, but here the helpdesk touches just about every ticket before it reaches any senior engineers.

    As far as the management side of the house, if you have experience that is usually enough to get into the position. I believe only two or three managers here have an MBA or college education in the business arena. None of the tech managers have MBA's, just tech experience and having the experience of managing techs for a long period of times. If you lack the experience (or a true understanding of the business side of things) an MBA is the way to go for sure. I think it might prove difficult to find an MBA with an Info Sec concentration, so you might aim for the CISSP or CISM if that is the field you want to go in. Good luck!
    Intro to Discrete Math
    Programming Languages
    Work stuff
  • Options
    HeeroHeero Member Posts: 486
    Everyone follows a different path. Mine went Intern (network services dept) --> Network Engineer, no help desk involved. The bachelors degree will help. The previous military experience will help too, as many employers are willing to take bigger chances on someone who served in the military. You may very well be able to skip right into a network engineer role. People here suggest helpdesk for those who have zero experience with anything other than working at kohls or something like that. At the very least, helpdesk is moving forward into the IT world for those people.
  • Options
    networker050184networker050184 Mod Posts: 11,962 Mod
    If you already have experience with operating networks then there is no reason to go for a helpdesk gig. That path is usually recommended to people starting with zero experience.
    An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made.
  • Options
    NOC-NinjaNOC-Ninja Member Posts: 1,403
    If you want to become a network engineer then you can start working in NOC. You can apply for a network engineer without any experience but they wont hire you without networking experience. A lot of people starts in helpdesk and then climb up from there.
  • Options
    shodownshodown Member Posts: 2,271
    WIth your ET background(don't know if you were a nuke, comm, or radar) You already know how to troubleshoot. I went through those same schools in the late 90's(took the FC route)so you already know how to think your way through a problem. The next thing is that you already have some basic network experience. You should be able to leverage that to get into a NOC. The fear factor is that you may have to take a pay cut, 10 years ET and 6 Years IA I can imagine you are brining in a decent salary. You may have to live off less for a while working your way up at the NOC. After you finish your BA I would work right on the CCNA since you know you want to do cisco. Then re evaluate.
    Currently Reading

    CUCM SRND 9x/10, UCCX SRND 10x, QOS SRND, SIP Trunking Guide, anything contact center related
  • Options
    SWriderSWrider Registered Users Posts: 4 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Hey guys thanks for the replies.
    Shodown, I went thru the 90's as well, I was a NavET, submarines, so it was a combo of comm/radar.
    The one part that I will hate, like you said, is taking a pay cut. From what I have read in bls.gov and other websites, median salary is about $65k with three to five yrs, so hopefully I can make up the difference pretty quick, and definetly go after the CCNA as soon as I can.
    On a different note, if I want to go into management later on, what is the most popular route in so far as school?
    A friend of mine was just telling me yesterday that he finished his MBA in Project Management.
    Is there any particular interest in Project Management when it comes to being a Network Administrator???
  • Options
    shodownshodown Member Posts: 2,271
    If you want to get into management you have to get one of the fast tracks fresh out of school or you will have to work your way up to it. If you at least made E6 and were a LPO or APLO you could leverage that. A PMP cert and masters works and you can use military experience like writting evals to make it count. Managing bugets and so on will be the part lacking unless you were one of the lucky guys to get touch that aspect while you were in.
    Currently Reading

    CUCM SRND 9x/10, UCCX SRND 10x, QOS SRND, SIP Trunking Guide, anything contact center related
Sign In or Register to comment.