Military to CCNP

Dieg0MDieg0M Member Posts: 861
Hi forums,
I just finished a 4 year contract in the army where I was working as a network administrator/engineer for about 3 years. I also worked in the security side of the networks (IDS/IPS/Firewalls/IPSEC configs/INE's), did SANS trainings (including the counterhackchallenges) and some NATO training with the red teams of different countries.

I put enough money aside to sustain myself for about a year and a half without working in order to study and get some certs. I am currently studying for my CCNP and I think I'll be able to get certified in the next 4 months ( I have experience with most of the topics in CCNP). After that, I'm planning to get a job working for an ISP as a junior engineer and attempt to get a CCIE #.

I need some guidance because I really like the security aspect of the IT industry. Should I continue with the path I am going for or should I get some security certs after finishing CCNP? And if I go the security route, how does the job market look like for a security professional and what certs do you recommend that are network and security oriented?
Follow my CCDE journey at www.routingnull0.com

Comments

  • networker050184networker050184 Mod Posts: 11,962 Mod
    Same path I followed! Got my CCNP and got job at an ISP after the army.

    I wouldn't wait to get a job. Start applying now. You have the experience and the CCNA which is all you need to get your foot in the door. Waiting to get a CCNP is unnecessary.

    If you want to get on the security side then security related certifications will certainly help you. You might want to start looking for a security related job now though rather than going down the ISP routing and switching route. Again, you have the experience already which is by far the most important thing. The certs will help but no need to wait to get them.

    The job market for highly qualified professionals is always good.

    Good luck!
    An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made.
  • Danielh22185Danielh22185 Member Posts: 1,195
    I agree with Networker. You have plenty of current experience to land youself a good job right now. Start applying now and don't wait for NP. I only have my NA at the moment and when I got it is when I started applying for network jobs and got one. You have a leg up with you prior experience. Good luck!
    Currently Studying: IE Stuff...kinda...for now...
    My ultimate career goal: To climb to the top of the computer network industry food chain.
    "Winning means you're willing to go longer, work harder, and give more than anyone else." - Vince Lombardi
  • gbdavidxgbdavidx Member Posts: 840
    How was your life a network administrator with the army? Would you recommend it for someone without any real world networking experience?
  • spiderjerichospiderjericho Senior Member San DiegoMember Posts: 839 ■■■■□□□□□□
    I can't speak for the OP, but mileage will vary, meaning his experience will be different from the next soldier/troop.

    I have a Marine under me who has been in for almost 6 years and he hardly has any networking/SysAdmin experience. It's crazy. It all depends on the base and unit.

    Right now, it's hard for me to get training whereas my buddy has NetApp, VMWare, CCNP Voice and something else lined up for he and his troop.
  • Dieg0MDieg0M Member Posts: 861
    I would definitely recommend it to someone with no networking experience. You will gain a lot of knowledge on troubleshooting, building and maintaining large networks. There's not a lot of jobs out there that will train you, pay you and send you all over the world to configure millions of dollars worth of equipment.

    On the down side it was really hard to get into a networking position. I had to work myself up there from a help desk position to a server position to finally the networking section and eventually became senior network administrator in that section. You will have to prove that you are dedicated to the IT field and that you are willing to work hard.

    If you are in a field unit, expect to work as hard as everyone else physically because you are a soldier first, and at the same time work much harder mentally. Expect to troubleshoot and build networks in harsh environments, under a lot of stress and with very little sleep. I was often awake for the first 48 hours into a new location and went with 3-4 hours of sleep a day for weeks. Coffee will be your best friend. You will have to think and adapt quickly to situations. You will work with incompetent people who outrank you. You will do as you are told, even if it makes no sense and you will never be able to quit or leave. You will get yelled at for no reason, it is an acceptable behavior in the military. Once you get yourself into a NOC position you will learn a lot more management stuff but you will still work long hours because as a soldier you are paid to work 24/7.

    If you are willing to go through that, go ahead it is an exceptional opportunity.
    Follow my CCDE journey at www.routingnull0.com
  • realdreamsrealdreams Member Posts: 29 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Same path I followed! Got my CCNP and got job at an ISP after the army.

    I wouldn't wait to get a job. Start applying now. You have the experience and the CCNA which is all you need to get your foot in the door. Waiting to get a CCNP is unnecessary.

    If you want to get on the security side then security related certifications will certainly help you. You might want to start looking for a security related job now though rather than going down the ISP routing and switching route. Again, you have the experience already which is by far the most important thing. The certs will help but no need to wait to get them.

    The job market for highly qualified professionals is always good.

    Good luck!

    This sounds really optimistic.... From my experience CCNA is totally a joke for ISP network engineers..




    To OP, which MOS were you in? I am not aware that the Army has any network engineer positions. The most technical ones I know is 255 warrant officer track.

    Having experience with CCNP topics may not help as much as you expected. CCNP is a lot more about how someone at Cisco thinks how an enterprise network should be run, 5 years ago. CCNP topics are not well suited for ISPs, or even median to large enterprise. For ISPs, it's highly unlikely that you will use EIGRP or legacy technologies like frame relay (that's like 50% of 642-902). On the other hand, IPv6 routing, BGP topics are far from deep enough for service provider. And a lot of service provider have moved off Cisco (Juniper for large SP, DC and Brocade for economic reasons....)

    Security is very different from network engineering IMO...Someone who can read the manual to configure a firewall can call himself security professionals (security management), but can find it very embarrassing in a SP network engineer interview when the questions are all about QinQ, MPLS traffic engineering...
  • realdreamsrealdreams Member Posts: 29 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Dieg0M wrote: »
    I would definitely recommend it to someone with no networking experience. You will gain a lot of knowledge on troubleshooting, building and maintaining large networks. There's not a lot of jobs out there that will train you, pay you and send you all over the world to configure millions of dollars worth of equipment.

    On the down side it was really hard to get into a networking position. I had to work myself up there from a help desk position to a server position to finally the networking section and eventually became senior network administrator in that section. You will have to prove that you are dedicated to the IT field and that you are willing to work hard.

    If you are in a field unit, expect to work as hard as everyone else physically because you are a soldier first, and at the same time work much harder mentally. Expect to troubleshoot and build networks in harsh environments, under a lot of stress and with very little sleep. I was often awake for the first 48 hours into a new location and went with 3-4 hours of sleep a day for weeks. Coffee will be your best friend. You will have to think and adapt quickly to situations. You will work with incompetent people who outrank you. You will do as you are told, even if it makes no sense and you will never be able to quit or leave. You will get yelled at for no reason, it is an acceptable behavior in the military. Once you get yourself into a NOC position you will learn a lot more management stuff but you will still work long hours because as a soldier you are paid to work 24/7.

    If you are willing to go through that, go ahead it is an exceptional opportunity.

    Can you give some examples for "troubleshooting, building and maintaining large networks" you mentioned? Just to make sure I am thinking what you are thinking icon_wink.gif

    What should someone expect to join the army (as E-4) with CCNP? IMO network engineering really requires concentrationn of knowledge and experience... trying to do everything usually ends up not good in anything (if you don't use it often, you will forget it..)

    I am actually considering joining the army, but i don't know how long it will take to get to 255N or similar. I don't have any problem working hard as long as it's worth it. But I really don't like positions without opportunity to learn. Helpdesk is one of my least favorite positions (wasting most of the time fixing all kinds stupid problems like missing keys on keyboard or missing pins in VGA cable, having no resources and not allowed to address the root cause). My guess is that it is a lot faster to become a senior network engineer in a tech company than E-4 to E-5 to WOCS to WO-1 to WO-2 255N (how many years is that....)

    And how much creativity is there in the army? Are you encouraged to find new ways to solve problems which might not be the standard procedure, like writing scripts to automate tasks? I can be misinformed on this. My stereotype is that in the army they train people to repeat procedures and not ask questions. Any deviation from standard procedures are prohibited...IMO that would be a disaster if the supervisor is not from technical track.
    In a SP environment creatively working around vendor's broken implementations is must.

    Thanks.

    Btw are you talking about US Army or Canadian Army?icon_rolleyes.gif LOL they can be very different I guess...
  • Dieg0MDieg0M Member Posts: 861
    First of all, I was in the Canadian Army not the US army. I worked with several NATO countries including the US army and I can tell you that we operate in similar ways. We use the same technologies because we are required to follow NATO standards on encryption and other security measures in order to share data between networks. The main difference is the amount of people we have, which is very little compared to the US military. Because of our lack of manpower we are often put into situations where the same team will be engineering and doing administration on the networks.

    Some examples of troubleshooting for us would be from simple L1 issues like (wrong fiber pairs, broken fiber lines, overheating, routers get damaged, INE's die) to complex issues like (high cpu loads because of large LSDB or misconfigured IGMP acl's). Building would go from engineering and implementing dual hub DMVPN networks with multiple VRF's, to getting into a new location and getting a brigade of over 2000 people with VOIP, ROIP, Drone video feeds, secret networks and unclassified networks in under 12 hours.

    Creativity really comes down to your CoC and how open minded they are with it. Most of the time you will be told to do it this way because "that's the way we've always done it" or "it's standard policy". The military (other then the SF) operate with a top to bottom planning, which means that the plan comes from someone up in the ranks (that usually has no idea how the real world works) and then we have to make the best out of it. Some of the requirements we got sometimes were really ridiculous. We often had to be really creative to solve problems because of the broken plan they gave us.

    In my opinion its a good place to learn Associate level stuff and to get your hands dirty but not to polish your networking skills and learn advanced concepts. Don't expect plans that make sense because often the ones who make them don't actually know what they are doing. Sometimes you won't get a plan at all, because the plan got lost in the CoC and never got down to you in time.
    Follow my CCDE journey at www.routingnull0.com
  • realdreamsrealdreams Member Posts: 29 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Thanks for info. it sounds like no plan from the CoC is actually better :)
  • jjrockjjrock Member Posts: 11 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Thanks for sharing your experience, Dieg0M. Curiously, I went to the Canadian Army's website but I could not find anything in regards to a network administrator/engineering roles -- not even anything related to IT. Maybe I'm just looking at the wrong section?
  • Dieg0MDieg0M Member Posts: 861
    You want to look into a specialty trade of ACISS (Army Communication and Information Systems Specialist) called IST (Information System Technologist). For some reason on the website they call it Information System Specialist. Networking is an advanced training of this specialty trade. Here's a link to it: FORCES.CA - Army Communication and Information Systems Specialist

    And yes, you have to go through Basic Military Qualification, Soldier Qualification, Basic Occupational Qualification, Specialty Training and Advanced Training for Data network design concepts. You will also be sent to civilian institutes for more specialized qualifications. Sometimes depending of your career you might need additional soldier qualifications, for example I was Winter Warfare Qualified and Basic Parachutist.
    Follow my CCDE journey at www.routingnull0.com
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