What is networking, do I want to make it my career?

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What is networking, do I want to make it my career?

Postposted on Wed May 04, 2011 10:44 pm

I want to college to study networking, but I really don't know what it is or what people do in their daily lives as networking agents. I know that you hook up computers but I don't know what else they do in their daily routines. Ill also be about 35 when I hit the field. The course ill be taking can go 2 years for a certificate or 4 years for a degree, I would be going for the full 4.
My school estimates that I'll be able to earn between 50 to 70k to start out. How true is this for people that are in this field? I have heard that the job can differ from companies where you do a lot and then there are companies where it is easy. I don't want to sound lazy because I'm not, just trying to figure out my life plan and what I am getting into. I don't want to spend thousands of dollars going for something that I'll wind up hating.
What do pepole with CCNA and above do? What is the hierarchy of jobs in the networking field? How woud you rate stress on the job? If anyone could give me their perspective it would be awesome. Thank you for your time.
Last edited by RAMBO on Thu May 05, 2011 12:31 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: What is networking, do I want to make it my career?

Postposted on Wed May 04, 2011 10:56 pm

Hi, I only took a few networking classes on my way to a Cisco cert when both my babysitting situation and the market fell out nearly simultaneously.

If you love math you might be ok. At some point programming will likely be essential though that partially depends on your position. If you're doing it for the money... I can't say. At my age doing things for the money seems a bit counter productive if you don't know you'll enjoy them.

I can say that formatting your post will get a lot more responses though. The wall of text is painful to get through.

Good luck.
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Re: What is networking, do I want to make it my career?

Postposted on Thu May 05, 2011 7:57 am

Networking professionals typically install, configure, and maintain corporate computer networks. This involves setting up and troubleshooting both the hardware and software that runs the network -- routers, switches, firewalls, VPN gateways, file servers, web servers, wireless access points, and so on. In larger companies with geographically distributed offices, wide-area networks may also be involved.

For any network which is connected to the Internet, a networking professional will likely also have responsibility for securing the network, to prevent/detect/mitigate outside intrusions and malware.
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Re: What is networking, do I want to make it my career?

Postposted on Thu May 05, 2011 8:09 am

You'd better check if your course is going to be mostly theoretical or mostly practical.

If it's the former, you won't be doing any networking, and most of the time you won't be using a computer to begin with. Been there, got the t-shirt, hated every minute of it. You'll be using pen/pencil and paper, and doing math all the time (disclaimer: nothing against theoretical knowledge by itself, only against such occasions when it's passed as knowledge for actually doing something).
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Re: What is networking, do I want to make it my career?

Postposted on Thu May 05, 2011 8:16 am

RAMBO wrote:My school estimates that I'll be able to earn between 50 to 70k to start out.

Nonsense. In this survey, the average respondent with just a CCNA earned $29,000. That's not starting salary, mind you, but in-vivo actual pay. I would expect the job you get with a B.S. to be better than that by a little, perhaps, but certainly not 2-2.5x the amount.
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Re: What is networking, do I want to make it my career?

Postposted on Thu May 05, 2011 8:22 am

First of all, you should know more about networking if you plan to make it your field. I was 18 when I started my Bachelor of Network Security program but was already well versed in IT before I started.

I will tell you this, getting an IT position these days as anything more than a help desk person is damn near impossible. To be a network/system admin, companies want someone with 10+ years corporate LAN/WAN experience, decorated with certs, etc. Anything less and you'll end up like me, trapped in a dead end help desk job making 32,000-46,000 a year. The fact that my tuition costs over double what I'm making now, even after four years of service and a promotion to Tier II support, made me think I would have better off flipping burgers.
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Re: What is networking, do I want to make it my career?

Postposted on Thu May 05, 2011 9:17 am

High Tech market changes all the time and while it might look fairly rosy today nobody can predict what it will look like in 4 years. Take it from somebody who's been working in the field since 2004. So even if you do get a degree, if the market is bad you'll be hard-pressed to find something.

Out of school jobs rarely pay large amounts of money. I do know a few people that got paid in the range you describe but they were fairly hardc0re programmers from very good schools with some experience already (summers, co-ops). Most other people get somewhere around $30-45K depending on the location and economy. Even my second job paid in the $45K range which was very difficult to live with considering how high the cost of living here is.
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Re: What is networking, do I want to make it my career?

Postposted on Thu May 05, 2011 10:48 am

Thank you for time, this helps

destroy.all.monsters wrote:Hi, I only took a few networking classes on my way to a Cisco cert when both my babysitting situation and the market fell out nearly simultaneously.

If you love math you might be ok. At some point programming will likely be essential though that partially depends on your position. If you're doing it for the money... I can't say. At my age doing things for the money seems a bit counter productive if you don't know you'll enjoy them.

I can say that formatting your post will get a lot more responses though. The wall of text is painful to get through.

Good luck.
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Re: What is networking, do I want to make it my career?

Postposted on Thu May 05, 2011 10:51 am

Thank you for time, this helps
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Re: What is networking, do I want to make it my career?

Postposted on Thu May 05, 2011 10:52 am

Thank you for time, this helps

grantmeaname wrote:
RAMBO wrote:My school estimates that I'll be able to earn between 50 to 70k to start out.

Nonsense. In this survey, the average respondent with just a CCNA earned $29,000. That's not starting salary, mind you, but in-vivo actual pay. I would expect the job you get with a B.S. to be better than that by a little, perhaps, but certainly not 2-2.5x the amount.
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Re: What is networking, do I want to make it my career?

Postposted on Thu May 05, 2011 10:54 am

There can be very good money in networking if you are very very good at it, last I heard CCIE's were starting at 6 figures. Now the thing is you need a brain the size of a house to store everything you need to know to pass CCIE and you will be doing things like designing the overall network architecture for AT&T.

However if you are just running around plugging in cables to desktops at a small business with a CCNA to your name then there isn't much money in it.
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Re: What is networking, do I want to make it my career?

Postposted on Thu May 05, 2011 10:55 am

Thank you for time, this helps, Im going to interview some companies and their employees before I act on this degree.

ultima_trev wrote:First of all, you should know more about networking if you plan to make it your field. I was 18 when I started my Bachelor of Network Security program but was already well versed in IT before I started.

I will tell you this, getting an IT position these days as anything more than a help desk person is damn near impossible. To be a network/system admin, companies want someone with 10+ years corporate LAN/WAN experience, decorated with certs, etc. Anything less and you'll end up like me, trapped in a dead end help desk job making 32,000-46,000 a year. The fact that my tuition costs over double what I'm making now, even after four years of service and a promotion to Tier II support, made me think I would have better off flipping burgers.
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Re: What is networking, do I want to make it my career?

Postposted on Thu May 05, 2011 10:58 am

Thankyou, IM going to look further into CCIE, thank you again for your time.

notfred wrote:There can be very good money in networking if you are very very good at it, last I heard CCIE's were starting at 6 figures. Now the thing is you need a brain the size of a house to store everything you need to know to pass CCIE and you will be doing things like designing the overall network architecture for AT&T.

However if you are just running around plugging in cables to desktops at a small business with a CCNA to your name then there isn't much money in it.
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Re: What is networking, do I want to make it my career?

Postposted on Thu May 05, 2011 11:43 am

Glassdoor.com can be an invaluable site. Users anonymously post their salaries there and you can search it based on the types of jobs you are interested in.
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Re: What is networking, do I want to make it my career?

Postposted on Thu May 05, 2011 1:39 pm

grantmeaname wrote:
RAMBO wrote:My school estimates that I'll be able to earn between 50 to 70k to start out.

Nonsense. In this survey, the average respondent with just a CCNA earned $29,000. That's not starting salary, mind you, but in-vivo actual pay. I would expect the job you get with a B.S. to be better than that by a little, perhaps, but certainly not 2-2.5x the amount.


29K is pretty low for someone having a CCNA certfication. I would expect that for a very entry level position like help desk. Now you probably won't get 70K starting out. You might have to get some real work experience and move up to the CCNP or one of the other professional tier certs to get that.
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Re: What is networking, do I want to make it my career?

Postposted on Thu May 05, 2011 1:41 pm

I do have to stress though that if you have no prior networking experience, even on a personal interest level, then going into this just for the money is not a good idea, in fact you'll be doing yourself a disservice to those you work with. I don't want to sound like a douchebag but this is the reality, I wouldn't want to end up working with a colleague that has a qualification but is clueless when it comes to solving real world issues. You do need some kind of prior interest/experience with computers/networking to be successful in this field. That said, you can take a personal interest in networking; stay up to date with the latest stuff going on on the internet, read tech magazines, tech sites, setup your own personal network, play around with everything, setup a few servers with multiple domains, Linux/Windows, anything, just PLAY.

I've been involved in networking for over 15 years now due primarily to my interest in computer gaming and LAN's. If it weren't for the struggles I had as a teenager trying to setup Doom multiplayer over a laplink cable (parallel port) via a hacked IPX/SPX implementation I probably wouldn't be doing what I'm doing today.

ultima_trev wrote:I will tell you this, getting an IT position these days as anything more than a help desk person is damn near impossible. To be a network/system admin, companies want someone with 10+ years corporate LAN/WAN experience, decorated with certs, etc. Anything less and you'll end up like me, trapped in a dead end help desk job making 32,000-46,000 a year. The fact that my tuition costs over double what I'm making now, even after four years of service and a promotion to Tier II support, made me think I would have better off flipping burgers.


Absolutely, unless you can get into a company at helpdesk level and rise up the ranks to Systems/Network Administration it will be almost impossible to get a networking job straight out of college. This process could take years so prepare to have a great qualification in networking and a mediocre salary doing helpdesk until you get to that 'Tier 3' point.
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Re: What is networking, do I want to make it my career?

Postposted on Fri May 06, 2011 10:19 am

dolemitecomputers wrote:29K is pretty low for someone having a CCNA certfication. I would expect that for a very entry level position like help desk. Now you probably won't get 70K starting out. You might have to get some real work experience and move up to the CCNP or one of the other professional tier certs to get that.

It's nice that your opinion and the data differ, but I'm sticking with the data, since it represents tons of respondents.
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Re: What is networking, do I want to make it my career?

Postposted on Fri May 06, 2011 11:50 am

I'm not doing this just for the money, that's about half. I really do want to go into the computer field and be able to relate to other computer savvy folks like you described it. I have a lot to learn and I know its not going to be easy or fast. I started to learn about computers by trying to make my old monster pc's run games that were more powerful then what my pc could handle. I learned the ins and outs of adjusting your computer and settings to make games run. This isn't much at all but it lead to me exploring what I could do and change throughout my PC. I have always tried to keep myself updated with new technology that comes out, that I like anyway like Intel over AMD, AMD gave me trouble in the past. I like listening to podcasts on this site and other sites because I can listen to someone that has much more experience then I debate on whats new and how it impacts whats out in the world today. I don't know a lot about the more sophisticated inner workings of pcs but I do have a genuine interest int learning more. Still I do know what you are saying about having a natural yearning to learn more and be able to be apart of a team solving problems, I hope I'll be that guy someday.

Jon wrote:I do have to stress though that if you have no prior networking experience, even on a personal interest level, then going into this just for the money is not a good idea, in fact you'll be doing yourself a disservice to those you work with. I don't want to sound like a douchebag but this is the reality, I wouldn't want to end up working with a colleague that has a qualification but is clueless when it comes to solving real world issues. You do need some kind of prior interest/experience with computers/networking to be successful in this field. That said, you can take a personal interest in networking; stay up to date with the latest stuff going on on the internet, read tech magazines, tech sites, setup your own personal network, play around with everything, setup a few servers with multiple domains, Linux/Windows, anything, just PLAY.

I've been involved in networking for over 15 years now due primarily to my interest in computer gaming and LAN's. If it weren't for the struggles I had as a teenager trying to setup Doom multiplayer over a laplink cable (parallel port) via a hacked IPX/SPX implementation I probably wouldn't be doing what I'm doing today.

ultima_trev wrote:I will tell you this, getting an IT position these days as anything more than a help desk person is damn near impossible. To be a network/system admin, companies want someone with 10+ years corporate LAN/WAN experience, decorated with certs, etc. Anything less and you'll end up like me, trapped in a dead end help desk job making 32,000-46,000 a year. The fact that my tuition costs over double what I'm making now, even after four years of service and a promotion to Tier II support, made me think I would have better off flipping burgers.


Absolutely, unless you can get into a company at helpdesk level and rise up the ranks to Systems/Network Administration it will be almost impossible to get a networking job straight out of college. This process could take years so prepare to have a great qualification in networking and a mediocre salary doing helpdesk until you get to that 'Tier 3' point.
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Re: What is networking, do I want to make it my career?

Postposted on Fri May 06, 2011 12:48 pm

Spend a few bucks and order this: http://www.amazon.com/CCNA-640-802-Cert ... 214&sr=8-1

It's a great introduction of what you'd be expected to know and/or encounter in TCP/IP networking. You'll learn about hubs, bridges, and routers at the hardware level. You'll learn about the OSI and DoD models of the TCP/IP stack. You'll learn the structure of a TCP packet and an IP packet. You'll learn about static and dynamic routing and various routing protocols. He touches on IPv6 a little as well. Network security is covered, too, of course.

Now, let me be clear: it helps to have had some practical, hands-on networking experience BEFORE sitting down with this book. That's not to say you MUST have the experience, but it will mean the difference in reading chapters 3 or 4 times vs. 1 or 2. I don't want you to be misled and think you can just sit down and breeze through the chapters. This stuff can get complex in a hurry, but it is not impossible to learn, or no one would be doing it.

I've fooled with basic TCP/IP networks in some shape, form, or fashion over the last 10 years or so, but I didn't get really serious until the last 6 years. I was responsible for a small Class C subnet within a single Active Directory domain for 5 years. I had to learn enough to securely manage that network, and then I also had to learn enough to sit for my Certified Information Systems Security Professional exam (which I passed), as it includes Network and Telecommunications Security as one of its ten domains in the Common Body of Knowledge.

Now I work in a larger environment, supporting about 17 branch offices running off almost all Cisco gear. If you want to be basically proficient, I can recommend: learning to subnet; learning the Cisco command line interface (CLI); understand at the very least how data flows across a TCP/IP network using static routes.

Hope this helps.
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Re: What is networking, do I want to make it my career?

Postposted on Wed May 11, 2011 10:23 am

Word of advice, one thing I've learned: I can't work directly with my hobbie. Computers are my hobbie, and when my work involves computers directly, my productivity drive is close to zero, I get too easily distracted. Maybe I'm suffering from a different problem, procrastination maybe (never mind lol..)

The thing is, you ought to have more drive and enthusiasm in order to engage a career such as IT management, on a successful and satisfying level I mean. You'll find tons of stuff interesting at first, but it's very easy to end up on a dead end job, with zero appreciation from your peers and customers, that is, if you don´t plan out your career and professional path right.

Good luck mate!
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