In today's tough IT market, people are finding it harder and harder to get in the door. Often, the difference between getting an interview, and getting shut out after submitting your application, are your certifications. Certifications show potential employers that you have an understanding of the technology with which you will be working. But what sort of network certification should you get, and how should you go about getting it?
- Decide on the certification. Some people already have a number of certifications. If this is the case, then you already have a good idea of the area in this field that you need to study. If you do not have previous network experience or certification, then you are going to want to look for the basic certifications first. Comptia offers the Network + certification. It is a basic certification that demonstrates that the recipient knows a wide range of topics about networking. This is a very general certification that covers multiple network operating systems and hardware types.
- Do you need to specialize? Specializing is a personal choice. If you see that the job market is leaning toward Microsoft Network certifications then you may want to consider looking into those certifications. Make sure that you have the skill sets to handle the testing for whatever the network certification type. When you specialize, the tests are typically much harder than the generalized Comptia style tests. Normally, people who have specialized network certifications, such as a CCNA or MCSE, receive higher pay for their skill set.
- How should I prepare? Preparing for network certification exams are rarely the same from person to person. Some people are very good at taking tests, while others are not. You need to do your own evaluation of what study methods work best for you. At just about any university or two year school, you will be able to find classes that will prep you for the network certification. These are great because you have an instructor and peers that you can rely on to help you with area's that may be unclear to you. Many of these types of classes are part of a larger curriculum that will include the base classes needed to fully understand the subject. The downside is that it takes longer and can become very expensive. There are also classes that are geared only to the passing of the network certification tests. These have the benefits of having the instructor, but they don't cover basics and background information. It is assumed that you already have the base knowledge. There are also network certification books that can help the people who excel at self study.
- Practice, Practice, Practice. There are many places online that you can download practice tests and questions. Work with these and make sure that you are answering these with at least an eighty percent success rate. Practicing the questions will help keep you calm during the network certification test, will expose you to the different styles of questions, and should increase your overall performance.