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Question About Needed Education

This is a discussion on Question About Needed Education within the Certification & Career forums, part of the Tech Support Forum category. Hello. I am a 17 year old high school student. I will be a senior this year, and I want


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Old 08-14-2014, 01:21 PM   #1
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Hello. I am a 17 year old high school student. I will be a senior this year, and I want to follow a career path of Networking, though I am very flexible. I love working with computers and networks. I would even consider a career path in programming.

My main question is: If I want a career in networking, maybe a network engineer or something similar, where should I start? What college degree should I pursue? Should I even get a college degree? What is the work force like for networking?

Any information or helpful tips are appreciated! Thanks.
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Old 08-14-2014, 01:56 PM   #2
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Definitely get a degree as many employers require it, it may not be necessary to do the job but in this job market you'll be glad you did. Find a degree program that focuses on your areas of interest. Many computer science degrees, for example, focus on programming and applications. You want something like an IT Network Admin degree or something similar.

Start working on your certs, A+ and Network+ to start and then go for the entry level Cisco certifications.

Get as much experience as you can on your own. If you know someone who does this work on the side, shadow them on the job. If you can buy some cheap switches and routers online, start a home lab.
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Old 08-14-2014, 06:06 PM   #3
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If you pursue a degree, I would recommend you do it while doing entry-level tech work somewhere, such as at Best Buy/Geek Squad. A degree is not, I repeat, NOT required when starting out as a tech. A degree will help to open up opportunities to you later in your career that would otherwise be unavailable to you, such as management or supervisory positions.

IT degrees generally fall into two realms, and the degree names are often different from college to college. View the course requirements to decide which is which. Computer Science degrees are typically geared towards programmers. Information Systems degrees are typically geared towards IT admins.

A degree isn't going to magically open up the door to network administration jobs. No company in their right mind is going to hire someone to do network administration when they've never held a real-world IT tech job before. This is why I recommend getting your entry-level tech work out of the way WHILE you're in college. Someone with four years of real-world experience will always, always, always get the job over someone with no experience and a degree. Add a degree to four years of experience, and you'll be extremely attractive to employers.

Most techs start out doing help desk, PC repair, field tech support, or desktop administration. While in those jobs, try to get some experience doing light server administration, eventually moving into a full-fledged server admin job. While doing server admin, try to get some experience doing basic network design and administration, eventually moving into a full-fledged network admin position. One step at a time. :)

Adding certifications that are relevant to your skill level is another way to become attractive to employers. I would agree with the advice to begin pursuing your A+ and Network+ certifications, as both are considered to be entry-level certifications. However, I would recommend NOT pursuing Cisco certifications until you start doing basic network administration. Getting Cisco certifications too early in your career can cause you to be LESS attractive to employers: employers with entry-level, desktop support, or server admin jobs will view someone with a Cisco certification as a flight risk (for the same reason why McDonalds won't tend to hire someone with a Masters degree to be a fry cook even if they'll accept the wage), and employers with network admin jobs won't hire someone with certifications but no network admin experience to administer their mission-critical network (they used to, about 15 years ago, and most have learned to not do that anymore).

Hope this helps. :)
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Old 08-15-2014, 01:46 PM   #4
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Thanks for the replies.

I think I am going to major in Networking with a minor in Computer Science.

What job opportunities will this degree selection open up?

I love working with computers and networks, but I have no idea what career to actually follow. I guess I more or less want a job title to start looking at.

Thanks.
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Old 08-15-2014, 10:55 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tristan10 View Post
Thanks for the replies.

I think I am going to major in Networking with a minor in Computer Science.

What job opportunities will this degree selection open up?

I love working with computers and networks, but I have no idea what career to actually follow. I guess I more or less want a job title to start looking at.

Thanks.
If you read my previous reply carefully, you'll see I've answered your question already. :)
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