We all have a tendency to want to specialize in one technology track. Whether it's because we have a natural affinity for that track or we simply enjoy working on that technology – the Cisco Certifications program ensures that from Associate to Expert, there is a defined roadmap that grows your skills with your career. But have you considered a roadmap that spreads across tracks?
As networks grow, they converge. Voice and video are now integral components of the network, and wireless will continue to be a heavily utilized access method—even more so as we move to the Internet of Everything. And, underlying all of this is the need for a Security posture that covers all components of the network, ensuring that only the right people have access to the right information, from anywhere at any time.
This convergence means that employers are placing increasing value on highly skilled employees who are also flexible in their range of skills.
Knowing about technology tracks beyond your main track has numerous advantages:
- It makes you more versatile in your field. Being able to troubleshoot beyond the boundaries of your “technology” is highly valued by employers.
- It gives you a better understanding of your technology track. Knowing how the pieces fit together to define the network sharpens your approach to your preferred track.
- It develops your adaptability to technology changes. This is important because as one aspect of technology changes, it impacts the behavior of the network overall, including your chosen track.
- It increases your value to your employer—leading you to be involved in more complex projects and tasks and accelerating your career.
The good news is that you are part of the way there. If your chosen track is Routing and Switching, you have already mastered the important aspects of switching that are required for Voice. And if you are studying Voice, you are already developing an understanding of the concepts of quality of service important to wireless networks. Similarly, if Wireless is your technology of choice, you understand the importance of network security. In short, overlaps are abound.
I call this the “tip of the spear” approach: your main technology is the tip of the spear. It gets you into the role, but it’s the small barbs that fan out at the side that keep you there. J
As an example, in developing my learning roadmap as a Security Engineer, I will start with my CCENT, and then go on to get my CCNA Security. Whilst studying form my CCNP Security (as it comprises of multiple exams), I may decide to break it up a little and sit for my CCNA Voice. Of course my long term goal will be the CCIE Security. After completing that I may consider a CCNA Wireless or even look at the Specialist certificatons available to further my skills and range across tracks.
Keep this in mind as you develop your career and certification goals.
And if you are already using this approach - let us know how it works for you in the comments below.