A little background about me and what I am hoping to accomplish. I currently work as a Manager of Network Services for a large ISP but due to labor reductions I am going to be out of a job in six weeks and have begun to explore my options for my next career move. In my current role, I manage Field Operations for the deployment of Fiber to the prem, house, business, etc.(FTTX). However my current skills fall into a very specific group that as fiber technology continues to deploy and advance on the ISP side on IT, the jobs available requiring my skill sets will continue to decrease. Most of what I deal with now is the deployment of fiber and building the physical plant that supports it including service provider lines, strand and splitter management, and central office connections to the ISP backbone.
I am looking to make a career change into networking and plan to get my CCNA R&S and CCNA Cloud certifications over the course of the next six months and I looking for advice on the best way to go about self studying for these exams. I have read numerous blogs about this and the responses vary.
My question is it best to build a home lab of routers and switches to start or to use a server with ESXi and use GNS3, VIRL, and packet tracer? or Both?
Any help and suggestions would be greatly appreciated.