Well I figured I would write a new type of blog regarding a question that I see get posted on the facebook page all the time. What kind of job can you get with the CCNA? Well in order to answer this question accurately you’ll need to provide a little bit more information.
In general as a CCNA who is new to the networking industry and have limited IT experience than you should not be expecting much as you will find it hard to get your foot in the door. You’ll do countless interviews most likely and eventually someone will feel that they can trust you (Mold you into what they want) enough to offer you a job in which case they’re going to offer you a very low salary.
Yeah its nice to get an hourly position but in America you only see those types of employment with contracting which would also NOT include benefits such as vacation, health insurance, etc…
Most companies are smart not to pay their engineers hourly because they know it saves them thousands of dollars a year to just pay you salary. As a network engineer you may find yourself working 40-80 hours a week. Why? Because most changes that occur to the network occur after hours and this does not include the time you’re required to be at your cube 8:00AM to 5:00PM.
So let me be blunt, if you’re going to become a network engineer you’re most likely going to end up as a cube slave. I say this as an engineer who has been in the field for 12 years and 10 of those 12 years have been spent in a cube. The last two years I’ve worked from home full time. So with this in mind you should embrace your inner cube personality and get some nice decorations because without an MBA or a management position your chances of getting your own office are very slim in most cases.
What should I expect in pay?
Well as a newly minted CCNA network engineer who has little to no experience (less than 2 years) you should not expect 75,000 a year. You would get laughed at by the hiring manager soon as you’ve walked out of the door from the interview.
Why do I know this? Because I’ve done this myself on countless occasions. No hiring manager in their right mind would hire a CCNA with 1 year experience in the USA @ 75k a year with benefits and vacay unless they’re extremely desperate or you’ve managed to “WOW” them in the interview.
Realistically you should expect between 25,000 to 50,000 Salary with limited experience. Keep in mind you’re only going to get an offer like this if you don’t make yourself look like an idiot in the job interview. You’re probably thinking in your head “how would I look like an idiot”.
Well if you brain dumped the CCNA exam than you’re going to get laughed at. If the hiring manager asks you a simple question that any network engineer with the CCNA should know and you answer it with “i don’t know” they’re gonna think you’re not worth it.
An example question would be, “how is the root bridge elected in spanning tree?”
What type of job should I look for?
Well as a CCNA you’re job opportunities are going to be limited and often times you’re going to be limited to larger companies who feel they can “mold” you into what they want you to become. At this stage your chances of getting a startup company position or small business position is slim unless you know someone or you have other skills needed by that company.
In either case a CCNA engineer with less than 3 years experience is not going to be doing very much engineering. You’re gonna start out as a switch tech or triage engineer (level 1) support. As your experience and skills advance you’ll work your way up the ladder. How fast you climb is completely up to you!
What type of company should I work for?
Well this is the million dollar question and this is the type of question that should be asked before accepting ANY position.
Speaking form experience most large companies (publicly traded companies, etc..) Your engineering experience will become extremely limited. This is because at large corporate companies you have to learn the politics involved. This includes Change Control, Change Management, Auditing, Approval Processes, documentation, etc… If you’ve never read Dilbert comic strips I would suggest you start there. Dilbert is a GREAT representation of what happens in most corporate environments on a day to day basis.
Most large corporate companies will often times have “too many Chiefs and not enough Indians.” What I mean by this is that you have too many managers that don’t know shit and very few engineers that actually do the work, in which case the managers claim credit for. This is typical among corporate environments.
Also if you accept a corporate environment position then don’t expect to work from home too often as “most” managers and VP’s that work in corporate environments are “old school” which pretty much equates to be at your desk at 8:00AM and not not leave before 5:00PM or I’m going to fire your ass type. This of course is slowly changing as young talent is moving up and this way of management is not the most efficient anymore due to the world becoming so connected with internet, mobile devices, etc…
There are however several benefits from working at large corporations which include job security and benefits.
As an entry level network engineer you may only get offers from large corporate environments in which case it is a learning experience. If you want my advice, stay there for a year or two and find another job.
Why find another job so quickly? Because 3% raise is nothing compared to doubling your salary in a single move after you have 2-3 years good experience and you need to be realistic, most corporate companies are not going to try to keep your talent however other companies may want what you have to offer and would be willing to offer significantly more pay with better benefits.
For example you start working at Widgets Inc making $30,000 a year, after 2 years you’re making about $35k a year after raises and bonuses based on performance. Maybe you get paid on call as well who knows. At this point you’re 2 years in with your CCNA and you’re probably already working on your CCNP or perhaps you’ve already passed the 3 CCNP Exams (Route, Switch and TShoot) in which case you’re ready to make a move as a CCNP with 2-3 years experience making 35k a year not doing yourself any service. If you have the experience and skills to pass the CCNP exams without dumps and can prove those skills in a job interview than you should not have a hard time finding another job around the 50-70k range in the United States. (This depends on job density and where you live of course).
At which point a single jump and you’ve effectively doubled your salary. Now you can afford to get rid of that 1995 Honda accord and buy something decent as your paychecks should be around $1,800 a bi-weekly. Ultimately at this point you should be clearing around $3,500 a month.
Working for the little guys!
As you have evolved your skills and experience and obtained other certifications along your journey you now have more opportunities and can be picky when it comes to what type of jobs you can apply for and potentially get offers from.
Once you have worked in the Corporate environment for a year years you may like it or you may hate it. Most people hate it but must have the job security as they may have a mortgage, children, etc… If you have flexible and have the ability to take a little bit of risk than your reward is going to be greater.
I’ve worked in corporate environment(s) for years and after all these years I would never return to the corporate environment. Why? Because I hate playing corporate politics and ultimately I’m an engineer, not a paper pusher.
At smaller companies you have the ability to become more hands on whereas larger corporations, over 80% of your work is nothing but paperwork. Again if you like job security that is great! But if you want to be able to develop your engineering skills than large environments are not the place to be. Keep in mind they only refresh their network 3-5 years and when they do it takes an act of congress to get it done because of all the Chief’s and not enough Indians rule. Most managers in corporate environment(s) feel the need to micro manage that of which they have no understanding. Again, read some Dilbert.
Working for smaller companies often times may pay a little less and you may have a little less job security but you typically have more flexibility, more freedom and just a better quality of life due to less stress and you wont feel like just another number to HR. Everyone in the company would know your name.
In my humble option as a network architect with the CCIE Routing and Switching certification, working for start up companies are the best jobs ever because you get to do all the engineering and build from the ground up. Such a rewarding learning experience and often times rewarding financially if you have stock options and company goes public. Lets say you’ve worked for a start up for 5 years and you have 12,000 shares and the company goes public at $23.00 a share you’ve just made $276,000 dollars.
However if you work for a start up you must be willing to work your ass off because if you start slacking you’ll get laid off real fast. Companies cant afford to keep slackers on the payroll.
Obtaining the CCIE and finding a job!
So if your long term goal is to obtain the CCIE certification and make the big bucks than there are several things you will learn along the way. One of the more important things to know regarding job opportunity and job security is the ability to set conditions on accepting a job offer(s)
As a CCIE, if you’re offered a job from any Partner that wants to use your CCIE number for partnership status (Silver, Gold Partner) than you should ALWAYS include a relinquishment clause in your offer.
In a nutshell the relinquishment clause will state that in the event of an involuntary termination, the company effectively relinquishes rights to use the CCIE number for partnership use at the effective termination date and time.
If they do not add this to the employment offer than you are taking a risk accepting the offer. Why?
Well ask yourself what is to stop them from hiring you and using you for 90 days just to associate your CCIE number with the company and letting you go shortly after and still being able to use your CCIE number for partnership status for 12 months? There is a term for this called “CCIE Poaching”
Now you’re a CCIE who cannot associate your CCIE number with another company thus effectively limiting your job opportunities. Because your CCIE number is in use, other companies may not extend offers to you because they cannot use your number until a year later.
It is your responsibility to protect your CCIE Number from poachers in which case the relinquishment clause is a “legally binding” agreement upon accepting the offer of employment stating that if the company involuntarily terminates you for any reason than they relinquish the right to use your CCIE number for partnership use.
If you have any other questions not answered in this blog entry feel free to post a comment and I’ll respond ^_^