On the verge of completing my master's degree, and the field of networking has recently piqued my interest. For anyone with any networking experience or knowledge, is it better to take my time while learning the material, such as attending my local CC with 16 week semesters, or can the material be just as understood/ingrained if self-taught?
It looks like my options are:
- A) Attend local CC which has a series of Cisco Networking Academy courses (would take about 1.5-2 years to complete the series)
- Networking with professors/classmates - Possible internship/placement?
- Structured Learning
- Hands on experience
- Probably would pick up CompTIA+, Net+, & be prepared to take the CCNA exam upon program completionCons:
- Time to completion (1.5-2 years)
- Commute (which really isn't that bad, but that gas money adds up after 16 weeks lol)
- Mandatory attendance
- Hard @ss seats. Seriously...why do schools have to make them so hard? They hurt my butt after 15 minutes lol.
- B) Self-study and go cert-hunting (CompTIA+, Net+, Sec+, CCNA)
- Flexible schedule
- Possibly less expensive than CC
- Will likely acquire the certs quicker if going straight for them versus attending CC?Cons:
- Potentially not learning the material as in depth as I should be?
- Lack of professional networking possibilities
- Not as hands on
- C) Distance learning (Possibly WGU's BSIT - Sec)
- Accredited + receive several certs through the coursework (CCNA, CCNA Sec, CompTIA+, Net+, Sec+, Project+, Linux+Cons:
- Maybe too hands off?
- Would likely take me two terms to complete.
I'm trying to choose the path that would provide the best chance at getting entry level work in the field. I am also not against getting experience as help desk/desktop support as I know many IT professionals must pay their dues there. At the moment I am leaning towards attending my local CC to see if I enjoy it, and then possibly taking the plunge into WGU, but I am as indecisive as a squirrel crossing the road right now lol.
Any opinions or suggestions would be appreciated
Note: Am I overemphasizing the importance of being "hands on" in this area of work?