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Thread: IT Networking - CC, Distance Learning, or Self-Taught?

  1. #1
    Hunter91 is offline Knight / Dame
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    Default IT Networking - CC, Distance Learning, or Self-Taught?

    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)
      Pros:
      1. Networking with professors/classmates - Possible internship/placement?
      2. Structured Learning
      3. Hands on experience
      4. Probably would pick up CompTIA+, Net+, & be prepared to take the CCNA exam upon program completion
      Cons:
      1. Time to completion (1.5-2 years)
      2. Commute (which really isn't that bad, but that gas money adds up after 16 weeks lol)
      3. Mandatory attendance
      4. 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)
      Pros:
      1. Flexible schedule
      2. Possibly less expensive than CC
      3. Will likely acquire the certs quicker if going straight for them versus attending CC?
      Cons:
      1. Potentially not learning the material as in depth as I should be?
      2. Lack of professional networking possibilities
      3. Not as hands on
    • C) Distance learning (Possibly WGU's BSIT - Sec)
      Pros:
      1. Accredited + receive several certs through the coursework (CCNA, CCNA Sec, CompTIA+, Net+, Sec+, Project+, Linux+
      Cons:
      1. Maybe too hands off?
      2. 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
    Thanks

    Note: Am I overemphasizing the importance of being "hands on" in this area of work?
    Last edited by Hunter91; 12-16-2016 at 07:09 PM.
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  2. #2
    yb1
    yb1 is offline Baronet / Baronetess
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hunter91 View Post
    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)
      Pros:
      1. Networking with professors/classmates - Possible internship/placement?
      2. Structured Learning
      3. Hands on experience
      4. Probably would pick up CompTIA+, Net+, & be prepared to take the CCNA exam upon program completion
      Cons:
      1. Time to completion (1.5-2 years)
      2. Commute (which really isn't that bad, but that gas money adds up after 16 weeks lol)
      3. Mandatory attendance
      4. 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)
      Pros:
      1. Flexible schedule
      2. Possibly less expensive than CC
      3. Will likely acquire the certs quicker if going straight for them versus attending CC?
      Cons:
      1. Potentially not learning the material as in depth as I should be?
      2. Lack of professional networking possibilities
      3. Not as hands on
    • C) Distance learning (Possibly WGU's BSIT - Sec)
      Pros:
      1. Accredited + receive several certs through the coursework (CCNA, CCNA Sec, CompTIA+, Net+, Sec+, Project+, Linux+
      Cons:
      1. Maybe too hands off?
      2. 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
    Thanks

    Note: Am I overemphasizing the importance of being "hands on" in this area of work?
    I'm actually going to do your plan A assuming I get accepted into this program. My local CC is offering an accelerated path to Cisco and has programming classes as well. The total cost is 1600 and it should prepare me for Sec +, Network +, Cisco exams and give me lab experience now I don't know if this is the best way to go about it but that's what I've decided to do.

    TechExams.net IT Certification Forums Will probably have your best answer a lot of people there self study for exams. Personally I want some hands on experience. But I imagine if you post to tech exams you will get better answers
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    ajs1976 is offline Viscount / Viscountess
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    Do you have any experience in the field? If not does the CC have an internship program that will help you it?

    Can you do a combination of A and B to get the hands on and reduce time and expenses?


    Project+ is easy. A week or two of studying the right book and you should be good. Net+ may be a prereq to the Cisco Academy. If not the CCENT material should cover 90% of what is on the Net+. After getting Net+ down, you could try to self study for Sec+.

    There are simulators for for routers and switches, but I think some hands on is important. Racking and stacking, crimping cables, seeing interfaces instead of pictures of interfaces, etc.
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    Honestly, I would consider security instead of networking. SDN and devops are real threats I would not take lightly. On the other hand, security is super hot right now and tangentially related to networking. I like WGU's BS in security since it includes the same certificates that networking folks want want as well as two security certs.
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    Hunter91 is offline Knight / Dame
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    Quote Originally Posted by ajs1976 View Post
    Do you have any experience in the field? If not does the CC have an internship program that will help you it?

    Can you do a combination of A and B to get the hands on and reduce time and expenses?


    Project+ is easy. A week or two of studying the right book and you should be good. Net+ may be a prereq to the Cisco Academy. If not the CCENT material should cover 90% of what is on the Net+. After getting Net+ down, you could try to self study for Sec+.

    There are simulators for for routers and switches, but I think some hands on is important. Racking and stacking, crimping cables, seeing interfaces instead of pictures of interfaces, etc.
    I don't have experience in the field, and I don't believe the CC has an internship program, but I recall when looking at internship opportunities in the past that they required applicants to be students in a relevant field of study. I could do a combination of A and B, and someone who I spoke to earlier actually recommended that. It seems there is more than one way to skin this cat...
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    dfrecore is offline Emperor / Empress
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    What is your BA and MA in??
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    Hunter91 is offline Knight / Dame
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    Quote Originally Posted by dfrecore View Post
    What is your BA and MA in??
    Liberal studies & professional development.
    Last edited by Hunter91; 12-16-2016 at 11:17 PM.
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    a423burt is offline Minor Noble
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hunter91 View Post
    Liberal studies & professional development.
    It is true Security is hot. If you don't mind doing a lot of writing, documenting, policy and compliance reports then it is a great field to be int. The fact that you are willing to pay your dues and go into helpdesk will pay off. When people ask me what to do I tell them the best way is to not set your mind on a specific IT area (network, Server Support, Security, etc.) since once you start you might find areas that you like and have opportunities to move into. Study and get your CCNA that will get you into a lot of job interviews and get you into a helpdesk. I would use UNL (unified networking lab) and do labs along with self paced study. Nothing will prepare you more than doing labs and then reading why you configure what you do. Learn why and how things work vs. just how to make it work.

    Once you get a job keep getting certs and keep job jumping. After 6 months in a job your learning will slow so it is time to move on. After a couple of years you can start to settle in to a longer term job.

    Don't waste time on comptia test unless you plan to stay in helpdesk- outside of helpdesk jobs they are not thought of very highly.

    And overall, follow you gut and take all of our advice with skepticism.

    Good Luck.
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    jsd
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    Quote Originally Posted by a423burt View Post
    Don't waste time on comptia test unless you plan to stay in helpdesk- outside of helpdesk jobs they are not thought of very highly.
    While I mostly agree with this sentiment, good luck getting many security jobs, especially DoD jobs, without Sec+. Not that Sec+ actually prepares you for those jobs, but it's a box that needs to be ticked.
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    TrailRunr is offline Viscount / Viscountess
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    Ready for your CLEP exam?

    Study for your exam using the same CLEP Study Guides used by thousands of members of this discussion forum!


    I forgot to add that the community college route is a real mixed bag. It depends on who is teaching the program. At the nearest community college, the networking program is best to be avoided. The guy that runs it is lazy, goes off on tangents, and lacks attention to detail. For this, I would look at ratemyprofessor very carefully.
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