The Real Paul Newman 's So you wanna be a CN-What???

(A guide for those who who want to be a Certified Novell Engineer or Micrsoft Certified Professional)

I have been a CNE since 1993, employed the entire time in the industry and even have taught CNE classess. I am offering my experience and knowledge to those considering following this track.

Okay, you've been convinced that in order to get a job that pays better than flipping burgers for Mc'd's you need a CNE or MSE or MSP or some other computer industry certification. Is this right or wrong? The answer is Yes! A CNE is a requirement from many (but not all) companies for a job in networking but it is not a guarantee.

Be aware -not software or hardware but just aware- of the other requirements.

First, you need to know what the heck you are doing. When I interview potential candidates I give them technical questions (try the competency test below) to find out if they can perform the job they are applying for. Nearly 100% (okay it's about 99.5%) don't make the cut. The schools advertise they have a lab which will give you the hands-on experience needed for the job world. This is not it. (Try the test below and find out.)

Second, you must be able to deal with real world problems in real world time. In class most excercises are done according to a step by step instruction. This leaves little room for errorwhich is good for learning. The problem is in the real world, real networks are not controlled environements. Something very often goes wrong. What do you do when you get an Abend on the server? How do you keep it from recurring? When you are the company's administrator (or whatever job) you don't have time normally to read a book, knock around the idea between the class or call technical support. Many companies won't pay for technical support calls. What companies pay for is someone who can keep the systems running with no down time. Being able to deal with these issues comes from experience (I'll talk about getting this later) and not from a class.

Third, is do you really want to work in the computer industry and specifically networks? Working on networks is not anything like playing or working on your home PC. Yes it involvescomputers but a lot is redundant administration, writing documentation, fixing printing problems and the like. It is not playing Doom (a game) all day or even part of the day. Some network jobs require you to spend significant time fixing PC problems while some you will never tough a user's workstation. Take this into account before you make a career decision.

Most people have dreams of those $60,000, $70,000 or $100,000 a year jobs after getting their CNE certification. Dream on. These take experience, a proven resume and more. So where do you get experience you might ask? A job! But how do you get a job without experience? By going for a job and not shooting for the moon. The big, high paying jobs come later when you have proven yourself. The jobs I recommend for a recent CNE are PC Support, Desktop support, Desktop management, Assistant LAN Administrator. These jobs usually advertise as 'CNE helpful' or 'CNE prefferred'. If you have the required PC knowledge/experience these jobs are fairly easy to obtain. These also will give you the experience in networking and a networking environement to move up to a better job. Many competent PC/recent CNE people have gotten these jobs and most of these (if they are really any good) have moved on to better networking jobs.

Having PC knowledge is of vital importance. More important than a college degree (after all I dropped out of high school in the eleventh grade.) What are we networking? PC's of course! You should know PC hardware, some software, memory and configuration very well. These are not taught in a CNE course.

Are you ready and competent to get a networking job? Take this test.

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