• United States

Career advice

Apr 21, 20032 mins

Nutter helps a reader looking for advice on gaining field training and certifications.

I am a network engineer in training. I’ve recently completed the classes for the MCSE on Windows 2000. I have a few questions I hope you can answer:

  • What is the best way to prepare for the exams?
  • What is the best route to gain experience in the field?
  • What other certifications do you recommend for a network engineer?

– Via the Internet

There are all good questions that others are probably asking at one time or another. As for how to prepare for exams, the best answer I can give is “it depends”. Some folks can take a self-study book and get all the information they need. Others need study tools such as Transcender or Beach Front Quizzer to get them over the hump. If you don’t study well on your own or need a little guidance, a more formal classroom setting may be what you need.

As for how best to gain field experience, the question pretty much answers itself – by working in the field. If you don’t want to give up your day job or haven’t been able to find one doing what you want, you might consider checking in with some volunteer organizations to see if they have computers or networks and would like some free help. This can count as experience when applying for a full-time job and may also yield you some breaks when doing your taxes.

As for other certifications to go for, take a look at the classified ads in your local paper and on job boards such as and to see what certifications are most in demand. If you see that Novell is in demand in your area, then one of the Novell certifications may be in order. Cisco’s CCNA or Comptia’s Security+ may also be options as you begin your certification trek. You may see that getting Comptia’s A+ or Network+ may also serve well if you’re looking to work for the reseller channel.