IT Certification Path for Network Administrators
Aspiring IT professionals frequently ask me questions like “How can I get into an IT job?” and “What is the best IT certification path for network administrators?” Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer because there are so many variables, such as how much knowledge you start with and what type of jobs are available where you live.
However, if you are focused on landing an IT job and you’re willing to take the time to master the materials, you can earn several certifications that will make you highly desirable as a network administrator, one of the industry’s most essential and opportunity-rich positions. Learn the material, earn the certifications, and you’ll have an opportunity to shine at network administration job interviews.
First, what is a network administrator? Most people define a network administrator as someone that maintains hardware and software on a computer network. In a large organization, the network administrator is a mid-level IT worker focused primarily on maintaining networking components. However, in smaller organizations, the network administrator is also responsible for desktop support for end-users, maintaining servers, and managing any other devices connected to the network.
In this article, I’ve divided the IT certification path for network administrators into three categories:
- Foundation certifications: These CompTIA certifications are vendor-neutral and provide a solid knowledge base for any path to becoming a network administrator.
- Cisco certifications: These credentials are valuable for administrators that manage Cisco’s widely-used network devices, such as routers and switches.
- Microsoft certifications: These certificates are key for administrators that provide network administration services at both the desktop and server level.
People commonly want to know how long it’ll take to complete these certifications so I’ve given some common study time estimates. These guidelines assume you have a job but you’re still able to study regularly to master the concepts. Someone that is unemployed and spending 12 hours a day studying can complete these certifications much quicker. In contrast, someone with a full time job that regularly requires overtime might need more time.