Degree or certs? How to get the most/right exposure?

Microsoft / IT tfordude
Aug 14 8 Comments

I am a datacenter tech for MSFT. Im in my mid 20’s and have a wife and a kid. live in Europe. I have a high school diploma as my highest education, currently making around 36k. I have previous customer support experience.

My dream is to become a network engineer, I currently have a CCENT and am studying for my CCNA.

I have two questions about this:

1. Would it be better in the long run to still get an online degree from WGU or something like this? In most job posts from more traditional companies everyone asks for a college education. With MSFT I see degree or equivalent work experience everywhere.

I fear on one hand that it might bite me in the ass later to be without one, but on the other hand I fear it might be a waste of time and I can get there without.

2. How can I create allies/mentors within the company when those departments are not even on the same continent? Or create impact to get noticed?

I want to work my ass off to make it happen and can relocate to anywhere in Europe.


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TOP 8 Comments
  • T-Mobile / Design 9e72p1nq
    Getting an undergrad degree will definitely be helpful - WGU has degrees with certs focused in network engineering.

    Learning Linux and Cisco networking along with basic network automation would set you up well to be a versatile network engineer.

    Below is the order I would focus on:

    1. Push through and really learn up to CCNP R&S. Know the concepts really well about the relevant tech (subnet in your head, CIDR (how many /29 in a /25?), BGP traffic engineering ( and all other BGP concepts - memorize BGP really well with flash cards so you know it like the back of your hand), learn to speak clearly on how switching tables and routing tables are built - how they select routes, route redistribution, ACLs/Prefix Lists/etc. Learn the fundamentals well and how you can manipulate traffic. Also redundancy and meshing protocols (VRRP, HSRP, Spine&Leaf VXLAN BGP EVPN).

    2. Do school on the side wile working and studying

    3. Red Hat Certified Systems Administrator (RHCSA) cert studying. You don't necessarily need to get the cert, but learning the material will help you work in the whitebox switching world and with network / network security operating systems. You gotta know a bit about navigating Linux, file structure, basic Linux internals understanding, Linux networking commands and the network stack.

    I recommend for Cisco training (I am sure there are other great resources). for RHCSA, WGU for working professional trying to finish school while earning certs.

    Get really good at the networking knowledge - listen to those CCNP vids a good 3 - 4 times, be able to 3xolqin the life of the packet, header changes, traffic engineering concepts, how routing protocols pick the best path, etc. Much of your competition may not be able to speak intelligently on these subjects.
    Aug 14 3
    • T-Mobile / Design 9e72p1nq
      I forgot to mention network automation. Go through the free class or a paid one here -

      This will teach you basic Python and how to use it to automate configs and checks on the CLI of a networking device. You learn this pretty well and you will have a big edge on other net engineers with experience.

      FYI, picking this stuff up takes time, so #1 is speaking intelligently about networking concepts from your head when it comes to how tables are built and how to manipulate traffic. Learning Python and Ansible may be slow going but you need to chip away at them bit by bit until you know them ok, like learning a language. It will take time and regular intervals of short practice to start becoming fluid, so be patient.
      Aug 14
    • Chan Zuckerberg Initiative advantageZ
      What are your thoughts on wgu?
      Aug 14
    • T-Mobile / Design 9e72p1nq
      If you are seeking a career in network engineering or infrastructure, the most important thing you can provide to an employer is an understanding of the most common tools (protocols, operating systems, best practices, vendor familiarity, etc). I do not think it matters to have Ivy League on your resume but to be practically skilled with a degree where you can hit the ground running after a short time of training. This is a different mindeset compared to software engineering where math and CS form the firm foundation of the work you are doing if you are seeking a career as an expert).

      I think showing you can get through a program and commit to something and complete it matters to employers in the infrastructure space.
      Aug 14
  • Google PCBro
    Move to America
    Aug 14 2
    • Microsoft / IT tfordude
      That could be an option eventually, but I don’t want to move there for a $40k dct position. It’s for the most part not even about money. I don’t need a crazy 150k salary like I see here on blind. To start out I’d be happy with a €50k network engineer job. I can always grow from there. I want to be in an environment with interesting peers where I can grow and play with technology and do interesting work. Growing my skill set. I wouldn’t even care if I go on a team where I only shut/no shut ports or something. I’d sweep the floor of the network engineerings office and do the jobs that no-one in the team would want to do to progress and have colleagues with a passion and knowledge for networks.
      Aug 14
    • Northrop Grumman HowCouldYu
      Hey PC bro can you dm me bro?
      Sep 28
  • This comment was deleted by original commenter.


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