Posted on Oct 12, 2015
SPC Lazaro (Laz) Diaz
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I know that the “Old School of Thought” was that we had to get a Bachelor’s Degree to get a good paying job.
That was our dream, right? …that was our parent’s dream for us and that was our dream for our kids.
But in today’s society where technology has taken over the world; a Bachelor’s Degree doesn’t quite cut it anymore and certifications, like the CCNA, have creeped up and are on the rise.
I mean, if you think about it; Bill Gates, Sir Richard Branson and Paul Mitchell are just a few examples of how one can make it to the top without any degree, and in some cases not even a High School Diploma.
I guess the most recognizable figure we know of today, who dropped out of college and who was quoted to say the following:
“I'm an educational technologist and e-learning person who believes that the disruption caused by modern communication technologies will lead to better systems of higher education and a re-invention of what universities should be about.”
This of course was non-other than the great visionary of our times, Steve Jobs when he addressed the Stanford University graduating class of 2005.
Imagine that!...a person with NO degree, giving the commencement speech at Stanford.
However, most of us do need something to replace a Bachelor’s degree and that’s where the CCNA certification comes into play.
Degrees, while nice to have, are totally overrated! Not to mention, extremely expensive (you can literally come out of college with 100’s of thousands of dollars in debt mean while a CCNA test is just a few hundred bucks. Not to mention that for about a dollar a day you can get prepared for the CCNA certification exam by joining an e-learning platform like Lynda.com).
I mean, is it really feasible to spend 2 to 4 years studying, to then find a job, to then start paying off your student loans and at the same time make ends meet? …what about your bills, your family and putting food on the table?
With a CCNA certification you can hit the ground running. You don’t have to be eating Ramen Noodles for 4 years to then start looking for a job.

Subsequently, you would now have to rethink the whole educational approach.
Let’s analyze this.
What does a Computer Science Degree from 1975 have to do with a Network Engineer in 2015?
Absolutely nothing! …these two are worlds apart.
The internet wasn’t even available to the public until 1991, so that in itself makes the 1975 BS degree irrelevant.
Not convinced?...let me illustrate this further.
If you have a Law Degree from Harvard, can you practice in the U.K? …I highly doubt it. You are basically stuck. You might not even be able to practice from State to State.
That’s the beauty of certifications…no limits, no boundaries, no bureaucracy!
We are living is such a fast paced environment that we need things yesterday. Fortunately, that void has also been filled by certifications.
Our society is obsessed with the “NOW” factor…we need a job NOW, because we need money NOW, to buy the new iPhone NOW!
Thankfully, a CCNA certification will provide you with that indispensable factor - NOW!
Anyone can achieve the CCNA certification within a few short months and can actually start working in a related field shortly after that. Heck, you can even maintain your current job, while you prepare for the CCNA. This means that there is really no downtime to getting an industry specific certification.
I do want to clarify something though and want to make it perfectly clear; just because you want a CCNA doesn’t mean that you’ll always get what you want.
It really depends on four (4) things to ultimately be the determining factor.
Actually these are the key ingredients for anyone wanting to succeed:
(1) The desire to be successful! You want this so bad that you can taste it. You know that your future and/or your family’s future depends on it.
(2) The dedication to sacrifice and plough through the obstacles…and yes, there will be many obstacles. It’s called “LIFE”.
(3) The determination that no matter what, you will achieve success, because “failure is simply not an option”.
(4) The discipline to be focused and do what must be done to reach your goal. Keeping your eye on the price should be first priority. Sleep might be out of the question, but this only means that you will “adapt and overcome”.
For anyone that possesses these attributes…the sky’s the limit!
As previously mentioned, certifications have come to disrupt the educational system for the better. And e-learning platforms, like Lynda.com, have taken over and have often, either enhanced, or in some instances, replaced institutions like colleges and universities.
E-learning platforms have made it easier for anyone and everyone that wants an education to easily attain one.
There are no longer excuses not to get a good paying job. No longer does where you were born, your pedigree, your educational nor economic status play a role in your future…but rather you, yourself, are the only determining factor.
Ever since education became limitless and highly affordable (thanks in part to the Internet); we all have, for the first time in the history of the world, the ability to acquire an education if we chose to do so.
The CCNA certification has certainly made it to the top of this list! It is one of the most sought out certifications in the world and it has provided many with financial stability that they would not have had otherwise.
All you really need to do is look at the top recruiting companies like Indeed, Simply Hired, or Career Builder and you will see that most of the jobs advertised in the IT fields, and of course I’m talking specifically for a Networking position, is the need to have a CCNA certification.
This of course plays into “Job Security”, which I believe to be a myth.
Did you know that a CCNA certification can be the determining factor between remaining employed and getting laid off? It doesn’t even matter if you’ve been with the company for the past 5, 10, 15 or 20 years?
Job security, like I said earlier, is a myth…you and I are replaceable!
How do I know this?... because I speak from experience.
“I was on an assignment to train 30 well trained and experienced employees of a large Telecom company back in 2012 to get them prepared to take and pass the CCNA certification exam.
They had to either get their CCNA or be terminated.
It didn’t matter that they were doing their jobs correctly for the past decade or so…no, no, no…they had to be certified or else!
As it turned out, it was a life changing experience for me as well. For you see, not only did they pass their CCNA, but I was hired by the same company once I finished my training assignment and ultimately that paved the way for where I am today”.
Going for a certification means you can study on your own terms and at your own pace.
There are no more time constraints and you have the freedom to learn from your home, from the back of a bus or a flight going across the globe.
Remember, employers are willing to hire you much faster if you have certification & experience, than if you just have a Bachelor’s Degree.
This, of course, doesn’t mean that you should not get a Bachelor’s degree if you can. After all, the more paper you have to show, the more likelihood you have of getting the position you desire. However, you now have options.
In other words, a “Bachelor’s Degree” is no longer the status quo.
Now let’s take a look at what today’s employers are looking for when they are interviewing:
1. Employers want a person that has skills.
Cisco’s CCNA certification gages your knowledge in Networking and passing it certifies that you are skillful in the basics of networking.
The only way employers can gage your knowledge is through testing, and that’s precisely what a certification does…it lets employers know that you have been tested in a particular area. It certifies that you have passed the minimum requirement for a particular field in IT.
After all, they already know everything else about you from your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram page.
2. Employers want global employees.
Remember that we live in a global environment and physical boundaries or borders are no longer a constraint.
That’s the beauty of certifications. They have only one standard, and no matter where you are physically located, your certification is globally recognized.
This is why I currently have over 35K+ students (and counting), in over 179 countries all learning and preparing for the CCNA!
This means that a student from Kenya can get the same CCNA certification as a student from Finland and they both have the same exact credentials and basic knowledge because the test is the same worldwide.
And I can certainly attest to that, because students from those countries have indeed been able to get their CCNA certification with my online courses through various e-learning platforms.
For you it means that if you received your Cisco certification in the U.S., you can relocate to Germany or Spain or Japan and your certification goes with you.
You have now become a worldwide candidate in a Global market!
3. Employers want people that are up to date in their field. Technology is constantly evolving and you must evolve with it.
This is really a no-brainer!
Certifications, unlike degrees, have a shelf life and you need to re-certify every couple of years to make sure you continue to be skillful and knowledgeable in the newest technologies.
And employers are catching on!
Companies are no longer making a determination to hire solely based on a Bachelor’s Degree. They will actually give you a scenario and tell you to fix the problem at hand; or put you in front of a computer and will give you a hands-on test.
The only way you’ll be able pass the 1st interview phase is by actually doing the job. This is where certifications come into play.
Of course, you must first learn to crawl before you can walk and that’s what the CCNA certification is all about.
It is the foundation of Networking and will pave the road for the higher certifications within Cisco.

~ Lazaro Diaz
Cisco Instructor
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Responses: 19
SFC Joe S. Davis Jr., MSM, DSL
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SPC Lazaro (Laz) Diaz I am going back to school and trying to get into the IT/Field, everybody got laid off except IT. This is a growing field I will seek with a certification first.
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SPC Lazaro (Laz) Diaz
SPC Lazaro (Laz) Diaz
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Are you talking about a College degree?
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SFC Joe S. Davis Jr., MSM, DSL
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SSG Program Control Manager
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I would recommend whatever degree you can get first. Often that's a Liberal Studies Degree with concentrations in Management and some sort of IT related field. Go with a college like Excelsior and you will not need to worry about residency requirements.
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SPC Lazaro (Laz) Diaz
SPC Lazaro (Laz) Diaz
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SFC Joe S. Davis Jr., MSM, DSL - Excelsior is a very good online college where you can get credit for your Military experience, job experience and even life experience. So, you can achieve a degree much faster than a conventional college.
However, if your goal is to go the shorter route, what they are offering you for the Network+ seems fairly reasonable except for the part where they require "9 months of experience in network support and administration is required before entering the course...." sort of beats the purpose and I have never heard of such requirements in a college and/or technical school environment.
Having said that, if you have the 9+ months experience and want to go for it, then you should.
If you do not have the 9 months experience, but want to get the N+ cert right away, you might want to find another school.
If what you want to do is learn the fundamentals of Networking, you can probably get a Networking book and even go to Youtube to watch videos on Networking and learn it on your own.
The N+ certification is very heavy on cables, they also teach you about some wireless, but are very introductory in Networking overall.
Cisco...or specifically the CCNA, teaches you more about routing, switching and way more about Networking in general....so, basically, the CCNA is like an N+ on steroids.
Before you go out and spend money on the N+, let me know if you would be interested in the CCNA. I will give you ALL my courses for free to include my book, so you can see the difference and then decide.
There are plenty of jobs that would require either certification, depending on the work you need to do. However, an N+ will limit you since you wont be able to do the job of a CCNA; while the CCNA will allow you to fill in for a N+ job.
Bottom line, you have more options with the CCNA and the pay gap between the two is quite different.
You might want to go to a recruiting website and look up jobs that require either of these certifications and see for yourself. The job descriptions will also let you know the type of duties you will generally be required to do for each.
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Sgt Field Radio Operator
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Obtaining a certification or certifications is good, but you will not regret obtaining a Bachelor's degree.
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SPC Lazaro (Laz) Diaz
SPC Lazaro (Laz) Diaz
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I totally agree Sgt.
The more paper you have, the more ammunition you have to land that perfect job.
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MSgt Solutions Architect/Software Developer
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If you are planning on going into the IT field, plan on continuous learning and re-certification. Also, be flexible and stay up to date on the latest trends and tech, otherwise be left behind or worse replaced.
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