Alright - Now What?

So it’s now been over two months since I finished college and obtained my magical piece of paper. It has been interesting to finally have some free time to do things that I want to do, and not having to constantly balance my time between school and work.

So now that I’ve had a bit to sit back and take a break, I’m starting to begin itching toward certification studies again. I really enjoy certifications because they give me a goal to work towards, and I can study the materials at my own pace.

For reference, I currently hold the following active certifications:

Cisco: CCNA, CCNA Security, CCNA Voice (retired), CCDA, CCNP, CCDP

I’ve been looking a bit at the Cisco Cloud and Data Center certification tracks, since I’m dealing a lot more with the Nexus switching line and data center technologies overall – but after reviewing the cert syllabus, I’m not really feeling very strongly toward those. I’m also hesitant because it would mean starting back over at the CCNA-level for the new tracks and working my way back up to the CCNP-level. I’ve also previously considered getting my CCNP Security, but I’m not actively working in Cisco ASA firewalls much any more.

The only next choice in the Cisco world would be going for the CCIE R&S or the CCDE. I’ve been considering for a long time that I would eventually like to get there, but those certifications also require a significant investment of time and money. I definitely think the information and skills I would learn along the way would be worth it, and I’m beginning to really consider this an option in the near future. I’ve spent a bit of time reviewing the exam topics listed on Cisco’s site, and debating which of the two would be a better first choice.

My other option is pursuing the Juniper side of things. Most of the data centers I manage now are shifting toward Cisco for switching and Juniper for firewalls – so it would certainly benefit me to educate myself further on the Juniper equipment. Until this point, I’ve been just learning on the job by buying Juniper SRX firewalls and figuring it out as I go. My only real hesitation on this would be maintaining two separate lines of certifications. Both Juniper and Cisco enforce a 3-year expiration on their certifications, so I would need to keep on top of both – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

So at this point, I really don’t have a clear idea of what I want to do. Those are my current thoughts and options, but I’m having a hard time settling on what would be the best option for me at this time. I definitely want to start studying for something (and potentially take the exam) before the end of this year though, so I would like to figure it out rather soon.

If you have any suggestions or thoughts on the certifications I’ve mentioned, leave me a comment below!