What’s Next? Using CompTIA Network+ to Launch Your IT Specialization

by Anthony Sequeira | May 14, 2018
The shadow of a person at an intersection with a right turn lane and a left turn lane

In my experience of helping people prepare to get certified and move up in their IT careers, I often get asked, “I have CompTIA A+, and now I am working on CompTIA Network+. What should I do next?”

First, I love how this learner is planning ahead. Also, it seems they are embracing the concept that in this business, we are ALWAYS going to be learning.

The beauty of both CompTIA A+ and CompTIA Network+ as a foundation of learning is that their coverage is broad and gives learners a sense of today’s IT environments. These environments tend to be more complex than ever and also tend to include the equipment of multiple vendors. For example, today’s data center might consist of storage equipment from EMC, virtualization software from VMware, and routers, switches, and servers from both Cisco Systems and Juniper Networks.

Specializations That Stem from CompTIA Network+

Hopefully, while studying these disciplines, a learner quickly realizes that they want to specialize, or is at least considering specializing, in a certain area of IT. After all, once you launch down a specialty path, you can always change your mind. There is no crime in that!

Here are some specializations that CompTIA Network+ can get you primed for:

  • Core Routing and Switching: A focus on protocols and devices, mastering such topics as open shortest path first (OSPF), border gateway protocol (BGP), spanning tree protocol (STP) and virtual local area network (VLAN) management
  • Network Design: The design of the latest networking technologies
  • Server Administration: This might include Windows and Linux server systems in a virtualized or traditional hardware environment
  • Wireless: The creation of wireless local area networks (LANs) and mesh networks
  • Cloud: A focus on private, public and hybrid cloud deployment models
  • Network Service Support: The knowledge of various network services such as domain name system (DNS), dynamic host configuration protocol (DHCP), network time protocol (NTP), simple network management protocol (SNMP), etc.
  • Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP): Effectively sending voice traffic alongside traditional data traffic in the network infrastructure
  • Virtualization: Skill in virtualized operating systems, networks, storage and more
  • Wide Area Network (WAN) Support: A focus on connecting geographically distant network resources
  • Security: Building a defense in depth layered architecture
  • Troubleshooting/Consulting: The skills of problem identification, resolutions and verification

CompTIA Core Certifications Provide the Foundation

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The CompTIA infrastructure and cybersecurity career pathways can set learners on a path to specialization. For example, a learner can build a strong foundation of knowledge by passing CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+ and CompTIA Security+ before launching into additional certifications.

This series of core certifications would prove they understand the major facets of computer networking, with a special emphasis in network security. The learner would then be ready to really in advanced network security areas.

Vendor-Neutral in Preparation for Vendor-Specific Certifications

Because there is so much overlap in IT today, many learners will complete all that CompTIA has to offer and then look toward vendor-specific specialization. The path you choose should be based on the products you work with now and the ones you hope to work with in the future.

In thinking about which path is best for you, remember that salary is not the most important thing. While demand and salary are certainly important, I believe that success will come much easier if you follow your passion. Start down a path you are not excited about, and I believe you will find it very hard to achieve even the most modest salary expectations.

To put some numbers to this, IT pros in the United States and Canada who have CompTIA Network+ make a median annual salary of $75,000, according to the Global Knowledge 2017 IT Skills and Salary Report. As they move up in their careers, IT pros who have Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) Routing and Switching make a median salary of $89,550, and AWS Solutions Architects make a median salary in the range of $115,500 to $119,700.

For an individual with great initiative, communication skills, and an everlasting desire to learn, any specialization in IT can be viewed as hot.

Enjoy your studies of the core skills and look forward to various paths that lay ahead!

Set your career on the infrastructure pathway with CompTIA Network+.

7 Comments

  • Darragh

    Friday, June 15, 2018

    My area is software testing, what certifications can i get?

  • Muahmmad Faijan

    Sunday, June 17, 2018

    i want to pursue A+ certification after that i will be interested for network+ because i am fresher now in field of IT. So please tell me how i can get this certificate easily and better study materials.

  • Wednesday, June 20, 2018

    Hi, Muahmmad! Thanks for your question. There are lots of options for you to prepare for your CompTIA A+ exams. CompTIA CertMaster is an eLearning tool that covers the topics of the exam. There's also eBooks and other study materials, including the CompTIA Official Study Guide. And lastly, there are classes available if you want to learn from an instructor. See what your options are here: https://certification.comptia.org/training/by-certification/a Good luck!

  • Wednesday, June 20, 2018

    Hi, Darragh! Thanks for your question. CompTIA does not have any certifications that target software/QA testers, but there are a number of them offered by other vendors. Good luck!

  • Sheriff

    Monday, June 25, 2018

    I used the professor Messer videos. Passed at my first attempt.

  • Sohail

    Tuesday, July 24, 2018

    Hi Mohammed, It’s really nice to guide someone for better future and I have been in IT for long. I have recommend that you just buy an app first called pocket prep to do some questions and answers quiz, after that buy an online CompTIA+ from Mike Myers. This ebook will gives you very good basics to understand the logic behind the computer mechanism. Besides keep doing quiz on Pocket Prep and you should pass the test. Good Luck

  • Alejandro

    Wednesday, March 27, 2019

    I earned my A+ and Network+ certifications and that is not enough to land a Network entry job if you have no experience, even a volunteer jobs to get some experience are difficult to find. I live in South Florida maybe different in another locations.

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