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Another certification?

Could another certification help me keep my job?

Dear Molly: I have an MSCE and am happily employed as a network engineer. I must be a glutton for educational punishment, I guess, but I am wondering if I should pursue another certification. Who knows, with all the cutbacks and layoffs happening in the IT world, maybe another certification would help me keep my job — or find another one more quickly if I lose this one. Should I do it, and if so which one should I go for?

Molly says: My answer depends upon what you want to do with the rest of your life — at least the next five years of it. If you think that networking is your long-term career choice, then another certification, such as a CISCO or security certification, might be beneficial. Particularly if you want to advance up the ladder of technical difficulty and learn how to plan and manage more complex networks.

After all, who makes more — a G.P. or a specialist? I think it’s the same way in the IT field today. The more you specialize, the more you can charge. At the same time, though, you cut down on the number of possible job openings you are qualified for, just as the specialist draws from a smaller pool of potential patients. However, when you need a good specialist in any field, you don’t hesitate to pay the fee.

Which additional certification you pursue should come out of your own interests, but if you can’t think of anything right off the top of your head, look into learning more about security or anything having to do with Internet-based or wireless communications. All three are hot areas of specialization and areas in which we need more experts.

Molly Joss also writes the monthly Career Advisor column for ComputerUser magazine. To ask a career-related question, reach her at [email protected]

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