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Career Development for Network Engineers

Level 12

Seems like at least a couple of times per week someone asks me for advice in helping to manage and/or advance their career. This topic is near and dear to most of our hearts for many reasons, one of which is that when the technology market took a nose dive a few years ago the average salaries for network engineers, administrators, and managers decreased as well and sometimes it can be hard to find the "right" position.

When discussing career development people often ask me to help them target specific types of training and certification. Of particular interest are courses within the Cisco and Microsoft Certification tracks as well as classes to help deepen one's knowledge wrt databases and light programming technologies (perl, XML, jscript). While all of these are valuable, I would strongly recommend two additional training areas - negotiation skills and sales.

If you've never taken a quality class in negotiations - you are missing out. Most of these are 2-3 day courses and they will pay for themselves many times over. I can tell first hand that the skills that I've picked up in negotiations have both saved/made my employers millions of dollars over the years and have saved/made me quite a bit of money as well. I very seldom make a retail purchase, no matter how small, where I don't do at least some negotiating. Equipping yourself with the longest, most prestigious list of technical certifications on the planet doesn't do you a bit of good if you can't effectively negotiate your own compensation. Additionally, as you progress up the career ladder, leveraging these skills within your everyday job will become more and more important, thereby increasing the overall value that you provide to your organization.

Now on to sales training. I know that someone's going to flame me for this and that for many of you sales is the "Dark Side" but hear me out. Sales training teaches you some important skills that you can leverage in your day to day job. Every day you have an opportunity to sell/market yourself and your team to your management staff. While it's important to be good at your job, it's equally important to be effective at communicating your success and at knowing what/how/when to communicate bad news. I'm not suggesting that you become a career salesperson, but learning a few key tricks of the trade can help you to elevate your perceived value within an organization and/or help you to sell yourself to a new employer down the road.

Now to pay the bills...
Tonight I've been testing a new beta candidate for Version 9.0 of our ipMonitor product. It's flippin' sweet. Our developers on this project definitely have their propellers screwed on pretty dang tight... In case you're wondering - ipMonitor is sort of an "Orion Lite" for the SMB or small enterprise. Its geared for smaller networks than Orion and offers basic fault/performance management where advanced monitoring, NetFlow, VoIP, and etc aren't required. I mention this here because a) some of you work for smaller companies that aren't candidates for Orion and b) many of you manage smaller networks in your off hours and for these networks ipMonitor is a great solution. I can't offer you a sneak peak at this new release just yet, but it's on its way...

Flame on...

Level 9

Great advice!

Level 12

thanks for the post