I’d like to ask for some career advice if possible.
All things being equal, which position is best for someone starting in the field of networking engineering: a job involving troubleshooting, or a job not involving troubleshooting, only network design? We’re talking about a candidate with CCNA-level knowledge.
Isn’t true that it’s best to first learn real-world troubleshooting, and then to move on to design roles? If one picks design first, isn’t there a risk of becoming a senior network engineer who can’t troubleshoot simple problems later?
I’d be very happy to read a response.
When starting out in the field of network engineering, you will rarely land a job in network design. Network design requires several years of experience in other positions, and no serious company would hire someone just starting out to do network design. Typical entry-level jobs for network engineers include:
first level helpdesk technician, either on the phone or via email or IM
racking and physical installation of equipment establishing initial connectivity for more experienced engineers to connect remotely and continue configuration
NOC engineer, monitoring network status and reporting network performance and/or security issues
These are the types of jobs that will get you the initial job experience you will need to move on to more advanced positions. All of these tend to involve some level of troubleshooting requiring analytical thinking and systematic processing of problems that you may see on the network.
Yes, it is true. But not to worry, it is unlikely that you would land a more advanced position if you don’t have the initial background and experience from several years in these entry-level positions which involve troubleshooting and related processes. Employers would not risk it, so there is very little risk of you falling into this type of problem. Does that make sense?
If one passes the CCNP t-shoot section, doesn’t that automatically mean that they can troubleshoot most scenarios of production environments? Meaning someone starting in design would, by passing the t-shoot exam, have roughly the same skills as someone who’s been doing it in real life - or not? Maybe not to the exact same degree, but it would be good enough, and they could learn new things as they troubleshoot real scenarios - just like it happens when they start their career by first landing a troubleshooting job.
Also, don’t seasoned engineers also make mistakes or have gaps in their knowledge, or skills that are not as sharp as some scenarios would require it? By which I mean that one couldn’t really distinguish a seasoned engineer who did troubleshooting since they started their career from someone with CCNP-level knowledge who did design (assuming the latter did labs at home).
I hope I’m not asking too many questions, but I’d like to get a good understanding of this question.
First of all, the Cisco TSHOOT exam is no longer valid. It has been retired in February of 2020, and has been replaced with core and concentration exams as seen here:
Having said that, I think your question has more to do with the value and use of “real-life experience” and “controlled training in a lab”. How much troubleshooting experience do each of those offer a network engineer?
I don’t know if there is a right and wrong answer, but I can tell you my personal opinion. The primary purpose of learning troubleshooting in a lab or by studying for an exam is to get your foot in the door. It is a way to elevate your skillset to a point where an employer would be willing to pay you to do the job. It’s there to land you your first job. From there on, all the rest of the troubleshooting experience you will gain should come primarily from real-life scenarios. That’s why employers will pay more for people with previous real-life experience.
Having been in networking for close to 25 years, I would have to say that the most valuable troubleshooting experience I have gained is on the job. Now note that the skills you gain have to do with critical thinking, proper questions to ask, and the appropriate steps to take, all done to get to the source of the problem more quickly. That’s something that can be achieved the fullest only in a real-world scenario.
I’m not quite sure why answering such a question is important. Sure, everyone makes mistakes, but the value of a network engineer will not be estimated on how much troubleshooting experience they have, but on how effective they are in their job. It’s a direct evaluation of job performance. And experience and training are only part of the equation. The rest has to do with the willingness to learn, innate natural abilities, and determination.
I’m not sure if I’ve answered your questions, but I hope I’ve given you some useful information.