New Member: Daniel Woititz from the USA

Good day!

My name is Daniel and I’m 44. I worked in the IT department of a banking company about 20 years ago. I earned the Microsoft Certified Professional certification at this time and worked on many different technologies in the company. I left this job to work in a different industry. I’ve always stayed involved with computers even though my jobs weren’t IT jobs (ie built lots of PCs, worked with many applications, databases, light networking, etc.). My deep understanding of computers led to success with all of my jobs.

Now I work in China and will be returning to my home, the USA, in a year from now. My goal is to be well prepared to begin my career in the Networking field as soon as I arrive.

I’ve been acquiring Cisco certifications for the last 3 years. I currently have the CCNP R&S and CCNA Security. I was advised to get 1) CCNP R&S 2) CCNP Security or CCNP Datacenter 3) a VMWare certification. I began doing this when I was advised to go for CCIE R&S. I decided to pursue the CCIE R&S and plan to acquire this cert within a year. Experience with Cisco VIRL, GNS3, Packet Tracer and soon will try EVE-NG. Some real equipment too.

I’m very interested on feedback on my plan. I’m also very interested in different career paths to I can see what path would be the best for me. Independent Consulting seems to interest me the most as a goal.

I’m really a Cisco kind of geek. It’s intriguing to me to ponder how pictures, etc. get converted to voltage and light and then get reassembled in a different place.

My first networking experience was discovering that a new branch of my company had installed crossover cables instead of straight through. While this is a simpler issue, it was my troubleshooting technique that led me to the cause of the problem that was outside of my area of assigned responsibility. I discovered and remedied the problem at during my turn at the early shift so I was able to fix the problem before the users got to work. I really enjoy designing and troubleshooting networks.

I joined because the font and colors are easy on my eyes. I spend a lot of time in front of screens and projectors and the eye strain can be tough. After joining, I’ve found other nice things about the site like Rene’s style.

Thanks for taking the time to read my post!

Kind regards,


Hi Danny,

First of all, welcome aboard!

One of the big advantages of IT / networking is that you don’t need much to study and get experience. Some study material, some labs, enough disciple to study when nobody is telling you to and you will get pretty far. You can get CCIE certified by never leaving your house (except for the exams :). That’s how I did it, by self-studying.

Besides R&S, having knowledge about windows/computers and some general stuff is helpful. I’ve met networking people who were CCIE R&S but didn’t know a single thing about windows/computers. They could get away with it since back in the days all they did was R&S but if you work on anything else (like security or wireless), it’s useful to know how to install a radius server or debug things from another device than your router/switch.

I’m not sure what freelancing is like in the US but I guess it’s pretty similar to here in the Netherlands. I think it’s easier to market yourself if you combine your R&S with something else:

- R&S + Security
- R&S + Wireless
- R&S + Datacenter

Or some other things like vmware/linux/windows. Getting CCIE is great but make sure you also work on some of those other skills.

Oh and about CCIE…when you study for the written exam, it’s fine to use whatever equipment you have. Cisco VIRL, GNS3, real hardware. Once you are studying for the lab.

It’s best to stick to one solution with a workbook that offers startup configurations. For example, INE has workbooks with rack rentals that automatically launch your devices with the startup configs. It lets you spend your time at actual labs instead of messing with hardware/emulators.

Good luck studying for now :slight_smile:


1 Like

Hi Rene,

Good day!

Thanks for your helpful reply.

I’ve always self-studied, too. It’s always been good for my schedule and learning style. I also like that there’s less pressure and it’s less expensive than classes.

I’ve spent a lot of time looking for guidance as to what area of networking would be best for me. Information is hard to come by though. It’s easier to learn what’s in demand (ie Security and Data Center), but I don’t really know if those paths would interest me for the long-term. I can’t seem to find out what the job roles are like outside the technology itself.

For example, if security involves going to different companies, conducting audits and then selling my services to provide solutions for what I discovered I would be very interested. I have a good background in Sales and I enjoy it. I get bored easy and don’t like sitting at a desk endlessly (It hurts my back, too.).

If Data Center is about babysitting machines endlessly, then I would want to avoid this path even though I find the technology in the Data Center realm very interesting.

I don’t really know what work in either of these areas is really like.

The first step for me was obvious, get strong with R&S as it’s the foundation. Next, I will acquire the CCIE R&S.

I’m not sure what other skills / certs would lead for a good career path for me.

Here are my thoughts on:
Security - “Security is something that should be baked into networking designs, not sprinkled on after.” While the CCIE R&S that I’m currently working on does include some security, it doesn’t include things like DMZ that I learned about while earning my CCNA Security. It seems silly to pose as a great network engineer without being strong in security. I ask myself if I should focus here and if so, how deep should I go. If I go to the CCNP level, then I won’t have the time (and possible brain power) to pursue other areas of interest like:
Wireless - Rene, thanks for mentioning wireless. I researched it and it looks so very interesting. The technology is fascinating and maybe there would be less desk time than the other areas - site surveys, antenna placement, etc. I watched videos and I get the feeling that maybe I’m a wireless kind of geek. I can’t get a feeling for the demand though. I looked on the job boards and found very, very few postings. Would R&S and Wireless for certain industries be highly desirable - maybe Health Care? Cisco says this area should grow very big with the IoT, but what about now? This technology is very different than what’s covered in R&S and it would be a shame to spend the time and effort here without having a lot of work available.
DataCenter - Hypervisors and such. Virtual devices. Very interesting. “Everything is moving to the cloud” kind of thing. This, like Security seems like a natural progression from R&S. But I don’t want to babysit a NOC (This is what I imagine this path to be - although I don’t really know).
VMWare is fine. Windows isn’t my cup of tea. I did Windows and I’m just not in love with it (One of the reasons I headed towards the Cisco CLI). Maybe I’m not being realistic because there is so much Windows work out there. I’d like to avoid it as much as possible. A little Linux is fine.

Others: Solarwinds’ products look useful. I’m not big into scripting, but some say Python, Ansible, etc.

I get overwhelmed sometimes. I’m not planning on having much, if any, study time when I return to the USA in one year from now. I want to be working and will have two small babies.

Thanks for recommending INE workbook and rack rentals. I’ll give them another look.

Rene, thanks again for guidance and interest.

Kind Regards,


Hi Danny,

I am new to the group here as well and have been in IT for about 10 years. I wanted to say that I think you are on the right traffic by looking at technologies outside of just route/switch. I recommend two tracks that I see a huge amount of growth in the years to come; security and data center. Both should include a foundation of R/S and basic ASA, VMware, and systems (Win and Linux). If security interests you, I would learn Firepower, ISE, Splunk, and RSA. For data center I would learn storage (NetApp, 3PAR), AWS, and DCI technologies. Learning to script (Python and Powershell) anything is helpful too. Things will change overtime though so the learning never stops. The way I have identified new skills to learn in my career is to look at the skills senior level job openings are requiring. This highlights the simple demand for skills companies are seeking.

Good luck!

1 Like

Hi Fred,

Thanks for your post. Good stuff!

Would you happen to know if Security or Data Center is a better job? Which one is more interesting, more fun, etc. I don’t want to invest in getting certified in an area that I don’t like. I know both of these areas have good pay and are growing, but what about being “cool”?

Kind regards,


Hi Danny & Fred,

I’m not a job market expert but as a freelancer, it’s probably easier to market yourself with security skills than data center skills. Security covers a lot…the ASA, stuff like VPNs, RADIUS, TACACS, network designs, audits, etc. Smaller companies also use this kind of technology and they use R&S products like routers/switches. It’s easier to find customers here.

The same thing applies to wireless. Before I started gns3vault and networklessons, I did a bit of freelancing in R&S and wireless. There are some big companies (like health care / hospitals) that might have a couple of hundreds of access points but also smaller companies that maybe have 10-30 APs or so. Wireless is very different from R&S, there’s not a lot of overlap. It’s still a bit of a niche market…the wireless market grew when we moved from cabled desktops to smartphones/ tablets/laptops, there might be another jump when IoT takes off but it’s not as big as security or data center I think.

Data center is a bit like R&S, it has some L2/L3 topics but also covers storage and network automation / orchestrating is hot. Typically, you’ll find stuff like this at larger companies who probably have internal employees to manage all of it. Getting your foot in the door as a freelancer is probably difficult unless people know you as the “go to guy” for super specific issues that nobody else can solve.

In networking, you don’t really have to work with Windows/Linux/VMWare but it depends on the area. In R&S, it’s just routers and switches unless you want to do things like RADIUS authentication. In a smaller company, someone might work on the routers/switches and the RADIUS server but in a larger environment, someone does R&S and takes care of the router/switch configuration. The RADIUS server itself is someone else’s responsibility.

With wireless, you are closer since you have to deal with different clients. If you want to do stuff like EAP-TLS, you do have to think about how to enroll client certificates to different Windows/Linux/Apple devices and such. The same thing applies to security…you might be working just on ASAs but perhaps you have to do something with VPN clients and you’ll be working a bit with Windows computers.

With datacenter, you’ll come in touch with perhaps VMWare. You’ll have some network automation that configures your network once a new virtual machine boots etc.

Technology wise everything is super interesting :smile:


1 Like

Hi Rene,

Thanks for your reply!

After I earn my CCIE R&S, I’ll continue to the CCNP in the Security track.

Thanks, again. I appreciate your time!

Kind regards,



I think both tracks are great and interesting in their own ways. Security can get very granular into the types of traffic on a network and DC can be about scale and redundancy. Working with DCI technologies is very interesting as well. Study what interests you and the learning will come more naturally since you have a genuine interest in it.



Hi Fred,

Thanks for your guidance. Much appreciated.

My goal is to become a consultant. Maybe this would be easier down the security track as the work includes audits and penetration testing. I also can’t have a job were I sit too much because of back pain.

Have a good day,


1 Like