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Talking Cisco certification with instructor Chris Bryant

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Instructor Chris Bryant has published 11 courses on Udemy focused on helping students earn Cisco and CompTIA certifications. More than 4,700 people are enrolled in his “CCNA 2016 200-125 Video Boot Camp” alone! We did an email Q&A with Chris to find out what it takes to succeed as a networking tech and where these skills can take your career.

How did you become a Cisco/networking expert and what advice do you have for those starting out?
I began as a junior network admin for a local school system here in Central Virginia roughly 20 years ago. No one in this business starts at the top. I didn’t even get to touch a Cisco router or switch in my first admin job. That was for the senior admins! The real key to success with Cisco technologies–or any technology for that matter–is to master the fundamentals of networking and then just work your way up from there. It’s not an easy path to success, but it is a simple one.

Are there any traits that seem to set people up for success as network admins?
The great network admins I’ve worked with have the ability to stay calm under pressure, both pressure from people and time pressure. Additionally, the network admins who do the best for themselves in the long term are those who understand they’re getting into a field that requires lifetime study. You can’t just earn a certification or two and then sit back for 20 years. You’ve got to keep up with an ever-changing field.

What’s the hardest part of learning networking? Any advice for getting past this?
To me, the hardest part is learning the theory that most networking courses hit you with at the very beginning. Networking theory isn’t always the most exciting material around, and it can be dry, but it is important. Every student will ask themselves at some point, “Do I really need to know this?” When it comes to network fundamentals like the OSI model, the answer is, yes, it is that important!

What are the main things someone needs to know about networking to get a job in the field?
It’s a good idea to be well-rounded; don’t just learn about Cisco routers and switches. The broader your education, the better off you are. Learning IPv6 above and beyond my course is an excellent idea (although I’ll teach you enough to get started!)

Where do you see network admin growing in the next 1-5 years? What will professionals need to do to stay marketable in this field?
Anyone who tells you they know where networking will be in five years is lying. This is an ever-changing field, and it’s your responsibility to keep up with it. It’s great to have a specialty, whether that be security, voice, video, or something else, but whatever you do, you must stay current with this field or you’ll be left behind.

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