What value is a Cisco or Microsoft certification to a Telecom Engineer?

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CCNA
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IT training and certifications
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Telecom Engineer
Telecommunications
I have a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) degree in Telecommunication Engineering, with a main emphasis on Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM), code division multiple access (CDMA), Wireless Local Loop (WLL) and WiMax. I'm not sure if all this is in high-demand in the world -- especially in the Middle East or in Western countries -- so I am looking to boost my resume. Currently, I'm working in a contracting company, which installs different telecom equipment. A project I'm currently working on is in Global System for Mobile Communications - Railway (GSM-R). I have planned to start studying for the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) exam, but I don't know whether this will be worth the time and money I spend on it. If I'll be trained for GSM and fiber optics communications, how will a CCNA or other Cisco or Microsoft certification help me get a raise in my job? I think that they both are irrelevant to each other. Do you think that doing these certifications would help my telecom career path? Are companies looking for Telecom Engineer graduates who can manage and maintain fiber optics, WLL, GSM and WiMax, and configure WLANs, MANs, and create accounts for their employees to log in to their computers? If you don't think these certifications will benefit a Telecom Engineer, then please suggest any other certification, course or anything that might help me earn a raise. Also, if you know the average salary for a Telecom Engineer in the West, then please do share.
ASKED: March 5, 2009  11:15 PM
UPDATED: February 1, 2010  6:31 PM

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Dear Sir or Madam:

Thanks for your posting. My take on your situation is that pursuing “ordinary networking” certification in the context of your various wireless specialties is indeed a disconnect. To my way of thinking, this pretty much rules out the Microsoft certs. But Cisco is in the process of elaborating a series of wireless certifications (you can already get a wireless CCNA, they’fve just announced a wireless CCDP, and they’ve got a Wireless CCNP). This might make a potent combination with your current training and knowledge base.

And indeed, searches on “CCNA wireless” “CCDP wireless” and “CCNP wireless” all produce in excess of 100 hits on Monster and Dice (usually pretty good indications that demand for such skill sets is both real and tangible). OTOH, unless your current employer is using a Cisco-based infrastructure, adding Cisco skills and certs to your current set may not be all that helpful. Please use your knowledge of your present local situation to guide your decision making process here.

Other options for your career development might include:
1. More academic training: either an outright engineering degree at the Bachelor’s or Master’s level in wireless communications. This will probably be most beneficial if you’re interested in working in research and development (R&D), in which case some consideration of a PhD is also warranted.
2. The certified wireless network professional program (cwnp.com) includes a complete set of wireless certifications, but as you speculated in your posting, these aim primarily at short-haul/local-area wireless rather than long-haul/wide-area wireless tools and technologies. This may or may not be a good fit with your current job responsibilities. But if so, these are excellent credentials worth pursuing.
3. The iNARTE (International Associations for Radio, Telecomm, and Electromagnetics; www.inarte.org) offers both engineering and technical certifications for installers in this field. They also offer a more advanced Telecomm credential s well. Perhaps these may be of some benefit to you?

I’d also urge you to check out my <a href=”http://itknowledgeexchange.techtarget.com/it-jobs/ “>IT career blog</a> to read up on ways to improve your self-presentation, resume, and salary negotiation skills and abilities. These, too, will be needed if your primary goal is to secure a raise and/or a promotion in your current position.

Telecom Engineer salaries are quite variable in the US, depending on location. In larger metro areas, typical pay ranges go from $55K to $100K+ per year, but you must deduct $10-15K for rural or smaller metro locations.

HTH,
–Ed–

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  • AndOrTech
    Nice article. Very well written.
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  • Robert Stewart
    Yes good article and a nice resume already, I would just add that no matter how you connect, wireless or fiber there is a router, modem, in there somewhere lol and it uses protocols which Cisco can teach you, although you should already be aware of them with your educational background and experience. Cisco will teach you alot of proprietary software and protocols, but in the end it is the non proprietary stuff protocols that Cisco can teach you that you will carry over to other technologies.
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  • Kevin Beaver
    You certainly don't want to get a certification just to say you're "certified". You have to understand the value it'll bring to what you do - or want to do. Be sure to clearly understand where you want to take things with your career and know that no certification is going to guarantee work or a certain salary. Working on yourself is WAY more important than any technical skills you have or will acquire. I've written quite a bit about IT and security careers at the following sites you may want to check out: www.principlelogic.com/careers.html securityonwheels.com securityonwheels.blogspot.com/search/label/careers Best of luck!!
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  • Kevin Beaver
    Golly, the hyperlinks in this interface are killing me. :) Here they are again: www.principlelogic.com/careers.html securityonwheels.com securityonwheels.blogspot.com/search/label/careers
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  • NetworkingATE
    [...] Read the rest of this great post here [...]
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  • Asim43
    accredation of CTP and CCNT (Telecommunication) certifcates? job opportunity after this certifications? cost?
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  • MirandaS
    Based with what i've read so far, being Cisco certified and undergone Microsoft office training is a huge advantage over those job seekers that don't have. Visit this site
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