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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 IT career blog 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.