Every year I blog about what certifications you should be looking to attain and which careers to seriously consider. Of course, a couple of things need saying first. This is my opinion based on 18 years in the industry but it’s still my opinion so feel free to do your own research. Second, bear in mind that you need to think about what you enjoy doing. Don’t jump into security because it’s popular and pays well if you really love project management. You will end up miserable. Trust me on this.
This list is in no particular order. Hot means that there is more demand than supply which means two good things happen for you. Salaries are pushed up to attract applicants and expectations drop so you are more likely to be accepted if you have little experience. What you will always need is a relevant qualification. You won’t make the paper sift without a certification.
I’ve been pushing this for a few years now. Please put IPv6 on your urgent list. You will soon by unemployable if you don't have a good working knowledge. It’s covered in the CCNA syllabus but also consider passing an IPv6 specific exam for extra credibility. Most such certifications only focus on server specific subjects which is why I created the Certified IPv6 Network Associate certification. It’s a deep dive into the subject.
There is a massive shortfall in cloud engineers. The result has been salaries are pushed well above CCIE level. When you consider the fact that the CCIE requires around two years of hard work and around $15,000 in courses, books, equipment hire and exam fees to pass and you can be cloud certified by using free trial software (from Amazon or Google) it qualifies as a no-brainer.
Security is a major concern for companies large and small. They all have to comply with a legal duty to protect customers data to avoid huge fines as well as avoid loss of business continuity due to hacks or ransomware attacks.
There are so many careers available that I don’t have space here to list them all. Some are technical and others are compliance so consider which appeals more to you. Whichever you choose, build a solid foundation first with certifications such as Microsoft MTA Security or CompTIA Security+.
My friend used to be a welder. He started selling printers on the weekend in a local superstore and then moved into assisting project managers for a phone company. A few years later and he owns 20 properties and a collection of classic cars.
Project managers are the glue that holds everything together. They get to speak to senior managers, developers, engineers and suppliers. They are responsible for ensuring the project is defined, costed correctly and delivered on time. For this they are handsomely rewarded.
The great thing about project management is that you can start off as a junior PM assisting and learning from somebody more senior before moving onto more responsibility.
Design has been a career choice in its own rite for decades now unlike security, collaboration etc. The truth is that, without a network design, nothing happens. At one ISP I worked for, they were so short that they took on designers with no experience and trained them from scratch over a two year period.
The good news is that there is always a shortage of network designers AND there are top quality certifications available from Cisco Systems to give you all the understanding you need. Look at the Cisco CCDA and CCDP.
There are many other career types out there but I wanted to keep the list short. Feel free to pursue whatever it is you enjoy doing or do something else entirely.