Becoming Computer-Certified: A Utility Player

In baseball, a “utility player” is a player who can play multiple positions. These players are typically backups, but they are employed in the major leagues due to their value to the team; the fact that they can play multiple positions increases their value to their employer.

Too often in IT, employees specialize as either LAN or WAN engineers, with little to no knowledge of the other. Many LAN administrators I worked with lacked knowledge of routing and switching, whereas many WAN engineers I knew not only lacked knowledge of the LAN side of their network, but also had no desire to do so!

In the modern IT industry, it is unwise to specialize in a single area and be incapable of performing any other tasks. It limits not only your future career prospects, but also your current opportunities. Employers do not want to hire someone and have them get up to speed on the job; rather, they want someone who can immediately begin performing the duties. The more you know, the greater your chances are of obtaining a better job or quickly finding another position if you were laid off tomorrow.

Diversification is a term frequently heard on Wall Street, signifying that investors should not invest heavily or entirely in a single stock; if that stock plummets, they will be in serious trouble. Your career is the most valuable stock you will ever own, and you have complete control over it. Diversify. If you primarily work with servers, you should acquire knowledge of routing and switching. If you are aware of the routing protocols your company uses on its WAN, you should educate yourself on those protocols. (If you’re unfamiliar with the protocol, ask!)

Get certified while you’re adding these skills to your repertoire! Adding a CCNA, MCSE, or other computer certification to your resume demonstrates to potential employers that you are continually enhancing your skills.

It is always a good idea to acquire additional IT skills and knowledge. Do not limit yourself to the technologies with which you are already familiar. Invest in yourself and become an accomplished network engineer. This will help you retain your current position and open doors in the future that would have otherwise remained closed.

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