Next move: Should I choose Cisco or Microsoft skills?

Expert advice for readers' career problems

The question: I have been working as a technical support analyst for five years and I think it is time to change. My employer is paying for me to study for an MCSE (Microsoft certified systems engineer), which takes a long time, and I am more interested in developing Cisco-accredited skills.

I am a bit confused about which skill to start learning. I want to do something that is going to be around for a while and that is in demand. What skills are most needed, and where do I start?

The solution: Get your MCSE then look to networking

You are right to be looking for skills that are in demand as they will make you stand out from your peers. Decide whether it is a change in environment or a change in work that you are looking for. This will help you narrow your training choices to find a course that will put you on the right path.

I would recommend continuing with the MCSE, as this will provide you with a recognised qualification that backs up your five years' experience of working with systems and networks. It sounds as though you are taking a lengthy part-time course. There are other alternatives that you should consider for the next course you take. For example, accelerated learning will condense your studying time.

A CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate) could be an appealing prospect for your next training course, and with many companies starting to switch their resources to IP networks, it would be a secure option. However, it will need to backed up with on-the-job experience.

Solution by Robert Chapman, co-founder of the Training Camp

The panel: Hudson, Reed Technology, Zarak Technology, No Limits Coaching, The Training Camp, Wreay Group

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