There can be no excuse for a lack of networking skills in Australia, given that courses range from networking fundamentals right through to vendor certifications. Delivery covers instructor-led training (ILT), CD-ROMs, distance learning, technology-based training (TBT), online universities, e-learning, satellite, self-study, DVD and a combination of some or all of these. High schools also offer networking courses with help from programs such as 3Com's NetPrep, Cisco Network Academy and Microsoft's school program.
As technology changes rapidly, skills can quickly become out-of-date, so new courses or upgrades are launched to keep the workforce's skills current. Cisco recently launched Cisco Qualified Specialist, with new designations in the areas of cable, security and SNA/IP. Students who intend to update their skills to a Cisco Qualified Specialist qualification must have, as a minimum level, a Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) or a Cisco Certified Design Associate (CCDA).
Compaq courses are also designed to keep qualified professionals current. Compaq Accredited Professionals (CAP) are required to complete their continued certification requirements at designated intervals, or the CAP will be revoked. The Compaq Accredited Systems Engineer (ASE) was introduced in April and requires at least a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) or a Certified Novell Engineer (CNE).
Novell's most recent certification, Certified Directory Engineer (CDE), is in high demand due to the limited numbers of professionals with the certification and the stipulation in some networking tenders that the winning company has a CDE on staff. Prerequisites for doing a CDE are a CNE or MCSE.
MCSE most popular
SelfCert's director, Patrick Aylmer, said when it comes to network skills, the MCSE remains the most popular. "This is especially pertinent now as organisations are gearing up for the migration from NT to Windows 2000." People can either upgrade their MCSE or start a new MCSE course, with 80 per cent selecting the upgrade. As an indication of the costs involved, the MCSE course and the seven exams necessary to gain certification using SelfCert's e-Learning costs $3999 plus GST.
"Cisco certifications are increasingly popular," said Aylmer. SelfCert provides all the necessary courseware online except for high-end Cisco certifications, which require hands-on laboratory training for two days.
Christopher Moss works full time for an engineering company in a programming and software developer role. Coupled with his overtime and weekend work, this made it impossible to attend an ILT Microsoft Certified Systems Designer (MCSD) course.
The search for online course suppliers proved unrewarding. Only ExecuTrain bothered to send information, and set him up with a temporary account within a day so he could test the courseware online and explore its Web site.
"I like ExecuTrain's responsiveness and in addition they had the best lay-out of the courseware, plus the accompanying books were stored online so I could access these as part of the course fee, whereas the other online vendors I talked to expected me to buy the books," said Moss.
Matthew Litterell, manager of Networking Operating Centre (NOC), PowerTel, said, "People get into the industry in all sorts of ways, whether it be entry-level positions that grow into the industry, formal vendor certifications or through university with degrees like electrical engineering." To work in the PowerTel NOC, they will need to demonstrate some initiative in gaining at least minimum entry-level qualifications like Cisco's CCNA, Lucent Certified Technical Expert, or Nortel basics.
The most esteemed certification at the moment is the CCIE (Cisco Certified Internet Engineer), according to Litterell. One of the NOC engineers is nearing the end of this certification and will be a very valuable member of the NOC. However, Litterell thinks the cost of the CCIE is prohibitively expensive at $10,000.
Cisco certifications ILT
Novell & Microsoft certifications available
Online through the Executrain Virtual Campus
Hornsby Northern Sydney Institute (NSIT)
Network Administrators Cert 111
Systems Administration Diploma
Nortel Networks & NSIT (North Sydney Campus)
Telecommunications & Networking Training
Microsoft and Novell networking courses
Certified Novell Administrator (CNA)
CCNA Essentials and Integrating Cisco Network Devices (ICND) by e-Learning
Cisco Certifed Network Associate (CCNA)
Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)
Holmesglen Institute of TAFE
Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer
Certification courses for Novell, Cisco and Microsoft
Bachelor of Computing (Networking Technologies)
3Com Certified Solutions Associate
3Com Certified Solutions Expert