It’s looming on the horizon, and it’s getting closer every day. But does the imminent arrival of the Windows 2000 juggernaut mean Networking Essentials training and preparation is obsolete?

I think not. But I know information technology professionals are a skeptical lot, so I’ll present five reasons why you’ll still need or should still earn your Networking Essentials certification.

Reason number five
It still counts. Despite the retirement notice, the test remains valid the entire year, and individuals passing the Networking Essentials test (Microsoft exam 70-058) earn credit toward Windows NT 4 MCSE certification.

If you’ve passed a few Windows NT exams, you’re probably looking to migrate your certification from the NT 4 path to Windows 2000. Networking Essentials, a core exam, is a required step.

Reason number four
Employers like it. Given a choice, employers are far more likely to prefer a Networking Essentials-certified employee working with its hubs, switches, cabling, routers, and so on.

Reason number three
How else are you going to learn the right way to design a network? While many people knock book smarts, learning the textbook methods of designing and planning network architectures can be invaluable.

Reason number two
You can earn more money. It’s a fact that certified professionals earn higher salaries, on average, than their uncertified counterparts.

But don’t get fooled into thinking you’ll run out and add an easy cert to your resume. I felt the Networking Essentials exam I took was among the hardest I faced. Internetworking with TCP/IP was a walk in the park compared to NetEss.

Reason number one
You need this knowledge. You should know the maximum cable runs for a Category 5 cable off the top of your head. You should know every layer of the OSI model without having to think about it.

It’s important to have a strong foundation, and the principles of networking are crucial. IT professionals need all the help they can get when it comes to troubleshooting network difficulties, and it’s no secret that physical problems cause a majority of the trouble. A sound understanding of the principles covered by Microsoft’s Networking Essentials exam ensures you’ll be adequately prepared to approach a temperamental network without fear and loathing.
If you’re going to sit for the Networking Essentials exam, you’ll want to check out these stories first:

Erik Eckel MCP+I, MCSE has gone seven-for-seven on Microsoft exams, including Networking Essentials.

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