Wireless networking (career advice)

By Jenistos ·
Let me ask you for a career advice regarding wireless networking ...

A brief overview of my history: I passed college half a year ago (IT major); then I landed my first IT job (bugfixing - stuck in an office all day long doing meaningless, unfulfilling job, and being compensated by a joke of a salary). It was as dull as in Office Space (the movie); thanks god the bugfixing contract just ended -- now I know I don't want another job like that, ever.

Since being strong on networking and technology, I've been considering taking this knowledge and passion further and steering my career path to another, more (subjectively) pleasant direction - which is wireless networking, of course.
What's next for me? I think I know that - CCENT, CCNA, CWNA, CWSP, CWDP ...

But what I don't know (what I'm about to ask you) is: are there any real non-office jobs in wireless networking?
My "dream job" (perceived from a naive standpoint, of course) may involve designing wireless networks and/or in-field signal measuring and/or installing wireless devices (climbing some radio towers in the wilderness and working in that environment, that would be especially very nice - in contrast to the dull office job).

Any professional out there with an advice for punk like me?
What would be the next step here, based on your invaluable experience?

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All Answers

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To backup just a little bit, you need to think about job type and location

by robo_dev In reply to Wireless networking (care ...

Two types of companies on the WLAN side:

a) those who have internal networks (both wired and wireless) that need design and support help, or
b) those companies who sell and provide network design and help to other businesses.

My observation is that there are very few 'wireless only' networking jobs on the inside (WLAN) since the technology is just an extension of the wired LAN, it does not take an army to support, and it's often even the same vendor as the wired LAN.

So for a Fortune 500 company, if you're supporting their Cisco switches and routers, you take care of their Cisco WLAN as well.

The outside perspective is that working as a customer sales engineer for Cisco or a large VAR or reseller is about 1/4 technical, 1/2 sales, and 1/4 travel, unless you are in a growing major market.

The idea of being on a tower measuring signal strength is something you do either as:

a) an hourly job, like the guy in the hard hat working for the phone or cable company, or
b) possibly to some extent if you are a RF engineer of some sort, but they try not to send people with engineering degrees up on radio towers, they are too valuable to lose, and so instead they send the hourly guy can go up in the rain and change the lightbulbs on the tower in the rain or snow.

The type of training and education for WLAN are some of the Cisco certs you mention, but for broadband carrier RF stuff, that's for those with a electrical engineering or RF engineering degree, and those who climb towers are those who maybe have a GED.

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Be Less Punkish

by richardhx In reply to Wireless networking (care ...

Get a job with a networking company that does what you want. Prove yourself as a bugfixer! (wireless also has bugs to wrangle). A "joke of a salary" is still a salary and you need to work out what the experience of working (6 months) there gave you in understanding/experience beyond the limitations. Bugfixing jobs can lead you on to more interesting ones. Trusted in small things/Trusted in larger things... Do guard against having a negative attitude so early in your career. Remember that you landed the contract, and your attitude is maybe more important than what you know. In wireless world, many devices exist that you may need to have an idea about and interface to a wireless network, so bugfixing 6 months, might have improved this beyond a theoretical IT knowledge.

As robo_dev so well said, network guys do install wireless projects. The way to be 'the wireless chap' is to learn and apply and get it right many times. Get involved with charities that need IT help and wireless particularly, this will widen your expertise and experience in wireless. Demonstrate your wisdom in making right product/spec choices and research anything so that your word and work is trusted. Find out which companies do your ideal job and see if you can get in on the ground level. An IT Major does not replace years of experience, so an attitude of learning and humility will help you find people in the industry who will take you on to tidily pull wires and explain while working how they configure a wireless network.

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