This post was written by Gary Coman, who oversees engineering and development for Cisco Networking Academy. It originally appeared on the Huffington Post.
Everywhere in the world, technology is changing the way we live and work. As director of engineering with the Cisco Networking Academy program, I am part of a global community dedicated to training the next generation of students who can build networks, develop apps, secure devices, and analyze data. Combined with an entrepreneurial spirit, these digital skills can help you stand out in the job market, forget your own path, and even empower you to do work with a purpose.
Whether you’re just planning a career or considering a career change, here are 5 reasons you should include networking technology in your studies.
1. Opportunities abound
People with IT and networking skills are in short supply worldwide. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates the employment of network and computer systems administrators will grow by 31 percent from 2014 to 2024. In Brazil, the IT industry is expected to grow by 3 percent through 2019, with more than 160,000 jobs expected to remain unfilled in the next two years.
The story is the same in country after country, from continent to continent. As organizations and institutions invest in mobile devices, cloud computing, social media, and big data, they depend on a workforce with the digital skills to make the most of these technologies.
Right now, the number of people working and studying technology simply won’t match the expected demand. Individuals who choose to add networking to their studies or professional skills discover new opportunities in today’s digital economy. For example, the hands-on, practical training Diana Nassar received through Networking Academy prepared her to thrive in a technical career and inspire other women in Jordan to follow in her footsteps.
2. You don’t have to be a math wiz
Networking starts with basic logic and connections. The only prerequisite for the Networking Academy IT Essentials course is an interest in technology and basic math and reading comprehension. If you are in or have completed high school, you probably have the skills you need to launch a networking career.
In India, Anudip provides Networking Academy courses at 150 centers, where 60,000 low-income women and youth have trained since 2007. Their experience shows that you can study networking technology at a broad range of educational institutions—high schools, community colleges, institutes, community knowledge centers, and universities—as part of your degree studies or while you work.
3. Innovators are always welcome
Digital skills give you an edge and an opportunity to make a career in almost any sector you can imagine: financial services, education, transportation, manufacturing, technology, government, hospitality, healthcare, retail… you name it.
If you have an interest in a particular field, technology is probably part of it. For example, networking technology is transforming the healthcare industry, and students are finding ways to better use it in practice. At this year’s Rice Business Plan Competition, Cisco awarded its Innovation Challenge Prize to Luso Labs LLC, a student-founded startup using technology to make cervical cancer screenings more accurate and accessible to women worldwide.
Former military members are also enjoying the benefits of IT training. Veteran Arodi Fernandez became a Customer Support Engineer after completing Cisco’s Veteran Talent Incubation Program (VTIP). Whether you see yourself with your own business, as part of a small company or inside a global corporation, networking basics open the door to help advance your career.
4. Get connected to the most connected people
There is a worldwide community of people just like you. More than 6.9 million students in 170 countries have participated in Networking Academy courses since 1997. That’s a lot of friends to find and connect with on LinkedIn or Facebook, which has over 1 million student and instructor members who use it to stay in touch, ask questions, and discover new learning opportunities.
5. The places you’ll go and the things you’ll do
Networking standards are global. That means your skills and certifications are recognized anywhere in the world your career takes you. Cisco-certified professionals have worked their way up through global corporations in places all over the world. They live in every sized community, supporting small businesses, schools, and social services in every town or village where someone connects to the Internet. They build networks for essential communications after disasters like the 2015 earthquake in Nepal. They connect isolated places like refugee camps to the world, giving displaced persons a bridge to a more promising future.
I know that networking can take you wherever you want to go because I’ve lived it. I started out as a systems analyst with Fidelity Investments. But I had ambitions to build life experience and travel the globe. I used my knowledge in networking and technology to move to Europe and then to Asia for over 10 years, advancing my career from systems to sales to business development. Now, as director of engineering for Cisco Networking Academy, I ensure that people everywhere benefit from the power of technology. When you choose to add networking skills and Cisco certification to your résumé, you open the door to opportunities.
Visit NetAcad.com and start studying networking technology today!