I passed my Network+ exam but I feel I shouldn't have
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Okay. you're upset that you passed an exam that you studied for and didn't know the questions and was able to use logic and previous knowledge. I guess you're saying that the exam was too easy?
The Network+ exam doesn't get you on depth of material but on breadth of material. People with a lot of hands on in the support sense, may not have security knowledge. People with LAN experience may not have any WAN experience or infrastructure experience. My point is that it all requires study and the exam doesn't measure experience in every area but make's it easier for those that have experience but it requires the candidate to gain knowledge to pass the exam. Remember that the exam cannot measure your experience, it can only test you in your knowledge. Network+ is a measure of equal to sixto 12 months of knowledge in the industry.
I want to point out a couple of things from your post and answer from my perspective so you understand that your perspective is not the only perception that is out there:
"...I clock in at a grand total of 6 months experience working on networks, servers, client workstations and pretty much anything electronic." This is the experience level you have and that Network+ test on.
"My lack of experience leaves me feeling like I only know words and their definitions, I can't actually apply my knowledge because there's a lot of stuff in the exam where I only knew the right answer because I knew the other 3 choices didn't make sense" You need to realize that used your knowledge of the material choices to eliminate the wrong answers is at the heart of Network+ troubleshooting. This is application of theory and knowledge.
"Using ITPro TV and numerous Google searches I successfully passed my Network+ with an 84% in only 3 months time (I had to wait out a 90 day probationary period before I could pursue a certification)." YOU STUDIED! Whether or not you have experience or not, this makes a difference. You did more than other are willing to do. Studying make a difference!
Passing your Network+ has validated that your experience, knowledge and* application* of said knowledge is sufficient to be considered a CompTIA IT Professional in Networking.
CompTIA A+ and Network+ are considered the IT industry standards for entry and associate level working in the IT field. So if you haven't pursued it, I would think A+ would be a challenge that will introduce you to even more technology.
If you're desiring to find a specialization, with ITProTV, you can consider some of security certifications. If you're desiring to enter into the world of Desktop or Server administration, then you may want to consider Microsoft Windows and Server courses too. If you want more infrastructure, you may want to consider some of the Cisco certifications too. There is also the possibility of specializing in Apple or Linux OS too.
So if you need to decide whether you want to specialize or pursue more fundamental knowledge. Either way, we're here for you and proud that you used ITProTV as part of your Network+ success!
Thanks for the reply. I'm not really upset that I passed. I really just don't know what to do because though I'm technically certified I don't feel my knowledge is something that can be very useful. My original plan was to go and get my Security+ (something I've already started on) before the end of the year then move on to my CISSP and CEH and get those taken care of in the next 5 years. However, I think that my lack of experience will hurt me. I really want to get a lot of hands-on work in before pushing forward. I'm thinking of doing Project+ and maybe take some coding classes so that I can fill some time in with at least something useful.
The Comptia Exams are entry level. They represent that you went through the Comptia Material and at least have some experience. You won't find a network admin with just a Network +.
But yes most places aren't going to hire you just because you have a network +. At least they know that you know what tracert is at the very least. So you aren't misrepresenting anything. Everyone knows they are entry level.
This is just your starting point.
Good work passing the exam! Looks like your boss made the right decision to let you tackle it. The experience will come; but unfortunately, that will require some patience. I would suggest finding a mentor to help you plot a career course. Is there someone in your company that is doing what you want to be doing in a few years? Don't be afraid to approach them and ask if they will be your mentor. They will be flattered, and the experience will look great on their resume as well as helping get your career started.
@Nightwing Congratulations on passing Network+ :) I'd echo what everyone else has already said and especially the idea of getting a mentor to help you shape your career goals. You've got the knowledge so be patient with yourself putting it into practice. If you want to keep studying and like the idea of coding, you could consider learnign some python or perl which will help you if you move into penetration testing in the future. Whatever you decide, all the best and enjoy the journey!