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I’m 23 and have just finished a network engineering apprenticeship where I have 3 years professional experience along side a Bsc degree. This was completed in the UK. I also have CCNA Routing and Switching.

I want to try out a new career (HGV driving) while being able to come back to network engineering as this is still a passion. Is this possible? And if so how do I keep up?

I was planning on trying to go for some certs during this time (CCNA, Network+, etc). I also have personal networking equipment at home as-well as a home server that I use to learn and tinker.

Any advice on my situation would be greatly appreciated.

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  • Realistically, nothing of any significance has changed in the last 2 years.
    – Simon B
    Dec 5, 2023 at 16:18

3 Answers 3

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Whether you go into Network Engineering at 23 or 25 your going to have a long career ahead of you either way, so I don't think it makes that much difference.

I am a Software Engineer (not a Network Engineer) but my perception is that NEing doesn't change that quickly so I don't think your skills will have atrophied that much in 2 years - so planing for say a 3 month "swatting up" period would probably be sufficient to cover anything that had changed in the 2 years.

Finally I would ask if you can find a job that allows you to pursue both passions - given this combination you are probably going to have to get creative, but something like a Roadie for a traveling event or sports team where you need to setup a bunch of networking gear, this is actually more common than you might think - with WIFI and Mobile Hotspots fairly prevalent at live events.

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  • Thank you very much for your answer. Now you mention it, my previous company still had equipment from 3+ years ago which would suggest it’s not upgraded year on year. I really like your idea of looking for a combination of the two, hadn’t thought about it before but I have companies in mind that would be perfect. Thanks again. Nov 30, 2023 at 23:58
  • @henryedwards, three years is nothing. Other than one router, I don't think any of the network hardware at the company I work for is less than ten years old.
    – Mark
    Dec 1, 2023 at 4:32
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Network engineering hasn't changed substantially in a couple of decades. The skills I learnt and used 20 years ago are still in use today although the hardware and software have changed a lot.

So don't worry about it until you have to, the knowledge is transferrable and can readily be upgraded to the situation you will find yourself in. Most importantly the troubleshooting and planning don't change much overall, they change just as much (or more) from job to job when you encounter new networks using different hardware, software & implementation methodology to what you have used. The core skillset remains much the same.

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Get certifications in network-relevant work as you do the stint in HGV. For example, you could get some cloud certifications in AWS or GCP (or whatever), or a more advanced network certification.

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