Hanging out with my friends the other day one of them asked “How can I become a Wireless Engineer?” As Wifi continues to boom more and more people are asking this question. They see the fun that us wireless engineers are having and the passion we have for what we do. I like what I do so much the only time it feels like work is when I have to do the documentation portion of the job, the paperwork lol.
There are several types of people wanting to become wireless engineers. The two most common types are Network Admins who know their way around a network and Network newbies. These newbies are people that want to jump straight into wireless and do not have prior network experience. Most of the younger guys like myself fall into the second category because wireless is or will be their first real networking job.
Following I will try to give a few pointers on how to become a wireless engineer. These pointers I will give are not necessarily easy but will increase your likelihood of getting that job you are looking for. These steps might not also be the “BEST” steps, but they were the steps I took non the less.
If you are new to networking and may not have the experience yet to become a wireless engineer there is a few things you can do. I started off as an Access Point installer. If you do not mind getting your hands dirty and starting from the bottom then this is the way to get your foot in the door. I found this developmental partner directory page and emailed them one by one my resume and let them know I was looking for an installer position. This can also be done if you are skipping the installer step but you better have some experience and certification or they will not email you back.
Once you get that installer job do not stop there. Most likely you will have a wireless engineer traveling with you on deployments. ASK HIM QUESTIONS! Hopefully if he is nice like most of us he will help you. My mentor during my installation jobs was Adam Glogovac. Adam worked with me after hours teaching me and answering any questions I had about the controllers or network configuration. Another thing that is good to do during your free time while travelling is studying. Order a few old controllers and APs off of Ebay and practice practice practice. One of the key thing to becoming an Aruba wireless engineer is to get some Aruba Certifications. ACMA and ACMP are the way to go to land that first engineering job. Aruba partners need a certain number of people with these certifications. Get them and you can easily email the companies in the directory above and obtain a job.
One of the best key things to do is people networking. Meet as many people as possible. Talk to them. Express you passion for becoming a wireless engineer. A good place to meet people is twitter. Keith Parsons has a great tutorial on how to get into the twitter WLAN world here. Don’t just look at that link, he has a ton of great things on his website.
Once you are on twitter and talking to people, ask questions. Marcus Burton, who use to work for CWNP now works for Ruckus Wireless, would let me email him any questions and he would replay with elaborate answers. Very nice guy and helped me a ton! Most of us on twitter are the same, ask us questions. We will help as much as we can. Just don’t ask the same question twice ;-)
On top for the Aruba cert I highly recommend getting the knowledge capable to pass the CWNA exam by CWNP. It would be nice to even have this knowledge before you work on a customer’s WLAN… they would greatly appreciate it. I did not go in this path and I am ashamed at some of my first deployments lol. After you land that first wireless job do not stop there either. While traveling, you have plenty of hotel time to further your career. What I did while traveling was after work, go to a quit spot and study for CWDP/SP/AP exams. The knowledge in the books will help you tremendously.
Hard Work, Determination, And Drive will get you to wherever you want to go. No excuses! Just do it ;-)
I would love to hear your story on how you became a Wireless Engineer and if you have any other tips for new commers.