Limitless Networking

My certification journey (J-Net)

This blog has also been published to the Juniper J-Net community portal

In 2005, when I was 18 years old, I finished high school I already knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to start a career in IT! The only thing I didn’t know was in what direction I wanted to go. So, I did a little bit of everything. The first important decision I took was to only finish high school and start working without going to university. I figured that, with enough dedication and focus, 4-5 years of work experience added with the right technical certifications would get me further in the IT world than a degree would get me. After 6 years I think I can say that it definitely worked for me!


Servers and Programming

I started with passing exams and getting my MCSE on Windows 2003. I had a few small companies where I was managing all IT systems. The largest one was my dad’s company where I was managing 4 servers, 10 workstation and 20 mobile devices (yes even in 2006 we had a custom developed Windows Mobile 5 application and all engineers were carrying smartphones). I was co-developing the custom application that all engineers used and developed the whole chain of processes and tasks that were both technically and business wise connected to that solution. It was an awesome project, especially when you are just 19 years old.


After passing my MCSE and completing the project at my dad’s company I was looking for a new challenge. As I was supporting a few smaller company networks and I figured I wanted to know more about what was going on across that UTP cable and I bought a Cisco CCNA book. When I finished the first chapters I was super enthusiastic, I couldn’t let go of the material and wanted to suck every last bit of information into my head!


After a little over a month I took the exam and failed it by only a few points! This was the first exam I ever failed and was much harder than every other exam I had taken before, besides it had high pass score. A week later I took the exam again and passed it with good points this time round! After only reading a few chapters in my first networking book I knew that this was what I wanted to do and where my destiny lay!


Starting in Networking

Now that I passed my CCNA I immediately continued working on my CCNP and within a year I passed the CCNP and only 9 months later I passed my CCIE Routing & Switching earning my ‘digits’ in the networking world!



After I got my CCIE number a lot changed! 3 months later I quit my job and took a job at a Cisco Gold and Juniper Networks Elite partnerTelindus-ISIT as a Support Engineer. I really liked the idea of my new role that instead of working on maintaining a network I had to convince customers about a new solution. Basically I sat across the other end of the table and after 3 years I can really say that this is a whole different ballgame!



As I joined Telindus-ISIT I got in touch with Juniper hardware. Most of our ISP customers only buy Juniper Networks equipment and services from us. At first I really had to get used to JUNOS and as I was so aware of the Cisco portfolio I found it hard to get used to another product line-up. After spending almost 3 years at Telindus-ISIT I can really say I turned into a Juniper advocate! Once you get to know your way through the CLI and know the portfolio you hardly even think about going back.


Initially I didn’t focus too much on the Juniper certifications , I gained a few JNCIA-x titles, but after 2.5 years I decided it was time to finalize my Juniper certification journey by topping it off with a JNCIE title. I decided to pursue the JNCIE-M as I didn’t want to wait for the new certifications to go live, I wanted to pass it right then. After passing JNCIS-M by the end of 2010, I passed theJNCIP-M by February and the JNCIE-M by June. As for preparations I think I can call myself very lucky as most of the topics covered in the exams I worked with on a daily basis. This made it easier for me and I didn’t have to study that much for these labs. As I already knew all the technologies and having passed the relevant CCIE titles I only had to know the quirks and little differences with the JUNOS implementation and I could do the test. I know this is not comparable when you are a ‘normal guy’ studying for this, but as I work for ISP customers every day and use these technologies every day I didn’t find these exams very hard to pass. I loved them though! The setup of the Juniper lab exams is so much more realistic than any other vendor exam I have taken. You are not asked to configure a crazy network with every nasty feature in there, but you are asked to configure the best network. You can even configure your own best practices. As long as they fall within the requirements you can configure the network just as you are used to.



After gaining four ‘expert’ titles in networking I’m still thinking of a way to continue my professional growth. I think the most important thing is that I use all knowledge I have gained. I love my work and the variety of challenges I’m faced with and I hope to do this for many years in whatever that position may be.


Finally, if there’s one piece of advice I can leave you with, it would be to start your certification journey you never know where it is going to lead to in the future. I hope you have found my story interesting, would be good to hear from you on your experiences please post your comments below.


  1. Niall Donaghy

    What an inspiring journey! I love how you’ve simply set your goals and attained them without fuss or doubt. As an aspiring CCIE, I can’t wait to hurry up and finish my BSc degree. In terms of return-on-investment, I finally see the light re: qualification vs. certification!

    • cdelapena

      Great story. I would be cautious to advise people on getting certifications rather than a college degree. Only a very small 1% of the population is as much an autodidact as you.

      • Niall Donaghy

        @cdelapena: I believe Rick advocates beginning one’s certification journey, not necessarily truncating or avoiding more traditional forms of education. Your point regarding autodidacts is interesting – I wouldn’t like to put a figure on it, but yes, there are those who have learned how to learn and those who need more structure and direction. Everyone needs to decide their own path for themselves. 🙂

      • rickmur

        Hi! Very true. I do not encourage people to not go study in college or getting any degree. I definitely think it’s worth the effort. But to me this model is far more successful, but like you said it requires you to be autodidact and you should be able to bring up the dedication required for it.

        Thanks for your comment!

  2. Sohail Akhtar

    Congrats man !
    My career is some how same, let me share with you, Back in 2007 when i end my Graduation, many people told me to go for Master but one of my best teacher Nayyar Ahmad( advice me to go for certification. I start my career of certification in Jan 2008. On 21st Jan 2008 i sit in CCNA class with a wounder full teacher of mine Haroon Malik (Triple CCIE – Some how i finish that and immediatly start CCNP. In end of today i hold following certification but still many to come specially CCIE-SP this year.

    CCNA Certified
    CCNA-Security Certified
    CCNP Certified
    CCIP Certified
    MCITP (Windows Server 2008) Certified
    JNCIA-EX Certified
    JNCIA-ER Certified
    JNCIS-ER Certified
    JNCIS-SEC Certified

    I hold training of the following midules
    CCIE (R&S)

    Currently i am working as Data Communication Enginner for HUAWEI

    • rickmur

      Very good man! Are you still pursuing CCIE titles while working at Huawei?
      How’s life at Huawei? I imagine the communication with the Chinese can be difficult sometimes?

  3. Sohail Akhtar

    Yes still i am looking for CCIE and soon will appear for my CCIE-SP track. Yes at times very difficult when you are communicating them in english 😀

  4. cdelapena

    Rick, if you were to get a bachelors, what would you get it in?

  5. Josh

    Great story, very motivational. I just started my CCIE-Sec track and am nervous after spending 4K on lab gear that the new blueprint won’t apply to the equipment I have. Maybe I’ll just knock it out in 9 months like you did!

  6. Anthony Quezada

    WOW! Great story. Iam 19 years old I have a CCNA and just Failed the ROUTE exam not by much I hate the way cisco writes there questions!

    But I was deciding on whether to go for my JNCIA or continue with the CCNP track I was hoping you could give me some advice?

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