IT learning on the cheap

Free and cheap ways to learn about network administration

These nine self-taught labs give you hands-on experience with various networking tasks -- and most don't cost anything.

Although degrees and IT certifications can be great eye candy for a resume, experience is king. As you may have encountered, a lack of experience can be a major roadblock to getting interest from employers in your early years.

Though you might have the Network+ or CCNA cert, for instance, have you actually configured or played around with a network? Even if you already have held a network technician or administrator position, you might not have experience with all aspects of networking yet. Fortunately there are ways to get hands-on network administration experience, even at home -- and most don't cost anything.

In this story we discuss nine self-taught labs on various networking topics, where I explain the basics and how to get started. I begin with easier, newbie-level projects and progress to more complex ones requiring more thought and time. Some of the tasks take just a few minutes, while others are suitable for a weekend project. You may want to invest in some networking gear to teach yourself the basics, but there are ways around this.

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