While there are a variety of open source options available in networking most of the world uses Cisco Systems based networks. The world uses their routers, switches, and often their proprietary networking protocols such as Enhanced Interior Gateway Routing Protocol or EIGRP. What this means practically is that if you don’t know Cisco Systems you either won’t be able to run an enterprise network and if you do your experience won’t be transferable to most companies preventing you from increasing your salary.
Most enterprise level networks (the ones that offer the best and most jobs) run on Routing Information Protocol Version 2 (RIPv2). The CCNA will teach you the ins and outs of this and will teach you the basics of running a network using it. In additional to RIPv2 the CCNA teaches you how to run VLANs. VLANS are very important because they allow the network engineer to offer different types of services to different types of client computers. The VLAN allows you to do this without needing to install extra switches and routers throughout the network. The V is for virtual. Knowing how to do this is not only industry standard, but it can save your employer a lot of money and will make you a more valuable Network Systems Engineer.
You make to want to keep in mind the CCNA is only the beginning certification for Network System Engineers. Obviously the CCNA lays the foundation but if you want to move on to a senior level position you will need to study for the CCNP. The CCNP is almost impossible to get unless you have hands on networking experience –the type of experience that can only get if you first have your CCNA and a networking job. Needless to say, your chances of passing the CCNP and getting large salary increases are next to impossible without getting a CCNA first.