Finding Your Wavelength in Wireless: Get Yer Sealegs

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WOO! Congratulations! You've decided to pursue Wireless LAN (Wi-Fi/WLAN) as a career.

Now what?

That's what this series is all about. It's about getting your "sealegs" in the world of Wi-Fi. There's a lot out there and so many possible directions it's easy to get lost, so I thought it best to take a step back and to ask one question at a time.

What do I need to know to "make it" in this field?

This is a good question to ask as you go into any new industry with an intent to be successful. Check out the list below to get started! Next week we'll go a little further in-depth, into to some Wi-Fi topics, but for this first post it will help to get an overall definition of what you should be looking for and how to go after it.

  1. Educate yourself

The wireless industry is robust, and yet we're still only seeing the tip of the iceberg. Plenty of people, even at the enterprise level, still believe that Wi-Fi is "plug-n-play." That you take a piece of hardware and plug it in, run the software given to you, and BAM! It's all supposed to work perfectly. Yet… You still have connection issues in your boardroom…

So the first step of the first step is to educate yourself on what Wi-Fi actually looks like, and what it needs to be able to run properly. [Jamie created a great video HERE covering some of the basic who/what/where/when/why of Wi-Fi.] This is especially important for the next step, which is looking at infrastructure and the actual parts that go into a wireless network. There are a few certification tracks that are excellent resources to get started. A brief list of those is below.

  • Cisco: CCNA-W
  • Aruba: ACMA
  1. Connect

You're already here, so I think you understand the value of connecting with like-minded folks. So in case there's any doubt, the Wi-Fi community is here to help you! Don't be afraid to ask questions. I had a couple of Wi-Friends share what they wish they had known when they started. I got some really good answers. Some just general, others are a little more in-depth.

'"You're not alone!" There's a great flourishing community of support & knowledge sharing today that just didn't exist 15yr ago. I remember being the only person that I knew who knew anything about Wi-Fi. There were zero blogs, no Twitter, no newsrooms on Wi-Fi. Today, people should leverage the community to learn and share ideas. It's awesome!'

– Andrew Von Nagy, @RevolutionWifi

'Probably what I would appreciated the most, at first, would have been appreciation for how complex 802.11 is. A mentor to guide and train me would have helped. But mostly, understanding that there's so much to learn but all of my networking background was mandatory – I don't know how someone could start in Wi-Fi without understanding the basics of networking, and how wired networks work – I was lucky in that respect.

What would have me most, up front, is an understanding that client devices control most aspects of wireless network. This is just such a confusing element for most new people. The "speed" is goverened by how fast the client is, roaming is goverened by the client, overall performance based on antennas and radios in the clients.'

– Mike Leibovitz, @MikeLeibovitz Mike has more on this here >

'[If you're just starting] Don't quit your day job. Learn and study. Get hands-on experience. Plan to work for a manufacturer/VAR for [at least] a couple of years for the experience.'

- Devin Akin, @DevinAkin

  1. Read

The best way to get an idea of what you want to do, and what you need to know is to read about what's out there. Or to shadow someone who's already in the field. You might feel like you're back in grade school, but I promise this is a great way to learn!

Some websites to get you started with documentation would be and Other types of publications to search for would be whitepapers and case studies. Below are a couple of links to some recommended reading.

What got you interested in wireless? Comment below and let's connect!!