I am struggling on deciding on my next steps. A little background: I started as cable installer doing VOIP installs for a major cable provider just shy of 10 years ago. From there I ran my own company doing small scale installations in the commercial and residential sphere (small scale VOIP systems, home theater installations and just about anything on a low voltage wire). I then took a job as a help desk support position for a large scale Cisco phone deployment (18,000 sites) and worked my way up to working directly with installers troubleshooting wiring installations. I moved from there to another smaller Cisco phone deployment where I was tasked with doing user configurations.
Over the last year I have used this subreddit and the CCENT sub along with a laundry list of resources to attain my CCNA R&S. I am unsure of where to head next. I have access to some collaboration materials and I have thought of pursuing that since I have a good amount of experience in the voice side of things but I am reading that its best to go the CCNP R&S route before branching out to a specialized track. I have very limited access to network equipment at my current position and my concern is that a CCNP R&S with very limited experience will not look as good as a CCNA Collab with 10 years in telephony.
Thoughts? I apologize for formatting/spelling errors.
First time poster so I apologize in advance for any mistakes.
Cliff notes background: I entered the workforce right after high school with zero college. I went from a call center job to being a cable installer. From the cable installation job I started doing home theaters and commercial data wiring on the side.
After about 3 years of that I got an entry level Cisco help desk job supporting a IP phone deployment for a major company. After 3 months I was moved to a team that just supported the wiring of the project (job title was Cabling SME which apparently looks great on a resume but in reality meant I told installers how to drill holes and run wires).
After that project ended I took a job doing provisioning for a slightly smaller UC deployment which is where I am now. I provision phones and users using Call Manager and Unity, deploy Lync software, set up fax to email accounts etc but all my experience is using the gui. I have done very basic command line interface work with the cable company to release and renew ip address but that is about it.
I am looking at a certification to make that next step in my career. I enjoy call manager so I am thinking of going the ccent ccna route because I have about 5 other people who would be interested in studying for it with me. Is that a reasonable start or should I get started somewhere else? I'm mainly looking for self study as attending classes would be very difficult in my current situation. Thanks in advance.