Cisco is a reputed organization for networking and offers a wide variety of certifications, which are accepted worldwide and play an important role in career growth. In this article, we discuss the benefits of a Cisco certification, which Cisco certification is right for you, and which is the best Cisco certification overall.
Cisco certification levels
General Cisco certifications are categorized by four professional levels: entry, associate, professional, and expert.
Cisco Certified Technician (CCT)
At the entry level is the Cisco Certified Technician (CCT) certification, which offers a level of useful knowledge to a centralized network engineer. The certification primarily focuses on candidates who are planning or currently supporting Cisco devices, typically upper-layer engineering support.
Common job titles of CCT certification holders may include remote network support, onsite support technicians, and field support technicians.
Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)
Following the CCT certification is the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA). The CCNA certification includes the knowledge gained from the Cisco entry-level certification, like basic networking fundamentals and configuration commands, and adds more complexity and in-depth features.
The certification primarily focuses on information for junior-level network engineers who work under more experienced engineers.
Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP)
The Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) is the next level of CCNA. The CCNP certification requires an understanding of a large number of different technologies with greater depth of features. CCNP certificate holders typically act as senior-level network engineers or team leaders, who guide junior-level network engineers.
Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE)
The Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) focuses on the objectives learned at the CCNP level and adds some depth to specific features. Cisco defines CCIE certificate holders as those who have the necessary skills to plan, test, deploy, configure, maintain, and troubleshoot Cisco network solutions.
Best Cisco certifications
Cisco offers several categories of certification. These include:
- Data Center
- DevNet (Dev and Automation)
- Service Provider
Each category has its own advantages for professionals looking to achieve specific career goals. In most cases, the best Cisco certifications are CCNA Security, CCNP Security, DevNet Professional, CCIE Enterprise Infrastructure, and CCT Routing and Switching.
Read more on CIO Insight: IT Certification Roadmap
Cisco’s Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Security certification can lead to a career in network security. Common titles include network engineer, network security engineer, senior network engineer, security engineer, cybersecurity engineer, and network administrator.
According to PayScale, the annual average base salary of a CCNA Security certificate holder is $82,000 USD.
To become CCNA Security-certified, candidates need to pass the 200-301 CCNA exam. This tests the candidate’s experience with network fundamentals, network access, IP connectivity, IP services, security fundamentals, and automation and programmability. Once passed, the CCNA Security certification is valid for three years.
Similar to CCNA Security, Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) Security certification can lead to a career in network security. Job titles for this certification include network engineer, network security engineer, senior network engineer, security consultant, senior system engineer, network specialist, and network administrator.
According to PayScale, the annual average base salary of a CCNP Security certificate holder is $91,000 USD.
To become CCNP Security-certified, candidates need to pass two exams, a core exam focusing on knowledge of security infrastructure and a security concentration exam of the candidate’s choice. After passing both exams, CCNP Security certification is valid for three years.
Cisco Certified DevNet Professional certification can lead to a wide variety of career options. Possible career paths include senior DevOps engineers, senior software developers, senior automation specialists, senior system integration programmers, and other software professionals.
According to CertWizard, the annual average base salary of a DevNet Professional certificate holder is $95,000 USD.
To become CCNP Security-certified, candidates need to pass two exams, a core exam on Developing Applications Using Cisco Core Platforms and APIs (DEVCOR) and a software developer concentration exam of the candidate’s choice.
CCIE Enterprise Infrastructure
Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) Enterprise Infrastructure certification can lead to a variety of senior-level careers, including senior network engineer, network consultant, virtualization specialist, senior network administrator, and senior network engineering specialist.
According to ZipRecruiter, the annual average base salary of a CCIE Enterprise Infrastructure certificate holder is $131,000 USD.
To become CCIE Enterprise Infrastructure-certified, candidates need to pass two exams including a qualifying exam and a hands-on lab exam.
CCT Routing and Switching
Cisco Certified Technician (CCT) Routing and Switching is an entry-level certification that focuses on the skills required for onsite support and maintenance of Cisco routers, switches, and operating environments.
There is a wide variety of job roles for CCT Routing and Switching certificate holders including install engineer, field service technician, field engineer, network engineer, systems administrator, and AV/VC support specialist.
According to ZipRecruiter, the annual average base salary of a CCT Routing and Switching certificate holder is $91,000 USD.
To become CCT Routing and Switching-certified, candidates need to pass one exam on Supporting Cisco Routing and Switching Network Devices v3.0 (100-490 RSTECH).
What are the benefits of a Cisco certification?
Cisco certifications verify that the certificate holder has technical and non-technical knowledge and skill for professional environments. Among many benefits, IT professionals with Cisco certifications typically have more professional skills and better job opportunities.
Cisco certification programs provide training for the technical and non-technical skills essential for problem-solving and innovative thinking. Some skills are role-specific, but many skills translate to a variety of jobs in the IT field.
To acquire a Cisco certification, candidates will be put through the steps to test and verify real-world knowledge and experience. When these candidates inevitably face similar challenges in their careers, they will be prepared to jump into action with peace of mind that they know what they’re doing.
Candidates who have Cisco certifications are able to prove to employers that their expertise and skills have been validated by a credible institution. In turn, their resumes stick out above the rest in a competitive job market.
Obtaining a Cisco certification in any subject will open up a robust professional route toward a rewarding job. These credentials put careers on the fast track and open new avenues for career advancement.