Top-Rated Network Certifications and Skills
First, I’d like to mention that any lists like mine are and will always be subjective; however, I took my knowledge and experience to present in one short article the top-rated network certifications and skills you should be considering if you want to peruse a career in networking.
So, let’s start with the basics:
Cisco Network Certifications
CCNA Routing & Switching: Cisco is still king when it comes to routing and switching thanks to its market share and the massive amount of Cisco units installed in existing corporate networks of any size and anywhere. There is a considerable variety of training materials available to prepare you for the exam. In addition, these materials contain many network fundamentals that are not vendor-specific and therefore give you a solid start on which to build your career.
Cisco also has CCENT – Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician and CCT certificates, that basically are about half of CCNA course material. However, this entry-level certifications haven’t taken hold with employers, making CCNA the first level of certification to be taken seriously.
For mid-range and beyond, I’d like to mention that selecting one major vendor and then progressing to professional and later on to expert level is always more beneficial to the job market than having a basic level with multiple vendors – it’s better to be expert with one vendor than mediocre with five. So rather than listing individual certifications, I’ll list vendors whose certification paths would be interesting to follow for advancing your career and expanding future employment options:
Cisco is still the leading player that you cannot overlook. Due to all employment options available, the only real downside might be that Cisco certifications are so prevalent that there might be quite a lot of people applying to the same positions that you are aiming to get.
Other Network Certification Options
Juniper, Palo Alto Networks, Fortinet, Check Point: All strong players with large enough market share. If you pick any of those, you don’t have to worry about any foreseeable future.
Also, the good news is that not too many people have their certifications (especially on the high-end), so when looking for jobs that require these, the salaries tend to be higher than for similar level Cisco jobs.