Cisco Career Certification: Which Certifications Should You Earn?
Cisco developed certification paths to help IT professionals successfully deploy and manage Cisco technology.
The training courses and paths are designed to help you level up your Cisco skills – regardless of your starting point. You can choose from Entry, Associate, Professional, and Expert level certifications or work your way up the ladder.
Choosing the right Cisco certification path for you depends on your interest, experience level and career goals. If you're looking to break into Cisco technology, the two most popular certification paths are network operations or network design.
As a Cisco professional, you can also venture outside networking to specialize in technologies including data center application, services or voicemail.Ready to dive in? Here are the best Cisco certification paths to accelerate your career:
- Cisco Certified Entry Network Technician (CCENT)
- Cisco Certified Network Associate Level (CCNA)
- Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP)
1. Cisco Certified Entry Network Technician (CCENT) Path
The CCENT is the first step of the Cisco certification path. It's an entry-level certification focused on setting up, maintaining and troubleshooting branch networks. It's an excellent foundation for IT professionals interested in networking careers.
CCENT courses help you establish a baseline understanding of network security, a critical area of concern for every modern organization. It's also a prerequisite for other Cisco certifications. You can enhance the value by pairing it with other certifications such as CompTIA Security+ and CompTIA Network+ or upgrading to more advanced Cisco credentials.
2. Cisco Certified Network Associate Level (CCNA) Path
The CCNA is the most popular Cisco certification path, designed to help launch your career as a network admin or engineer.
Earning your CCNA certification validates your ability to install, configure, operate and troubleshoot routed and switched networks. Gain the knowledge to mitigate basic network security threats and understand core networking concepts with this foundational certification path.
With CCNA, you can choose to specialize in several areas. Some of the most popular ones include:
CCNA Routing and Switching
The CCNA distinction is one step up from the CCENT level and expands on the CCENT certification. The CCNA Routing and Switching certification demonstrates that you have the skills to deploy, secure, maintain and operate medium-size Cisco networks.
With the CCNA Security certification, you'll learn how to develop a security infrastructure and detect and mitigate threats and vulnerabilities.
Before working toward your CCNA Security certification, you'll need to complete the CCENT and CCNA Routing and Switching (or CCIE) certifications.
By earning the CCNA Cloud certification, you'll be prepared to perform entry-level provisioning and support for Cisco cloud solutions. You'll learn foundational cloud computing knowledge, such as cloud deployment models, administration and operations.
The CCNA Collaboration exam tests your knowledge of implementing and troubleshooting Cisco Unified Communications solutions and covers key requirements for managing voice, data, video and mobile applications.
CCNA Data Center
With the CCNA Data Center certification, you'll become proficient in data center network design, implementation and maintenance.
CCNA Service Provider
Within the service provider specialty, you'll learn how to deploy, improve and maintain carrier-grade network infrastructures with CCNA Service Provider.
The CCNA Wireless certification focuses on skills to support and monitor wireless networks for optimal performance.
The CCNA Wireless certification builds upon the previous CCNA training and certifications – you'll need a CCENT, CCNA Routing and Switching or CCIE certification to take the CCNA Wireless exam.
Check out the full list of Cisco training courses.
3. Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) Path
CCNP is the next step in the Cisco certification path after CCNA or CCIE. Taking the prep courses for CCNP will give you experience working with complex local and wide area networks (LANs and WANs).
With a CCNP, you'll be able to apply protocols relevant to both physical and virtual network infrastructures to work on networking projects.
You'll need the CCNA or CCIE certification before you can achieve the CCNP. Here are the available CCNP certifications and what you'll learn from each:
CCNP Routing & Switching
Learn to plan, verify and troubleshoot local and wide-area enterprise networks.
Take these courses for your CCNP Routing & Switching certification exam.
The CCNP Security specialty will help you choose, support and troubleshoot VPNs, IDS/IPS and firewalls for networking environments.
Gain the advanced collaboration skills needed to design, configure, deploy, troubleshoot and develop Cisco Collaboration and Unified Communications devices, networks and applications.
Before the CCNP Collaboration certification, you must complete the CCNA Collaboration or any CCIE certification.
CCNP Data Center
For CCNP Data Center, students can choose a data center concentration that fits their needs.
You must complete the CCNA Data Center certification or any CCIE certification before moving on to CCNP Data Center.
CCDP is a great option for senior-level IT positions, including network design engineers and network/solution architects. You'll learn about Cisco network design, including advanced addressing and routing protocols, services virtualization and integration strategies for multi-layered enterprise architecture.
In this certification, you'll learn to implement, operate and design Cisco wireless mobility and network infrastructures.
Find Your Cisco Certification Path Today
Ready to boost your skills and confidently leverage Cisco technology for your organization? Take a look at our full list of Cisco training courses or give us a call to find the right Cisco certification path for you.