There are many different networking certifications to get certified in. If you want to be a networking professional, getting certified is a good step forward in your career. The benefits of IT certifications go far and beyond simply receiving a piece of paper to tack to your office wall. Today we will discuss acquiring Cisco certifications. Acquiring a Cisco cert will many times put you a step ahead of your competition in the networking industry and assist you in navigating your IT career. But why? What are the benefits of becoming Cisco certified? Are they worth your time? Yes or no? Keep reading to find out.
Cisco is one of the biggest names in the networking industry, as their systems form the backbone of most of the computer networks around the world. If you are a networking professional than you definitely know about Cisco’s certifications. Cisco has divided its certifications in 5 categories where it tests many aspects of computer networking;
The benefits of certifications
Cisco certifications are widely recognized in the networking industry and bring valuable benefits for both you and the company you work for.
For companies, it’s of value that they have certified employees because it provides the company with a level of assurance that the person in question has a sound knowledge of cisco networking devices. But it also maintains the status of a company, think for example about companies that are Cisco gold partners. To become a gold partner, you need to meet many requirements. Where one of them is that you need at least four CCIE certified employees. Having certified employees boosts the reliability of a company and can boost profitability.
Personally, certifications can play a significant role in your career as they are an important tool to show your skill level and open more job opportunities. Why? Because many companies ask for a (cisco) certification as a requirement for job opportunities they have. Cisco is a trusted name and is one of the, if not the leader in the networking industry. So, if you are a Cisco certified professional, a company can assure that they have a candidate who is proficient and knowledgeable regarding the fundamentals and concepts of networking.
Many times, when you study a for a certification you already are familiar with the technology because you work with the technology on a daily basis. But studying for certifications also broadens your technological horizon and takes you out of our comfort zone.
Studying and staying up to date
As many will know, getting Cisco certified isn’t easy. It takes a lot of hard work and hours and hours of studying. So, if you are Cisco certified you also show that you can work hard, are motivated, and are reliable. These certifications also force you to stay up to date with new technology changes. As an IT professional, you’re in an industry that is constantly changing. Figuring out which certification is hot and then passing the exam(s) for it can make a huge difference in staying relevant in IT. Chasing trends and backing up skills with certifications can be a great career strategy for many technology professionals.
And of course, a certification looks very good on your CV. Adding your certification to your CV can increase your changes of moving up the career ladder. And don’t forget that Cisco certifications are recognized globally, meaning that in almost every place you go your certifications is relevant. Having your cert on your CV also makes you easier to find for recruiters and hiring managers. Keyword searches are used to find people with the right skillset in a database. Your online CV or LinkedIn profile could list all the experience in the world, but if recruiters are searching for certification keywords, which they often do, you’re going to be overlooked.
If you don’t have any hands-on experience and want to break in to a new industry a certification is a decent place to start. If anything, it shows prospective employers/managers that you really want to learn, and are willing to take the extra steps necessary to gain specific skill set.
Salary expectations after becoming Cisco certified
As with any profession, the more knowledge and more experience that you bring into a position, the more leverage you have in terms of salary requirements. The higher the Cisco certification achieved the higher the total salary. These results are of course a good sign to those looking to invest the money and time that are required to achieve these certifications. Because studying for the exams take a lot of time (see figure below) and they are quite pricey as well.
Average UK salaries:
CCNA Network Engineer: Between £20,500 – £46,800
CCNP Network Engineer: Between £25,000 – £59,000
CCIE Network Engineer: Between £37,000 – £109,000
Average UK salary for Network Engineers: £38,300
Want to find out what networking professionals earn per UK region and technology stack? Download our networking and security report
Some estimations of the total study time required to pass each certification:
To be clear, here’s a little explanation:
- Starting with no Cisco certifications, I estimate about 250 hours of study to achieve CCNA R/S.
- After getting CCNA R/S, the additional study time to achieve CCNP R/S is 450 hours.
- After getting CCNP R/S, the additional study time to achieve CCIE R/S is 1000 hours.
So, to get through these certifications takes a total 1700 hours of study.
Source: Cisco Blogs – Value of Cisco Certifications: Making Money Vs. Study
Brief overview of Cisco certifications
CCNA – Cisco Certified Network Associate
This cert will help you escalate investment in foundational networking and increase the value of your employer’s network. It will validate your ability to install, operate, configure and troubleshoot medium sized switched and routed networks. It shows you got what it takes to create and maintain a small network.
Interesting fact: the CCNA certification is considered one of the best networking certifications to have as it opens the door for you in the networking world.
CCDA – Cisco Certified Design Associate
This associate certification tests your capabilities to design a network. If you have this certification it proves that you are able to design data and voice centre networks.
You can only take the CCDA test if you have a valid CCENT or CCNA Routing & Switching or any CCIE certification.
CCDP – Cisco Certified Design Professional
This cert is for professionals who design, discuss and create advanced addressing, security, routing, data centre and IP Multicast multi layered architectures and enterprise.
To take this test you need to have a valid CCDA and CCNA Routing & Switching or any CCIE certification.
CCNP – Cisco Certified Network Professional
CCNP is one of the most popular certifications under Routing & Switching. This cert gives you the ability to plan, verify, implement and troubleshoot wide area and local enterprise networks.
To take this test you have a valid CCNA Routing & Switching or any CCIE certification.
CCIE – Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert
The CCIE certification give you the skills on an expert level in planning, operating and troubleshooting converged, complex network infrastructure. With this cert you are on the top of your field with the knowledge and abilities you have gained
Interesting fact: Only 3% successfully gained their CCIE out of all professionals with Cisco certifications.
To take the CCIE test there are no prerequisites but it is preferred that you have at least 2 to 3 years’ experience.
CCDE – Cisco Certified Design Expert
This certification prepares a professional designer in the development of design solutions at the infrastructure level for a large customer network. You will also be able to address technically challenging network infrastructure design assignments.
There are no formal prerequisites for this certification.
CCAr – Cisco Certified Architect
There are only a few networking professionals who have been able to attain this certification. This cert proves you are able to build, design and manage large global enterprise networks.
If you want to attain this certification you must have a valid CCDE together with a thorough understanding of networking infrastructure principles.