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This 2013, top executives of Fortune 500 companies across the Globe will be looking for an I.T infrastructure where they need minimal work force for maximum cost-effectiveness. As a result, many people are worried about the future of Cisco certifications due to the emergence of virtualisation and cloud computing.

With my years of experience I can assure you that with the emergence of cloud computing and virtualization, Cisco certification has become more relevant to the industry. Every cloud service provider needs a Cisco certified engineer to provide secure and reliable services to their clients. In this article, I can show you how you can make it count this 2013 even though five months have already passed. Depending upon your current position and interest, you can choose your Cisco certifications and appropriately set a career goal for this year.

CCNA Training – Resources (Intense)

For most of us who want to pursue a career in the Computer Networking & Communication industry, the question that comes in our minds first is: Why should we learn Cisco Technology? Why not other vendor certifications? Reading this article should give you a clear idea about the beauty of Cisco System certifications. Hopefully after reading it, you will be quite amazed by the vast opportunity in this field.

Why learn Cisco technology? Why not other vendors?

I have seen many engineering graduates simply ask why they should earn a certification, as they already have a technical degree. I always tell them that you’ve only gotten all your theoretical education until now, whether you are graduating from Harvard or not. Technology moves very fast, and nobody in the traditional educational system can give you the real training and exposure in the technology that the industry needs. Cisco’s career certification can give you a perfect start with your career in the networking industry.

As Cisco is the leader in Internetworking, with a market share above 60%, one can easily say that Internetworking become possible with the invention of the Cisco router. If you learn Cisco technologies and gain experience with Cisco devices, you will be able to handle other vendor equipments also.

As a fresh graduate/entry level engineer, depending on your area of interest, you can choose from the different tracks in Cisco Technologies such as:

  1. Borderless Networks/Networking, Network Design and Security
  2. Voice and Collaboration Solutions
  3. Data Centre and Storage Networking
  4. Service Provider Network

Networking, Network Design and Security

A candidate interested in Networking or Network Design can help evolve an organization’s infrastructure to deliver secure reliable and seamless user experiences in a world with many new and shifting borders. Areas of expertise in this field are Design, Networking Security, Routing & Switching, and Wireless.

Design

Network Planning and Design is an interactive process encompassing topological design, network synthesis and network-realization and is aimed at ensuring that a new network or service meets the needs of the subscriber and operator. The process can be tailored according to each new network or service.

Network Infrastructure & Network Security

Cisco divides Network Infrastructure and Security Engineer separately. But with my experience I have seen that to be a good Infrastructure Engineer you have to master Cisco’s Routing & Switching platforms and also its security. As a network engineer in a small enterprise, you need to do all the security work for your company. Because in the current economic situation, MNCs are looking for cost effectiveness, so they expect their network engineer to have a good command in both technologies. Certifications in Routing & Switching, Network Security always have the same demand, because this is the backbone of network infrastructure.

Wireless Communications

This is the most demanded Cisco certifications in the industry after Voice certifications. In the US and in most developed economies, there is a huge demand for it. In the near future, elections will be held in metros all over the world, which will demand wireless LAN connections throughout the city. It will become a public issue for voting just like water/house/food/electricity/job facility. Maybe I am optimistic, but that day will also come in developing countries like India, Africa, and China, especially when politicians will campaign on the wireless LAN connectivity issue. You can prepare yourself to be an expert in Wireless technology for that day.

Voice and Collaboration Solutions

Becoming certified in Voice technologies enables you to help people communicate more naturally, anywhere, anytime. A Cisco-certified professional implementing Cisco Voice and Collaboration Solutions can help build more effective teams across corporate boundaries companies and continents.

Data Centre and Storage Networking/Virtualization

Cisco Data Centre solutions accelerate service delivery, improve profitability and reduce risk for new business model deployments. An Employee implementing a Data Centre solution will work to unify storage, computing and network resources to simplify your data centre. CCIE (Storage) certification is retiring from July 2013.

Service Provider

Becoming certified in the service provider field will help you implement and build extensible service provider infrastructures that deliver managed services. Service provider domain Cisco is providing a new track called Service Provider Operations which will enable individuals to learn the operations within the service provider complex network.

Figure 1: Cisco Certifications Track (Source: http://www.learningnetwork.cisco.com)

Cisco has categorized its certification levels, depending upon the candidate’s experience, as:

  1. Entry Level Certifications
  2. Associate Level Certifications
  3. Professional Level Certifications
  4. Expert Level Certifications
  5. Architect Level Certifications

    Figure 2. Cisco System Certifications level (Source www.cisco.com)

    1. Entry level

A candidate at entry level experience possesses the skills required for basic Network Support Positions. Both the CCENT and CCT certifications serve as starting points for individuals interested in starting a career as Networking Professionals.

2. Associate Level (Cisco Certified Network Associate)

A candidate at associate level experience possesses basic competency regarding installation and support of medium sized networks and network solutions. The associate level of Cisco certifications can begin directly with the most popular certification named as Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) for installation, operations and troubleshooting or with CCDA for network design. Associate level is the perfect foundation for getting started in Cisco certification.

3. Professional Level (Cisco Certified Network Professional)

A candidate at professional level experience possesses advanced or journeyman knowledge of networks and networking solutions. A professional level candidate also has the skills required in enterprise roles such as Network Engineer or Level 2 Engineer in ITIL. The professional level is an advanced level of certification that shows more expertise with networking skills. Each certification covers different technologies to meet the needs of varying job roles.

4. Expert Level (Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert)

A candidate at Expert Level possesses the skills required for implementing and troubleshooting today’s complex converged networks. The Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) certification is accepted worldwide as the most prestigious network/I.T. certification in the industry.

5. Architect Level (Cisco Certified Architect)

A candidate at architect-level experience can support the increasingly complex networks of global organizations and effectively translate business strategies into evolutionary technical strategies. Cisco certified architect is the highest level of accreditation achievable and recognizes the architectural expertise of network designers who can design and supervise today’s complex networks.

Figure 3: Cisco Career certifications flow chart (Source www.learningnetwork.cisco.com)

The above diagram clearly shows the various tracks in Cisco technologies. Any individual can pursue the track they’re most interested in.

Specialist Level

Another level of certifications that Cisco introduced is for giving specialist certifications to individuals who possess enough skill to be called a Specialist in a particular technology or device. By earning specialist certifications, network professionals can enhance their core networking knowledge in technologies such as Security, Data Centre or Video.

Cisco Track Area of Specialization Certification
Collaboration Voicemail and messaging specialist -Cisco Unified Presence Specialist-Cisco Unity Design Specialist

-Cisco Unity Support Specialist

 

Data Centre

Data Centre Application Services -Cisco Data Centre Application Services Design Specialist-Cisco Data Centre application Services Support Specialist
Data Centre Networking Infrastructure -Cisco Data Centre networking Infrastructure Design Specialist- Infrastructure Support Specialist
Data Centre Unified Computing -Cisco Data Centre Unified Computing Design Specialist- Data Centre Unified Computing Support Specialist
Data Centre Unified Fabric

 

-Cisco Data Centre Unified Fabric Design Specialist-Cisco Data Centre Unified Fabric Support Specialist
Operating System Software Cisco IOS -Cisco IOS XR Specialist
Security Network Infrastructure -ASA Specialist- Firewall Security Specialist

– IOS Security Specialist

– IPS Security Specialist

-VPN Security Specialist

Video – Cisco Video Network Specialist-Cisco Rich media communication specialist

-Cisco Tele presence installation Specialist

– Cisco Tele presence Solution Specialist

Table 1: Available Specialist Certifications for Individuals (Source http://www.cisco.com)

I am going to discuss your options, categorized depending on where you are, so you can make the appropriate decisions regarding your career.

  1. Fresh Graduate and entry level engineer
  2. Mid-level technocrat professional
  3. Senior level technology professional

 

1. Fresher and Entry-level Students

As a fresh graduate out of universities and schools across the globe, you might be wondering what you need to do to become an expert in your desired field. You might have heard that earning Cisco Certifications can lead you to earn a handsome package anywhere in the world.

Believe me, you are in right track if you have chosen to pursue Cisco career certifications. If you are not sure about the technologies, then I can assure you that with Cisco certifications, you will learn how the Internet actually works.

This summer is the perfect time to start learning entry-level Cisco certifications like CCENT, CCT, and CCNA to secure an internship.

2. Mid-level Technocrat Professional

So you have already done Cisco’s associate level certifications, and are currently working as a Network Support Engineer, Network Technician, or L1 & L2 Engineer but you want to get more responsibility in your current job. Maybe your boss told you to earn CCNP certifications this summer.

Whatever your situation may be, if you want to grow professionally and personally within your organization, this is the right time to get Cisco certifications like CCNP (R&S), CCNP (Voice), CCNP (Wireless), etc. Depending upon your interest and previous experience, you can choose your desired certification track.

3. Senior level Technology Professional:

Congratulations for coming a long way in Cisco technology; you are now a veteran in this field. You can design, install and optimize any complex network easily on your own. But it might be the case that in your current job, your boss is doing all the designing and optimization parts and giving you the implementation part only, so you want to change your job or want more responsibility in the Cisco PPDIO phase.

If you want to get recognition for all your hard work from the previous year, CCIE certifications are the perfect platform for your recognition worldwide. CCIE can give you five digit salaries (in the USA) and will enable you to start some consulting jobs here and there. So don’t sit back; this summer, make a decision and work hard to earn a unique CCIE licence number from Cisco.

Conclusion:

I hope my article has given you a clear idea about Cisco system career certifications. No matter if you are in the entry, mid,   or senior level, start making the right decision for your future. This summer, let your dreams soar high and work hard to make that dream a reality. If you have any questions regarding this article, please use the comment area below. Best of luck; enjoy the summer!

Reference:

  1. Cisco Career Certifications ( http://www.cisco.com)
  2. Cisco Learning Academy (http://www.learningnetwork.cisco.com)
  3. All the diagrams used in this article are owned by Cisco Systems, USA.