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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Which Cisco certifications should you earn?

IT certifications are important credentials in a job market that emphasizes proficiencies in the specific hardware and software - everything from Cisco switches to myriad JavaScript frameworks - that underpin today's enterprise architectures, cloud computing platforms and mobile applications. In particular, knowledge of the vast Cisco ecosystem can serve as both a starting point for the understanding of modern concepts such as software-defined networking and an additional source of insight for standard network management.

What do IT professionals gain from Cisco certifications?

Cisco's products and services are at the bread and butter of many technological experiences, from high-speed home internet to virtual reality. For example, the company recently partnered with the VR agency VRMADA on a pioneering IT certification called Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) Virtual Reality Experience. This new variant on CCIE includes hands-on training with a VR application that takes the viewer "inside" a Cisco router to see how its control plane maps out the network topology and operates its routing tables.

CCIE in general is one of the many certifications that Cisco offers to current and aspiring network technicians. Let's break down a sampling of what the company offers in terms of credentialing:

Cisco Certified Entry Network Technician

CCENT is an entry-level certification that helps you learn the ropes of setting up, maintaining and troubleshooting a branch network. Moreover, it provides background in network security, which has become a critical area of concern for IT organizations as they contend with threats such as denial-of-service attacks and ransomware distribution:

  • There was a 77 percent increase in infrastructure layer attacks between Q3 2015 and Q1 2016, according to Akamai.
  • It also chronicled 19 "mega attacks" of 100 Gbps or more, which was a 58 percent increase over that same time period.
  • In May 2017, the WannaCry ransomware swept across the world and infected thousands of Microsoft Windows-based systems. If not for a kill switch discovered by cybersecurity researchers, millions of additional machines may have been hijacked.

CCENT can provide a base for understanding such challenges. Its value can also be enhanced by pairing it with other certifications such as CompTIA Security+ and CompTIA Network+, and/or upgrading to more advanced Cisco credentials.

"CCENT provides background in network security."

Cisco Certified Network Associate Routing and Switching

The CCNA distinction is one step from the CCENT level and it extends on the basic principles of that entry-level certification. Essentially, it offers more training in how to manage a medium-sized network built on Cisco technologies.

An important aspect of the CCNA track is the experience it provides in understanding the most recent Cisco components. CCNA recipients now possess knowledge of relevant innovations such as IPv6 and Quality of Service. A CCNA can also be customized for specialization in tech such as voice, security and wireless networking.

At the same level of CCNA is the Cisco Certified Design Associate Distinction. The CCDA is oriented toward the building and validation of Cisco networks, with a slightly different professional development track than the CCNA (although both start with the CCENT or in some cases a CCIE).

Network.A Cisco certification helps understand issues such as network design and security.

Cisco Certified Network Professional

As its name indicates, the CCNP is a professional certification that develops the specific skills required for working with complex local and wide area networks (LANs and WANs, respectively). With a CCNP, you are equipped to work independently on networking projects, thanks to deep knowledge of protocols that are relevant to both physical and virtual network infrastructures.

Earn your Cisco certifications at New Horizons Computer Learning Centers

These technical certifications are the ticket to a better paying and more rewarding career in IT. Anyone interested in the Cisco certification track can get started on it, or go further down it, by enrolling in courses at a nearby New Horizons. Find a convenient location today, and also take a look at our webinars page for more information on how an IT certification can help you land a good job.

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