Cisco Certification

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Cisco Certification Guide Overview and Career Paths

Cisco is one of the largest and most well-respected networking and communications companies in the world. As an industry leader, Cisco’s certifications can be a powerful tool for professionals looking to break into computing, covering a huge range of networking topics that can prepare you for a variety of different roles. Let’s take a look at the Cisco certifications path to see if it could be the option for you.

Cisco Certification Path Overview

Cisco Certification Path Overview

Cisco has worked extremely hard to create a set of certifications that cover just about everything you could want to know about networking. You don’t have to get all of their certifications to be able to get a job in networking or move onto the next level; the Cisco certifications path is highly modular, enabling you to specialize in a very specific area or branch out and learn as much as you can. You can find a Cisco certifications list below.

  • Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT)
  • Cisco Certified Technician (CCT)
  • Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)
  • Cisco Certified Design Associate (CCDA)
  • Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP)
  • Cisco Certified Design Professional (CCDP)
  • Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE)
  • Cisco Certified Design Expert (CCDE)
  • Cisco Certified Architect (CCAr)

This article will cover each of these different certifications and their specific skill-level in more detail below. As you can see, though, Cisco provides the tools to leverage your talents as you become a networking expert.

Cisco's Entry-Level Certifications

Cisco only offers two certifications that can be started without any entry-requirements; Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT) and Cisco Certified Technician (CCT). These certifications only have one exam, making them highly accessible, and can prepare you to take the next steps towards becoming a network engineer. 

  • Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT): CCENT can enable you to get a role maintaining, troubleshooting, and handling installations on small networks or segments of larger ones. 
  • Cisco Certified Technician (CCT): A CCT certification will enable you to work onsite at customer locations, providing network repairs and replacements to ensure that their network-related equipment is functioning properly.

Cisco's Associate-Level Certifications

Cisco also offers two separate Associate-Level certifications. Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) and Cisco Certified Design Associate (CCDA) can be the next step in your networking journey, and you may have to take as many as two exams to get them.

  • Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA): CCNA focuses on basic installations, support, and troubleshooting on both wired and wireless networks. You can choose to go down several tracks with a CCNA certificate, including Switching & Routing and Data Center management.
  • Cisco Certified Design Associate (CCDA): CCDA is all about designing and building wired and wireless networks, and includes Cisco Voice certifications. You will need either a valid CCENT, CCNA Routing and Switching, or any CCIE certification, and pass a single additional exam before you can take this certification.

Cisco's Professional-Level Certifications

As you get into Cisco’s professional-level certifications, you will start to see a swift increase in difficulty in each exam. Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) and Cisco Certified Design Professional (CCDP) are Cisco’s professional certificates, requiring more exams than the certificates at other levels.

  • Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP): Much like CCNA, CCNP comes with a wide variety of tracks to choose from, enabling you to specialize even further. CCNP is designed to train professionals to plan, deploy, and troubleshoot local networks and wide area networks, and can be a stepping stone towards a Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert certificate.
  • Cisco Certified Design Professional (CCDP): CCDP teaches professionals about designing and deploying scalable networks and multilayer-switched networks, making the perfect step before taking a Cisco Certified Design Expert exam.

Cisco's Expert-Level Certifications

Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) and Cisco Certified Design Expert (CCDE) are the next step for many professionals and are Cisco’s expert-level certificates. These qualifications will distinguish you as a network expert amongst your peers.

  • Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE): Getting a CCIE certificate can make a huge difference to your career prospects. Much like CCNA and CCNP before it, CCIE is designed to teach you about Cisco’s CCIE technical tracks, including Collaboration, Data Center, Routing and Switching, Security, Service Provider, and Wireless.
  • Cisco Certified Design Expert (CCDE): CCDE provides you with the skills to design infrastructure solutions for large enterprise environments, including every aspect of a project like this.

Cisco's Architect-Level Certification

The Cisco Certified Architect (CCAr) is the highest-level Cisco qualification available at the moment. This certificate is one of the hardest tech certifications you can find on the modern market, giving you the skills to design and build enterprise-level networks while catering to a specific business’s needs. Unlike the other certificates offered by Cisco, you will have to design an example network based on a piece of coursework before presenting it to an official Cisco panel. This certificate could enable you to become a full-blown network architect.

Cisco certifications have long been the gold-standard for networking professionals. They can often be one of the quickest routes into a role in this industry, providing you with the means to learn about networking from one of the industry’s leaders.

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