Nowadays, if you want to do well in the IT sector, you need to start thinking outside the box. You could be a university graduate with a degree and all, but still find it difficult to get a decent job. This is because universities don’t teach you everything and there are somethings that you need to learn on your own. This is where certifications can play a significant role.
There are a number of reputable vendors offering various IT certifications in different domains. If you are interested in networking technologies and keen to get certified, then you should probably seek Cisco certification. Cisco is currently the best in the business when it comes to networking. Many of their products and technologies are used by enterprises all over the world. Therefore, companies need professionals who know how to work with Cisco technologies and handle all kinds of problems that can occur over time.
Overview of Cisco Certifications
There are various levels of and you can move up the ladder as you continue to receive more advanced credentials. If you are new to everything, then you will first have to go for the Entry-level Cisco certification. There are two credentials offered at this level: CCENT and CCT. Both of these credentials serve as a starting point for people who want to begin their careers as networking professionals.
If you have received any of the entry-level certifications, you can go for the Associate level of Cisco certification. It is a step above the Entry level and can be considered as the foundation for your IT career. You can begin with CCNA credentials for network installation, operations and troubleshooting or you can choose to begin with CCDA credential for network design. The certifications at this level are as follows:
- CCNA Wireless
- CCNA Service Provider
- CCNA Security
- CCNA Routing & Switching
- CCNA Industrial
- CCNA Data Center
- CCNA Cyber Ops
- CCNA Collaboration
- CCNA Cloud
The Associate-level certifications do not require any prerequisites.
After completing the associate certification, you can move on to the Professional level which shows your advanced networking skills. Each and every credential in this certification level covers different technologies that can meet various job roles. Hence, having this certification could bring a lot of benefits for your professional career. The main credentials offered at the professional level are:
- CCNP Wireless
- CCNP Service Provider
- CCNP Security
- CCNP Routing & Switching
- CCNP Data Center
- CCNP Collaboration
- CCNO Cloud
Please note that in order to get CCNP certified, you need to fulfill some prerequisites: you either need to get relevant CCNA certification or be CCIE certified (more about CCIE below).
Lastly, we have CCIE (Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert) certification. This credential is accepted worldwide and is considered to be one of the most prestigious certifications in the industry. Following are the credentials offered at the Expert level:
- CCIE Wireless
- CCIE Service Provider
- CCIE Security
- CCIE Routing & Switching
- CCIE Data Center
- CCIE Collaboration
This level requires no formal prerequisites; however, it is advised to possess a strong networking background or be CCNP/CCDP certified before applying for this Expert credential.
Advantages of Being a Cisco Certified Professional
Having Cisco certification has some very clear benefits, especially for someone who wants to build a career in networking. If you are Cisco certified, then it shows potential employers that you have the skills and enthusiasm required to troubleshoot and install Cisco networks.
The biggest benefit that individuals get to enjoy by having Cisco certification is that a certified individual gets a better salary than those without credentials. According to research, people have found that certified professionals tend to earn around 8 to 12 percent more than a person who is not certified.
Cisco is the leading provider of network services and a lot of companies are using their software and equipment. Therefore, if you are someone who knows how to work with Cisco technologies, then you will have a greater chance of getting a decent job and even negotiating higher salaries.
How to Prepare?
There are so many Cisco credentials for you to choose from. However, the one thing that all of them have in common is the necessary exams. You will have to pass a certain exam (or even a few) to get hold of the certification and to do that, you will need to prepare correctly.
To get ready for any Cisco certification, no matter what level, you should start pretty early because there are a lot of topics to cover. You should find as much study material as you can and you can go for the free option too. However, it is recommended that you buy a preparation guide because the information there will be updated and relevant.
You should also visit Prepaway website because you will need to practice for the exam(s). Here you will find some of the best practice materials. On Prepaway, you will be able to download VCE files which contain practice questions and answers. You can play them on VCE Exam Simulator. All you have to do is open VCE file in the simulator and start taking the test. The advantage here will be that you will learn about your strengths and weaknesses and still have time to make corrections before your actual test.
Certifications serve the same purpose that fuel serves for a car: the more you have it, the further you go. There are some skills that you have to learn on your own as your career progresses and certifications can greatly help you in this regard. In brief, university degrees can only help you to a certain extent after which you will need to rely on self-learning and certifications to climb up the corporate ladder.