Exactly two years ago today, I became a Network Engineer. I didn’t have any certification on my belt at the time but I was able to fully explain and provide a detailed answer to every question they had for me and that was enough to land me the job. Three weeks ago, I got my first Cisco certification for Network Engineer. So why get certified? I was already working on ASA firewalls before I got my CCNA. I already have the dream job. Why bother?
Here’s the thing: IT Engineering is a very competitive field!
Network infrastructures are always growing, developing, expanding. As a result, companies and enterprises need to adapt to new technologies and practices in order to remain relevant in the market and to quickly scale businesses. For all of us working in IT, this means that we also have to remain competitive and updated to everything that’s new out there. Getting certified is one of the best ways to demonstrate your commitment to your profession. Not only does it add value to your skills and competence, it’s also a way of showing your employer that you are a valuable member of the team. To make things easy for you, I already made a list of the top ten certifications to aim for this year:
Earning a Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) is one of the best ways for you to prepare for a successful career in networking. Cisco owns 80% of the market when it comes to routing and switching technologies. If you’re trained and certified to work on Cisco products, your skills will be more marketable and more in demand. A Cisco CCNA Routing and Switching Certification (200-125) provides you with the knowledge and expertise to succeed in networking, even as technologies continue to evolve. The program teaches you to install, monitor, and troubleshoot the network infrastructure products that are being used by major companies.
If you already have the CCNA, your next goal should be to take the CCNP Certification (Cisco Certified Network Professional). It is comprised of three exams: ROUTE, SWITCH and TSHOOT. The ROUTE 300-101 exam certifies candidates in using advanced IP addressing and routing in implementing scalable and highly secure Cisco routers that are connected to LANs, WANs, and IPv6. The SWITCH 300-115 is a qualifying exam for the Cisco CCNP and CCDP certifications and it certifies candidates in planning, configuring, and verifying the implementation of complex enterprise switching solutions that use the Cisco Enterprise Campus Architecture. Lastly, the TSHOOT 300-135 certifies a candidates’ ability to plan, troubleshoot and perform regular maintenance on complex enterprise routed and switched network.
After completing the CCNP, getting the CCIE Routing and Switching Certification (400-101) (Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert) should be your next ultimate goal. There is also the CCDE (Cisco Certified Design Expert 352-001) which focuses on one’s ability to perform design analysis, justify design requirements, and develop a design implementation based on best practices. If the CCIE is asking the “how” of implementing the technology, then the CCDE is asking the “why”. Both certifications have a written and a practical exam. The CCIE is accepted worldwide as the most prestigious networking certifications in the industry. CCIEs are encouraged to continually expand their technical knowledge and are required to recertify every two years before the certification expiration date. The CCIE exam certifies the candidates of the skills required of expert-level network engineers to plan, operate and troubleshoot complex, converged network infrastructure.
Python is interactive, object-oriented, and a high-level programming language. It’s super easy to learn and understand Python syntax. That’s why it’s still gaining popularity and is still being used to develop a lot of great programs. Youtube, Instagram and Spotify are built off of Python. And now the scripting language found its way to manipulate networks. I’ve done some Python scripts a few years back to develop web-based applications and now I integrate Python scripts into network devices to automate monitoring capabilities. To know more, you can browse through the courses on Udemy: Python for Network Engineers or you can also check out the Python programming certificate program recently launched by the O’Reilly School of Technology.
CCNA Cyber Ops
This course was introduced at Cisco live last year and has gained a lot of attention recently. The emergence of IOT (Internet of Things), BOYD (Bring Your Own Device), DNA (Digital Network Architecture) where everything will be digitized, security threats increases exponentially which in turn increases the demand for cybersecurity. Former Symantec CEO Michael Brown projected 6 million cybersecurity jobs by 2019, with a whopping 1.5 million of those jobs being unfilled. For this reason, Cisco recently introduced a Cybersecurity Operations (Cyber Ops) certification track and it doesn’t require any prerequisite!
Citrix Certified Associate
Virtualization is still hot. Currently, 40% of servers are virtualized, and surveys show that this will continue to grow. It’s quite common for individuals within major organizations to rely on virtual services when at home that’s why a lot of companies invest in cloud computing, which refers to the use of remote servers to store data and allow users to access information from anywhere. Having a certification like the CCA-N (Citrix Certified Associate – Networking) is a huge increase to your value in the tech world. According to the Citrix certification website, the CCA-N, “validates the knowledge and skills needed to implement and manage Citrix NetScaler 10 for app and desktop virtualization solutions in an enterprise environment.”
VMware Certified Professional 6
As a leader in the virtualization space, VMware certifications are a must-have for many IT professionals, especially those who support virtual environments. The VMware Certified Professional 6 – Data Center Virtualization (VCP6-DCV) is a popular certification for candidates experienced with VMware infrastructure technologies. A VCP6-DCV is proficient in installing, implementing and managing VMware vSphere environments.
Juniper Networks provides networking solutions aimed at data center environments. Juniper created the Juniper Networks Certification Program Enterprise (JNCP) several years ago to certify professionals who can configure, troubleshoot and maintain Juniper devices and equipment. Juniper’s router revenues increased 3.5 percent, for a market share of 16.1 percent in 2016. Knowing how to work with Junos OS is an excellent skill to have.
Wireshark Network Analyst
The Wireshark Certified Network Analyst (WCNA) recognizes knowledge of network sniffing and analysis using Wireshark, as well as TCP/IP network troubleshooting and network security. You only need to pass one written exam for the WCNA and the certification is valid for three years. This is a good add-on to other certifications like Cisco, Juniper etc. It’s also pretty cool to be able to look at packet captures and easily identify errors which makes it faster to troubleshoot.
Systems Security Professional
This certification is granted by the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium ((ISC)²) a global non-profit organization specializing in IT security. Being the oldest IT security certification in the world, The Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) credential is a valued certification for most professionals and is highly respected by a majority of large, global majors like Google, IBM etc. This certification is the ideal credential for those with proven deep technical and managerial competence, skills, experience, and credibility to design, engineer, and manage the overall information security programs of their organization.
There are other things you can do to stay relevant in the IT field. But certifications are an inexpensive way to show proof that you’re skills are current and up to date. You can easily market yourself when you show that you are willing to learn new things by getting certified. It means you passed the industry’s measurement of knowledge based on their skill assessments of the role where they are certifying the results of your testing efforts.