Cisco Systems, Inc. offers networking and communications products and services. The company is popular for its routing and switching products which are useful in directing data, voice and video traffic across networks worldwide. Apart from these products, the company also offers services such as storage networking, applications for unified communications, telepresence and collaboration (WebEx) and solutions for data centers and cloud management, among others.
Cisco introduced a number of certifications for IT professionals to gain the skills and knowledge necessary to use Cisco products and assist customers.
The certifications are categorized into five categories or levels – Entry, Associate, Professional, Expert, and Architect levels.
The Architect level is generally opted by highly design as well as career-oriented individuals. So here we will focus on the most popular certification path that professionals opt for, and that is:
- CCENT (Entry Level) – Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT) is an entry-level certification that provides you the skills to install, operate and troubleshoot a network along with the knowledge of basic network security. Since it is an entry-level certification, it opens doors to a great career in networking.
- CCNA (Associate Level) – Next comes the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) which is an associate-level certification and provides the skills to install, configure, operate and troubleshoot medium-level routers and switched networks. The certification is basically targeted at Network Engineers, Network Administrators, Systems Engineers and Software Engineers.
A CCNA certification is valid for 3 years and then requires a recertification.
- CCNP (Professional Level) – Upon achieving CCNA comes the Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) which is a professional level certification that validates a candidate’s skills in developing, maintaining and troubleshooting local and wide area networks. These professionals also work for security, voice, wireless and video solutions.
The certification is suitable for professionals such as Network Engineers, Support Engineers and Systems Engineers. It is also advisable for professionals with 1 to 3 years of experience in IT networking.
CCNP certifications are also valid for 3 years, upon which a candidate is required to recertify to retain the certification.
- CCIE (Expert Level) – Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) the next level of certifications and is considered as one of the most sought after and prestigious credential in IT for Network Engineers. This certification allows to assess expert level infrastructure network design skills worldwide. The CCIEs are generally involved in the most technically challenging network assignments, hence they are the most senior and the most skilled technicians and engineers.
CCIE certifications remain valid for 2 years.
Another Certification Path
Though we have discussed the most popular path of certifications followed by professionals, let us see another important path that many other professionals follow basis their interest in upgrading their design skills.
CCENT -> CCDA -> CCDP -> CCDE -> CCAr
Job Roles Offered
- Maintenance of Networks – Cisco professionals such as Computer Support Specialists performs routine maintenance, testing and troubleshooting networking systems to ensure proper functionality. These professionals work with clients and customers who face any kind of networking issue. They diagnose the issue and guide the clients accordingly.
- Security of Information – Information Security Analysts are responsible for the security of the computer and networking systems. Their basic responsibility is to evaluate, maintain and test network systems. They are also responsible for carefully documenting the identified security breaches and to further improve the overall security.
- System Performance Management – Network Systems Administrators analyze the performance of computer networks on a daily basis. Their responsibilities also include installing hardware and software and perform system upgrades.
- Designing Systems – Network Architects and Engineers create system layouts and build and improve networking systems. They are also responsible for planning further improvements in the network.
Higher Salaries and Great Job Opportunities
Deciding to achieve a Cisco certification can prove to be a dramatically sensible decision for anyone. Owing to their popularity, organizations use them as a metric of networking knowledge. Achieving advanced level certifications are undoubtedly helpful in increasing your level of income as well as various other job opportunities.
Let us look at some of the salary statistics taken from the source PayScale.
The average salaries at Cisco Systems Inc. range from $67,056 per year to $152,285 per year. The highest salary that Cisco is offering is $291,477 per year to its Chief Marketing Officer (CMO).
For some more clarification, look at the image given below.
The image clearly states that with increase in expertise or certification, the salary increases.
Basis the two examples, we can conclude that Cisco certifications provide a great salary boost with the increase in expertise level and experience.