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5.3.2 IT industry certifications

Industry certifications are highly respected by employers around the world and help validate the skills needed to launch successful careers in networking and ICT. Certifications are achieved by passing an exam proctored by a certifying authority. Students must complete training materials specific to the certification exam. Field experience is often very helpful, but not always required, to pass a certification exam. Cisco Networking Academy provides courses that prepare students for the industry certifications that are shown in Table 2.

Table 2 Cisco Networking Academy courses
CompTIA A+CCENTCCNA Routing and SwitchingCCNA Security
The CompTIA A+ certification for computer support technicians demonstrates competence in areas such as installation, preventive maintenance, networking, security, and troubleshooting. IT technician, IT administrator, and field service technician are examples of jobs that students can pursue using the CompTIA A+ certification.The Cisco CCENT certification for entry network technicians validates the ability to install, operate, and troubleshoot a small branch network and perform basic network security tasks. Support desk technician and network support technician are examples of jobs that students can pursue using the Cisco CCENT certification.The Cisco CCNA Routing and Switching certification validates the ability to install, configure, operate, and troubleshoot medium-sized routed and switched networks, and implement and verify connections to remote sites in a wide-area network (WAN). Examples of jobs that the CCNA Routing and Switching certification can help students to find are network administrator, network installer, and network engineer.The Cisco CCNA Security certification for network security professionals validates the knowledge needed to install, troubleshoot, and monitor Cisco network security devices; develop a security infrastructure; recognise network vulnerabilities; and mitigate security threats. Students who gain CCNA Security certification would be well qualified for a position as a network security specialist.

There are two basic types of certification available: vendor-specific and vendor neutral. Vendor-specific certifications are tailored to technologies offered by a company to prove that an individual is qualified to deploy and manage that technology. Vendor-neutral certifications are offered by many different organisations. They show that an individual has a well-rounded skillset centered on common systems and programs, rather than specific types of technology.

Most often, certifications must be renewed over time. Requirements for re-certification may be earning continuing education units (CEUs), passing a re-certification exam, or both. CEUs can be earned by attending classes, professional membership, on-the-job experience, or research and publishing of materials that support the certification technology.

Table 3 Cisco certification tracks
Certification tracksEntryAssociateProfessionalExpertArchitect
Collaboration   CCIE Collaboration 
Data Center CCNA Data CenterCCNP Data CenterCCIE Data Center 
DesignCCENTCCDACCDPCCDECCAr
Routing & SwitchingCCENTCCNA Routing and SwitchingCCNPCCIE Routing & Switching 
SecurityCCENTCCNA SecurityCCNP SecurityCCIE Security 
Service Provide CCNA Service ProviderCCNP Service ProviderCCIE Service Provider 
Service Provider OperationsCCENTCCNA Service Provider OperationsCCNP Service Provider OperationsCCIE Service Provider Operations 
Video CCNA Video   
VoiceCCENTCCNA VoiceCCNP Voice  
WirelessCCENTCCNA WirelessCCNP WirelessCCIE Wireless 

The Cisco Certification Tracks are shown in Table 3. To explore all of the different Cisco career certifications, visit the Cisco Learning Network website [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .