A Guide to Cisco Certifications

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Cisco certs are highly prized by employers seeking network professionals.

Certifications, or certs, provide a way for network administrators to boost their employability and prove their proficiency in computer system networking.

Computer network and systems administrators are generously compensated for their expertise. According to Payscale.com, a network administrator’s average salary is about $60,000, which reflects several years of experience. Entry-level positions can pay between $40,000 and $50,000, depending on variables such as employer and locality.

Certifications, or certs, provide a way for network administrators to boost their employability and prove their proficiency in computer system networking. Cisco Systems, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of networking hardware, makes available its own series of third-party certification programs to administrators looking to advance their career. And Cisco certs are highly prized by employers seeking network professionals.

Entry-level administrators with a Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT) certification can see starting salaries around $60,000 per year, according to Centriq.com’s “Cisco Certification Salaries.” Additional certs can increase opportunities for raises or promotions beyond what may be open to comparable administrators who are not Cisco certified.

An online cyber security master’s degree can help graduates position themselves for careers as system network administrators. They can, however, increase their attractiveness to potential employers by mastering other skill sets that can benefit cyber security. Information about Cisco certs is online.


Reasons for Getting Certified by Cisco

For many employers, education is only one aspect of identifying a qualified IT candidate. Certifications are used more in the IT field than in most others because they are a way to verify required competencies for a given position. Most job postings for IT-related fields also require or highly suggest technical certifications, such as those offered by Cisco.

A full 60% of employers use certs to confirm subject-matter expertise in job candidates. And 72% require them for job openings where the skill set confirmed by the certification is necessary for success, according to CompTIA’s “5 Reasons Why Employees Look for IT Certifications.”

Aside from verifying technical knowledge necessary for IT careers, certification can benefit network administrators in other ways, as Simplilearn.com details in “Is a Cisco Certification Worth It?” For example:

  • Cisco certifications open new career advancement opportunities by making IT professionals more qualified for coveted positions.
  • Cisco certification boosts network professionals’ salaries, not just in entry-level positions but in advanced positions as well. CCNA-certified architects, for example, can earn nearly $120,000 per year.
  • Most employers respect Cisco’s reputation for certifying networking knowledge and skills, so they tend to prefer Cisco certs over other options. In fact, 66% of managers claim that a Cisco cert improves overall service and support.
  • The future benefits of a Cisco certification outweigh the opportunity costs of the training and study needed to complete a Cisco certification track.

IT professionals should take care to pursue the Cisco certs that are right for them. In its “Cisco Certification Salaries,” Centriq.com notes that some certs “have wider applications that others.” Pursuing an unrelated certification can involve a lot of time, work, and money for little career benefit.


Popular Cisco Certs

On its website, Cisco Systems offers a long list of certifications ranging from general networking knowledge to highly specialized programs directed at a narrow range of IT personnel. Cyber security professionals may not need a cert as an Operating System Software Specialist or a Network Programmability Developer Specialist, though the CCIE Security certification could benefit their careers.

Certification progress from entry-level through associate, professional, expert, and architect levels. According to the “Why Get Cisco Certified” guide to Cisco certifications on the company’s website, the most popular certifications for the security field consist of:

  • Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT): Completion of this cert verifies that the IT candidate can install, operate, and troubleshoot small enterprise branch networks and run basic network security.
  • Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA): A cert in security CCNA proves that a candidate can successfully develop security infrastructure, recognize threats and vulnerabilities, and mitigate security threats.
  • Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP): The CCNP Security program certifies that network professionals are reliably responsible for routers, switches, networking devices, and appliances. They can also choose, deploy, support, and troubleshoot firewalls, VPNs, and IDS/IPS solutions.
  • Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE): Certified experts can architect, engineer, implement, troubleshoot, and support Cisco’s full suite of security technologies. They can also become masters of best practices associated with securing systems against threats and vulnerabilities.
  • Cisco Certified Architect (CCAr): The most difficult and lofty certification available through Cisco is the CCAr. The select few who earn this certification prove that they are ready to be senior infrastructure architects capable of producing network technical specifications that support business objectives.

Some cyber security professionals may work in specialized fields that make other Cisco certs worthwhile. For instance, security pros a data center may opt to get certified as a CCNA Data Center Associate as well as a Security Associate. Other tracks are offered in fields including wireless, collaboration, and service provider.

The rising level of cyber-attacks and the growing need for security-savvy employees bodes well for job seekers, and security candidates with both a master’s in cyber security and Cisco certifications may well find their resumés at the top of the stack.


University of North Dakota’s Master of Science in Cyber Security Program

Choosing the right online cyber security master’s program is crucial. The best programs offer courses that stay current with today’s cyber security issues and concerns and offer concentrations that can help graduates be attractive to potential employers.

UND’s online cyber security master’s degree program is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the Top 25 Most Innovative Schools (2018), alongside such prestigious institutions as Stanford, Harvard, and MIT.

UND prepares students for careers in cyber security with concentrations in Autonomous Systems Cyber Security, Cyber Security and Behavior, Data Security, and General Cyber Security. For more information on UND’s MSCS online program, visit the program’s website.



Average System Administrator, Computer/Network Salary – Payscale.com

Cisco Certification Salaries – Centriq.com

5 Reasons Why Employees Look for IT Certifications – CompTIA.org

Is a Cisco Certification Worth It? – Simplilearn.com

Why Get Cisco Certified? – Cisco.com