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Networking careers: wired, wireless, mobile and more
One of the largest categories for IT certifications, and thus IT careers, has to be networking. Without applying more specific criteria, a networking cert could cover local wired and wireless IP network design, connectivity, routing, and administration, but also mobile communications technologies like LTE and Mobile WiMAX.
In addition, data center networking falls under this umbrella, as well as wide area network (WAN) connectivity and quality of service, as do traditional long-haul technologies such as carrier Ethernet, optical fiber, and so on. This survey whittled the list down mainly to the most popular local wired and wireless networking certifications. A handful of certs in this article overlap general networking with Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) and mobility, but they’re exceptions to the rule.
The list also includes a mix of vendor-neutral and vendor-specific credential sponsors, although vendors are more heavily represented. You’ll see certifications from well-known technology vendors like Aruba Networks, Cisco, Extreme Networks, HP, and Juniper Networks, as well as vendor-neutral certifications by BICSI, CompTIA, and the IPv6 Forum.
Advancing your career in networking
If you’re just starting a career in networking, we recommend that you pursue one or more vendor-neutral, entry-level credentials such as the CompTIA Network+, any of the CWNP certifications, and the IPv6 Forum Silver Certified Engineer. These credentials expose you to many different but highly valuable networking technologies and products and will be helpful in finding a networking job.
The only free certification on the list is Hurricane Electric IPv6, which actually represents several credentials at multiple levels. The program is very well developed and continually expands, and it looks to be more than worth the time you will spend studying for any of the exams.
After achieving one or more vendor-neutral credentials, consider vendor-specific certifications that are pertinent to your line of work. For example, if you work for a consulting firm that supports Cisco and HP technologies, pursue applicable intermediate- or professional-level certifications. Training costs for vendor-specific certifications are generally higher than vendor-neutral, so be sure to find out if your employer will cover part or all of the cost of training and certification exam fees.
Networking job types
For those just starting a career in networking, here is a short list of the available types of positions and networking jobs:
- Network Specialist
- Network Technician
- Network Administrator
- Network Analyst
- Network Manager
- Network Engineer
- Network Solutions Architect
As you develop your networking career further, you might decide to specialize in one or more areas of networking. At this point, the networking jobs you would be applying for might include:
- Network Security Specialist
- Cloud Networking Architect
- Networking Research and Development Specialist
- Wireless Networking QA Engineer
- Wireless Infrastructure and Mobility Specialist
- Mobility Solutions Architect
- VoIP Engineer
- Telecom Project Manager
- Data Center Networking Specialist
There are also plenty of networking jobs in sales and consulting, so be sure to check out:
- Networking Sales Specialist
- Networking Account Manager
- Networking Consultant
- Networking Program Manager
40+ most popular networking credentials
The following table lists 46 networking credentials in alphabetical order by sponsor.
|Alcatel-Lucent Network Routing Specialist I (NRS I)||These are foundation-level certifications in the Alcatel-Lucent Service Routing Certification (SRC) program.
Identify intermediate-level network professionals experienced with IP and Ethernet technologies.
NRS II certification recognizes advanced network/service offerings in IP/MPLS Ethernet technologies.
|Aruba Networks Certifications|
|Aruba Certified Solutions Professional (ACSP)||Established program with seven certifications, ranging from Tier 1 (foundation) to Tier 3 (Expert).
Certifications identify technical knowledge and skills, design, deployment, and management in complex settings.
|ITS Technician||Focused on supporting the information technology systems (ITS industry), BICSI is a professional association with more than 23,000 members in approximately 100 countries.
The ITS Technician credential is a mid-level certification targeting those with a minimum of three years’ documented industry experience as well as familiarity with ITS-related chapters in National Electric Code (NFPA70) and ANSI/TIA telecommunications standards.
The credential identifies professionals who understand and can apply installation-specific information, lead installation teams, perform testing and troubleshooting on copper and optical fiber installations, evaluate applications of ITS cabling installation, make recommendations regarding codes and standards, and perform retrofits and upgrades for existing infrastructures.
|Certified in Convergent Network Technologies (CCNT)||Entry-level certification developed by Certification Partners and Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA).
The target audience includes technical sales, support engineers, network administrators, product managers, and engineers.
Content is focused on key concepts, skills, and core terms in convergence technologies, including basic telecommunications, basic data communications, LANs, broadband technologies, and VoIP.
|Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT)||Cisco has well-known and highly developed certification portfolio.
Certs in this category aimed at candidates interested in building careers in wired and wireless networking techniques and technologies, network design, or routing and switching technologies.
Certification paths range from entry level to expert level.
Certifications are targeted to network specialists, administrators, support engineers, and design engineers.
|CompTIA Network+||One of the most popular general networking certifications in the world.
Targeted to candidates seeking careers as network administrators, technicians, or installers, as well as help desk technicians and IT cable installers.
Recognized or required by the Department of Defense, Dell, HP, Ricoh, Sharp, and Xerox, and required for Apple Consultants Network membership.
|Certified Wireless Network Professional (CWNP)|
|Certified Wireless Technology Specialist (CWTS)||Established certification program offering a full complement of certifications ranging from entry level to professional career certifications.
Certifications are focused on enterprise Wi-Fi skills.
CWNP also offers Certified Wireless Security Professional (CWSP) and Instructor (CWNT) credentials.
|Electronics Technicians Association (ETA) International Certifications|
|Certified Network Computer Technician (CNCT)||ETA offers more than 80 certifications, which target electronics professionals.
ETA is accredited by the International Certification Accreditation Council (ICAC). More than 125,000 certifications have been issued.
|Extreme Networks Certifications|
|Extreme Networks Certified Specialist (ECS)||Technical based certifications focused on practical hands-on training.
Certification paths range from entry (specialist) to expert to architect.
Multiple concentrations are available at the Specialist level.
Expert designations include Networking, Switch Routing, Wireless, Network Security, Security Information Management, BYOD, and ENS.
|HP ExpertOne Networking Certifications|
|HP Accredited Integration Specialist (HP AIS) – Network Infrastructure||Mature vendor-specific certifications range from entry-level networking credentials for business and mid-class networks to certifications validating skills necessary to implement complex, large-scale, networking solutions.
Targeted audience includes customer IT staff, system designers and engineers, and call center support engineers.
Skills include network design, standards, cloud services, HP OpenFlow, BYOD and much more.
|Hurricane Electric Internet Services Certifications|
|Hurricane Electric IPv6 Certification||Free online certification project that validates skills in basic IPv6 concepts.
Certification exam includes IP address format, reverse DNS, localhost address, default routing, documentation prefix, link-local prefix, multicast prefix, traceroute, configuring IPv6 servers, and more.
|IPv6 Forum Certifications|
|IPv6 Forum Silver Certified Engineer||IPv6 Education Certification Logo Program promotes IPv6 education and helps candidates build skills to foster swifter adoption of IPv6.
Courses focus on practical application and consist of both instructor-led and hands-on lab instruction.
Detailed programs for universities are planned; future curriculum will include a Diamond-level certification.
|Juniper Networks Certifications|
|Juniper Networks Certified Specialist Enterprise Routing and Switching (JNCIS-ENT)||JNCIS-ENT, JNCIP-ENT, and JNCIE-ENT are vendor-specific credentials that address installation and support of LAN/WAN routers and switches in Juniper Networks technology-based networks.
Credential holders possess skills necessary to support large enterprise environments.
JNCIS-WLAN certification validates knowledge and skills in Juniper Networks wireless LAN systems, including system concepts, technologies, configuration, monitoring, troubleshooting, and network planning.
|Oracle Certified Expert, Oracle Solaris 10 Network Administrator (OCE)||Oracle has a well-established vendor-specific certification program. OCE is an advanced certification validating technical skills of system administrators who work with LANs and the Oracle Solaris operating system (Oracle Solaris OS).
The credential was formerly Sun Certified Network Administrator (SCNA).
|Palo Alto Certifications|
|Palo Alto Networks Certified Network Security Engineer (CNSE)||CNSE credential holders possess knowledge and technical skills necessary to install, configure, and implement Palo Alto Networks technologies at the advanced engineering level.
The credential is targeted to partners, system engineers, system integrators, support engineers, pre-sales systems engineers, support staff, or anyone using Palo Alto Network technologies.
The certification exam is tied to the .1 release of each Palo Alto Networks operating system version, such as v5.1.
|Riverbed ProfessionalServices (RPS) Certifications|
|Riverbed Certified Solutions Associate – Network Performance Management (RCSA-NPM)||Vendor-specific credentials that recognize knowledge of and skills with the Riverbed Cascade product suite (RCSA-NPM) and Riverbed Network Performance Management – NPM products (RCSP-NMP).
Credential seekers should possess advanced knowledge, training, and practical experience in deploying, troubleshooting, maintaining Riverbed technologies in small to large environments.
|SolarWinds Certified Professional (SCP)||Credential validates skills in networking management fundamentals, network management planning, network management operations, network fault and performance troubleshooting, and Orion NPM administration.
The SCP is an accredited certification.
|Wireshark Certified Network Analyst (WCNA)||Vendor-specific credential for professionals who use Wireshark to analyze network traffic and then use the information to troubleshoot, optimize, and secure networks.
Wireshark is considered the de facto industry standard open source product for network protocol analysis, with more than 500,000 downloads per month.
The WCNA exam was certified by the US Army in 2009 and covers Wireshark functionality, TCP/IP network communications, network troubleshooting, and network security.