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Six Hot Networking Certifications for 2018

Skilled networking professionals will continue to be in high demand in 2018. Certification can give you an edge. These six credentials will help you sharpen your skills and be ready to compete for top jobs.

These six credentials will help you sharpen your skills and be ready to compete for top jobs.According to the U.S. Department of Labor, employment of network and computer system administrators in the U.S. is likely to increase by 31 percent from 2014 to 2024. Experienced professionals with current networking skills are in high demand and earning a relevant networking certification is one way of demonstrating to potential employers that you are serious enough about a networking career to invest time and effort in staying current.


Listed below are six key credentials among the wide range of certifications available today. Each of these credentials validate some of the skills currently in demand, and getting one is an excellent means of jumping into the high-demand job market for skilled networking professionals.


CompTIA Network+


The CompTIA Network+ credential is a vendor-neutral certification that validates general networking knowledge and is suitable for entry-level IT professionals looking to specialize in networking. It is a valuable basic certification to have in that it is the leading networking credential for beginners and many view it as a springboard to higher vendor-specific specializations. Indeed, for some of those more advanced credentials, CompTIA Network+ is a required qualification.


CompTIA Network+ validates a fundamental understanding of the essentials of networking installation, configuration and troubleshooting. Though CompTIA doesn’t specify any prerequisites, some work experience in IT is advisable. Aspirants need to pass one 90-minute exam comprising 90 questions. The certification is valid for three years from the exam date.


Exam objectives and sample questions are available here. Exam preparation options include study guides, eLearning, classroom training, and CertMaster, an online learning tool. The CompTIA Marketplace offers a range of these for purchase. There are also several self-paced training options and practice exams, some of which are available through CompTIA.


Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE)


CCIE is Cisco’s expert-level networking certification that is available in different specializations, such as Collaboration, Data Center, Routing and Switching, Security, Service Provider, and Wireless. The in-demand CCIE has been around for quite a few years. Though earning the CCIE takes time and effort, it is considered well worth the hard work, duration and cost. The average salary for CCIEs in 2017 was a comfortable $116,000.


To earn a CCIE in any track, you need to pass a written and a lab exam. You may schedule a lab exam only if you pass the written exam. The two-hour written exam consists of 90-110 questions. Written exam scores are valid for 18 months and the lab exam must be taken within 18 months of having completed the written exam. Those who don’t pass the lab exam within three years are required to clear the written exam again. A CCIE is valid for two years.


Cisco does not specify any prerequisites, but recommends at least eight years of relevant work experience. Self-study options are available at Cisco Learning Network and these include study papers, recommended books, study groups, and sample tests. Aspirants can also join training programs and CCIE communities online.


For a more extensive read on CCIE, click here.


Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP)


The great thing about Cisco networking equipment is that it is in use everywhere from government and academic institutions to large enterprises and small businesses. If you are going to be working with Cisco equipment, then CCNP certification is great choice. CCNP is a mid-level credential available in a number of tracks, which include Collaboration, Cloud, Security, Routing and Switching, Data Center, Wireless, and Service Provider. Currently, Routing and Switching is the most in-demand CCNP specialization.


To register for the CCNP, you will need a valid CCNA or CCIE certification. Depending on the specialization, candidates are required to take three, four, or five exams. The CCNP: Routing and Switching credential requires three exams, each of which runs two hours. The certification remains valid for three years from the date one passes the last of the three tests.


There are number of self-study options including books, flash cards, labs, both physical and virtual, and practice tests. Click here for a more in-depth listing of recommended training and other details.