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Six Niche Networking Certifications

Sometimes you have to step off the beaten path to find the right certification. Let's take a look at the world of computer networking certifications, and see which certs some people may be overlooking.

Let's take a look at the world of computer networking certifications, and see which certs some people may be overlooking.Computer networking certifications that get ranked on “top” lists each year, such as Cisco’s CCNP Routing and Switching, or CompTIA Network+, cover networking fundamentals that anyone beginning a career in networking needs to learn. Yet once you’ve gained a few years of experience as a networking professional and developed a solid understanding of the basics, then you have the option of focusing on becoming a specialist.


Specialization in one or more niche areas can help you chart a clear path to a successful networking career.  You need to first decide which networking domain suits you best. This would depend on your aptitude, interest, and which specializations are in demand.


Once you’ve got an idea where to look, however, the fun begins. Here’s a look at six niche networking certifications that could be right for next step:


AWS Certified Advanced Networking – Specialty


This credential validates the ability to design, develop, and install AWS-specific cloud solutions, execute fundamental AWS networking services using best practices, plan and manage network architecture, and deploy AWS tools to automate networking functions. The AWS Certified Advanced Networking – Specialty credential is designed for experienced networking professionals.


AWS recommends candidates hold either an AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner, or an AWS Certified Developer – Associate, or an AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate, or an AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate. It’s also recommended that candidates have at least five years of practical experience managing network solutions.


Candidates must pass a 170-minute multiple choice exam to certify. Exam prep options include the AWS Certified Advanced Networking – Specialty Exam Guide, and the Exam Readiness: AWS Certified Advanced Networking – Specialty course.


This credential is valid for 3 years, after which you will need to recertify by retaking the current AWS Certified Security – Specialty exam. Details are available online. You can also take a look at study materials.


WCNA Certification (formerly Wireshark Certified Network Analyst)


Wireshark is an open source tool used to capture data on a network for analysis and identification of application and network performance issues. It’s important to understand the intricacies of reading data to be able to put Wireshark to effective use. The WCNA Certification credential demonstrates the ability to analyze data packets and network protocols in order to troubleshoot communication and security problems, as well as optimize network performance.


There are no prerequisites for this exam.


The WCNA exam tests a candidate’s knowledge of Wireshark operations, troubleshooting, network security, and TCP/IP communications.  You need to pass the multiple choice WCNA-102x exam to certify and earn 20 CPE credits each year to retain your certification. This exam is DoD 8570 certified.


Preparation options include study guides, instructor-led as well as online self-paced training, practice exams, and customized training. Wireshark University offers training programs. Certification information and other details are available online.


SolarWinds Certified Professional (SCP)


SolarWinds offers performance and monitoring solutions for system, database, and network management, security, cloud, and IT support. SolarWinds tools are popular because they are simple to configure and implement, and enable efficient problem resolution. SCP is currently available for two areas: Network Performance Monitor (NPM) and Server and Application Monitor (SAM).


The SCP-NPM validates the holder’s expertise in using the SolarWinds network management platform. There are no prerequisites for this exam. To earn the SCP-NPM certification, candidates must pass one 75-question, 90-minute exam on the network performance track. The certification is valid for 3 years.


SCP-NPM holders are required to keep abreast of the latest technologies and releases in network performance monitoring by paying an annual subscription fee of USD 200, and attending training sessions and other events. The annual subscription gives holders access to online training and other events, webcasts, guidance from experts, and other support and learning options.