Best Certs: Dueling Lists of Wireless Networking Credentials

Wireless networking concept hotspots on a cityscape

While I was trolling for material for this week's post, I stumbled across a March 21 article at by Ahmed Badr titled Five top certifications to get you involved in wireless networking.


This excited my curiosity because Mary Kyle and I wrote a similar article for Tom's IT Pro back on Sept. 12 of last year titled Best Wireless Networking Certifications for 2017. In particular I was interested to see where we overlapped, and where we differed. Here's the skinny:


Ahmed Badr's Top 5:


? CCNA Wireless
? CCNP Wireless
? Aruba Certified Mobility Associate (ACMA)


Ed & Mary's Top 5:


? CCNA Wireless
? CCNP Wireless
? SANS GAWN: GIAC Accessing & Auditing Wireless Networks


More Picks from Ed & Mary Outside the Top 5:


? Rest of CWNA program
? CompTIA Network+
? iNARTE Wireless Device Certification Professional (WCDP)
? ISECOM OSTMM Wireless Security Expert (OWSE)
? Brocade
? Alcatel-Lucent
? Extreme Networks
? CCIE Wireless


The overlap falls primarily in two key areas, which really go straight to the nub of wireless certifications: the Certified Wireless Networking Professional program, and Cisco's wireless certification track, which spans from CCNA to CCNP to CCIE.


These two programs truly represent the most focused and widely followed sets of wireless certifications. But where CWNP is catholic in its coverage of wireless technologies (and worth pursuing for business environments that mix'n'match vendors and platforms, as so many organizations do), Cisco is focused on its own technology offerings (and worth pursuing for those who want to work within its broad, but not all-encompassing embrace).


Thus it's no surprise at all that we and Badr both focused in on the CCNA Wireless and CCNP Wireless in our respective Top 5 selections. I'm just glad that we also included the CCIE Wireless in our overall coverage (Badr did not).


Wireless networking concept laptops on a plane

It's mildly interesting that Badr focused on the Certified Wireless Security Professional (CWSP) and the Certified Wireless Network Administrator (CWNA). Mary and I doubled up on the CWNA as well, but went with the Certified Wireless Design Professional (CWDP) in our number two slot instead.


I think this probably reflects a difference in our methodology: Mary and I routinely scrape job boards such as SimplyHired, Indeed, LinkedIn, and TechCareers to determine by the aggregate number of cert mentions in job postings to rank our choices and pick those that produce the biggest number of hits as we search.


Badr's methodology isn't explained in his story, so I can't speak to how he made his top choices from the CWNP program.


We diverge completely on one more choice in our two Top 5 lists. Where Badr picks the Aruba Certified Mobility Associate (ACMA), which is now owned by HP, we picked the SANS GAWN instead.


I can see why Badr chose this credential: It has placed fairly highly in all of our rankings over the three or four years we've updated our TIP article, and has in fact appeared in a prior list incarnation of our own.


But our recent research indicated that the GAWN edges out the ACMA by an average of a hundred or more job postings, so we let the numbers guide our selection. I don't mean to imply that Badr's choice is at all incorrect or invalid: I simply want to observe that the numbers drove us to pick the GAWN over the ACMA.


Those numbers also led us to mention the "Beyond the Top 5" items that appear in the More Picks list I reproduced above. All of these credentials register on the job board radar to some noticeable extent (though less than the Top 7 represented by the combination of Badr's picks along with ours), and are thus also worth looking into.


Which all goes to show that the sum of the parts is better than either one individually, and worth checking into as a result!


Would you like more insight into the history of hacking? Check out Calvin's other articles about historical hackery:
About the Author

Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran who's worked as a software developer, technical marketer, consultant, author, and researcher. Author of many books and articles, Ed also writes on certification topics for Tech Target, ComputerWorld and Win10.Guru. Check out his website at, where he also blogs daily on Windows 10 and 11 topics.