Six Hot Networking Certifications for 2020

These six networking certs can help boost your career in 2020.

AI, automation, and other technological developments are bringing about a transformation in network deployment and operations. Demand for experienced networking professionals with a solid foundation in networking fundamentals and knowledge of current technologies and products remains robust. Yet employers are increasingly seeking out application development and network automation skills.


Leading networking certifications enable IT professionals to develop expertise in current technologies, platforms, and products, and improve their chances of being hired for sought-after specialist roles. Listed below are 6 popular certifications for different functions and levels.


CompTIA Network+


This vendor-neutral entry-level networking certification is designed for junior network engineers, analysts, and other network professionals. System administrators, technicians, and others working in related areas can also benefit from getting this cert.


CompTIA Network+ covers the fundamentals of configuring, managing, and troubleshooting networks. This credential validates knowledge of networking concepts, infrastructure, maintenance, network operations, network security, and troubleshooting.


The exam test skills in design and implementation of networks, configuration and maintenance of network devices, network segmentation, ensuring business continuity, implementation of network security and best practices, and using troubleshooting methods and tools.


To earn this credential, applicants must pass a 90-minute, multiple-choice exam that includes a limited number of performance-based items. The exam (its identifying code is N10-007) requires a passing score of 720 on a scale of 100 to 900.


The current version of the exam has been updated to include new technologies, with the addition of cloud computing best practices and service models, critical security concepts, current hardware and virtualization methods, and network resiliency concepts and techniques.


There are no prerequisites for this exam, though CompTIA recommends networking experience of at least 9 to 12 months. Exam prep options include exam objectives, study guides, practice tests, instructor-led training, eLearning, video training, virtual labs, and the CertMaster online learning tool.


Additional information is available online.


Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE)


All of the credentials in the much sought-after Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) series are difficult to earn. The reward, on the other hand, in terms of increased salary and better employment opportunities, is well worth the time and effort.


It bears noting, of course, that Cisco is overhauling its entire certification program in February. The new CCIE program offers the following tracks:


CCIE Enterprise Infrastructure
CCIE Enterprise Wireless
CCIE Data Center
CCIE Security
CCIE Service Provider
CCIE Collaboration


The new exams for these tracks will be available on Feb. 24. The new certifications are intended to demonstrate end-to-end competencies in networking technologies over the entire lifecycle, from planning to optimization.


There are no prerequisites for these certifications. Cisco does recommend that exam candidates have between five and seven years of professional experience in design, deployment, operations, and optimization of enterprise solutions and technologies.


To earn any one of the CCIE credentials, you will need to pass a written qualifying exam and a practical lab exam. You will earn a specialist certification after you pass the qualifying exam. The CCIE certification will be awarded only after you pass the lab exam.


Exam prep options include self-study materials, practice labs, practice tests, videos, seminars, blogs, study groups, and training programs, which are available through the Cisco Learning Network. Cisco also offers complete blended-learning expert-level training programs.


According to the new recertification policy effective Feb. 24, CCIEs will be required to recertify every 2 years. Additional information is available online.


Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP)


These six certs can help you advance your career in 2020.

The six credentials in the CCNP series of certifications validate advanced knowledge of networking platforms, products, and technologies, including programmability and automation. The new CCNP credentials are designed to meet the requirements of different networking job roles. The new certification exams will be available starting on Feb. 24. The updated CCNP program offers the following credentials:


CCNP Enterprise (This certification replaces the existing CCNP Routing and Switching, Wireless, and CCDP certifications.)
CCNP Data Center
CCNP Security
CCNP Service Provider
CCNP Collaboration
Cisco Certified DevNet Professional


Cisco Certified DevNet Professional is a new CCNP credential, which demonstrates expertise in application development and maintenance for Cisco platforms. To earn any new CCNP certification, candidates need to pass 2 exams: a core exam and a concentration exam. Candidates can select a concentration exam that aligns with their aptitude and area of focus.


There are no prerequisites, but candidates need to have in-depth understanding of subjects covered in the exam. Cisco recommends that exam candidates have between three and five years of relevant professional experience.


Exam preparation options include self-study materials, practice tests, labs, and other resources available from the Cisco Learning Network Store as well as training courses, the Cisco Platinum Learning Library, and community discussions.


CCNP certifications are valid for 3 years. Additional is available online.


SolarWinds Certified Professional (SCP)


Austin, Texas-based SolarWinds offers the SolarWinds Certified Professional (SCP) certification, which is designed for IT professionals looking to develop expertise in network implementation and management using SolarWinds products. The credential validates practical experience in routine network maintenance operations.


To pass the exam, candidates also need to develop an understanding of SolarWinds technologies and features, including Perfstack, Appstack, and NetPath. SolarWinds recommends that exam candidates have at least six months of direct professional experience using SolarWinds products, or technical experience of at least one year in network management or engineering.


To earn the SCP, candidates must pass a 75-question exam (time limit: 90 minutes) covering either the Network Performance Monitor (NPM) path or the Server and Application Monitor (SAM) path.


Exam prep options include preparation guides, and eLearning and classroom training available at the SolarWinds Academy. Additionally, blogs, webinars, community discussions, support, and a library are available on THWACK.


SCP-certified professionals are required to purchase an annual certification subscription and attend meetings and training programs. The subscription offers access to online training, webcasts, in-person and online seminars and other events, additional support, and opportunities to learn from experts. SCP certification is valid for 3 years.


Additional information is available online.


WCNA Certification for Wireshark


The WCNA certification is a leading industry-recognized certification, available in more than 90 countries. It was developed by networking experts Gerald Combs and Laura Chapell and is managed by Protocol Analysis Institute, Inc. WCNA has DOD 8570 certification from the US Army.


(GoCertify�s own Ed Tittel was involved in a mild kerfuffle over the future of Wireshark certification earlier this year.)


WCNA validates expertise in using Wireshark to perform network traffic and protocol analysis. The exam tests candidates� knowledge of TCP/IP communications, Wireshark, network security, and troubleshooting. To earn this credential, candidates need to pass the two-hour 100-question WCNA-200.x exam.


Exam preparation options include learning on the job, instructor-led training, and self-paced study. Chapell University offers an online training program. Candidates can also use the Wireshark Certified Network Analyst Exam Prep Guide and take the Practice Exam, which is available post registration.


The WCNA is valid for 3 years. WCNA holders are required, however, to earn at least 20 Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits per year in order to maintain their certification. At the end of three years, WCNA can be renewed by taking the Recertification exam.


Additional information is available online.


Juniper Networks Certified Enterprise Routing and Switching Expert (JNCIE-ENT)


These six certs can help you advance your career in 2020.

The Juniper Networks Enterprise Routing and Switching certification track is designed for networking professionals who work with Juniper Networks technology. JNCIE-ENT validates advanced knowledge and skills in planning, deploying, configuring, maintaining, and troubleshooting Junos-based enterprise routing and switching platforms.


The prerequisite for JNCIE-ENT is the JNCIP-ENT certification. To earn the JNCIE-ENT, candidates must pass a six-hour lab exam (exam code: JPR-944). The exam covers automation, class of service, EVPN, IGP, BGP, system setup, Layer 2 switching and security, and protocol independent routing.


Exam preparation options include the JNCIE-ENT Certification self-study bundle, training courses, and   Junos, EX4300, and vMX documentation, available through the Juniper website. The JNCIE-ENT is valid for 3 years. Recertification is possible through testing or course attendance. A JNCIE-ENT holder will have to either pass the current JNCIP-ENT exam or attend the specified professional course.


Additional information is available online.


Other Options


There are a host of other networking certifications as well. Some in-demand credentials include Amazon Web Services (AWS) Certified Advanced Networking, VMware Certified Professional, the Cumulus Networks Open Networking Professional (CCONP), and certifications from Avaya, Citrix, HPE and F5.


Your own choice of certification ultimately depends on one or more factors, such as area of specialization, experience, career goals, aptitude, industry value, or employer�s requirements. Wherever you chose to focus your efforts, certification will definitely boost your career.


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Reena Ghosh

Reena Ghosh is an independent ghostwriter who writes promotional, developmental and explanatory content for individuals and businesses. She came to professional writing with work experience in financial services operations and corporate communication. Reena speaks three languages and hopes to learn Sanskrit.