Six Hot Networking Certifications for 2023
We’re not far into the new year, which is the perfect time to look at some potentially high-impact computer networking certifications for 2023. These six training and certification programs offer network professionals a way to validate their knowledge and skills and show potential employers their value.
Computer networking is not a small industry niche. Network technology consists of a vast knowledge domain spanning multiple hardware and software categories. Computer networking also covers several tiers of specialization, ranging from foundation-level skills all the way up to expert disciplines.
This broad variation is reflected in our picks for the top high-impact computer networking training and certification programs for this year. We have sorted our picks by three industry experience levels: foundation, intermediate-advanced, and expert.
One caveat: While information security and cloud computing both play a large role in computer networks, our list focuses on networking certifications that cover disciplines beyond infosec and cloud-based job roles.
Top Foundation-level Networking Certifications
The venerable Network+ certification from CompTIA is still a premier foundation-level computer networking credential for candidates looking to get started in network support and maintenance. Network+ has been around for ages, but the exam has been regularly updated over the years, the most recent refresh taking place in 2021.
Like all of CompTIA’s certifications, Network+ is a vendor-neutral credential. This means candidates don’t have to be specialized with a single vendor’s networking products to pass the Network+ exam.
The expectation is that exam takers will have a well-rounded background in computer hardware and software — potentially gained by earning CompTIA’s A+ certification — and at least nine-to-12 months of networking experience achieved through classroom or on-the-job training.
Like the Network+ certification, the Cisco CCNA credential has had a lot of different looks over the years, but has maintained its status as an ideal starting point for candidates looking to master networking fundamentals. There are numerous training options available for the CCNA certification, including courses delivered by the company’s Cisco Learning Network training body.
While the CCNA is a vendor-backed cert, it offers broad coverage of foundation-level topics that aren’t exclusive to Cisco-hosted networks.
Top Intermediate-Advanced Networking Certifications
The JNCIA-Junos certification from Juniper Networks is an up-and-coming networking credential that recently poked through on the Salary Survey 75 list crafted by Certificationi Magazine from its 2023 Salary Survey. The Juniper Networks certification program covers a combination of mid-tier networking knowledge and Junos OS expertise.
The Junos OS is a FreeBSD-based networking operating system that’s used to perform key functions in Juniper Networks. Juniper doesn't have a large share of the network administration and management market, but the JNCIA-Junos certification still carries some clout. Do a search for Juniper Networks-related jobs in your region to determine if this credential is a worthwhile career move.
The Cisco CCNP Enterprise certification is an advanced program for network administrators, technicians, and engineers who intend to "configure, troubleshoot, and manage the networks of the largest companies in the world," according to Cisco. The CCNP credential is another long-lived certification that has undergone regular updates to keep it relevant in the IT industry.
Of the five different CCNP options, the Enterprise program is arguably the most well-rounded networking certification. There is also an option, however, for network pros who want to focus on data center operations. The CCNP Data Center credential covers the core competencies of managing enterprise-class data centers.
Top Expert-level Networking Certifications
It’s impossible to discuss computer networking in 2023 without talking about Amazon Web Services (AWS). AWS is the platform much of the internet runs on, and it should come as no surprise that three AWS certifications appear in the top 20 of the aforementioned Certification Magazine Salary Survey 75 list.
We’ve chosen the AWS Certified Advanced Networking - Specialty certification as one of the hot expert-level computer networking credentials for 2023. AWS recommends this certification for IT professionals who have five years of experience engineering and building networks. These qualifications are typically associated with job roles like network engineer, network architect, and devops engineer.
Here are some related recommended qualifications, taken from the AWS certification PDF brief:
- Ability to design and develop hybrid and cloud-based networking solutions using AWS
- Knowledge and skills to implement core AWS services according to basic architecture best practices
- Ability to operate and maintain hybrid and cloud-based network architecture for all AWS services
- Ability to use tools to deploy and automate hybrid and cloud-based AWS networking tasks
- Skills to implement secure AWS networks using AWS native networking constructs and services
The AWS Certified Advanced Networking certification exam is split into four primary domains: Network Design; Network Implementation; Network Management and Operation; and Network Security, Compliance, and Governance.
For our second expert-level certification ... it would be easy to include any of the Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) credentials on this list. A perennial favorite, CCIE has been a top-level networking certification since its inception, and it is still an excellent choice for highly-skilled network experts.
We are bullish, however, on the Microsoft 365 Certified: Enterprise Administrator Expert certification.
This certification represents the full meal deal of Microsoft enterprise networking. In Microsoft’s own words, candidates for this certification have expert-level skills in evaluating, planning, migrating, deploying, and managing Microsoft 365."
Candidates can choose one of five prerequisite certifications from the following list:
- Modern Desktop Administrator Associate
- Security Administrator Associate
- Messaging Administrator Associate
- Teams Administrator Associate
- Identity and Access Administrator Associate
After that, there are two exams required to earn the Enterprise Administrator Expert certification — but not for very much longer. Microsoft announced an important update to this certification as this article was being finalized.
The requisite MS-100 and MS-101 exams are scheduled to be combined into a single exam, MS-102: Microsoft 365 Administrator, sometime in May 2023. At the same time, the "Enterprise" will be dropped from this certification’s title, making it Microsoft 365 Certified: Administrator Expert.
Whatever you call it, when it comes to validating expert-level computer networking knowledge and skills, it’s hard to find better overall coverage than that provided by the Enterprise Administrator Expert certification. Microsoft is still remarkably dominant in the enterprise network space, and its Azure cloud computing service has gained ground in the race against Amazon Web Services in recent times.
Microsoft’s Enterprise Administrator Expert certification is a high-value credential that can provide a positive impact on the careers of computer networking professionals.