Q

Which are the most valuable networking certifications?

Learn which courses and certifications in IT and networking are the most valuable and applicable according to your future goals within your company and personally, from our expert Tessa Parmenter.

Which courses in the IT networking field are the most valuable and usable?
To answer your question, I need to respond with one: What part of the networking field are you interested in? My favorite advice from Ed Tittel, our career and training expert, in response to a question on where the most demand is in the networking industry, is this: "Your interest in a subject will keep you excited about work long after the thrill of a new job or a bigger paycheck has come and gone." I find that this is the most important factor when chosing a certification and career path. Because if you ended up in a job that you hated, not only would you be miserable, but eventually it would show in your work, and no matter what you did, you would never feel like you were getting paid enough.

Deciding what kind of certification is most valueable also depends on what kind of networking equipment you want to work with. What kind of shop does your company use, or which kind of equipment would you like work with or specialize in? If you are never going to be working at a company that uses Cisco's routers and switches, a CCNA won't serve you as well as a generic, vendor-neutral networking certification, like Network+.

Once you determine your interests and what type of network equipment you want to work with or specialize in, I recommend investigating our networking certification survey to gain an understanding of what valid certifications are out in the market for networking professionals. All of the certifications listed will get you to where you need to go depending on your interests and needs.

This piece on choosing a certification is a bit seasoned, but the principals still stand: find out your strengths and compound those with certifications.

To note, I've heard this from many industry researchers and analysts: In a poor economy, it's better to be a generalist -- especially someone who also talks business and can translate network usage into cost. As an economy booms, specialization is the trick to looking good to potential employers.

I hope that helps! Good luck with your certification search!

This was first published in September 2009

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