Network certification: What's new?

Ed Tittel provides an update on the latest in networking certifications and lists handy resources for finding out more information.

Because the networking certification landscape is pretty big -- over 180 credentials and still counting, based on my most recent survey of this field -- there's always something new coming along, something familiar being updated or somehow recast, and occasionally things that fall by the wayside (as, for example, the once-vaunted Novell Certified Directory Engineer, or CDE, credential which disappeared from view in 2004).

Here's my latest list of what's new, changed, or looming ahead on the networking certification program and credential landscape (listed alphabetically by sponsoring organization).

  1. Adaptec now offers a full battery of courses to support the two exams required for the Adaptec Certified Storage Professional (ACSP) certification.

  2. The Network Professional Association (NPA) has resuscitated its once and former Certified Network Professional (CNP) program, now available to those who meet experience and/or examination requirements willing to spring for membership, registration and (where applicable) examination fees.

    More certification resources

    Ed Tittel's tables of vendor and non-vendor certifications

    This guide leads you to tips and other resources dealing with the CCNA, CISSP, CWNA and CCNP

    Certification guide organized by vendor or provider, with explanations of what each cert qualifies you to do

  3. The Certified Wireless Networking Professional (CWNP) program has added two new credentials to its lineup in the past year: the Wireless# (pronounced "wireless sharp"), an entry level wireless credential aimed at any and all IT professionals who work with wireless networks, and the Certified Wireless Analysis Professional (CWAP), an intermediate level credential that concentrates on packet level monitoring, capture and analysis of wireless network traffic.

  4. CompTIA has added a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) certification to its line-up, for those interested in learning more and demonstrating their smarts about this hot monitoring, tracking and self-identification technology. It's called RFID+.

  5. The Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) has a brand-new set of credentials for 2006, including 2006 versions of their SNIA Certified Professional (SCP), SNIA Certified Systems Engineer (SCSE), SNIA Certified Architect (SCA), and SNIA Certified Storage Networking Engineer (SCSN-E). That latter cert now references third-party credentials from Hitachi, NetApp, Medusa and McData with others promised for later this year.

  6. Cisco has added a professional voice certification to their programs in the past year (CCVP, or Cisco Certified Voice Professional), along with numerous additions to the Cisco Qualified Specialist credentials in areas such as rich media, Unity products and security topics.

  7. New topics for Citrix Access Suite 4.0 and Citrix Access Gateway 4.0will make the scene during the first half of 2006. Visit the Citrix Certifications home page for more details.

  8. Dell continues to add new content and material to its various certification offerings, especially in the areas of servers and storage networking; check out their Enterprise Courses for more information.

  9. As a model for how to support a good certification program, check out the Enterasys Secure Networks Remote Access Lab (SNRAL), which provides remote, virtual "hands-on" use of their products for training lab exercises.

  10. Juniper Networks announced a whole slew of new tracks for its Juniper Networks Technical Certification Program in April of 2005, primarily to accommodate new products and platforms; see their press Release for details.

  11. NetApp's certification program turns over completely on 1/30/2006, when the 6.5 exams retire (110, 120, 130, 140, and 150) and the new generation stands alone (111, 121, 131, 141, and 151). Look for details on those new exams on the site soon.

  12. Though the program isn't new, its auspices are: Back in business as Network General (formerly a division of McAffee), the Sniffer Certification program keeps going strong.

  13. Riverstone Networks offers the only credential I know of that deals with Metropolitan Area Networks (MANs) more or less exclusively, under the Riverstone Certified Network Professional (RCNP) rubric. With more and more municipalities, townships, cities and so forth moving in this direction, it's a fascinating offering some may wish to check out.

  14. Sun's Solaris certifications now cover Solaris 10 (cert offerings tend to lag behind OS release dates at Sun for some reason).

As mixed a bag as this one is, it's sure to contain at least a thing or two of interest to just about any IT professional. Look for more changes ahead as certifications strive to track products and technologies!


Ed Tittel created the best-selling Exam Cram series of cert prep books, and is Technology Editor at Certification Magazine. He also follows certification topics for numerous TechTarget sites, and has written numerous books on IT certifications of many kinds. E-mail Ed at etittel@techtarget.com.
This was first published in January 2006

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