Guide to networking certifications

Learn how to begin on a specific certification path or brush up on the numerous networking certs that are available.


"It's hard to make a judgment on the value of an individual certification. To a large part, it comes down to what your career plans are, what skills your employer needs, and what do you enjoy doing."

- Michael Gregg, security and certification expert

This collection of resources provides a look at specific certification paths and contains articles, advice and insight into the most popular IT certifications in our industry. Although this guide is not a complete list of 'all' certifications, the certifications listed here are the most useful for network administrators, managers and designers.


   International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium
   More certification information




  Cisco  Return to Table of Contents


CCNA certified professionals can install, configure and operate LAN, WAN and dial access services for small networks (100 nodes or fewer), including, but not limited to, use of these protocols: IP, IGRP, IPX, Serial, AppleTalk, Frame Relay, IP RIP, VLANs, RIP, Ethernet, Access Lists.

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CCDA certified professionals can design routed and switched network infrastructures involving LAN, WAN, and dial access services for businesses and organizations.

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With a CCSP, a network professional can secure and manage network infrastructures to protect productivity and reduce costs. The content emphasizes topics such as perimeter security, virtual private networks, intrusion protection as well as how to combine these technologies in a single, integrated network security solution.

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An intermediate-level certification in the Cisco certified professional program aimed at full-time network or system administrators, or those who work with local and/or wide area network infrastructure.

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CCIP professionals have detailed understanding of networking technologies in the service provider arena including IP routing, IP QoS, BGP, and MPLS.

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With a CCDP, a network professional can design routed and switched networks involving LAN, WAN, and dial access services, applying modular design practices and making sure the whole solution responds optimally to the business and technical needs and is designed to be highly available.

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CCVP is a voice certification aimed at IT professionals responsible for deploying and maintaining Internet Protocol telephony systems and incorporates several of Cisco's preexisting specialist-level IP telephony certifications.

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CCIE is Cisco's premium networking certification and includes a written exam and a long, one-day lab exam (a.k.a. practicum in other program's terminology) that is widely regarded as one of the toughest, most demanding exams around a senior level certification for expert networking professionals who design, build, implement, maintain and/or troubleshoot complex enterprise- or global-level networking infrastructures. Furthermore, CCIEs may specialize in routing and switching, communications and services, security, or voice systems and technologies.

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Qualified Specialist

VPN and security certifications 
Cisco VPN and security specialists focus on securing network access using Cisco IOS software and Cisco PIX Firewall technologies, operating and monitoring Cisco IOS software and IDS technologies to detect and respond to intrusion activities, and configuring VPNs across shared public networks using Cisco IOS software and Cisco VPN 3000 Series Concentrator technologies.

  • Cisco Firewall Specialist
  • Cisco IDS Specialist
  • Cisco VPN Specialist

    Wireless LAN certifications
    The Cisco Wireless LAN focused certifications indicates significant knowledge of relevant factors involved in designing, deploying and maintaining end-to-end Cisco Wireless LAN solutions throughout or between buildings, without the limitations of wires or cables.

  • Cisco Wireless LAN Design Specialist
  • Cisco Wireless LAN Support Specialist
  • Cisco Wireless LAN Sales Specialist

IP communications certifications
The Cisco IP telephony focused certifications validate proficiency in designing, installing, and supporting a multi-service network solution.

  • Cisco IP Contact Center Express Specialist
  • Cisco IP Telephony Design Specialist
  • Cisco IP Telephony Express Specialist
  • Cisco IP Telephony Operations Specialist
  • Cisco IP Telephony Support Specialist
  • Cisco Unity Design Specialist
  • Cisco Unity Support Specialist

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  Nortel  Return to Table of Contents


Nortel Networks Certified Design Specialist (NNCDS) 
For entry to mid-level individuals who wish to demonstrate skill to design and plan solutions that use Nortel Networks products.

Nortel Networks Certified Support Specialist (NNCSS) 
This designation recognizes a fundamental level of technical expertise to deploy, operate and troubleshoot Nortel Networks products and solutions. It is intended for entry- to mid-level technical support, help desk and field support personnel.


Nortel Networks Certified Design Expert (NNCDE)
For mid- to senior-level Systems Engineers and Network Consultants who design and plan solutions that use Nortel product lines.

Nortel Networks Certified Support Expert (NNCSE) This designation recognizes an advanced level of technical expertise to implement, configure support, troubleshoot and optimize Nortel Networks products and solutions. Intended for mid- to senior-level technical support, help desk, field support and network managers.


Nortel Networks Certified Architect (NNCA)
For Senior Networking Consultants, Network Architects, Design Engineers and Network Engineers who design complex Nortel network solutions. Nortel's highest level of certification.

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  CompTIA  Return to Table of Contents



This certification is for entry-level (6 months experience) PC hardware technicians. This is a popular first certification, especially for individuals switching from another career to computers.


For individuals who are foundation-level IT security workers. This vendor-neutral certification will cover such topics as firewalls, viruses, user authentication and encryption.

This certification is for networking technicians with 18-24 months of experience.

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  Enterasys  Return to Table of Contents


Enterasys Specialist (ES)
Enterasys' most basic certification requires completion of one exam.


Enterasys Systems Engineer (ESE)
Requires the completion of five exams, individuals completion the certification track have the ability to implement, operate, configure, and support solutions and networks that are using Enterasys networking products.

Enterasys Security Systems Engineer (ESSE)
Individuals completing this series of five exams have the knowledge to implement Enterasys network product capabilities to support the design and implementation of security solutions.


Enterasys Certified Internetworking Engineer (ECIE)
This is the highest level of certification within the Enterasys network certification program it requires the completion of 10 exams. The Enterasys Certified Internetworking Engineer (ECIE) certification program is designed to certify networking professionals in all Enterasys-specific offerings.

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  ISC2  Return to Table of Contents

Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
A high intermediate to senior level information security certification, the CISSP is one of the best recognized information security certs, and the most frequently mentioned credential in job postings and classified ads this credential aims to identify people with broad practical working knowledge of all key topics, tools, and technologies in the field, with at least three or four years of relevant work experience in the field (three for college degree holders, four for others).

System Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP )
For individuals involved in network and systems security administration who are responsible for developing the information security policies, standards, and procedures and managing their implementation across various hardware and software programs in their organization.

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  Planet3 Wireless  Return to Table of Contents

Certified Wireless Networking Expert (CWNE)
The CWNE credential is the final step in the CWNP program. By successfully completing the CWNE practical examination, network engineers and administrators will have demonstrated that they have the most advanced skills available in today's wireless LAN market. CWNE will be available in 2005.

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  More certification information  Return to Table of Contents


Meet our resident training and certification experts…

While not as popular, there are other network certifications available to the specialist or hardcore network certification junkie.

This was first published in May 2005

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