Networking certification guide

This networking certification guide covers the majority of networking-related certifications available to IT professionals. Only credentials likely to be recognized as having value within the networking industry have been selected, which led us to omit many so-called and actual certifications from training and testing companies where the value propositional is either unclear or questionable. For those wanting to follow the Cisco certification track, we have created a separate Cisco certification guide to offer more in-depth knowledge of the vendor's certifications.

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This networking certification guide covers the majority of networking-related certifications available to IT professionals. The guide is broken into three categories based primarily on experience: basic, intermediate, and expert or advanced. Where companies or organizations operate a certification ladder, it's nearly inevitable that individuals must complete one or more credentials on a lower rung of that ladder before being allowed...

to climb to the next rung.

Only credentials likely to be recognized as having value within the networking industry have been selected, which led us to omit many so-called and actual certifications from training and testing companies where the value propositional is either unclear or questionable. For those wanting to follow the Cisco certification track, we have created a separate Cisco certification guide to offer more in-depth knowledge of the vendor's certifications. We do, however, invite your comments, input, and questions about what has been included, as well as what has been left out. To engage the authors in dialog, please follow the e-mail link on Ed Tittel's bio at the end of this guide.

  TABLE OF CONTENTS
  Basic networking certifications
Intermediate networking certifications
Advanced/expert networking certifications

 

  Basic certifications   Return to top 

3Com Certified IP Telephony Expert
This certification identifies individuals who competently maintain and troubleshoot 3Com networked telephony solutions. Candidates must first pass an IP telephony knowledge assessment to determine their current product knowledge. 3Com recommends certification prep courses: Introduction to Wide Area Networks, NBX R5.0 Advanced Technical Training and NBX R4.4 Update Training. Finally, candidates must pass the 3Com IP Telephony Specialist Final Exam, which costs $150 (please note: this exam will not be publicly available until October, 2008). Certifications that were acquired as of December 1, 2005 or later are valid for two years. Candidates may recertify with a passing grade on the current exam for their topic.

3Com Certified WAN Specialist v2.0
Individuals with this certification can design and implement 3Com WAN solutions, including 3Com router configuration, multicasting and frame relay. 3Com requires candidates to pass a practice exam to demonstration product knowledge. If needed, candidates can take training courses to brush up on necessary skills. Candidates must pass one exam -- 3Com WAN Specialist Final Exam -- to obtain certification. Certifications are valid for two years, and recertification can be acquired by passing the current exam.

3Com Certified Wireless Specialist
This certification is geared toward individuals who are proficient in installing and maintaining a 3Com wireless local area network (WLAN). Candidates must take a practice exam to gauge their knowledge and determine appropriate preparation studies; self-study and instructor-led training courses are available for those who need further learning. Passing the 3Com Wireless Specialist Final Exam is required for certification (and recertification). Candidates can take the exam through Prometric test centers for a cost of $150.

Adaptec Certified Storage Professional (ACSP)
This certification is for IT professionals, resellers and other individuals who wish to demonstrate expertise in storage technologies using Adaptec's GuardianOS-based Snap Server and Unified Serial RAID products. Free online training is available; however, training is not required. Candidates must pass one exam, which costs $125. There are currently no continuing requirements to maintain this certification.

Getting a job with your certs
Once you pass your exams and get certified, how do you use them to advance your career? According to our training and certification expert, you have to sell them. Learn how to talk up your credentials to current and future employers in this tip.

 

Alcatel Certified Switch Professional (ACSP)
Alcatel-Lucent offers this certification to network professionals with basic knowledge of Alcatel's Enterprise Networking Data products, including the OmniSwitch 9000, 8800, 7800, 7700, 6800 and 6600 series and OmniAccess WLAN products. Training is recommended but not required, and there are no prerequisites for certification. Certification can be obtained by passing one online exam that consists of 30 questions and costs $75.

 

Alcatel Certified Switch Specialist - Infrastructure (ACSS - Infrastructure)
The ACSS - Infrastructure certification identifies network professionals who can support advanced Layer 2/Layer 3 features and maintain a network that includes Alcatel OmniSwitch 9000, 8800, 7800, 7700, 6850, 6800 and 6600 products. Training is recommended but not required. Candidates must have the ACSP certification as a prerequisite. Certification can be obtained by passing one online exam that consists of 50 questions and costs $125. Certification is valid for two years, and candidates can recertify by passing the current ACSS exam.

 

Aruba Certified Mobility Professional (ACMP)
The ACMP is awarded to individuals who are proficient in installing, configuring and operating WLANs running Aruba Networks products. Topics covered include firewall roles and policies, authentication and encryption, Layer 2 and Layer 3 operations and provisioning, and more. Candidates must pass one exam that contains 75 multiple-choice questions, runs for 90 minutes, and costs $125. The test is administered through Pearson VUE test centers. Training is recommended but not required, and there are no prerequisites.

Avaya Certified Associate
This certification is aimed at entry- to mid-level engineers and associates working in the IT or communications industries who integrate voice and data networking and applications. Candidates must pass the communication networking exam plus one product elective on design, implementation, voice services or contact center. The Avaya Certified Associate certification is a prerequisite for higher-level Avaya credentials.
Note: The Telecommunications Industry Association Convergence Technologies Professional (TIA CTP) or CompTIA Convergence+ certification can be substituted for the communication networking exam.

Certified Novell Administrator (CNA)
This certification recognizes individuals who administer installed Novell networking products and provide user support. The CNA is a stepping stone toward the more advanced Certified Novell Engineer (CNE) credential. Candidates for the CNA must pass one exam on either NetWare 6 or Open Enterprise Server for NetWare. Novell announces continuing requirements when major product versions are released.

Certified Wireless Network Administrator (CWNA)
Planet3 Wireless offers this certification to entry-level WLAN administrators. Only one exam is required -- PW0-100 -- and costs $175, consists of 60 questions, takes up to 90 minutes to complete, and is administered by Pearson VUE and Prometric. There are neither prerequisites nor required training; however, Planet3 Wireless offers a directed study guide. The CWNA certification is valid for three years; recertification requires passing the current PW0-100 exam, or the PW0-200 or PW0-300 exams.

 Check Point Certified Security Administrator (CCSA)
The CCSA NGX certification identifies security administrators who operate Check Point security solutions to secure data traveling across the network. Candidates must be proficient in managing security policies, monitoring logs, running reports, and managing Network Address Translation (NAT), OPSEC applications and anti-spoofing operations. Training is recommended but not required. Certification is acquired by passing one exam, which costs $150. The CCSA certification is valid for 12 to 18 months, and is tied to product releases.

Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) To earn a CCNA certification, candidates must install, configure and operate LAN, WAN and dial access services for small networks (100 nodes or fewer), including, but not limited to, the use of the following protocols: IP, IGRP, IPX, Serial, AppleTalk, Frame Relay, IP RIP, VLANs, RIP, Ethernet, Access Lists. For more information see the CCNA section of our Cisco Certification guide.

Citrix Certified Administrator (CCA)
The CCA certification is awarded to system administrators, consultants and other professionals who support an existing implementation of specific Citrix products. Candidates can specialize on any of the following tracks:

  • Citrix Certified Administrator for Citrix Presentation Server 4
  • Citrix Certified Administrator for Citrix Password Manager 4
  • Citrix Certified Administrator for Citrix Access Gateway 4
  • Citrix Certified Administrator for Citrix Access Gateway 8 Enterprise Edition
  • Citrix Certified Administrator for Citrix NetScaler 8
  • Citrix Certified Administrator for Citrix EdgeSight 4
  • Citrix Certified Administrator for Citrix WanScaler 4
  • Citrix Certified Administrator for XenServer Enterprise Edition 4

Exams are administered through Pearson VUE and Prometric, and cost $100.

Extreme Networks Associate (ENA)
This certification is the foundation of all higher level Extreme Networks credentials. Candidates must have knowledge of installing, configuring and managing Extreme Networks switches in Layer 2 and Layer 3 environments. To acquire certification, candidates must complete a required training course or achieve 75% or higher on an 80-question exam administered through Extreme Networks authorized training partners. The ENA certification is valid for two years.

Foundry Networks Certified Network Engineer (FNCNE)
This certification is the basis of all higher level Foundry credentials. Individuals must have a fundamental knowledge of installing and configuring Foundry switches and routers in small- to medium-sized networking environments. Skills include server load balancing and fault isolation. Certification is acquired by passing one online exam comprised of 100 questions or two exams that consist of 75 and 90 questions each. Each exam costs $125 and is available through Prometric. Training courses are available but not required.

Networking certification advice from the trenches

Certification preparation: Locate good reading material, resources, and practice tests for any networking exam.

How to pass your exams: No matter which exam you're trying to pass, this bulleted advice will help.

CCNA exam plan: Know the best CCNA resources, and read how to mentally prepare for your CCNA.

Network+ exam plan: Learn how to study and read your Network+ material.

Your certification game plan: This covers online tests, lab setups and lists of activities to complete A+, Network+, CCNA, MCSA and Linux certifications.

CCNA studying: Understand studying time restraints here.

Foundry Networks Certified Layer 4-7 Professional (FNCL4-7P)
The FNCL4-7P recognizes individuals proficient in installing and configuring Foundry switches and routers in small- to medium-sized networking environments. Skills include firewall configuration, server load balancing, switch/network design, implementation, testing, troubleshooting and more. Certification is acquired by passing one online exam comprised of 90 questions that require prior hands-on experience. The exam length is 90 minutes, administered through Prometric and costs $150. Training courses are available but not required. However, because of the complexity of the exam questions, candidates without the required experience should take the training courses.

Foundry Networks Certified Network Professional (FNCNP)
The FNCLP is awarded to individuals with sound experience in installing and configuring Foundry switches and routers in a medium- to large-sized networking environment. These skills include knowledge of BGP, OSPF, and Spanning Tree Protocol, in addition to troubleshooting and fault isolation. The entry-level FNCNE certification is a prerequisite. Certification is acquired by passing one online exam comprised of 96 multiple-choice questions that take up to 90 minutes to complete. Prometric administers the exam, which costs $150.

IBM Certified Deployment Professional
A long-time leader in networking technologies and accompanying certifications, IBM offers the Certified Deployment Professional to individuals who plan, design, install, configure, troubleshoot and generally support IBM, Maxima, Tivoli and WebSphere products. To obtain certification, candidates must pass a single exam based on a specific IBM product. Each exam costs $150 and is delivered through Prometric. There are no continuing requirements or prerequisites; however, certifications are version specific.

IBM Certified Specialist
This category covers a wide variety of specialist certifications awarded to individuals who plan, configure, install and support IBM products. Specialties include Domino, Rational, Tivoli and many more. Candidates must pass a single exam based on the selected specialty. Exam prices range from $125 to $175 and are administered through Prometric. There are no continuing requirements; however, certifications are version specific.

Juniper Networks Certified Internet Associate (JNCIA)
This certification recognizes entry-level to intermediate networking professionals who work with and deploy Juniper Networks JUNOS-based routers in the enterprise. No prerequisites are required and training is optional. Candidates must achieve a 70-percent passing score on exam JN0-342, which consists of 60 multiple-choice questions and is 90 minutes in length. Exams are administered through Prometric. The JNCIA certification is valid for two years; candidates may recertify by passing the current JNCIA-ER exam.

Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS)
This is one of the newest Microsoft certs, which is awarded to professionals with in-depth knowledge of deploying and supporting various Microsoft technologies. Microsoft offers a large number of specializations, including Windows Server 2008, Microsoft SQL Server 2005, BizTalk Server 2006, Microsoft Office Live Communications Server 2005 and more. Each specialization generally requires that the candidate pass one exam, administered through Prometric.

Network+
The vendor-neutral CompTIA Network+ certification is awarded to individuals with the ability to install, configure and support a wide variety of networks. CompTIA recommends that candidates have a minimum of nine months of network support or management experience or commensurate education. The single Network+ exam costs $232 and can be taken at Prometric and VUE testing centers.

Nokia Security Administrator
This certification identifies network and system administrators and other IT-related professionals with basic configuration, administration and support skills on the Nokia Security Platform. Candidates should have experience installing the product at least five times, have 60+ hours of hands-on support and complete required training. One exam is required, which is comprised of 67 questions and takes up to 90 minutes to complete. Those who have earned their Nokia Security Administrator certification must recertify every 18 months to maintain this credential.

Nortel Certified Design Specialist (NCDS)
The NCDS identifies individuals who are proficient in planning, designing and/or engineering customer solutions based on Nortel Networks products. Nortel recommends three to six months of experience with the ability to work without supervision. There are several tracks offered, which include:

  • NCDS - BCM50 Rls. 3.0 & BCM200/400 Rls. 4.0 Sales Engineering
  • NCDS - CallPilot Rls. 5.0 Engineering
  • NCDS - Carrier VoIP Solution Engineering & Performance
  • NCDS - Communication Server 1000 Rls. 4.0 (Retiring Sept 30, 2008)
  • NCDS - Communication Server 1000 Rls. 5.0 Networking Design
  • NCDS - Contact Center Rls. 6.0
  • NCDS - MCS 5100 Rls. 4.0 Planning & Engineering
  • NCDS - Nortel Converged Campus ERS Solution
  • NCDS - Nortel Ethernet Switching Solutions
  • NCDS - Nortel VPN Router Rls. 7.0 Solutions
  • NCDS - Nortel WLAN 2300 Rls. 5.0 Solutions (Retiring May 31, 2008)
  • NCDS - Nortel WLAN 2300 Rls. 6.0 Planning & Engineering

Exams are administered through Prometric and start at $149.

Nortel Certified Support Specialist (NCSS)
This certification recognizes entry-level individuals who are proficient in installing, configuring, managing and troubleshooting Nortel Networks products and solutions. Candidates should have three to six months of relevant experience, and be able to work alone or on a team. A long list of NCSS tracks are available that cover BCM, CallPilot, Carrier Ethernet, Carrier VoIP, Communication Server 1000, Contact Center Manager and many other Nortel solutions. Exams are administered through Prometric and start at $149.

Nortel Certified Technology Specialist (NCTS)
The individual who attains the NCTS credential demonstrates the ability to engineer or support a converged Nortel Networks solution, working closely within customer requirements. Again, Nortel recommends three to six months of relevant, hands-on experience. Exam prices begin at $149 and are administered through Prometric.

 

Novell Certified Linux Professional (CLP)
The Novell CLP program recognizes network and system administrators who work daily in a Linux environment. Novell offers two learning paths for the CLP: one based on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 and another on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 9. Either path requires new candidates to take three courses; certified candidates can take one course to upgrade their credentials. In addition, candidates must successfully complete a practicum that costs $195 and is administered through Novell Practicum testing centers.

SNIA Certified Storage Professional (SCSP)
This is a vendor-neutral certification that recognizes individuals with general experience managing storage networking technologies. Achieving 70% or higher on one exam (S10-101) is required, which is comprised of 73 questions and takes up to 90 minutes. The exam costs $200. A free, 10-question practice exam is provided on SNIA's website in addition to links to resource materials and training options.

For certification questions
Questions? Ask Ed Tittel your certification questions here. 

Or check out Ed Tittel's latest career and certification advice on the IT Knowledge Exchange.

If you're looking for a constant current of expert advice, you can also visit his IT Career JumpStart blog where you can learn how to improve your knowledge base and skill set.

Sniffer Certified Professional (SCP)
This certification identifies individuals with experience troubleshooting TCP/IP networks. Sniffer offers training courses, exam guides, sample exams and practice exams to help candidates prepare for the actual certification exam. Practice exams cost $25 each. To obtain certification, candidates must pass one exam, 1T6-510 -- Troubleshooting with Sniffer Portable/Sniffer Distributed. The exam is administered through Prometric, consists of 60 multiple-choice questions, is 90 minutes in length and costs $100.

Sun Certified Engineer for Sun ONE Directory Server 5.x
This certification is awarded to individuals with experience designing, deploying, configuring, managing and troubleshooting Sun ONE Directory Server 5.x across the enterprise. Candidates must pass one exam (CX-310-560) to achieve certification. For more information regarding this certification, you can email Sun Microsystems here.

Sun Certified Java CAPS (JCAPS) Integrator
This certification recognizes individuals with knowledge of Java CAPS (Composite Application Platform Suite), including eGate, eInsight and eVision. Individuals who complete foundation training for Java CAPS can take the Sun Certified Java CAPS exam (CX-310-502). This exam is administered through Prometric, costs $200, consists of 60 multiple-choice questions, requires a passing score of 70%or higher and takes up to 120 minutes to complete.

Systems Administrator for Sun Cluster 3.2 Software
The Systems Administrator for Sun Cluster 3.2 Software certification identifies system administrators well-versed in installing and configuring Sun Cluster 3.2. Sun recommends 6-12 months of hands-on experience in addition to Sun training. One exam (CX-310-345) is required to achieve certification, costs $200 and is administered through Prometric.

Wireless#
The Planet3 Wireless CWNP Wireless# (pronounced "Wireless Sharp") certification is geared toward individuals who support WLANs. There are no prerequisites, and candidates must pass one exam: the PW0-050: Wireless LAN Fundamentals. The exam is administered through Pearson VUE and Prometric, costs $125, consists of 60 questions, and takes up to 90 minutes to complete. Candidates must score 70% or better to pass the exam. The Wireless# is a lifetime certification that doesn't require recertification.

 

  Intermediate certifications   Return to top 

Aruba Certified Mobility Expert (ACMX)
The ACMX certification is awarded to wireless networking professionals with advanced experience installing, managing and troubleshooting Aruba Networks products and technologies. Candidates must achieve the ACMP certification as a prerequisite, and pass a six-hour hands-on practical exam offered at Aruba Networks facilities. The cost is $1,000. Aruba recommends taking the Advanced Design and Operations training course to prepare for the exam. Certification is valid for two years; recertification is obtained by passing a written ACMX recertification exam.

Certified Novell Engineer (CNE)
The CNE is one of the longest-running certifications in the industry. This credential recognizes network engineers with ample experience managing Novell NetWare-based networks. Novell provides two learning paths for CNE certification: Novell Open Enterprise Server for NetWare and NetWare 6. Candidates for Novell Open Enterprise Server for NetWare must pass three required exams and take a technical skills assessment. NetWare 6 candidates must pass five exams. All exams are administered through Pearson VUE and Prometric, and cost $125 each.

Check Point Certified Security Expert (CCSE)
The highly regarded CCSE is awarded to experienced security professionals with detailed knowledge and experience supporting Check Point products -- specifically, VPN-1/FireWall-1. Skills include virtual private networking (VPN) implementation, encryption for site-to-site VPNs and remote access, firewall monitoring and Java blocking, and virus protection. Check Point recommends that candidates take a three-day training course to prepare for the certification exam. CCSA NGX certification is required, in addition to passing exam 156-315.1, which is offered through Pearson VUE.

Citrix Certified Enterprise Administrator (CCEA)
The CCEA certification identifies individuals capable of administering, building, testing and deploying Citrix XenApp Presentation Server 4. Candidates must pass six exams administered through Pearson VUE and Prometric. Each exam costs $100.

Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP)
CCNP is 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. For more information see the CCNP section of our Cisco Certification guide.

 Checklist: 5 steps to certify
Once you've chosen a certification to pursue, you'll find these steps useful for getting that certification. View this downloadable checklist on how to certify in five (plus) steps.

EC-Council Network Security Administrator (ENSA)
The EC-Council is well-known for its network security in defensive certification offerings. Individuals with the ENSA credential can analyze internal and external network security threats and develop and administer security policies. Candidates must pass one exam (312-38) to achieve the ENSA certification.

Enterasys Security Systems Engineer (ESSE)
Enterasys offers two ESSE certifications: ESSE-D (Dragon) and ESSE-NAC (Network Access Control). The ESSE-D certification identifies a networking professional well-versed in planning, designing, deploying, administering and optimizing an Enterasys Dragon and Dragon Security Command Console security implementation. The ESSE-NAC certification requires the same skills but focused on NAC security implementations. Each certification requires one exam offered through Prometric. Certifications are valid for two years.

Enterasys Systems Engineer (ESE)
The ESE certification focuses on enterprise switching and routing, wireless management and enterprise management technologies. Candidates should have a sound background in traffic classifications, general network management concepts, and traditional wireless networking products. The OSPF, RIP, BGP, VRRP and PIM routing protocols are also covered. Exams are available through Prometric, and the certification is valid for two years.

Extreme Networks Specialist (ENS)
This certification recognizes networking professionals who perform advanced configurations, management, maintenance and troubleshooting of Extreme Networks products. Candidates must first achieve the ENA certification as a prerequisite, and then take the four-hour hands-on ENS exam through Extreme Networks' authorized training partners. A passing score of 75% or higher is required to achieve certification. The ENS certification is valid for two years.

Foundry Networks Certified Layer 4-7 Engineer (FNCL4-7E)
The FNCL4-7E recognizes individuals proficient in installing and configuring Foundry switches and routers in small- to medium-sized networking environments. Skills include server load balancing, policy-based switching keying on SSL ID, cookie, or URL parsing. Candidates must also be able to implement GSL and provide Level 1 support and fault isolation. Certification is acquired by passing one online exam comprised of 92 questions that require prior hands-on experience. The exam length is 90 minutes, administered through Prometric and costs $125. Training courses are available but not required.

IBM Certified Administrator
IBM offers a variety of Certified Administrator credentials tied to specific products, such as Rational ClearQuest and SOA Solutions - WebSphere Process Server V6.0. These credentials recognize a high level of knowledge and experience on the specified platform. Each credential requires one or more tests administered by Prometric.

IBM Certified Solution Advisor
Like the IBM Certified Administrator, the Solution Advisor credential comes in several flavors, such as Tivoli Storage and Tivoli Business Automation Management. The Tivoli Storage credential requires in-depth knowledge of storage area networking (SANs), whereas the Tivoli Business Automation Management cert focuses of operational and hardware requirements to support business automation solutions. Each credential requires a passing grade on one exam, administered through Prometric.

Juniper Networks Certified Internet Specialist (JNCIS)
This certification recognizes networking professionals with advanced knowledge of Juniper Networks JUNOS-based routers operating in the enterprise. No prerequisites are required and training is optional. Candidates must achieve a 70% passing score on exam JN0-350, which consists of 75 multiple-choice questions and is 90 minutes in length. Exams are administered through Prometric. The JNCIS certification is valid for two years; candidates may recertify by passing the current JNCIS-ER exam.

Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP)
Microsoft certifications are among the most well-known and widely sought after of all IT-related credentials. The MCITP recognizes IT professionals who have achieved deep knowledge and skills in various job-role categories, as follows:

  • IT Professional: Business Intelligence Developer
  • IT Professional: Consumer Support Technician
  • IT Professional: Database Developer
  • IT Professional: Database Administrator
  • IT Professional: Enterprise Messaging Administrator
  • IT Professional: Enterprise Project Management with Microsoft Office Project Server 2007
  • IT Professional: Enterprise Support Technician
  • IT Professional: Enterprise Administrator
  • IT Professional: Server Administrator

Each specialization requires two or more exams, administered through Prometric. Exams cost $125 each.

Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator (MCSA)
The MCSA identifies individuals who can manage, troubleshoot and secure the Windows operating system. Microsoft offers four MCSA credentials:

  • MCSA: Messaging on Windows Server 2003
  • MCSA: Messaging on Windows 2000
  • MCSA: Security on Windows Server 2003
  • MCSA: Security on Windows 2000

Each MCSA credential requires several core and elective exams, although some substitutions are accepted using CompTIA A+ and Network+ certifications. Exams cost $125 each and are available through Prometric.

Nortel Certified Design Expert (NCDE)
This credential validates individuals with intermediate to advanced knowledge of planning, designing and/or engineering Nortel Networks product solutions. Candidates must be able to work closely with customers using multiple products and at multiple sites. Available NCDE credentials include:

  • NCDE - CallPilot Rls. 5.0 Unified Messaging
  • NCDE - Communication Server 1000 Rls. 4.0 (Retiring Sept 30, 2008)
  • NCDE - Communication Server 1000 Rls. 5.0 Applications Engineering
  • NCDE - Ethernet Switching

Nortel recommends six months to one year of relevant work experience. NCDS certification is a prerequisite, and one or two exams are required for each designation. Exam prices begin at $149 and are administered through Prometric.

Nortel Certified Support Expert (NCSE)
The NCSE recognizes networking professionals with intermediate to advanced knowledge of configuring, managing, maintaining and troubleshooting complex Nortel Networks solutions or products across multiple sites. NCSE designations are available for CallPilot, Communication Server, Ethernet Switching and VPN Router platforms. Candidates should have six months to one year of relevant work experience. NCSS certification is a prerequisite. One or two exams are required, which cost $149 each and are available through Prometric.

Nortel Certified Technology Expert (NCTE)
The NCTE recognizes networking professionals with intermediate to advanced knowledge of planning, designing, engineering or supporting converged Nortel Networks network solutions. Candidates should have three to six months of experience deploying VoIP and multimedia applications on a converged network. The NCTS - Converged IP Solutions or NCTS - Real-Time Networking certification is a prerequisite. One exam is also required, which costs $149 and is administered through Prometric.

Novell Certified Linux Engineer (CLE)
This upper-level Linux certification identifies engineer-level skills for systems managers or architects working on enterprise networks based on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10. The CLE is available in two learning paths: Novell Certified Linux Engineer 10 and Novell Certified Linux Engineer 9. Both paths require candidates to have the CLP certification and pass a practical exam. The practicum that costs $195 is available through Novell Practicum testing centers.

Registered Communications Distribution Designer (RCDD)
The BICSI RCDD validates individuals with advanced knowledge of designing, implementing and integrating information transport systems and related infrastructure. Candidates must pass one exam to achieve certification. The credential is valid for three years, during which RCDDs must fulfill a minimum of 45 BICSI continuing education credits. RCDDs must also adhere to standards of conduct.

RCDD specialty programs include:

  • RCDD/Network Transport Systems (NTS) Specialist
  • RCDD/Outside Plant (OSP) Specialist
  • RCDD/ Wireless Design (WD) Specialist

SNIA Certified Storage Architect (SCSA)
This certification identifies individuals with advanced SAN architecture experience and skills. Two exams are required for certification:

  • SNIA Architect - Assessment, Planning & Design exam (S10-300)
  • SNIA Storage Network Foundations exam (S10-101)

The Storage Architect exam includes 50 questions, requires a passing score of 66% or higher and takes 60 or 90 minutes (depending on the country in which it's administered). The Foundations exam has 73 questions and requires a passing score of 70% or higher. Exams cost $200.

Sniffer Certified Expert (SCE)
This certification identifies individuals with advanced experience troubleshooting TCP/IP networks. Sniffer offers training courses, exam guides, sample exams and practice exams to help candidates prepare for the actual certification exam. Practice exams cost $25 each. To obtain certification, candidates must have the SCP certification and pass two exams from a choice of four. The exams are Application Performance Analysis and Troubleshooting, TCP/IP Network Analysis and Troubleshooting, Advanced Troubleshooting with InfiniStream Network Management and Microsoft Windows Network Analysis and Troubleshooting. Each exam is administered through Prometric and costs $100.

Sun Certified Network Administrator for Solaris
This certification is geared toward experienced system administrators responsible for managing LANs running the Solaris Operating System (OS). Credentials are available for Solaris 8, Solaris 9 and Solaris 10 OSs. One exam is required for each certification along with Sun Certified System Administrator for Solaris OS (any edition) certification. The exams are administered by Prometric, cost $200, are comprised of 58 to 64 questions and take 105 to 120 minutes to complete.

 

  Advanced/expert certifications   Return to top 

Alcatel Certified Switch Expert - Infrastructure (ACSE - Infrastructure)
This certification from Alcatel-Lucent is awarded to individuals with advanced technical knowledge of designing, deploying, managing, troubleshooting and supporting networks that include Alcatel OmniSwitch 9000, 8800, 7800, 7700, 6850, 6800 and 6600 products. Candidates should have at least six months of hands-on experience to do well on the exam. Training is recommended but not required. Candidates must have the ACSP and ACSS - Infrastructure certifications as a prerequisite, and pass the ACSE - Infrastructure hands-on practical exam. This three-part laboratory exam lasts for seven hours and costs $500. The certification is valid for two years; candidates can recertify by passing the ACSE-Update exam.

Certified Wireless Network Expert (CWNE)
This Planet3 Wireless certification identifies candidates who have mastered administration, installation, configuration, troubleshooting and design of local and wide area wireless networks. The CWNE is the pinnacle of the CWNP Program. To achieve the CWNE credential, candidates must hold a valid CWSP certification, pass three exams (PW0-100, -200 and -300), prove professional experience, provide three letters of endorsement and earn 60 points in the CWNE Points Schedule.

Podcast: How to earn more money & futher your career
For more general networking career advice, listen to this podcast on how to earn more money and further your networking career.

Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE)
A 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. For more information see the CCIE section of our Cisco Certification guide.

Juniper Networks Certified Internet Expert (JNCIE)
This certification recognizes networking professionals with expect knowledge of configuring and troubleshooting Juniper Networks J-series routers and JUNOS software. Candidates must have the JNCIS-ER certification to be eligible for the JNCIE exam. Training is not required but is highly recommended, in addition to necessary self-study. To gain JNCIE certification, candidates must pass a rigorous eight-hour hands-on laboratory exam (CERT-JNCIE-ER) administered at Juniper testing facilities. The JNCIE certification is valid for two years; candidates may recertify by passing the current JNCIE-ER practical exam.

Microsoft Certified Architect (MCA)
Called "Rangers" in the Microsoft world, candidates achieving MCA status provide expert solutions across multiple tracks, such as Microsoft Exchange Server, Microsoft SQL Server and so on. Candidates must attend a four-week training program, pass weekly written and laboratory (hands-on) exams and successfully complete a Review Board interview with Microsoft experts and persons already holding the MCA credential.

Microsoft Certified Learning Consultant (MCLC)
This certification is aimed at Microsoft Certified Trainers (MCTs) who frequently consult with customers. Therefore, in addition to possessing the highest level of training experience necessary to qualify as an MCT, these individuals also design, develop, implement and evaluate solutions for their customers. To achieve the MCLC credential, candidates must apply for the certification and submit a case study that proves their skills in the areas of assessment, design, development and evaluation.

Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE)
This highly popular and respected credential validates expertise in the design and implementation of IT infrastructures based on a Windows Server platform. A number of specializations are available, such as these:

  • MCSE on Windows Server 2003
  • MCSE: Messaging on Windows Server 2003
  • MCSE: Security on Windows Server 2003
  • MCSE on Windows Server 2000
  • MCSE: Messaging on Windows 2000
  • MCSE: Security on Microsoft Windows 2000 Server

Each flavor of MCSE has a specific number of exams (generally seven) and possible substitutions for electives, such as using the MCSA or CompTIA certifications. Exams cost $125 and are administered through Prometric.

Nortel Certified Architect (NCA)
The NCA is the highest level achievable in the Nortel certification hierarchy. It recognizes networking professionals with highly advanced knowledge of planning, designing and analyzing complex Nortel Networks solutions. Candidates must possess the NCDE or NCSE credential (for at least one year), submit an application with accompanying documents proving their professional expertise and complete a real-world, rigorous case study. Exams are still under development as of this writing.

SNIA Certified Storage Networking Expert (SCSN-E)
This certification identifies individuals with expert-level SAN architecture experience and skills. Three exams are required for certification:

  • SNIA Storage Network Foundations exam (S10-101)
  • SNIA Storage Networking Management/Administration exam (S10-200)
  • SNIA Architect -- Assessment, Planning & Design exam (S10-300)

Exams cost $200. In addition, candidates must have obtained one of a long list of credentials from vendors such as NetApp, Hitachi, Cisco, EMC, ASE/HP and Brocade.

Sniffer Certified Master (SCM)
This certification identifies individuals with master-level experience troubleshooting Ethernet and wireless networks. Sniffer offers training courses, exam guides, sample exams and practice exams to help candidates prepare for the actual certification exam. Practice exams cost $25 each. To obtain certification, candidates must have the SCP and SCE certifications and pass three exams from a choice of five. The exams are WAN Analysis and Troubleshooting, Sniffer Portable Switch Expert Analysis and Troubleshooting, ATM Network Analysis and Troubleshooting, Switched Ethernet Network Analysis and Troubleshooting and Wireless LAN Analysis and Troubleshooting. Each exam is administered through Prometric and costs $100.
Note: The CompTIA Security+ certification may be substituted for one of the three required exams.

Ed Tittel
 

About the authors
Ed Tittel is a full-time freelance writer, trainer and consultant, who's written more than 140 books, including his latest, Windows Server 2008 For Dummies, with co-author Justin Korelc. Ed has been active in the computing industry for more than 25 years as a software developer, manager, writer, researcher, and trainer.

Kim Lindros has more than 20 years of experience in the computer industry, from technical support specialist to network administrator to book and course content manager. She has edited and developed more than 200 IT-related books and online courses, and co-authored two certification books and numerous online articles with Ed. Kim runs Gracie Editorial, a content development company.

This was first published in August 2008

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