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Cisco certification choices on the professional level

Network, security, voice, internetwork and design are the choices for professional level Cisco certification. Expert David Minutella explains the differences and requirements in this expert response.

I had finished the CCNA, and now I plan to study for the CCNP, but I don't know what to choose as my specialization:
  1. Switching and routing
  2. Security
  3. VoIP
  4. Wireless
  5. Design

Out of these specializations, which have the highest scope in the industry and best job opportunities?
There may be some confusion in regards to the types of professional level certifications available to you. There are five professional level certifications you can achieve: Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP), Cisco Certified Security Professional (CCSP), Cisco Certified Voice Professional (CCVP), Cisco Certified Internetwork Professional (CCIP), and Cisco Certified Design Professional (CCDP).

You mentioned the CCNP which is essentially the professional level of certification for switching and routing. The security professional designation is the CCSP certification and the voice professional certification is the CCVP. As of today, the CCSP and CCVP will allow the CCNA as a prerequisite; however, the CCVP (in June 2009) and the CCSP (in November 2011) will mandate that you have the CCNA specializations for voice and security respectively as a prerequisite. Wireless does not have a professional certification yet, but Cisco is working on it as we speak (or type for that matter). The design professional certification is the CCDP which requires the CCNA and the CCDA as a prerequisite.

As for the scope in the industry, it all boils down to the prospects available and the number of other professionals you are competing with. For instance, the CCNP is the most popular professional level certification to date because it covers many technologies including security, wireless, and some voice concepts. If you don't like crowds and are interested in a narrower focus of professional certification, the CCVP, CCSP, and CCDP might be a better fit for you.

This was last published in April 2009

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