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How recognized and pertinent are the CWNA and CWSP certifications to my career?

I am a telecom systems administrator and currently manage wired and wireless communications systems including VHF/UHF 2 way radio, SONET voice/data, copper telephony services, and cellular services for my organization. I am considering training/education that will enhance my value to my organization in the future. I have obtained a Data Communications Engineer certification from Global Knowledge, but have little hands-on experience in LAN/WAN networking systems.

How recognized and pertinent are the CWNA and CWSP certifications to my career? Are there others that I should consider?

If you're interested in wireless topics, the CWNA and CWSP are pretty decent credentials to consider, as are other wireless credentials now available from Cisco (in their Cisco Qualified Specialist cert program) and also from telephony outfits like Nortel (which just announced an expert level design cert, the NNCDE [Nortel Networks Certified Design Expert], with a wireless LAN focus. I'd also be surprised if you didn't find similar offerings from companies like Lucent and Avaya, who also play in the "big telephony" markets - and wireless certainly qualifies for that nowadays. Also, the folks at Planet 3 Wireless are working on a new cert in their program, the CWAP (Certified Wireless Analysis Professional, somebody who puts a protocol analyzer onto a wireless interface and can observe, understand, explain and deal with whatever he or she finds in the local ether, so to speak).

What I don't understand from your e-mail is what side of the wireless game you'd like to concentrate your efforts to master. Given your background, I'm guessing you come from an engineering background and might therefore be most interested in the more technical work involved in designing, installing, managing security for, or analyzing traffic and activity upon, rather than the more mundane work involved in maintaining and operating wireless networks. If that's true, the CWSP, CWAP, some of the Cisco specializations, and so forth, will probably be more up your alley than the CWNP (though you must earn a CWNP to obtain a CWSP, if memory serves).

This was last published in September 2004

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