A Cisco certification holds significant value for an IT professional, considering the widespread acceptance of these certifications. Cisco happens to be a leader among the vendors offering certifications in networking. Several of these certifications are quite prestigious and can help you gain a great deal of esteem in the professional field. Professionals pursue these certifications as they help to validate their skills in the relevant fields. For instance, obtaining the CCNA Certification in Seattle would help you prove your skills for the associate role. 

How does the certification system work?

Cisco has planned its certifications in a well-structured and modular fashion. The courses cover all the networking skills that a professional might need. This comprehensive nature makes it a preferred choice among professionals. At the same time, each certification focuses on specific skills. The candidates can either choose to focus on a particular area of networking or build their expertise in multiple areas. Either way, they can specialize exactly in the skills they wish to develop. 

What are the Cisco certifications that you should know about?

Structurally, one can divide the CCNA certification system into multiple levels. Professionals would have to choose the certifications as per their levels of experience and expertise. The levels of Cisco certification are:

1. Entry-level

The Cisco Certified Technician (CCT) and Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT) are the two entry-level certifications that Cisco offers. As the term “entry-level” suggests, these certifications are meant for relatively new professionals to networking. These do not come with any prerequisites. If you are an aspiring network engineer, obtaining one of these certifications would be a good start. 

2. Associate level

There are two associate-level certifications that Cisco offers. These are Cisco Certified Design Associate (CCDA) and Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA). The CCNA course is highly sought after due to the great value of the certification and the skills that the course helps to develop. This certification covers topics of support, troubleshooting, and basic installations of wired and wireless networks. You may pick several specialized options while pursuing the CCNA certification, such as CCNA security

As the name suggests, the Cisco Certified Design Associate certification focuses on building and designing wireless and wired networks. However, to be eligible for the certification, you would have to obtain any of the following certifications:

  • The CCNA routing and switching
  • CCIE
  • CCENT

You would also have to pass an additional exam to obtain the CCDA certification. 

3. Professional level

The professional level certifications are significantly challenging to obtain than the certifications of the lower levels. These are meant chiefly for practicing professionals and come with several prerequisites. Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) and Cisco Certified Design Professional (CCDP) are the two professional-level certifications that Cisco offers. The CCDP course offers training on designing multilayer-switched and scalable networks and deploying them. The CCNP certification opens up a variety of fields to specialize in. Professionals preparing for network security-related roles would find the CCNP security certification to be beneficial. 

4. Expert level

Once you have earned some experience as a networking professional, you would want to opt for the expert-level certifications from Cisco. The certifications would essentially validate your skills and eligibility as a networking expert. There are two expert-level certifications from Cisco that you may pick from. The Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) course covers a range of topics, including

  • Routing and switching
  • Collaboration
  • Security
  • Data center
  • Wireless and more

This certification is similar to the CCNA exam and CCNP but with a more advanced and greater value. If you wish to build skills in designing infrastructures for large enterprises, CCDE is the course that you should pursue. 

5. Architect level

This is the highest level of Cisco certification and certainly the most difficult. It consists of only one certification: Cisco Certified Architect (CCAr). Completing this course helps professionals earn the skills necessary for building enterprise-level networks tailored to meet specific needs. To pass the exam, the candidate would have to build a network and present it to the official panel at Cisco. Although one of the toughest qualifications to obtain in technology, it is certainly worth the effort. 

Considering the CCNA certification cost and the opportunities that it would open up for you, it is undoubtedly one of the best certifications to pursue. Leading institutions like Koenig Solutions offer this course, along with several of the others that find mention above.

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