According to a 2006 survey done by Foote Partners LLC, networking certifications pull a salary premium of 9.2%. This is higher than the 8.2% average pay premium for all certifications. Networking skills are valuable and a certification gives you leverage over the competition when looking for a great job. With all of that said, here are my 5 picks for great networking certifications.
The CCNA is the first of three levels of certification offered by Cisco. The next two are the CCNP and CCIE. I would put all three on this list, but that would be redundant. The CCIE is one of the most respected certifications out there. Getting a CCNA is just one step to that goal. There are six different tracks to choose from for the CCNA and you have the ability to focus on a specific area by getting a specialist certification. For details on all of these options, go to Cisco.com
To get this certification, you must already hold the CCNA. Then you will take five additional exams. When you are done you will be able to implement, operate, configure and support a converged IP network. The exams focus on VoIP (Voice Over IP), Cisco Unified Communications Manager, and Quality of Service (QOS). Your certification will be valid for three years. Check with Cisco
for detailed requirements.
EMC certifications deal in information storage and management. The Architect level is the highest of the certifications offered. As you work towards this you will focus on five areas: foudations, consolidation, backup, archiving, and protection of information. There are multiple learning paths and specialties offered, including Symmetrix Business Continuity, CLARiiON Solutions, Networked Storage -NS Solution, and Networked Storage - CAS. Visit EMC's site
for full requirements and exam information.
The CWNA (Certified Wireless Network Administrator) is a wireless LAN certification. It serves as the foundation to the CWNP. It requires only a single exam and is an excellent certification for entry-level professionals.
The CNE for Netware6 requires a CNA and 5 exams. It is considered an intermediate certification and does a good job of rounding out a certification profile by adding it to your CCIE or MCSE. Check Novell's site for details.
The Network+ certification is excellent for those who need general networking knowledge that is not vendor-based. It covers the basics of installing, troubleshooting, and configuring networking protocols and services. Most people need some experience before taking the $150 exam and an A+ certification is recommended. The Network+ combined with an A+ certification can be used as an elective towards a Microsoft MCSA.