Top Cisco Exams

Exam Title
100-105 Interconnecting Cisco Networking Devices Part 1
200-105 Interconnecting Cisco Networking Devices Part 2
200-125 Cisco Certified Network Associate
200-310 Designing for Cisco Internetwork Solutions
200-355 Implementing Cisco Wireless Network Fundamentals
210-060 Implementing Cisco Collaboration Devices (CICD)
210-065 Implementing Cisco Video Network Devices (CIVND)
210-260 Implementing Cisco Network Security
300-101 Implementing Cisco IP Routing (ROUTE v2.0)
300-115 Implementing Cisco IP Switched Networks (SWITCH v2.0)
300-135 Troubleshooting and Maintaining Cisco IP Networks (TSHOOT v2.0)
300-206 Implementing Cisco Edge Network Security Solutions (SENSS)
300-208 Implementing Cisco Secure Access Solutions (SISAS)
300-209 Implementing Cisco Secure Mobility Solutions (SIMOS)
300-210 Implementing Cisco Threat Control Solutions
400-101 CCIE Routing and Switching Written
400-251 CCIE Security Written Exam

Everything you need to know about Cisco certifications

Earning Cisco certifications one of the best ways to move up the IT career ladder and get the attention of prospective employers. Many positions are actually require applications to hold one or more Cisco certs.

Wether you are trying to build the right skills to succeed on the job or need to guide your staff to the certs they need, you must first understand what areas of certification Cisco offers.

There are 4 major Cisco certification paths:

  1. Career Certifications
  2. Specialist Certification
  3. Business Transform Certification
  4. Technical Certification

Each of these areas has a certain purpose at Cisco ecosystem, so it's important to consider the skills required in each path and how they relate to your team or the job you are fulfilling. In this post we're look at 2 major areas: Career Certifications and Specialist Certification and shed light on some common features. We'll give special attention to the Cisco career ratification and the multiple track within this path, as these are the most popular certifications that candidates pursue today.

Specialist certification

Many companies build their entire business on offering Cisco products along with value-add of network integration and support. This companies are the part of Cisco Partner Program. In this program Cisco defines number of certifications and specialization categories that a partner can achieve. For example Gold Status requires organization to have at least 12 unique-certified full time employees 4 of them being CCIE certified, and at least one Business Value Practitioner. Also a Gold Member must specialize in four areas two of which (Advanced Enterprise Networks Architecture Specialization and Advanced Security Architecture Specialization) are required. There are seven specializations in total:

  • Collaboration
  • Data Center
  • Internet of Things
  • Network Programmability
  • Operating System Software
  • Security
  • SP

This course is not recommended for pursuing until the organization becomes Cisco partner.

Career Certifications

The Cisco Career Certificates are the most well-known certification program in the industry. Of the career certificates the most popular is Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA). The following diagram shows the Cisco career certification from a very high level

At the base are entry level certificates with the most wide information. It includes CCNT and CCT certificates serve as starting point for those who interested in starting a career in IT. This level introduced in two certs:

  • CCENT
  • CCT

Approaching the CCT Cisco creates three different public certifications:

  • CCT Routing & Switching
  • CCT Telepresence
  • CCT Data Center

Cisco has taken different approach to the training for CCT compared to other career certification. The course is more short, modular and online. CCT focuses primarily on specialists who want to become field support technicians. These positions require that you have some technical background (but you don't need to know much yet about networking). These are also typically supported with an experienced engineer (often directly by a central networking operations center engineer). For example, The CCT is required for filed engineers who will work with Cisco's Technical Assistance Center (TAC) engineers for authorized support work. Approaching the CCT Cisco creates three different public certifications:

  • CCT Routing & Switching
  • CCT Telepresence
  • CCT Data Center

Introduced in June 2007 CCENT certification is a stepping stone to the CCNA Cert it covers topics you would expect any enter-level technician to know, including OSI model, DNS Basics, NAT, routing and router configuration. The CCENT focuses on the same experience level but with a career path that would put you into a position of supporting, configuring and troubleshooting equipment. The CCENT and the next level CCNA certification are part of Cisco's main routing and switching certification care path, which includes the CCENT, CCNA, CCNP and the CCIE. The CCENT cert includes most of the same objectives as the CCT certification and adds more focus to networking fundamentals, configuration and troubleshooting; mainly without the support of a direct senior-level engineer. The CCENT certification only requirement is a single exam Interconnected Cisco Networking Devices Part 1 (ICND1).

Essentially the CCENT is more introductory and theoretical. Here is what final test covers:

  • Data network operations
  • Implementation of small switched network
  • IP Addressing and services for small branch offices
  • Realization of a small routed network
  • Securing the network
  • Understanding of WANs

If you already have Cisco certification you can easily skip this level, but if you don't have any Cisco Certifications the CCENT is more likely the best possible place for you to land a foot on.

As you move up to the pyramid the number of certified professionals decrease and the focus tightens.

Associate Level

As CCT and CCENT are the Entry level certifications The Association level can begin directly with CCNA for network Installation operations and troubleshooting or CCDA for network design. Cisco itself considers this level as foundation level of networking certification.

CCDA was recently updated and now covers much more in the area of modern data center and cloud technology. This certification validate the skills needed to design a secure Cisco network. It is guaranteed that CCDA certified professionals would be capable to design routed and switched network infrastructures and services involving LAN, WAN and broadband access. The exam covers the design of a basic voice, campus, security, data center and wireless networks. Earning this particular cert is a palpable first step toward thrilling and gainful career as a network designer or a network engineer.

If you split out CCNA certifications, you'll see that within this five layers there are nine unique certification track to discover. Some of the tracks have reoccurring exams, making it attractive to achieve more than one certification.

The various certification CCNA track inclose:

  • Collaboration
  • Cyber Ops
  • Data Center
  • Industrial
  • Routing & Switching
  • Security
  • Service provider
  • Wireless

Not all tracks cover same levels. For Routing and switching, Security and Wireless Individuals are starting the program by passing the Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCNT) exam. The other programs stars right after passing associate level exam. Take note that all tracks have an associate level of certification but the Industrial and the Cyber Ops tracks lack of professional level

Professional Level

Achieving Cisco Certified Design Professional (CCDP) confirms that you are hardy IT professional who has the advanced end-to-end network design expertise who ensure that network delivers up to day performance and suitability plus future-proof investments. Perfect for senior network design engineers, principle system engineers, network solution architects and CCDA certified professionals interested in moving forward upon basic Cisco network design expertise, the CCDP certification program concentrated on advanced addressing and routing protocols, WANs, services visualization and association strategies for multilayered enterprise architectures. To go ahead with CCDP certification you must have the following prerequisites: be certified at CCNA Routing & Switching or CCDA Design, you can also complete DESGN - Designing for Cisco Internetwork Solution v3.0
ICND1 v3.0 - Interconnecting Cisco Networking Devices, Part 1
ICND2 v3.0 - Interconnecting Cisco Networking Devices, Part 2

At the professional level participants normally have to pass five to three different exams related to a specific job role, product or technology focus, for example CCNP Cloud requires passing four exams:

  • Implementing and Troubleshooting the Cisco Cloud Infrastructure (CLDINF)
  • Designing the Cisco Cloud (CLDDES)
  • Automating the Cisco Enterprise Cloud (CLDAUT)
  • Building the Cisco Cloud with Application Centric Infrastructure (CLDACI)

Each exam focuses on a specific task that would be performed at the network for example CLDINF enables cloud support engineers to successfully build, maintain and troubleshoot cloud infrastructure at a cloud service provider. This track requires CCNA cloud certification, basic knowledge of Cisco Data center technologies and equipment plus basic knowledge of cloud computing and associated technologies.

Professional level CCNP track enclose various certifications:

  • Cloud
  • Collaboration
  • Data Center
  • Routing & Switching
  • Security
  • Service Provider
  • Wireless

If you passionate about networking and want to make a career out of it, the CCNP Routing and Switching certification is no a-brainer. Not only will it give you a sense of accomplishment, it will make you more markable, help you earn more, and provide you an additional work security.

Expert Level

The Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) is the most craved certification in the industry. This is one of highest Cisco certifications. It is also a very specific certificates which covers many design topics on hight (management) and low (technical) levels.
There is no formal preconditions for CCIE certification. Other professional certification or professional courses are not required. Instead candidates must first pass the written qualification exam and than the corresponding hands-on lab exam. You can tell that the certification is easy to get. Two exams no requirements, no configuration, but this level is very hard to obtain. It is not the hardest exam at the Cisco's portfolio but the road is not easy. The scope of the exam is enormous (going through almost all networking technologies). Candidate is expected to have an in-depth understanding of the topics of the exams and strongly encourage to have three to five years of job experience before attempting certification. In the storage networking industry you can find about 200 experts with this certification.

The CCIE track on the Expert level has 6 tracks:

  • Collaboration
  • Data center
  • Routing & Switching
  • Security
  • Service provider
  • Wireless

The Cisco Certified Design Expert (CCDE) is for expert-level network design engineers. The curriculum of CCDE trains designers to develop design solutions at the infrastructure level for large customer networks. Network engineers holding an active OCDE certification are acknowledged for their expert-level experience and excellence in network infrastructure and design.

Architect Level

Beyond the CCIE there are is a rather new certification such as Cisco Certified Architect (CCAr) it is is the highest level of accreditation achievable and recognizes the architectural expertise of network designers who can support the increasingly complex networks of global organizations and effectively translate business strategies into evolutionary technical strategies. It is considered the most difficult technical certification to earn. CCAr credential indicates that you can plan and design IT infrastructure based on business strategies. There is no formal training programs available for the CCAR certification. However candidates wishing to reach CCAR certification must meet before an in-person board made of Cisco-appointed exam committee members, during which the candidate defends their proposed network solution.

To Sum up

The path through Cisco certifications is rather outright. However, within each level there are multiple different specializations and it's usual to earn certification in more than one speciality area. When choosing the best certification, most experts advise to choosing the path you are passionate about not the one which is trendy or has a highest earn potential. The job market is changing daily and becoming more competitive so choosing a certification that seems cool today, but you aren't truly engaged in, isn't necessary going to get you forward and might even backfire on you when you don't enjoy your work. Choosing an interesting track is a top care, but so is your existing knowledge, ability to commit to a program of a study and global career goals.
Cisco recommends that at minimum you should aim to achieve the CCNA Routing and Switching or CCNP Routing and Switching certifications before moving on to others, since those are providing a background of knowledge in networking technologies and more insight on which areas you may wish to specialize in going forward.

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