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Choosing The Best Cisco Certifications

Struggling to decide which is the best Cisco certification for you? Choosing the right certification is always a challenging task. There are many factors to consider such as personal interests, your own strengths and weaknesses, and of course your career goals.

As there are many Cisco courses to choose from, it can be a difficult task to decide which one to select. The reason for this is because each Cisco course may lead to a different career path. This post aims to guide you, the reader, to select the best Cisco certification. By considering how one should go about selecting a course, and then looking into some of the Cisco courses we offer here at thinQtank® Learning, this post will help you select the best course for you.

Why is this important? Choosing the best Cisco Certification can essentially affect your career. As selecting the right course is an important step, we want to make sure that you make the right choice that’s best for you.

We often have students asking, “Which certification is right for me?” To be able to safely say which certification is right for whom takes some serious research into who is asking the question. To be able to say exactly which course is best for whom is tricky as there are many factors to consider. Some of these factors include:

Personality Traits / Career Goals / Strengths and Weaknesses / Interests

These are only but a few of the factors you need to consider before you even begin to do research on the course you would like to take. Therefore, the answer to choosing the best certification, lies with the candidate.

Many students consider earning potential and career opportunities when selecting a course. This is not wrong, and of course it’s important to consider. However, it’s important to study something that is related to your interests and passions.

According to Chandan Takuli from Cisco, “As the competition in the job market gets tougher day-by-day, in my view, it’s safe to choose that technology which really excites you rather than choosing the technology which is in-demand. Today recruiters are looking for candidates who are passionate about learning and improving themselves. So choose the track in which learning is fun and you feel more comfortable, so that you can run long-term with the same passion you have at the start.”

Before you select a learning path, it’s important that you know what excites you and what you are interested in learning about. A little piece of advice from our experience, is to get to know yourself.

In order to understand yourself better, it can be helpful to do a few tests to see what kind of person you are and where your interests lie. These tests can’t accurately tell you what career to pursue, but it can guide you in the right direction. A popular personality test, that’s quick and easy to complete, is called 16 Personalities. Tests like this will give you an indication of your personality type and could help you with the certification decision making process.

Personality tests will certainly not give you a clear definition of who you are, but they could help you decide which career path to choose. According to Business News Daily, “Part of the reason you’re drawn to a certain line of work could simply be that it aligns with who you are.” Therefore getting to know yourself better, could help you understand why you are drawn to certain careers and not others.

Once you feel better acquainted with yourself, it’s time to consider the options available for study. As there is an endless amount of courses available. In order to choose the right Cisco certification, it’s important that you know exactly what you are getting yourself into. To make the right decision, you need to consider your options. Before we talk about what options are available with Cisco, let’s quickly go over what area Cisco specializes in and what a Cisco certification is.

According to Cisco, “We have shaped the future of the Internet by creating unprecedented value and opportunity for our customers, employees, investors and ecosystem partners and have become the worldwide leader in networking – transforming how people connect, communicate and collaborate.” Cisco offers internationally recognized certifications to all levels of networking professionals. Therefore, if you are interested in a networking certification, or a career in Networking, then Cisco is the best place to start.

A Cisco certification is your first step towards a professional career in Networking. Cisco offers five levels of network certification: Entry, Associate, Professional, Expert, and Architect.

Within these 5 levels are what Cisco calls a ‘learning path’ or ‘certification tracks’. In order to select the right certification, you need to consider the level of certification you are at. For example, if this is your first course with Cisco then you will probably consider an entry level course such as CCENT. Once you have established your level, you then need to consider the learning path or certification track you will take. The certification track you decide on can be affected by a number of factors, such as the ones we previously discussed like interests, strengths etc.

To help you get a better understanding of all these levels and paths, we have included this table that you can find on Cisco’s website. In this Certification Path Poster you will be able to see which certifications are relevant to which fields. For example, if you are interested in Security, your first certification to complete will be CCENT, and then move on to CCNA Security.

Essentially at the end of the day, you need to ensure that the certification you select is in line with your career goals. Therefore as you can see from the table above, the certification you select will as a result lead to a certain career path.

When you land on the Cisco Training and Certifications page, the first step according to Cisco is, “Identify Path”. This may seem like a trivial first step, but it can be one of the most difficult decisions to make and can affect the rest of your professional career.

For those who are new to Networking, the jargon associated with this topic can be perplexing and puzzling to say the least. This can make it difficult to know which path is appropriate.

Once you have decided on a learning path, it’s then time to consider some of the certifications that are available in these paths. To help you decide on the best certification for you, we’re going to look at some of the available Cisco certifications. It’s important to note that this list is in no particular order, and is not the official ranking order of ‘best certifications’ either.

By considering the following Cisco certifications you will be able to understand more about the certifications, who they are for and what career opportunities lie ahead as a result of completing these specific courses. By considering this information, you will hopefully be able to make a decision on the best certification for you.

The Cisco CCENT course is the first step in the Cisco Certification path. It is a prerequisite for many of the Cisco certifications available. This course was designed as a starting point and foundation for those who are going into networking. This course is for those who wish to begin their career in networking and is a prerequisite for most of the associate level courses. This course is for those who wish to be able to install, operate and support small branch networks. Career opportunities are limited as you still need to select another Cisco course before you can specialize in an area. However some job titles such as 1st Line Support, Network Technician and Analyst are available for those who have completed the CCENT.

The Cisco CCNA Routing and Switching certification covers the installation, configuration, operation and troubleshooting of medium-sized network as well as teaching the fundamentals of working with WAN (Wide Area Networks), wireless concepts and network security. This course is on the second level or associate level of the Cisco certification track. If you have completed the CCENT certification and are considering the Routing and Switching track, then this is the right course for you. This course is for those who would like to work with routed and switched networks. For those that enter the Routing and Switching track, there are various career opportunities available. With a CCNA Routing and Switching certification, candidates can expect to find work as a Network Engineer, Support Engineer, Network Analyst and more.

The Cisco CCNA Security course is an internationally recognized certification for those who wish to validate their knowledge and skills in securing Cisco Networks. After completing this course you will be able to develop security infrastructure, recognize threats and vulnerabilities to networks, and mitigate security threats. This Cisco CCNA Security course is for those who are interested in the Security certification track and would like to develop a career in network security. For those that are entering the Cisco CCNA Security track, the career opportunities are numerous as the field of network security is one of the fastest growing fields to date. Candidates who hold a CCNA Security certification can expect to apply for roles such as Cybersecurity Analyst, Cybersecurity Engineer, IT Security Analyst and more.

The Cisco CCNA Wireless course provides candidates with the knowledge and skills to correctly configure monitor and support wireless networks. The Cisco CCNA Wireless course is for those who are entering the Wireless certification track. It is for those who wish to work with WLAN security methods, WLAN architecture, centralized wireless networks as well as converged wireless networks. If you’re considering the Wireless track, once you have certified you can consider roles such as Network Engineer, Security Engineer, Support Engineer and more.

After considering multiple factors, we hope that you are closer to making a decision on which Cisco Certification is the best choice for you. By considering your own interests, how the Cisco certification track works and what courses are available, you should be one step closer. Deciding on a certification is not easy, so invest as much time as you can doing research on the courses that interest you. Remember, at the end of the day, this is your life. Make sure you choose a certification that will not only offer amazing opportunities, but will lead you to a career that you are passion about.

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