Whether you’re a seasoned network administrator, a developer, or are just starting out in the computer networking industry, understanding the best Cisco certification to suit your needs is something that will be very beneficial to you. With Cisco owning over 60% of the enterprise network market you are sure to be working with their technology at some point in your career. So how do find the best Cisco certification for you to get started or take the next step in your networking career?
Over the years Cisco has developed a broad, multi-tiered Certification curriculum, covering a wide range of computer network technologies and at different skill levels - from entry level to expert.
There are four tiers which are segmented into different aspects of computer network implementation and administration, such as routing, switching, and design. Navigating these can be a challenge so here’s a handy guide on how TrainACE fits into the Cisco certification system.
Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician Training and Certification (CCENT)
This is the most basic Cisco certification and is the best Cisco certification for the beginner. On its own CCENT is unlikely to launch your computer network career but it will set you up for the second tier of Cisco certifications, which employers do look for in new network associate roles.
This certification is perfect for entry-level professionals seeking to develop a career in the networking field. CCENT training will teach you how to install, manage and troubleshoot basic computer networks. You’ll learn about boost processes, the configuration process of the Cisco IOS and basic switch commands. After successful completion of the CCENT class, you’ll be able to demonstrate your ability to manage a small, enterprise branch network.
Topics & Concepts Covered in CCENT Training Include:
- IP Data Network Operations
- LAN Switching Technologies
- IP Addressing
- IP Routing Technologies
- IP Services
- Network Device Security
Cisco Certified Design Associate Training and Certification (CCDA)
After CCENT you will want to step up to the second tier of CISCO certifications, this is covered by the CCDA and CCNA certifications.
CCDA training will teach you how to design world-class networks for small to medium-sized businesses. Completing Cisco Certified Design Associate (CCDA) certification will demonstrate that you have the skills to analyze an existing Internetwork and determine present and future customer needs. For those not in the know, internetworking is the process or technique of connecting different networks by using intermediary devices such as routers or gateway devices.
CCDA certification will prepare you for roles as:
- Systems engineer
- Systems administrator
Cisco Certified Network Associate Training and Certification (CCNA Routing and Switching)
Alongside CCDA, CCNA is a range of certifications that complete the second tier of associate level training. Stepping up from CCENT, the Cisco Certified Network Associate Certification (CCNA) indicates a foundation in and apprentice knowledge of networking.
CCNA Routing and Switching is a core certification and is often cited as a prerequisite for other CCNA level and CCNP certifications.
As a CCNA-certified professional, you will have proven that you can install, configure, and operate LAN, WAN, and dial access services for small networks, including the use of IP, IGRP, Serial, Frame Relay, IP RIP, VLANs, RIP, Ethernet, Access Lists protocols.
Topics & Concepts Covered in CCNA Training Include:
- Describe Data Network Operations
- Put in place a Small Switched Network (including Configuring Vlans and Trunks, Port Security and Configuring Spanning Tree Protocol)
- Put in place an IP Addressing Scheme and IP Services
- Configure and Troubleshoot Basic Operation and Routing on Cisco Devices (including Configuring NAT and PAT, IPv6 operation, and DHCP)
- Build a Small Routed Network (including Configuring EIGRP and OSPF, and Static Routing)
- Managing Cisco Devices (including Router Boot Sequence, Password recovery, Backup and Restoring the IOS)
Cisco Certified Network Associate Security (CCNA Security)
CCNA Security certification sits alongside the basic CCNA training at the associate skill level. It and focuses on skills needed to secure CISCO computer networks and recognize threats. With this certification, you will prove you have the necessary skills to create a security infrastructure, recognize threats and vulnerabilities to networks and mitigate security threats.
Importantly this certification lays the groundwork for a career in the today’s growing cybersecurity industry.
The CCNA Security certification will prepare you for a career as a Network Security Specialist, Administrator or Support Engineer.
Topics & Concepts Covered in CCNA Security Training include:
- Security threats and concepts
- Putting in place AAA using IOS and ISE
- VPN technology and cryptography
- IP security
- Network Foundation Protection (NFP)
- Securing the management, data, and control planes
- Understand, implement, and configure Cisco firewall technologies
- Cisco IPS fundamentals
- Mitigation technologies for e-mail, web-based, and endpoint threats
Cisco Certified Network Professional Training and Certification (CCNP)
CCNP Certifications form part of the third tier of CISCO certification and take your computer network skills from associate to professional level. In the WAN service and support arena, Cisco CCNP certification assures proficiency in supporting Internetworks.
Becoming a Cisco professional tells the customer or employer that you have passed Cisco’s strict testing requirements. The CCNP title is for the network professional looking to stand out from the crowd and demonstrate their mastery of LAN and WAN technologies. Cisco requires many vendors, resellers, and support providers to have CCNP’s on their staff because CCNP’s are recognized throughout the industry as competent support professionals.
Network customers can feel confident that the support the Cisco professional provides is tested, Cisco-certified knowledge.
Topics & Concepts Covered in CCNP Training Include:
- Put in place an EIGRP Based Solution
- Put in place a Multi-Area OSPF Network
- Put in place VLANs/VTP
- Secure VLANs
- Troubleshoot Routing Protocols
- Troubleshoot Routing Redistribution Troubleshooting and Maintaining
CISCO IP Routing (ROUTE) Training and Certification (CCNP Routing)
Continuing along the third tier of professional CCNP Cisco certifications, ROUTE is one of three certification training classes that will prepare you for the CCNP certification exam. Upon completion of this class, you will have the skills and knowledge to plan, implement, and monitor a routed network that can be scaled.
This CCNP Routing class will cover routing protocols for both IPv4 and IPv6: EIGRP and OSPF for an enterprise and BGP for enterprise Internet connectivity. Other topics covered include redistributing routes, implementing path control, and securing Cisco routers.
Topics & Concepts Covered in ROUTE Training Include:
- Basic Routing/Network Concepts
- Putting in place EIGRP and OSPF
- Configuration and Redistribution
- Enterprise Internet Connectivity
- Routers and Routing Protocol Hardening Implementing
CISCO IP Switched Networks (SWITCH) Training (CCNP – Switching)
Also part of the CCNP tier of Cisco certifications SWITCH training is another of the three training classes that will help you prepare for the Cisco CCNP certification exam. This class will provide you with the knowledge and skills necessary to plan, configure and verify the implementation of complex enterprise switching solutions using Cisco’s Campus Enterprise Architecture.
Topics & Concepts Covered in SWITCH Training Include:
- Network Design and Concepts
- Campus Network Architecture
- Spanning Tree Implementation
- Configuring Inter-VLAN Routing
- Putting in Place High Availability Networks
- Campus Network Security
CISCO IP Networks (CCNP TSHOOT)
TSHOOT is one of three certification training classes that will help prepare you for the Cisco CCNP certification exam. This TSHOOT training class will provide you with the skills and knowledge needed to work independently on complex network solutions.
Upon completion of this class, students will learn to plan and perform regular maintenance on complex enterprise routed and switched networks and use technology-based practices and a systematic ITIL-compliant approach to perform network troubleshooting.
This class will also provide students with the ability to troubleshoot and maintain particular technologies as well as procedural and organizational aspects of the troubleshooting and maintenance process.
Topics & Concepts Covered in TSHOOT Training Include:
- Troubleshooting methods, approaches, and procedures
- Recommended network maintenance practices
- Using basic and specialized troubleshooting tools
- A redundant Internet gateway or redundant ISP fails to provide backup connectivity
- When headquarters or branch clients are unable to access internal devices or the Internet
- When you are unable to connect to a network device using SSH or Telnet
- When devices are unable to acquire a DHCP-provided address