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A (relatively) brief guide to Cisco IT certifications

Cisco IT certifications are often found sprinkling the lists of the highest paying certifications in the industry. If you're looking at getting certified, take a look at this guide to Cisco IT certifications.

Are you thinking about expanding your resume with a new certification? Cisco IT certifications are often found sprinkling the lists of the highest paying certifications in the industry. Cisco is the long-standing industry leader in designing and manufacturing network equipment.

Whether you're thinking of specializing in working with Cisco products or just broadening your overall skill-set, the ubiquity of Cisco's products and services makes the company's IT certifications an important part of developing your basic skills as an IT professional.

Choose your certification path

Cisco offers exams at four primary levels of IT certification - Entry, Associate, Professional, and Expert. There are additional tests available at Technician, Specialist and Architect levels. In this post, we're going to focus on certifications at the Entry, Associate, and Professional levels, because if you're an expert already you probably don't need a guide!

At each level, there are nine different paths for various specialties within IT, including:

  • Routing and switching
  • Design
  • Network security
  • Wireless
  • Voice
  • Data center
  • Storage networking
  • Service provider
  • Service provider operations

Each proficiency level has tests to certify the test-taker's abilities in the nine subject areas listed above. Here's a chart showing which tests cover which subjects:

Entry Associate Professional
Routing & Switching CCENT CCNA CCNP
Design CCENT CCDA CCDP
Network Security CCENT CCNA Security CCNP Security
Wireless CCENT CCNA Wireless CCNP Wireless
Voice CCENT CCNA Voice CCNP Voice
Data Center CCENT CCNA Data Center CCNP Data Center
Storage Networking CCENT
Service Provider CCNA Service Provider CCNP Service Provider
Service Provider Options CCENT CCNA Service Provider Operations CCNP Service Provider Operations

(Note that blank spaces indicate the subject is not covered in that certification level)

(A modified version of the chart is available on Cisco's site.)

Let's look at each of those exams in more depth.

CCENT (Entry certification, all paths)

What does it stand for? Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician What does it prove? This certification proves the tester's understanding of basic networking technologies in relation to the 9 paths (security, wireless technology, routing and switching, etc.). It forms the foundation for future certifications, and provides a breadth of knowledge for you to then select a specialty. What test do I have to take? 640-822 (ICND1) - Study material available online. Are there prerequisites? This test does not have any prerequisites. Average Salary for Certification holder: $74,764 (average salaries based on PayScale numbers)

CCNA (Associate certification, Routing and Switching path)

What does it stand for? Cisco Certified Network Associate What does it prove? This certification proves the tester's ability to install, monitor and troubleshoot network infrastructure. Recipients of this certification are trusted to be able to perform the day-to-day tasks of a network administrator, with a focus on routing and switching. What test do I have to take? You may choose to take the 640-802 CCNA exam or both the 640-822 ICND1 and 640-816 ICND2 exams. Online study materials are available for the 640-802 CCNA exam, 640-822 ICND1 exam, and 640-816 ICND2 exam. Are there prerequisites? This test does not have any prerequisites. Average Salary for Certification holder: $82,923

CCDA (Associate certification, Design path)

What does it stand for? Cisco Certified Design Associate What does it prove? This certification proves the tester's ability to design robust routed and switched network infrastructure for companies of any size. If taken by an individual with existing network engineering abilities, this certification proves that this engineering expertise is backed up with a networking design background. This helps in the daily configuration and troubleshooting tasks of network engineers. What test do I have to take? 640-863 DESIGN - Study material available online. Are there prerequisites? This test does not have any prerequisites, but an understanding of the material covered in the CCNA and CCNP tests is recommended. Average Salary for Certification holder: $101,915

CCNA Security (Associate certificate, Security path)

What does it stand for? Cisco Certified Network Associate Security What does it prove? This certification proves the tester's competency in installing and monitoring Cisco security technologies. The tester has received an introduction into security technologies, and is able to perform the daily tasks of a network security specialist and administrator. What test do I have to take? 640-554 IINS - Online training available. (Note: This test replaced the 640-533 IINS exam, which was last offered on final test date on September 30, 2012.) Are there prerequisites? Testers are required to have either an up-to-date CCNA or any Cisco CCIE Certification before taking the CCNA security certification exam. Average Salary for Certification holder: $92,430

CCNA Wireless (Associate certificate, Wireless path)

What does it stand for? Cisco Certified Network Associate Wireless What does it prove? This certification proves the tester's ability to use Cisco equipment to implement, configure and support wireless LANs. The tester is able to perform the daily tasks of a wireless network administrator. What test do I have to take? IUWNE 640-722 (Implementing Cisco Unified Wireless Networking Essentials) - Training available online. Are there prerequisites? Testers are required to have either an up-to-date CCNA or any Cisco CCIE Certification before taking the CCNA security certification exam. Average Salary for Certification holder: $95,123

CCNA Voice (Associate certificate, Voice path)

What does it stand for? Cisco Certified Network Associate Voice What does it prove? The tester is prepared for a career in voice networking, and equipped with the necessary skills including managing and supporting voice networks and applications. The tester has a basic understanding of VoIP technologies such as handsets, call control, messaging, etc. What test do I have to take? 640-461 ICOMM (Introducing Cisco Voice and Unified Communications Administration) v8.0 - Online training available. Are there prerequisites? Testers are required to have either an up-to-date CCNA or any Cisco CCIE Certification before taking the CCNA security certification exam. Average Salary for Certification holder: $97,617

CCNP Voice (Associate certificate, Voice path)

What does it stand for? Cisco Certified Network Associate Voice What does it prove? The tester is prepared for a career in voice networking, and equipped with the necessary skills including implementing, operating, and troubleshooting a converged IP network. The tester has a thorough understanding of quality of service (QoS), gateways, gatekeepers, IP phones, voice applications and utilities on Cisco routers and Cisco Catalyst switches. What test do I have to take? 642-437 CVOICE v8.0 (Implementing Cisco Voice Communications and QoS) and 642-447 CIPT1 v8.0 (Implementing Cisco Unified Communications Manager, Part 1) and 642-457 CIPT2 v8.0 (Implementing Cisco Unified Communications Manager, Part 2) and 642-427 TVOICE v8.0 (Troubleshooting Cisco Unified Communications) and 642-467 CAPPS v8.0 (Integrating Cisco Unified Communications Applications) Are there prerequisites? Testers are required to have either an up to date CCNA Voice certification or any CCIE Certification. Average Salary for Certification holder: $111,073 (Source)

CCNA Data Center (Associate certificate, Data Center path)

What does it stand for? Cisco Certified Network Associate Data Center What does it prove? The CCNA Data Center certification is focused on training data center professional for work in their field. The tester is prepared to work as a data center professional designing, installing and maintaining data centers. What test do I have to take? 640-911 DCICN (Introducing Cisco Data Center Networking) and 640-916 DCICT (Introducing Cisco Data Center Technologies) Are there prerequisites? This test does not have any prerequisites. Average Salary for Certification holder: Not available.

CCNP Data Center (Professional certificate, Data Center path)

What does it stand for? Cisco Certified Network Professional Data Center What does it prove? The CCNP Data Center Certification proves the experienced data center professional's ability to design, implement, and troubleshoot data centers. Like the CCNA Data Center certification, the CCNP Data Center certification is designed to provide on-the-job skill building for those studying for it. What test do I have to take? Many of the required tests are being retired in early 2013. We've chosen not to list these here. 642-999 DCUCI v5.0 and 642-997 DCUFI v5.0 and 642-998 DCUCD v5.0 and 642-996 DCUFD v5.0 or 642-035 DCUCT v5.0 and 642-980 DCUFT v5.0. For a full list of exams, including the ones that will be retired in early 2013, click here. Are there prerequisites? Testers are required to have either an up-to-date CCNA Data Center certification, or any Cisco CCIE Certification before taking the CCNP Data Center certification. Average Salary for Certification holder: Not available.

CCNA Service Provider (Associate certificate, CCNA Service Provider)

What does it stand for? Cisco Certified Network Associate Provider What does it prove? The tester is prepared to work as a network engineer on next generation service provider networks. The tester has acquired the necessary skills to configure, optimize and problem solve service provider network environments. What test do I have to take? 640-875 SPNGN1 and 640-878 SPNGN2 (Building Cisco Service Provider Next-Generation Networks). Click the test name for available online training. Are there prerequisites? This test does not have any prerequisites.

CCNA Service Provider Operations (Associate certificate, CCNA Service Provider Operations)

What does it stand for? Cisco Certified Network Associate Service Provider Operations What does it prove? The tester is prepared to work as a Tier I support engineer, understanding how to troubleshoot, configure, change and manage the performance of the environment within an IP NGN core network infrastructure. What test do I have to take? 640-760 SSPO (Supporting Cisco Service Provider IP NGN Operations). Online training resources available. Are there prerequisites? Testers are required to have either an up-to-date CCENT, CCNA, or any Cisco CCIE Certification before taking the CCNA Service Provider Operations exam.

CCNP (Professional certificate, Routing and Switching path)

What does it stand for? Cisco Certified Network Professional What does it prove? The tester is prepared to work with specialists on advanced technologies, such as security, wireless, voice, etc. The tester is equipped with the necessary implementing, verifying and troubleshooting skills to work with local and wide-area networks as a technician, support engineer, system engineer or network engineer. What test do I have to take? 642-902 ROUTE (Implementing Cisco IP Routing), 642-813 SWITCH (Implementing Cisco IP Switched Networks, 642-832 TSHOOT Troubleshooting and Maintaining Cisco IP Networks - Online training available. Click test names to see online training options. Are there prerequisites? Testers are required to have either an up-to-date CCNA or any Cisco CCIE Certification before taking the CCNA security certification exam. Average Salary for Certification holder: $76,000

CCNA Service Provider Operations (Associate certificate, Service Provider Operations path)

What does it stand for? Cisco Certified Network Associate Service Provider Operations What does it prove? The CCNA Service Provider certification proves the certificate-holder's basic knowledge of incident, fault, configuration, change and performance management procedures, as well as NMS tools and protocols. What test do I have to take? 640-760 SSPO Are there prerequisites? Testers are required to have one of the following: any valid cisco CCENT, CCNA or CCIE before taking the CCNA Service Provider Operations exam. Average Salary for Certification holder: Not available.

CCDP (Professional certificate, Design path)

What does it stand for? Cisco Certified Design Professional What does it prove? The tester is able to understand and implement intelligent network design architectures for enterprises. The tester will be able to articulate their plan and implement it to create secure, multi-layered network systems. Tester's abilities extend to virtual private networking and wireless domains, as well as building scalable internetworks, multilayer switched networks and designing network service architectures. What test do I have to take? 642-902 ROUTE (Implementing Cisco IP Routing), 642-813 SWITCH (Implementing Cisco IP Switched Networks), ARCH (Designing Cisco Network Service Architectures). - Online training available. Click test names to see online training options. Are there prerequisites? Testers are required to have either an up-to-date CCDA and CCNA certifications or any Cisco CCIE Certification before taking the CCDP security certification exam. Average Salary for Certification holder: $116,863

CCNP Security (Professional certificate, Security path)

What does it stand for? Cisco Certified Network Professional Security What does it prove? The tester will have the necessary skills to perform the on-the-job tasks required from a network security engineer. CCNP Security professionals are able to test, deploy, configure, maintain, and troubleshoot Cisco compliances and iOS features. What test do I have to take? 642-637 SECURE v1.0 (Secure v1.0 Securing Networks with Cisco Routers and Switches), 642-618 FIREWALL v2.0 (Deploying Cisco ASA Firewall Solutions), 642-648 VPN v2.0 (Deploying Cisco ASA VPN Solutions), 642-627 IPS v7.0 (Implementing Cisco Intrusion Prevention System v7.0). - Online training available. Click test names to see online training options. Are there prerequisites? Testers are required to have either an up-to-date CCNA Security certification, or CCSP certification, or CCNA certification and SND exam pass. Average Salary for Certification holder: $118,521

CCNP Wireless (Professional certificate, Wireless path)

What does it stand for? Cisco Certified Network Professional Wireless What does it prove? The tester will understand how to conduct a wireless site survey, integrate voice over wireless LAN services and mobility services into a wireless LAN, as well as ensure the proper implementation of a security standard into the wireless environment. Testers will be knowledgeable about wireless networking on an advanced level. What test do I have to take? 642-732 CUWSS v2.0 (Conducting Cisco Unified Wireless Site Survey) and 642-742 IUWVN v2.0 (Implementing Cisco Unified Wireless Voice Networks) and 642-747 IUWMS v2.0 (Implementing Cisco Unified Wireless Mobility Services) and 642-737 IAUWS v2.0 (Implementing Advanced Cisco Unified Wireless Security) Are there prerequisites? Testers are required to have either an up-to-date CCNA certifications or any Cisco CCIE Certification before taking the CCNP wireless exam. Average Salary for Certification holder: $95,123

CCNP Service Provider (Professional certificate, Service Provider path)

What does it stand for? Cisco Certified Network Professional Service Provider What does it prove? The tester will gain the on-the-job skills required to implement, verify, troubleshoot, and optimize the service provider network environment. This certification enables the tester to deliver scalable, optimized network architectures for enterprises. What tests do I have to take? 642-883 (Deploying Cisco Service Provider Network Routing or SPROUTE) and 642-885 (Deploying Cisco Service Provider Advanced Routing or SPADVROUTE) and 642-887 (Implementing Cisco Service Provider Next-Generation Core Network Services or SPCORE) and 642-889 (Implementing Cisco Service Provider Next-Generation Edge Network Services or SPEDGE) Are there prerequisites? Testers are required to have either an up-to-date CCNA Service Provider certification, or CCNA Routing & Switching and passed a minimum of 1 CCIP exam), or CCIP, or any Cisco CCIE Certification before taking the CCNP wireless exam. Average Salary for Certification holder: Certified CCNP network engineers earn $56,422 to $80,408; information technology managers earn $65,274 to $96,075.14.

CCNP Service Provider Operations (Professional certificate, Service Provider Operations path)

What does it stand for? Cisco Certified Network Professional Service Provider Operations What does it prove? The tester will be able to understand how to identify and isolate network performance problems and identify solutions by implementing effective network management processes and policies. CCNP Service Provider Operations individuals will be able to work at the level of a Tier II or Tier III support engineer on IP NGN core network infrastructures. What tests do I have to take? 642-770 OFCN Prep (Operational Foundations for Cisco Service Provider Core Networks), 642-775 MSPRP Prep (Maintaining Cisco Service Provider Routing Protocols), 642-780 MSPVM Prep (Maintaining Cisco Service Provider VPNs and MPLS Networks), 642-785 MSPQS Prep (Maintaining Cisco Service Provider Quality of Service). - Online training available. Click test names to see online training options. Are there prerequisites? Testers are required to have either an up-to-date CCNA Service Provider Operations certification, or any Cisco CCIE Certification before taking the CCNP Service Provider Operations Certification. Average Salary for Certification holder: Certified CCNP network engineers earn $56,422 to $80,408; information technology managers earn $65,274 to $96,075.16.
15 comments
gaga_lady72
gaga_lady72

It is extremely helpful for me.Amazing post and everyone has submit their mature views regarding this,I very interested in the article,people pay more attention to high quality life style. led downlights | design custom t shirts online | Computer Support Palm Springs | lawyer melbourne | conveyancing melbourne

Simon_T
Simon_T

Looks like at least one third of the qualifications need the the prerequisites for the CCNA Security, writer just copied and pasted and nobody picked up the error

hkeeter
hkeeter

Please be careful with this information. The editing was not very good. Most Professional level certs require the Associate level cert or a CCIE. For sure the CCDP does require the CCDA and a CCNA (even though the CCNA is not needed for the CCDA).. All this information is easily gotten on Cisco's web site. IMHO if you are going to leave out the CCIE level, you might as well leave ou the CCENT which is a useless cert. Cisco has all sorts of other Certifications that are important if you are working for a vendor or reseller.

jay.martin
jay.martin

You say if the place is blank in the chart there is no certification . You missed CCNP Voice. Also i find it odd ou list CCNA at $79k yet some the higher one that require CCNA as a pre req are lower.

hassanchandio
hassanchandio

If you are a CCNA ( R&S ) your salary is $79,000 and if you are CCNP ( R&S ) your salary becomes $76,000........ !!!!!!!!! I think higher certification should pay off more rather than decrementing .......................!!!!!!

tom.t.chaklos
tom.t.chaklos

It would appear Sarah didn't even try a little research at Cisco.com! There are almost half the Certs missing, there are now 8 CCIE tracks and even more in the CCXP tracks.

george.mat
george.mat

Data Center now has Associate and Professional Level Certifications....

KellyMeeker
KellyMeeker

Simon, I'm a collaborator of Sarah's and we've updated the article to reflect your corrections - thanks for catching the transposition error! We'd love to ask you some questions about your Cisco expertise if you have a moment - could you ping me at kelly.meeker (at) opensesame.com? Thanks!

KellyMeeker
KellyMeeker

Hello! I'm a collaborator of Sarah's. We appreciate your from-the-front-lines feedback. We're looking for experts on Cisco certs to write some course reviews. I'd love to ask you some questions if you have a moment - could you ping me at kelly.meeker (at) opensesame.com? Thanks so much.

KellyMeeker
KellyMeeker

Jay, thanks for your comment. I'm a coworker of Sarah's and we have updated the article to change a few things - but I just wanted to clarify that we got our salary info from Payscale.com. Also, we're looking for experts on Cisco certs to write some course reviews. I'd love to ask you some questions if you have a moment - could you ping me at kelly.meeker (at) opensesame.com? Thanks so much.

wdewey@cityofsalem.net
wdewey@cityofsalem.net

Yea, that's kind of interesting. I'm thinking that since the CCNA cert is an entry level that more people have it even if they don't need it. That may drive the average salary up. For broad entry level certs they should only include jobs that actually recommend or are required to have the cert in the average. Bill

KellyMeeker
KellyMeeker

Bill, thanks for your comments. I'm a coworker of Sarah's and we're looking for experts on IT certifications to write some course reviews. I'd love to ask you some questions if you have a moment - could you ping me at kelly.meeker (at) opensesame.com? Thanks so much.

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