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Juniper Networks Certification Guide: Overview and Career Paths

Juniper Networks Certification Guide: Overview and Career Paths
Credit: Shutterstock/KenWoltner

Juniper Networks helps companies build high-performance networks by providing networking equipment, services and its own network operating system, Junos. With about 9,800 employees worldwide, Juniper Networks provides networking services to the world's top 100 service providers as well as banks, stock exchanges, government agencies, health care organizations and other industries.

To support its wide array of networking technologies and the customers who use them, the Juniper Networks Certification Program offers several credentials at the Associate, Specialist, Professional and Expert levels.

A Juniper Networks certification can distinguish you from noncertified peers, provide career growth opportunities, give you greater insight into Juniper Networks' products and services and benefit your customers. Thus, those who work – or aspire to work – in Juniper-based networking environments will find their certifications useful for career development and enhancement.

Juniper Networks' Certification Program (JNCP) has several tracks, categorized by career path. Its credentials are based on Juniper's technologies, products and services. JNCP offers seven tracks including:

  • Automation and DevOps
  • Cloud
  • Data Center
  • Design
  • Enterprise Routing and Switching
  • Junos Security
  • Service Provider Routing and Switching

We refer to these credentials collectively as "network engineer" certifications because they're all geared toward network engineering professionals. Each track is covered in more detail in the following sections. You can also find more details at the Juniper Networks Certification Tracks pages.

Each certification requires one exam, along with applicable prerequisites. Associate-level certification exams cost $200, Specialist exams are $300 and Professional exams are $400, all of which are offered through Pearson VUE. Expert-level certifications require a hands-on lab exam, which costs $1,400 and is available only at select Juniper Network testing centers.

Juniper Networks requires certification holders to recertify every three years to maintain their credentials. For Associate, Specialist and Professional certifications, credential holders must pass the current exam. Unlike other IT certification programs, however, passing an exam (or taking an approved course) also renews all lower-level certifications achieved on the same track. To renew an Expert-level certification, candidates must pass the current Professional-level exam.

The Juniper Networks Certified Associate - Junos (JNCIA-Junos) is the entry-level certification for all of the company's certification tracks except the Cloud and Design tracks. The Cloud certification path takes the JNCIA-Cloud credential while the Design certification path takes the Juniper Networks Certified Design Associate (JNCDA) as its entry-level credential

The JNCIA-Junos credential is geared toward individuals who have basic experience with the Juniper Networks Junos OS, and understand the fundamentals of networking, routing and switching. You must obtain this certification (or the JNCIA-Cloud for the Cloud path and JNCDA for the Design path) to advance to the Specialist, Professional and Expert certs. To earn the JNCIA-Junos, candidates need to pass the JN0-102 exam which has 65 multiple-choice questions and takes up to 90 minutes to complete.

The JNCP Enterprise Routing and Switching track is useful for individuals proficient in networking technologies in general and Juniper Networks' enterprise routing and switching platforms specifically. The four certifications in this track form a certification ladder, with each certification acting as a prerequisite to the next cert in the sequence:

  • Juniper Networks Certified Associate - Junos (JNCIA-Junos)
  • Juniper Networks Certified Specialist Enterprise Routing and Switching (JNCIS-ENT)
  • Juniper Networks Certified Professional Enterprise Routing and Switching (JNCIP-ENT)
  • Juniper Networks Certified Expert Enterprise Routing and Switching (JNCIE-ENT)

Beginning at the bottom of the ladder, the JNCIA-Junos certification is a prerequisite to the JNCIS-ENT certification.

The JNCIS-ENT recognizes networking professionals with fundamental to intermediate knowledge of routing and switching, platform configuration and troubleshooting in Junos. Candidates must pass a single written exam (JN0-347), which contains 65 multiple-choice questions and takes up to 90 minutes to complete.

JNCIS-ENT is a prerequisite to the professional-level JNCIP-ENT certification, which is pertinent to networking professionals who have extensive knowledge of enterprise routing and switching technologies, platform configuration and Junos OS troubleshooting skills. Candidates take exam JN0-647 which has 65 multiple-choice questions and takes up to 120 minutes to complete.

The JNCIP-ENT is a prerequisite to the Expert-level JNCIE-ENT certification, which is the highest certification in the Enterprise Routing and Switching track. This certification requires a practical exam that tests the networking professional's ability to deploy, configure, manage and troubleshoot Junos-based enterprise routing and switching platforms using a variety of devices, protocols and features. Candidates can enroll in a JNCIE bootcamp to prepare for the JPR-943 practical exam, which lasts up to eight hours.

Junos' Security certifications include Associate, Specialist, Professional and Expert levels. The first step is the associate-level JNCIA-Junos certification. It's a prerequisite to the next certification, the Juniper Networks Certified Specialist Security (JNCIS-SEC). This intermediate-level certification is applicable to candidates who configure and troubleshoot Junos' software for SRX Series devices and understand security technologies. The JN0-333 written exam takes up to 90 minutes and consists of 65 questions.

JNCIS-SEC is a prerequisite to the Juniper Networks Certified Professional Security (JNCIP-SEC) credential. It recognizes networking professionals who are highly familiar with security, platform configuration and troubleshooting of the Junos software for SRX Series devices. The JN0-634 written exam has 65 multiple-choice questions and takes up to 120 minutes.

JNCIP-SEC is a prerequisite to the Juniper Networks Certified Expert Security (JNCIE-SEC), the most advanced certification in the Security track. The JNCIE-SEC identifies professionals who implement, configure, manage and troubleshoot Junos-based security platforms. The JPR-932 practical exam lasts for up to eight hours.

Like other Juniper Networks certification tracks, the Service Provider Routing and Switching track has Associate, Specialist, Professional and Expert certifications. JNCIA-Junos is the foundational certification from which a candidate can achieve the Juniper Networks Certified Internet Specialist (JNCIS-SP), then Juniper Networks' Certified Internet Professional (JNCIP-SP) and the Juniper Networks Certified Internet Expert (JNCIE-SP) credentials.

Where the Enterprise Routing and Switching track focuses mainly on data center design principles, as well as firewalls and VPNs, the Service Provider Routing and Switching track zeroes in on WAN design and Juniper Networks' QFabric for Layer 2/Layer 3 switching.

JNCIS-SP identifies individuals with beginner to intermediate knowledge of routing and switching implementations in Junos. The JN0-361 written exam takes up to 90 minutes to complete and has 65 questions.

JNCIP-SP applies to experienced networking professionals with advanced knowledge of routing technologies and platform configuration and who can troubleshoot Junos OS. Juniper introduced a new JNCIP-SP exam, the JNO-662 exam, on April 1, 2018. Candidates may still test on the old JNO-661 exam until May 15, 2018. The JN0-661 and JNO-662 written exams take up to 120 minutes and have 65 questions.

JNCIE-SP is the pinnacle certification in this track. It requires passing an eight-hour practical exam (NPR-960) for networkers who implement, troubleshoot and maintain Juniper Networks service provider networks.

One of the newer additions to the Juniper Networks Certification program is the Data Center certification track.  The Data Center track is designed for professionals who deploy, configure and manage data center technologies and the Junos OS as well as troubleshoot issues.

Candidates should begin by earning the JNCIA-Junos credential which serves as a prereq to the specialist-level JNCIS-DC certification. An intermediate credential, the JNCIS-DC validates a candidate’s knowledge of routing and switching, troubleshooting, and platform configurations. To earn the JNCIS-DC credential, candidates must pass the JNO-347 exam which takes 90 minutes and has 65 questions.

From the JNCIS-DC cert, candidate’s will progress to the JNCIP-Data Center (JNCIP-DC) cert.  A professional cert for advanced practitioners, the JNCIP-DC takes the JNCIS-DC as a prerequisite, and requires candidates to pass one exam. The JN0-680 exam has 65 questions and takes up to 120 minutes to complete. Candidates are expected to understand chassis fabric (physical and virtual), IP fabric, data center interconnects and more.

At the Expert level is the JNCIE-DC, which recognizes professionals who build, configure and manage data center networks that include Juniper Networks' MX Series and QFX Series devices. They must also thoroughly understand several other technologies, such as Clos IP fabric, Ethernet VPNs, virtual extensible VLANs and Class of Service (CoS) features. Like other Expert certifications, candidates must pass an eight-hour lab exam.

The Juniper Networks Automation and DevOps certification track validates a candidate’s knowledge of scripting languages, automation of Junos-related networks or devices, as well as the ability to apply automation to Junos systems.

As with other Juniper certification tracks, candidates begin by obtaining the JNCIA-Junos associate credential which serves as a prereq to the specialist level JNCIS-DevOps certification. The JNCIS-DevOps targets knowledge of scripting and automation tools including Phython, Ansible, and PyEZ, application of tools to Junos networks and devices, and best practices. To earn the credential, candidates need to pass JNO-420 exam which has 65 questions and takes 90 minutes to complete.

Currently, these are the only certifications in the Automation and DevOps Track.

Professionals interested  in cloud-based networks should follow the Juniper Cloud certification track. Two Cloud credentials are currently available – one at the associate and the other at the specialist level. Cloud certifications validates candidates knowledge of cloud-based networking principles, architectures, technologies, and theory.

Candidates interested in the Cloud certification track begin their journey with the associate-level JNCIA-Cloud credential. To earn this credential, candidates must take the JNO-210 exam which has 65 questions and lasts up to 90 minutes. The JNCIA-Cloud certification serves as a prerequisite for the specialist-level JNCIS-Cloud certification. JNCIS-Cloud candidates should possess an understanding of SD-WAN, multi-cloud and other cloud networking architectures along with the ability to deploy and configure Juniper cloud networks. To earn the credential, candidates take the JNO-411 exam which has 65 questions and takes 90 minutes to complete.

Professionals interested in Juniper network design principles should pursue the Juniper Design certification track. The Design track targets technologies and principles related to Juniper Networks, including principles of design theory and best practices.

Juniper offers Design credentials at the associate and specialist level. The Juniper Networks Certified Design Associate (JNCDA) is the foundation credential on the Design certification track, validating a candidate’s knowledge of network design fundamentals. Candidates need to pass the JNO-1100 exam to earn the credential.

The JNCDA certification serves as a prereq to the specialist-level credential. There are three solution tracks available at the specialist level:

  • Juniper Networks Certified Design Specialist – Data Center (JNCDS-DC): The JNCDS-DC validates a candidate’s understanding of network design for data centers, best practices and design theory. Candidates must pass exam JNO-1300.
  • Juniper Networks Certified Design Specialist – WAN Design (JNCDS-WAN): The JNCDS-WAN cert targets a candidate’s knowledge of network WAS principles, best practices, design and theory. Exam JNO-1360 is required.
  • Juniper Networks Certified Design Specialist – Security (JNCDS-SEC): The JNCDS-SEC credential targets a candidate’s ability to design networks with an emphasis and build in security. Exam JNO-1330 is required to earn the credential.

All exams are 65 questions and take up to 90 minutes to complete.

Juniper Networks' certifications most commonly lead to network engineer positions, either with Juniper Networks itself, or with consulting firms that support the company's products. You can also find network administrator, network security engineer and network operations center (NOC) engineer job roles associated with Juniper certs as well as technical sales positions.

More than 2,500 positions bubble up on such job boards at Indeed and SimplyHired when searching for the keywords "Juniper Networks," a fair number of which require or desire a Juniper Networks certification.

According to SimplyHired, average network engineer salaries start at $78,000 nationwide with earnings on the high side topping $125,000, while Juniper Networks earnings were reported at $137,000. Getting the needed experience and a few Juniper certifications can pay off handsomely. Achieving salaries in the higher end of the range typically means having five to nine years of experience and possibly a bachelor's degree (or higher).

Although each certification track's web page lists some exam prep materials, a good first stop is Juniper's Certification Quick Links. Here you'll find links to the various certification tracks, recommended training, course materials and more. Each certification page also contains links to recommended training materials, practices exams and additional learning resources. Another handy resource is Junos Genius, a certification preparation app with practice questions.

Candidates can take training courses, boot camps and skills camps through Authorized Education Partners worldwide to get hands-on experience with Juniper equipment, which is needed to succeed on certification exams. The Juniper Training website provides a link to recommended courses, on-demand training, open learning and boot camps (where applicable and available) as well as other exam preparation materials.

Bootcamps are five-day, intensive, lab-based training courses for expert-level exams. Juniper Networks' boot camps typically cost more than $4,000, although prices vary depending on provider and location. (Some boot camps include a complimentary exam voucher.) To participate in a boot camp, you must have already earned the prerequisite certifications for whatever exam(s) you're preparing to tackle.

Ed Tittel

Ed is a 30-year-plus veteran of the computing industry, who has worked as a programmer, a technical manager, a classroom instructor, a network consultant and a technical evangelist for companies that include Burroughs, Schlumberger, Novell, IBM/Tivoli and NetQoS. He has written for numerous publications, including Tom's IT Pro, and is the author of more than 140 computing books on information security, web markup languages and development tools, and Windows operating systems.