- To advance your networking career, start with vendor-neutral credentials and then move to vendor-specific certifications.
- Networking jobs comprise entry-level positions involving direct system work, as well as more advanced sales and consulting positions.
- The most popular networking certifications come from technology vendors and neutral entities not affiliated with any specific company.
- This article is for professionals who want to advance their networking careers with formal certifications.
In IT careers, one of the broadest categories for IT certifications is networking. A networking certification can cover local wired and wireless IP network design, connectivity, routing, and administration, as well as mobile communications technologies like LTE and Mobile WiMAX.
Additional categories under the networking umbrella include data center networking, wide area network (WAN) connectivity and quality of service, and long-haul technologies like carrier Ethernet, fiber optics, and more.
This guide will highlight the most popular local wired and wireless networking certifications.
Tip: To explore additional IT certifications, read our overview of the best IT certifications to consider in the areas of security, storage, project management, cloud computing and computer forensics.
The most popular networking credentials to pursue
The following table lists 33 networking credentials in alphabetical order by sponsor. The list includes vendor-neutral and vendor-specific credential sponsors, although vendors are more heavily represented.
You’ll see certifications from well-known technology vendors, including Aruba Networks, Cisco, Extreme Networks, HP and Juniper Networks, as well as vendor-neutral certifications by BICSI, CompTIA and the IPv6 Forum.
Aruba Networks certifications
Aruba Certified Switching Professional (ACSP)
Aruba Certified Mobility Associate (ACMA)
Aruba Certified Mobility Professional (ACMP)
Established program with various learning tracks and a range of certifications.
Certifications identify technical knowledge and skills, design, deployment, and management in complex settings.
BICSI Technician (TECH)
Focused on supporting information technology systems, BICSI is a professional association with more than 26,000 members in approximately 100 countries.
The TECH credential is a midlevel certification targeting those with 1-3 years of documented industry experience.
The credential identifies professionals who understand and can apply installation-specific information, lead installation teams, perform testing and troubleshooting on copper and optical fiber installations, evaluate applications of cabling installation, make recommendations regarding codes and standards, and perform retrofits and upgrades for existing infrastructures.
Cisco Certified Network Associate Routing and Switching (CCNA)
Cisco Certified Network Professional Enterprise Certification and Training (CCNP Enterprise)
CCIE Enterprise Infrastructure Certification and Training
CCIE Enterprise Wireless Certification and Training
Cisco has a well-known and highly developed certification portfolio.
Certifications in this category are aimed at candidates interested in building careers in wired and wireless networking techniques and technologies, network design, or routing and switching technologies.
Certification paths range from entry level to expert.
Certifications are targeted to network specialists, administrators, support engineers and design engineers.
CIW (Certified Internet Web Professional)
CIW Network Technology Associate
Entry-level certification developed by CIW (formerly called Certification Partners).
The target audience includes technical sales, support engineers, network administrators, product managers and engineers.
Content focuses on mastering the basics of networking and exploring key concepts, skills and core terms to prepare candidates for job readiness in networking, internet protocols, network security, and more.
This is one of the most popular general networking certifications in the world.
It targets candidates seeking careers as network administrators, technicians or installers, help desk technicians, and IT cable installers.
Recognized or required by the Department of Defense, Dell, HP, Ricoh, Sharp and Xerox. Also required for Apple Consultants Network membership.
Certified Wireless Network Professional (CWNP)
Certified Wireless Network Administrator (CWNA)
Certified Wireless Design Professional (CWDP)
Certified Wireless Analysis Professional (CWAP)
Certified Wireless Network Expert (CWNE)
Established certification program offering a full complement of certifications ranging from entry-level to professional career certifications.
Certifications focus on enterprise Wi-Fi skills.
CWNP also offers Certified Wireless Security Professional (CWSP) and Certified Wireless Network Trainer (CWNT) credentials.
Electronics Technicians Association (ETA) International certifications
Computer Service Technician (CST)
Information Technology Security (ITS)
Network Computer Technician (NCT)
Network Systems Technician (NST)
Wireless Network Technician (WNT)
ETA offers more than 90 certifications targeting electronics professionals.
ETA is accredited by the International Certification Accreditation Council and has issued more than 180,000 certifications.
Extreme Networks certifications
Extreme Networks Certified Specialist (ECS)
Extreme Networks Sales Specialist (ESS)
Extreme Networks Design Specialist (EDS)
These technical certifications focus on practical, hands-on training to support and optimize an organization’s networks.
Multiple concentrations are available.
Hurricane Electric Internet Services certifications
Hurricane Electric IPv6 Certification
This free online certification project validates skills in basic IPv6 concepts.
Certification exam includes IP address format, reverse DNS, localhost address, default routing, documentation prefix, link-local prefix, multicast prefix, traceroute, and IPv6 server configuration.
IPv6 Forum certifications
IPv6 Forum Silver or Gold Certified Engineer
The IPv6 Education Certification Logo Program promotes IPv6 education and helps candidates build skills to foster swifter adoption of IPv6.
Courses focus on practical application and consist of both instructor-led and hands-on lab instruction.
Juniper Networks certifications
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)
JNCIS-ENT, JNCIP-ENT and JNCIE-ENT are vendor-specific credentials that address installation and support of LAN/WAN routers and switches in Juniper Networks’ technology-based networks.
Credential holders possess skills necessary to support large enterprise environments.
Nokia Network Routing Specialist II (NRS II)
This certification is for intermediate network professionals experienced with IP and Ethernet technologies.
NRS II certification recognizes advanced networking and service offerings that build on core aspects of Nokia service routing. The certification covers internet routing protocols, IP/MPLS networks, and implementing Nokia Layer 2 and Layer 3 services.
Note that Alcatel-Lucent operates as part of the Nokia Group. This certification was known as the Alcatel-Lucent Network Routing Specialist II (NRS II), and some study guides still refer to it as such.
Oracle Certified Expert, Oracle Solaris 11 Network Administrator
Oracle has a well-established vendor-specific certification program. This certification validates the technical skills of system administrators who work with LANs and the Oracle Solaris operating system (Oracle Solaris OS).
The credential was formerly Sun Certified Network Administrator (SCNA).
Palo Alto certifications
Palo Alto Networks Certified Network Security Engineer (PCNSE)
PCNSE credential holders possess knowledge and technical skills necessary to install, configure and implement Palo Alto Networks technologies at the advanced engineering level.
The credential is targeted to partners, system engineers, system integrators, support engineers, pre-sales system engineers, support staff or anyone using Palo Alto Network technologies.
Riverbed Professional Services (RPS) certifications
Riverbed Certified Performance Engineering (RCPE)
The Riverbed Certified Performance Engineering (RCPE) program has several tracks, including WAN optimization, network and infrastructure visibility, network configuration, and more. Courses span foundational, associate and professional levels.
RPS changed its education program from product-focused how-tos to a learning environment that teaches how to consider business needs, obstacles and solutions.
SolarWinds Certified Professional (SCP)
Credential validates skills in networking management fundamentals, network management planning, network management operations, network fault and performance troubleshooting, and Orion NPM administration.
The SCP is an accredited certification.
Vendor-specific credential for professionals who use Wireshark to analyze network traffic and then use that information to troubleshoot, optimize and secure networks.
Wireshark is considered the de facto open-source product for network protocol analysis, with more than 400,000 downloads per month.
The WCNA exam was certified by the U.S. Army in 2009 and covers Wireshark functionality, TCP/IP network communications, and network troubleshooting and security.
Advice for starting a networking career
If you’re just starting a career in networking, we recommend pursuing one or more vendor-neutral, entry-level credentials, including the following:
- CompTIA Network+
- Any of the CWNP certifications
- IPv6 Forum Silver Certified Engineer
These credentials expose you to varied and highly valuable networking technologies and products and will be helpful when seeking a networking job.
After achieving one or more vendor-neutral credentials, consider vendor-specific certifications pertinent to your line of work. For example, if you work for a consulting firm that supports Cisco technologies, pursue applicable intermediate or professional certifications. Training costs for vendor-specific certifications are generally higher than vendor-neutral ones, so determine if your employer will cover part or all of the training costs and exam fees.
Tip: Restaurants benefit from mobile POS systems because they are easy to use, allow for quick checkout, and enhance customer service.
Networking job types
For those just starting a career in networking, here are some positions and networking jobs to consider:
- Network Specialist
- Network Technician
- Network Administrator
- Network Analyst – Big data certifications can help with this career.
- Network Manager – Consider hardware certifications if you pursue this career.
- Network Engineer
- Network Solutions Architect
As you develop your networking career further, you might decide to specialize in one or more areas of networking. At this point, the networking jobs you would be applying for might include the following:
- Network Security Specialist – Learn to help prevent and avoid network security threats. To boost your skills in this career, consider cybersecurity certifications.
- Cloud Networking Architect – Several cloud certifications can help boost this career.
- Networking Research and Development Specialist
- Wireless Networking QA Engineer
- Wireless Infrastructure and Mobility Specialist
- Mobility Solutions Architect
- VoIP Engineer
- Telecom Project Manager – Consider a project management certification for this career.
- Data Center Networking Specialist
There are also plenty of networking jobs in sales and consulting, so be sure to check these out:
- Networking Sales Specialist – Consider sales certifications to enhance your skills in this career.
- Networking Account Manager
- Networking Consultant
- Networking Program Manager
Max Freedman contributed to the writing and research in this article.