Cisco Certifications

Written by Jacey Harmon
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Cisco Systems is a leading provider in networking and communications products. The company provides a broad base of products that are used by corporations, public institutions and some private residences. Cisco's large product base has created the need for experienced and knowledgeable professionals proficient in using and maintaining Cisco products. To meet this need Cisco has created the Cisco Career Certification program.

The Cisco Career Certification is a widely respected status that indicates an individual's expertise in Cisco products. Cisco has created three levels of certification status; associate, professional, and expert. Expert certification is the highest standard a person can achieve and indicates a high level of understanding in a particular subject.

Cisco has created four general certification paths; network engineering and design, network installation and support, network security, and service provider. Each path includes a set of specific certifications that are recommended to achieve. For example, the network installation and support path uses the Cisco Network Associate, Cisco Network Professional and Cisco Network Internetworking Routing and Switching certifications.

Obtaining Cisco Certification

The first step to obtaining Cisco certification should be to choose a certification path. Once a path is chosen Cisco has created specific steps to finishing the certification path. Obtaining an associates level certification is the beginning step to competing a full certification path. The number of exams varies from one to three for each of the different associate certificates. Once an associate certificate is obtained one can choose to move up to professional status. The number of exams necessary to obtain professional certificates increases to five to seven.

CCIE (Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert) is a very difficult certificate status to achieve. Less than three percent of the Cisco certified individuals carry the CCIE status. The expert level includes a full set of paths that require written exams and lab exams. Written exams must be taken to become a part of the program and labs are completed to obtain certification status. Though Cisco does not require any previous certificates or training courses, it is recommended that an individual have multiple years of on the job experience.

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