Let me guess, you probably arrived at this article for one of two reasons: One, you felt that 2020 simply passed you by and now you want to make up for 2021 by passing a certification. Two, you are aiming for a promotion or want to start a new career by landing a job in the Network Engineering field.
Whatever your reason is, you came to the right place.
Getting certified is the best thing you can do for yourself and your career.
The process and journey of studying for a certification is in itself an achievement because it will teach you self-discipline and persistence. Once you get the study materials and set up your own lab, it’s hard to quit because you have already invested so much. The only logical thing to do is to push forward and finish what you started. This builds character. As I always say: Desperation is the key to success.
It gets even better after you pass the certification. It shows your commitment to grow professionally and to stay relevant in the industry. It gives you the ticket to ask for a raise or to apply for the job role you always wanted.
Now that we are done with laying out the benefits and advantages of getting certified. Let me list down the Top 10 Network Engineering Certifications to aim for this 2021.
Earning a Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) is one of the best ways for you to prepare for a successful career in networking. Cisco owns 80% of the market when it comes to routing and switching technologies. If you’re trained and certified to work on Cisco products, your skills will be more marketable and more in demand. A Cisco CCNA Routing and Switching Certification (200-301) provides you with the knowledge and expertise to succeed in networking, even as technologies continue to evolve. The program teaches you to install, monitor, and troubleshoot the network infrastructure products that are being used by major companies.
If you already have the CCNA, your next goal should be to take the CCNP Certification (Cisco Certified Network Professional). Each professional-level certification requires only two exams: one core exam and one concentration exam of your choice, so you can focus on your interests and needs. Currently, there are 7 different CCNP tracks you can take. Having this specialization will definitely make you stand out.
The CCIE (Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert) is still considered one of the most prestigious certifications in Network Engineering. Since the 2020 update, there are 7 CCIE Tracks you can take. Namely the following: CCIE Enterprise Infra, Wireless, Data Center, Security, Service Provider, Collaboration and Design Expert. Each track specializes in a specific field of Network Engineering. Obtaining the CCIE means that you belong to the top-tier of Network Engineers.
Python is interactive, object-oriented, and a high-level programming language. It’s super easy to learn and understand Python syntax. That’s why it’s still gaining popularity and is still being used to develop a lot of great programs. Youtube, Instagram and Spotify are built off of Python. And now the scripting language found its way to manipulate networks. I’ve done some Python scripts a few years back to develop web-based applications and now I integrate Python scripts into network devices to automate monitoring capabilities. To know more, you can browse through the courses on Udemy: Python for Network Engineers or you can also check out the Python programming certificate program recently launched by the O’Reilly School of Technology.
Citrix Certified Associate
Virtualization is still hot. Currently, 40% of servers are virtualized, and surveys show that this will continue to grow. It’s quite common for individuals within major organizations to rely on virtual services when at home that’s why a lot of companies invest in cloud computing, which refers to the use of remote servers to store data and allow users to access information from anywhere. Having a certification like the CCA-N (Citrix Certified Associate – Networking) is a huge increase to your value in the tech world. According to the Citrix certification website, the CCA-N, “validates the knowledge and skills needed to implement and manage Citrix NetScaler 10 for app and desktop virtualization solutions in an enterprise environment.”
Wireshark Network Analyst
The Wireshark Certified Network Analyst (WCNA) recognizes knowledge of network sniffing and analysis using Wireshark, as well as TCP/IP network troubleshooting and network security. You only need to pass one written exam for the WCNA and the certification is valid for three years. This is a good add-on to other certifications like Cisco, Juniper etc. It’s also pretty cool to be able to look at packet captures and easily identify errors which makes it faster to troubleshoot.
AWS Certified Advanced Networking
For the past years, terms like SDN, Virtualization, and Cloud Computing have become hot topics. These technologies will still be dominant for years to come. As you go along your journey in the Technology and Networking field, you will come across AWS. It might be a new solution that your company is looking to utilize or you have a client to support that is using AWS. This is because AWS is prominent and a widely-used service. If you have a lot of exposure to these technologies, it is a good idea to take the AWS Certified Advanced Networking certification.
VCP-DCV: VMware Certified Professional 6 – Data Center Virtualization
Also named by PCMag as one of the highest-paying IT certifications. This is because Virtualization is still hot. Studying for the VCP-DCV: VMware Certified Professional 6 – Data Center Virtualization will teach you how to deploy, admin and manage virtualization technologies. Passing this certification will validate your skill to build virtual infrastructure using VMware vSphere 6.
AWS Certified Solutions Architect- Associate
If you have a lot of exposure and hands-on experience with AWS services and you have done some work on large-scale distributed systems, then I highly suggest that you take this certification. I recommend a year of experience in designing systems before taking this exam. The AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner certification is a prerequisite.
Google Certified Professional Cloud Architect
Still one of the sought-after certifications for 2020 is the Google Certified Professional Cloud Architect. For you to pass this certification, you must have skills and knowledge to design, develop, and manage Google’s cloud architecture using Google Cloud Platform technologies. Cloud skills continue to be high in demand and earning this certification proves your deep knowledge in applying solutions for different company needs and scenarios.
There are many other things you can do to grow professionally and stay relevant in the IT field. But certifications are an inexpensive way to show proof that you have the skills and those skills are up to date and aligned with the latest global standards. You can easily market yourself when you show that you are willing to learn new things by getting certified. It means you passed the industry’s measurement of knowledge based on their skill assessments of the role where they are certifying the results of your testing efforts. Also, having two or more certifications under your belt definitely shows your commitment to your craft.