At different times of my career, I found certifications to be a critical part of my learning journey. My first role as a channel systems engineer at Cisco drove me to begin my certification process. Now, as part of the Learning & Certifications team, it’s all about creating resources and pursuing training.
When I find a new technology area I want to learn, I look for a key vendor in that particular space to find out if they have a technical training program. Many times I’ll pay for an exam just to test and validate my own knowledge. But when it comes to Cisco, the training and certification environment continues to be next-level, standing the test of time. Here are four reasons why Cisco Certifications are still the best choice for my learning and certification journey.
#1: Cisco certifications prioritize lifelong learning
The cool thing about Cisco training is it creates a path for people to learn throughout their careers. You can progress from the CCNA to a CCIE, depending on your skill level. Or, you can move forward down a siloed path toward one specific technology. For instance, let’s say you start out in a networking job and your employer wants you to develop your skills for their data center. You can then take a deeper dive into data center technologies with Cisco training. Or, you can pick up several technologies and start new paths.
But it’s about more than that. Cisco provides a consistent, clean, logical path to certification that’s based on the skills you need to be successful in the real world. Even if you don’t pursue the certification itself, you know that you can trust Cisco training because it’s aligned to a globally recognized IT certification program. And if you complete training specifically designed to prepare you for a certification exam, then testing is all that is standing between you and a shiny Cisco certification. So, why wouldn’t you take the exam that awards you the recognition your knowledge deserves?
As for current Cisco certification holders, they have to renew their active Cisco certification status before their certification expires. If you would like to learn more about how Cisco prioritizes lifelong learning, take a look at how the Cisco Recertification Policy encourages certified individuals to keep their knowledge growing — and keep it current.
#2: Cisco certifications stay ahead of evolving technologies
As technology evolves, Cisco certifications continue to be recognized across the industry, standing the test of time to remain relevant. That isn’t a coincidence, either. It takes a conscious decision to update and evolve the entire program and ensure its certification holders have the tools they need to be successful and prepared for what lies ahead.
If I’m interested in a technical job, such as networking, I don’t want my first certification to be from a company nobody has heard of. It makes sense to seek certification from Cisco, the market leader in multiple technologies. Cisco certifications cover so many products and technologies that align with many job opportunities. In some areas, 40 to 50 percent market share.
Cisco’s Associate, Professional, and Expert certifications represent your level of expertise with specific technologies and communicate where your skills land in a globally recognized, respected way. Hiring managers trust Cisco. They know that if you have your CCNA and have kept it current, your knowledge isn’t old. You’ve recertified and kept abreast of technology changes.
In a way, earning a Cisco certification tells the world that Cisco has your back. And when an IT leader vouches for your knowledge, you can trust that their reputation can get you in the door. CCNA, CCNP, and CCIE technical skills or certifications are the standard markers in job-listing qualifications.
#3: Cisco certifications’ expert-led community of learners
With 25 years of certifications from different organizations, I still believe Cisco has the best method, building a consistent path with a community to help you prepare and maintain your knowledge. With some other organizations, you might need to earn 60 Cisco Configuration Professional (CCP) hours. Sure, you can read all the stuff from any source you can find, and maybe they’ll accept those hours. But with Cisco, you’re not scrambling to find your hours. Everything on your path is relevant.
The Cisco Learning Network gives you a place where you can discuss topics with Cisco business unit resources, engineers, and your peers in the field. And then there’s Cisco Live, which always delivers a ton of learning opportunities and different ways to bring Cisco Certified professionals, learners, and experts together (take a look at this year’s CCIE party in Las Vegas), where they could connect and celebrate their community.
#4: Cisco certifications and… Cisco training
Cisco is chock-full of relevant training materials for learners to study in the way that works best for them. You have Cisco Press technology books as well as cert-specific study materials. Virtual lab products, such as Cisco Packet Tracer and Cisco Modeling Labs, are available to stay current and learn new things. And in case you missed it, Cisco Learning & Certifications has an entirely new digital learning experience coming soon.
I know of no other vendor certification program that brings all the different pieces to the table, with training events, webinars, and lifelong learning paths that give you the incentive to become an expert in a particular area. With Cisco certifications, I know the next logical step from a CCNA is a CCNP. I know what books and training to get. Maybe there’s an ELT or ILT course to start prepping. Ultimately, the training, resources, and expertise all merge to form a complete package. Again, Cisco is building that path, and it is a simple one to navigate.
My advice for your learning and certification journey
When you’re ready to embark on your own certification journey, start with something that interests you. Whether it’s just something you want to know more about or to understand baseline skills in an area that potential employers are looking for; the whole idea is to learn — build skills and expertise — and keep learning. Certification is the checkmark that indicates that you have that knowledge. It tells employers you understand a certain technology. At the end of the day, employers recognize Cisco Certifications as the mile marker of what it means to be skilled at a professional level.
I’ve named some of the best reasons for obtaining a Cisco certification; lifelong learning, keeping up with current technology, and access to the community and resources. But as for me, I trust that my Cisco certifications will continue to be the best choice because they have pushed me to become the best version of myself.
Here are some resources to help you get started:
- Join a discussion with the Cisco Learning Network community. Browse the topic catalog.
- Cisco certifications attract new individuals every day. This community discussion thread can give you insight into what their skillset, education, and background are like. (Hint: it isn’t what you think.)
- Listen to this “Getting Started with your Cisco Certifications Journey” episode on the Cisco Learning Network Podcast.
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