One of the largest categories for IT certifications, and thus IT careers, has to be networking. Without applying more specific criteria, a networking cert could cover local wired and wireless IP network design, connectivity, routing, and administration, but also mobile communications technologies like LTE and Mobile WiMAX.
In addition, data center networking falls under this umbrella, as well as wide area network (WAN) connectivity and quality of service, as do traditional long-haul technologies such as carrier Ethernet, optical fiber, and so on. This survey whittled the list down mainly to the most popular local wired and wireless networking certifications. A handful of certs in this article overlap general networking with Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) and mobility, but they're exceptions to the rule.
The list also includes a mix of vendor-neutral and vendor-specific credential sponsors, although vendors are more heavily represented. You'll see certifications from well-known technology vendors like Aruba Networks, Cisco, Extreme Networks, HP, and Juniper Networks, as well as vendor-neutral certifications by BICSI, CompTIA, and the IPv6 Forum.
Advancing your career in networking
If you're just starting a career in networking, we recommend that you pursue one or more vendor-neutral, entry-level credentials such as the CompTIA Network+, any of the CWNP certifications, and the IPv6 Forum Silver Certified Engineer. These credentials expose you to many different but highly valuable networking technologies and products and will be helpful in finding a networking job.
The only free certification on the list is Hurricane Electric IPv6, which actually represents several credentials at multiple levels. The program is very well developed and continually expands, and it looks to be more than worth the time you will spend studying for any of the exams.
After achieving one or more vendor-neutral credentials, consider vendor-specific certifications that are pertinent to your line of work. For example, if you work for a consulting firm that supports Cisco and HP technologies, pursue applicable intermediate- or professional-level certifications. Training costs for vendor-specific certifications are generally higher than vendor-neutral, so be sure to find out if your employer will cover part or all of the cost of training and certification exam fees.
Networking job types
For those just starting a career in networking, here is a short list of the available types of positions and networking jobs:
• Network Specialist
• Network Technician
• Network Administrator
• Network Analyst
• Network Manager
• 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:
• Network Security Specialist
• Cloud Networking Architect
• Networking Research and Development Specialist
• Wireless Networking QA Engineer
• Wireless Infrastructure and Mobility Specialist
• Mobility Solutions Architect
• VoIP Engineer
• Telecom Project Manager
• Data Center Networking Specialist