Overview of Cisco Certification: Training Programs and Jobs

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Discover the ins and outs of Cisco certification, an overview of training, post-certification jobs, and salary information.

[Featured Image]:  Network engineer working on a laptop, reviewing material for a Cisco certification.

Certifications can help you to stay competitive and continue to develop in your career field. For those in computer networking, Cisco offers one of the most widely recognized certifications available. Learn more about Cisco certification, requirements, and the opportunities certification can bring.

What is a Cisco certification?

Cisco certification is a credential that helps you make yourself more marketable. It shows that you have technical expertise with the Cisco equipment underlying a lot of the networking hardware and software today.

Cisco certifications begin with entry-level training for the Cisco-certified technician or engineer. Associate, professional, and expert-level certificates go deeper into the skills needed for IT and network technology careers.

Being Cisco-certified involves four general steps.

• First, you need to learn about Cisco products. 

• Then, you will have your skills assessed. 

• Next, you'll validate your skills when you’re on the job.

• Finally, recertify. Certification lasts three years, so you’ll need to renew your credentials with continuing education.


What can you do with a Cisco certification?

Cisco certification is often a starting point for many IT careers. You may not be working with Cisco equipment daily, but you can still expect to have contact with this technology. 

With an entry-level Cisco certification, you can work as a Cisco Certified Technician or a Cisco Technical Assistant. Associate-level certifications can help you work in networking technology, software development, programming, and cybersecurity roles.

If you have a professional-level certification, you’ll position yourself for a role focused on technology for larger organizations, data centers, or Cisco collaborative tools, such as phones and video conference devices.

Why should you seek Cisco certification?

With a Cisco certification, you have a recognized way of proving your knowledge regarding connecting, securing, and automating Cisco networks. Cisco networks are in use globally, so this certification can help IT professionals open up more opportunities. The different certification levels can be a roadmap to continued professional development while helping you get promotions or earn more.

Who needs a Cisco certification?

If you want to work at a larger organization that uses Cisco products, you can expect they’ll require certification. The certification can help you to stand out; plus, it can boost your salary. Cisco Certified Network Professional—Enterprise certification was one of the top-paying certifications of 2021, according to the Global Knowledge 2021 IT Skills and Salary Survey [1].

The Cisco Certified Network Associate credential can help network administrators and engineers, help desk and network support technicians, system engineers, network designers, and many more.

Cisco certification levels

Cisco has several levels of certification to expand your skills and give you added credibility. With Cisco certification, you can meet the business needs of network engineers, system engineers, security analysts, and other IT roles.

Entry level

The entry-level Cisco certification is a starting point. Certificates in this area include:

  • Cisco Certified Technician (CCT), demonstrating you can diagnose, restore, repair, and replace Cisco network devices and systems.

  • CCT Collaboration, which focuses on supporting the maintenance of Cisco collaboration endpoints and operating environments

  • CCT Data Center, offering skills required for onsite support and maintenance of Cisco Unified Computing Systems and servers

  • CCT Routing and Switching to learn about onsite support of Cisco routers, switches, and operating environments

Consider the following specialization from Cisco on Coursera as a starting point for more intermediate-level certifications:

Read more: What Is the CCNA? An Entry-Level Networking Certification

Associate level

The three associate offerings focus on your networking skills. It includes three certifications: 

  • Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) for mastery of the essentials of programmability, security, and automation

  • Cisco Certified DevNet Associate for using Cisco products in applications and user experiences

  • Cisco Certified CyberOps Associate for certifying your cybersecurity knowledge

Professional level

The Professional Certificate lets you focus on a core track to customize your technology track. You’ll take a core exam on Cisco technology and another in your specialty area. The professional training options include:

  • CCNP Enterprise, which focuses on enterprise infrastructure (e.g., dual-stack architecture, virtualization, security, and network assurance) as well as a concentration of your choice (options include network design, SD-WAN, wireless, and automation)

  • Cisco Certified DevNet Professional focuses on software development and design, including using APIs, Cisco platforms, application deployment and security, and infrastructure and automation. You will also select an automation concentration area such as enterprise, collaboration, data center, service provider, security, DevOps automation, IoT, or Cloud.

  • Cisco Certified CyberOps Professional, which helps develop your expertise in incident response, cloud security, digital forensics, and other active defense security.

  • CCNP Collaboration, which expands your knowledge of Cisco’s collaboration technologies.

  • CCNP Service Provider, which certifies that you know Cisco’s service provider infrastructure. You can concentrate on automation, VPN, or advanced routing.

  • CCNP Security tests your fundamental understanding of core security for Cisco technology and lets you specialize in web or email security, firewalls and IPS security, and more.

  • CCNP Data Center, which explores implementing and operating Cisco data center tech with specializations in troubleshooting, configuring, automating, and more.

Expert level

These certifications build on the previous levels and demonstrate that you have put in the extra work to become an expert. The training at the expert level covers end-to-end IT lifecycle skills and shows that you are an expert at what you do. You can demonstrate skills in planning and design, operating enterprise wireless or infrastructure, supporting collaboration tools, or optimizing security.

  • CCIE Enterprise Infrastructure helps you demonstrate leadership skills within complex enterprise infrastructure solutions.

  • CCIE Enterprise Wireless covers the entire wireless network lifecycle, from designing and deploying to operating and optimizing.

  • CCIE Data Center proves your expertise with data center technologies.

  • CCIE Security helps you develop your skills in designing, deploying, operating, and optimizing security technologies and solutions.

  • CCIE Service Provider validates your complex service provider networking skills, from planning and design to operating and optimizing.

  • CCIE Collaboration allows you to learn more about leading your organization in automation to scale and secure its collaboration solutions.

  • Cisco Certified Design Expert validates your technological and strategic expertise and demonstrates your mastery of network design.

  • Cisco Certified DevNet Expert proves you have expert skills in planning, designing, developing, and maintaining complex automation-driven network environments.

Other Cisco certifications

Cisco offers many other types of certification as well. These include:

  • Cisco Meraki Solutions Specialist validates your ability to design, implement, and operate Meraki technologies.

  • Cisco Customer Success Manager focuses on providing the skills to help you deliver immediate value to customer relationships.

  • Cisco Renewals Manager tests your knowledge of Customer Experience (CX) concepts.

Cisco’s continuing education credits.

Technology is constantly evolving, so you need to be a lifelong learner to keep up. Cisco’s continuing education (CE) credits let you maintain your active certification status. Associates need to earn 30 CE credits every three years, while Professionals need to earn 80 over three years.

Continuing education credits are available from digital/self-paced courses or instructor-led courses delivered by Cisco or live, eligible sessions at Cisco events. Passing a core Cisco exam is another way to earn CE credits.

Transitioning to new Cisco certifications

Founded in 1984, Cisco is now an international IT powerhouse. To maintain its market share, the company must frequently adapt. Its certification programs also evolve. For instance, the Architect certification level was recently phased out. Keep up with these trends to maintain your marketability, skill level, and knowledge of Cisco technologies. 

How long do Cisco certifications last?

Once you get your Cisco certification, your credential is active for three years. You can take continuing education to keep your certificate valid for another three years.


How to maintain Cisco certifications

You can maintain a Cisco certification by earning continuing education credits or retaking a Cisco certification exam. By participating in instructor-led training, eLearning courses, and technical presentations at Cisco Live, you can recertify without having to sit the exam again.

Cisco certification job and salary outlook

Cisco skills and certification can play a vital role in your IT career. Having Cisco certification can make a difference in jobs such as:

  • Cisco certified entry networking technician, $42,689 base pay per year [2]

  • Network engineer, $94,578 base pay per year [3]

  • Network architect, $130,390 base pay per year [4]

  • Systems administrator, $78,398 base pay per year [5]

  • Cybersecurity engineer, $99,394 base pay per year [6]

  • Information security engineer, $115,464 base pay per year [7]

Next steps

To gain these credentials, you’ll need to explore Cisco certification requirements. Cisco offers training courses and books, or you can take courses with third-party providers that offer digital or in-person learning options. 

Prepare for certification testing on Coursera with courses that boost your skills with Cisco technology. Specializations include Network Automation Engineering Fundamentals and Cybersecurity Operations Fundamentals. These two programs have been created by the same professionals who produced the CCNPs and are a great way to build foundational knowledge for more complicated and advanced certifications. Upon completing either specialization, earn a shareable Professional Certificate to include in your resume, CV, or LinkedIn profile.

Article sources


Skillsoft Global Knowledge. "15 Top-Paying IT Certifications for 2021, https://www.globalknowledge.com/us-en/resources/resource-library/articles/top-paying-certifications/#gref." Accessed January 17, 2023.

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