6 Network Certifications for Your IT Career in 2022

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A network certification may set you up with the skills and knowledge needed to progress in an IT network career.

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Network certifications are credentials you can earn to demonstrate your ability to work with networks in the information technology (IT) field. They can be vendor-specific—focusing on the technology from one company, like Cisco or Microsoft—or vendor-neutral, meaning the things you learn should be applicable across different networking technologies.

Network certifications: Should you get one?

Though certifications are often not required, they can be a good way for employers to validate your skill level quickly. Network certifications can help you make your resume more competitive and gain the skills you need to succeed in an IT role. If you’re just getting started in IT and are still not sure about which path in IT you want to take, consider an entry-level IT certification or an introductory course such as Google’s Technical Support Fundamentals:

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People with network certifications can become network technicians, administrators, engineers, architects, or other network-related professionals. Knowledge of networks can also be useful for some system administration positions.

Network certifications

1. Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)

Widely regarded as a staple network certification, the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) is an associate-level (early career) credential. It covers a wide range of networking fundamentals. Cisco is one of the largest companies in the networking industry, making this credential highly relevant. Cisco also offers entry (CCT), professional (CCNP), and expert-level certifications (CCDE). 

  • Cost: $300

  • Requirements: Requires one exam. No prerequisites, though at least one year of experience working with Cisco solutions is recommended.

  • What’s being tested: Network access, IP connectivity, IP services, security, automation, and programmability

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

2. CompTIA Network+

A vendor-neutral certification, the CompTIA Network+ certification tests your understanding of networking basics regardless of the company your networking technology may come from. CompTIA also offers the CompTIA A+ certification for those who are looking for entry-level IT jobs.

  • Cost: $338

  • Requirements: Requires one exam. No prerequisites, though 9-12 months of networking experience or CompTIA A+ certification is recommended.

  • What’s being tested: Essential networking concepts; cabling, device, and storage technologies; managing networks; security; and troubleshooting methodology and tools

Read more: What is the CompTIA A+ Certification? A Certification to Start Your IT Career

3. Juniper Networks Certified Associate - Junos (JNCIA-Junos)

The JNCIA-Junos is the associate-level certification for Juniper Networks technologies. It’s the first step required for those who want to take more advanced certifications from Juniper Networks in data center technologies, enterprise routing and switching, or service provider routing and switching.

  • Cost: $200

  • Requirements: Requires one exam. No prerequisites.

  • What’s being tested: Junos OS fundamentals like software architecture and transit traffic processing, configuration basics, routing policy, and firewall filters

4. SolarWinds Certified Professional

The SolarWinds Certified Professional credential enables you to use and maintain SolarWinds network and system products. SolarWinds products are used prominently in specific industries, like government and accounting.

  • Cost: $200

  • Requirements: Requires one exam. No prerequisites.

  • What’s being tested: Diagnostics, database performance analysis, network configuration, performance monitoring, network architecture

5. Aruba Certified Mobility Associate (ACMA)

Some companies may expect you to know Aruba networking features. The Aruba Certified Mobility Associate (ACMA) ensures you can design, set up, and configure a basic Aruba Wireless Local Area Network. There are four other associate-level Aruba certifications (Switching, ClearPass, Design, and Security); getting any three of them will make you an Aruba Edge Associate.

  • Cost: $230

  • Requirements: Requires one exam. No prerequisites, though candidates are encouraged to take a course in Aruba Mobility Fundamentals.

  • What’s being tested: Essential workings of Aruba WLAN, using V8 operating system architecture

6. VMWare Certified Technical Associate - Network Virtualization (VCTA-NV)

If you’re interested in virtualization, getting the VCTA-NV certification can be a good way to get started with the essentials of the VMWare NSX network virtualization platform. The certification will test your basic knowledge of the NSX terminology, graphical user interfaces, and other core technical skills.

  • Cost: $125

  • Requirements: Requires one exam. No prerequisites.

  • What’s being tested: Installing, configuring, and setup; performance-tuning, optimization, and upgrades; fundamental architecture and technologies; planning and designing; troubleshooting

Networking career paths

Any company that uses computers is liable to need networking professionals. If you want to enter the field, starting in an entry-level IT role like a help desk technician can be your first step. You can use an entry-level IT credential like the CompTIA A+ to prepare. From there, you might choose to specialize in networks and become a network administrator. You can also choose to become a network engineer or a network architect.

Network professionals might also expand their skill set to work in system administration or cybersecurity. Entry-level IT professionals who are interested in specializing in cybersecurity may consider taking an introductory course like IBM’s IT Fundamentals for Cybersecurity Specialization:

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