The first piece in this multipart series will be focused on picking the correct certification for you. Though the process might seem daunting, I have simplified it to three easy steps. Think of this process as similar to picking the job you want. Enjoy exploring the possibilities.
1. Know Your Goal
You have a goal. You know what you want out of a certification, whether it is to become more confident in your current role, move into a more advanced job role, venture to a new area of technology, or simply just get a job. Regardless, the first step in identifying the correct certification is to pinpoint that goal. Picking the right certification can help you to achieve your goal by providing you with the knowledge, skills, and training necessary to get there. Once you know your goal, keep it in mind for steps 2 and 3.
2. Choose a Learning Path
The learning path you desire does not necessarily depend on where you currently are, but more so on where you would like to go. Cisco offers a wide variety of training areas, in both the Cisco Career Certifications program and Cisco Specialist Certifications program, including Routing and Switching, Network Design, Security, Voice, Collaboration, Data Center, Wireless, and Service Provider. If you aren't quite sure, visit the Certification Index to explore the different options for Cisco Career Certifications and Cisco Specialist Certifications.
3. Identify a Level of Certification
At this point, you should know what study route you'd like to take and exactly where you'd like it to get you. That is important because the level of certification you choose will be entirely dependent on your goal. Cisco offers five levels of networking certification: Entry, Associate, Professional, Expert, and Architect. In addition, Cisco offers the Specialist certifications. All Cisco certifications are designed around specific job roles, and help you build and validate expertise as you advance in your career. Many industry positions require candidates to possess active Cisco certifications. Here is an example (courtesy: CareerBuilder).
If you want to go the Cisco Career Certifications route but are having trouble deciding which level is right for you, refer back to the “Get On The Path To Success” blog post from a few weeks ago. If you're not sure about which Specialist certification you desire, check back to the blog post “Is There a Specialist in You?” to remind yourself of the options and perks to Specialist certifications. Browsing through the previous blog posts from “Certifications For Success” will surely give you a better idea of what you'd like.
Now That You've Picked Your Certification…
Get ready for next week. Next week we will explore how to get started, whether it is the first step on your journey to Expert level or starting a Specialist certification. Regardless, "Your Guide to Get Certified" will help you arrive there. Stay tuned!