Years ago, when I first started to look at what certifications were available in the IT industry and what paths I could possibly take, I was a bit overwhelmed. There are a lot of certifications out there. Cisco takes the task of finding the right certification path and simplifies it.


Cisco has two types of certifications: Cisco Career certifications and Specialist certifications. They're similar with respect to the variety of training areas that they offer, including Routing & Switching, Network Design, Security, Voice, Collaboration, Data Center, and Service Provider to name a few. They're also similar in the fact that both types of certifications are geared toward job roles. However, they accomplish different goals.


Cisco Career certifications provide the broad knowledge, skills, and training needed to perform job roles at different levels: Entry, Associate, Professional, Expert, and Architect. They are often a requirement to be considered for certain positions. This chart presents the different Career certifications available at the various levels.


Career Certifications






CCNA Collaboration CCNP CollaborationCCIE Collaboration
Data Center
CCNA Data CenterCCNP Data CenterCCIE Data Center
SecurityCCENTCCNA SecurityCCNP SecurityCCIE Security
Service Provider

CCNA Video*

VoiceCCENTCCNA Voice*CCNP Voice**
WirelessCCENT CCNA WirelessCCNP Wireless CCIE Wireless

*Retiring August 14, 2015

**Retiring Fall 2015



Specialist certifications provide knowledge and training needed for a job role, but instead of being all-encompassing, they delve deep into a particular area of the job role, thus the name "Specialist." Specialist certifications validate proficiency in a particular technology with a curriculum that emphasizes real-world best practices and network solutions. This deep focus opens the path for you to become a Data Center Specialist, Security Specialist, Business Transformation Specialist, Network Programmability Specialist and others.


Having Cisco Career and/or Specialist certifications are necessary to show employers that you have the skills, knowledge, and training to perform the tasks in a certain job role.


Now that you know what certifications are available, be sure to look at the Certifications Index and the Specialist Certifications listed above, and let us know which certification route you feel is best for you.