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Susan Fogarty
Susan Fogarty
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11 Best IT Certifications For Cutting-Edge Skills

Networking and infrastructure professionals looking to improve their job skills should consider these groundbreaking training programs.
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The networking industry is suffering a bit of an identity crisis, making the once clear path to networking success seem mighty murky. Industry leaders are debating basic ideas like whether networks should be hardware or software, and a significant percentage of the most experienced architects and engineers are veering off into such disciplines as virtualization, cloud architecture, and even application development.

Cisco's CCIE has long been the pinnacle of networking certifications. But in a time of uncertainty, the predictable route may not be the best one. Even Cisco is introducing new education programs to adapt to the changing technology landscape, as you'll see.

So, this might not be the best time to lean back on that old CCNA and take it easy. In fact, it's probably an excellent time for enterprising IT pros to explore the new opportunities in emerging technologies and job roles. We've assembled a list of certification and training programs in areas that show large amounts of growth for networking professionals. Check them out and consider just where your career path might take you next. 

 

Susan Fogarty has almost two decades of experience writing and developing content for IT professionals, especially those deeply involved in enterprise network infrastructure. She previously worked at TechTarget, where she spent 11 years, six as the Editorial Director of its ... View Full Bio

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jgherbert
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jgherbert,
User Rank: Ninja
7/1/2014 | 12:33:12 PM
Re: Additional certs?
@PMH553:

Agreed. While certs do not prove your skills, they do end up doing a couple of favorable things for you on a personal level:

- Make your resumé look better (purely subjective)

- Match keywords from searches (e.g "CCNP or equivalent") meaning you get considered more often

- Provide a differentiator between you and somebody equally capable

 

 
PMH553
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PMH553,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/30/2014 | 5:25:43 PM
Re: Additional certs?
Additional certs play a big role in landing interview and possibly a good job. I always hear that I have 20 years of experience why do I need a cert? Well the person next to you has 15 years experience and has it thats why. There is a point in time where the years of experience flat line as a sell to a company. I know it is not IT technical but PMP Certifcation can be used by anyone. 
MarciaNWC
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MarciaNWC,
User Rank: Strategist
6/30/2014 | 4:52:00 PM
Re: Cost
@jgherbert -- That approach sounds like a practical one if a company really wants to encourage its employees to earn certifications.
jgherbert
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jgherbert,
User Rank: Ninja
6/30/2014 | 9:31:51 AM
Re: Cost
@aditshar1: "But still fact is company will only pay when you achieve passing grades otherwise you need to feel the loss."

Obviously I'm not going to argue with what your company actually does, but I will say that in my opinion, the "pay for the first time and the time you pass" is a much more equitable system. It still prevents people from taking exams over and over again at the company's expense, but it does also give some wiggle room for when you simply have a bad day, or realize you totally misunderstood a test. It happens, and certainly with the cost of CCIE I'm not sure I personally could take the financial risk on having to pay for an exam (plus travel expenses) that most people fail on first try. And then the company most likely wants to tie you in for at least a year afterwards in return for ME taking the risk? No thanks.
aditshar1
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aditshar1,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/30/2014 | 3:13:48 AM
Re: Cost
I agree you jgherbert on CCIE, one of the exam which seeks lot of pratice, attention and money with chances of getting fail at first attempt. But still fact is company will only pay when you achieve passing grades otherwise you need to feel the loss.
PaulS681
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PaulS681,
User Rank: Strategist
6/29/2014 | 2:58:24 PM
Re: Cost
I can understand those stipulations. If I owned a company and I was paying for my employee it would have to benefit the company. I would require a passing grade to get reimbursed.
jgherbert
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jgherbert,
User Rank: Ninja
6/28/2014 | 11:27:00 PM
Re: Cost
For many years my employer paid for exams on the basis that they would pay for your first attempt, and the one you pass. That way you get some buffer especially for less well known exams (or very new versions of them) that don't have the same level of study material out there for them - but the pressure is still very much on you to pass.

 

I think that's a particularly fair policy; so for example with the CCIE, it seems wholly unreasonable to say that a company will only pay for the one you pass, given that most people still fail first time...
AbeG
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AbeG,
User Rank: Black Belt
6/28/2014 | 6:09:30 PM
Re: Cost
The question also, of who benefits more employee or employer when the employer pays for the certification?

Oftentimes, the employer will only pay for the certification if the employee gets a passing grade, which can be risky for the employee considering how difficult some of these certifications are.  This could be yet another justification for cheating, not being able to afford (literaly) to fail.

Another common stipulation may be that the employee can only get re-imbursed for 1-2 exams per year and must agree to work at the company for say 1yr after the last exam has been taken.  Let's say a person is going for a certification that requires 5 exams.  That means, it would take you at least 3yrs to get certified if you want to be re-imbursed, plus an extra year working for the company.  Once these 4yrs are over, it is likely that the certification provider has already created an updated version of the credential.

At that point, do you start the process all over again or maybe enter the job marketplace with an outdated credential?
AbeG
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AbeG,
User Rank: Black Belt
6/28/2014 | 6:02:45 PM
Re: Cost
I agree.  Not only is cost an issue, but then there is the question of who stands to benefit the most from the fact that you just spend a lot of time and money getting certified?

When there is an abundance of certified professionals for competing technology #1 vs. competingn tech #2.  Technology #1 will become more popular because the labor will end up being cheaper and there will be more experts who know how to handle it, thereby giving the technology a better reputation of being efficient, reliable, and trusted by many industry professionals.
AbeG
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AbeG,
User Rank: Black Belt
6/28/2014 | 5:58:17 PM
Re: Cost
I think certifications are a very controversial issue.  Some people will justify cheating on exams and that may be one (not the only) explanation behind some people who have a long list of certifications.
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