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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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Susan Fogarty
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Susan Fogarty,
User Rank: Strategist
6/17/2014 | 1:05:03 PM
Additional certs?
What other additional certifications are community members thinking of to broaden their expertise? I'm sure we missed some -- let us know what they are.
OrhanErgun
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OrhanErgun,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/17/2014 | 2:25:04 PM
Re: Additional certs?
I would like to see CCDE in  the list. It deserves.:)
aditshar1
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aditshar1,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/18/2014 | 2:38:24 AM
Re: Additional certs?
Although I am struggling these days to complete my CCIE, but i feel ITIL and JNCIE should also be allowed to make in space in your list.
Brian.Dean
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Brian.Dean,
User Rank: Ninja
6/18/2014 | 6:45:30 AM
Re: Additional certs?
@Susan, data is increasing becoming mobile and financial data is also coming along for the ride. This make risk and information management very important, individuals in the financial departments have a lot of demand to learn about techniques by which data can be audited, tracked and secured (both from attackers and backups). I feel this is one reason that makes CRISC certification among the top paying certifications for 2014.
Susan Fogarty
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Susan Fogarty,
User Rank: Strategist
6/19/2014 | 9:46:15 AM
Re: Additional certs?
Brian, I think you're right. There is a lot riding on the success or failure of these folks, so they should be paid well, IMO.
Susan Fogarty
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Susan Fogarty,
User Rank: Strategist
6/19/2014 | 9:48:39 AM
Re: Additional certs?
Aditya, thanks for the feedback. I hear conflicting things about ITIL these days and how it works with newer architectures like cloud and SDN. Are companies still training employees in ITIL?
aditshar1
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aditshar1,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/20/2014 | 1:30:23 AM
Re: Additional certs?
Yes i can still see numbers increasing for ITIL certification, although i am not sure about conflicting points, would be helpful if you can share some of them here. Also Cloud and SDN is more about Software and SAM (Software asset managment) is a primary topic of ITILv2 and is closely associated with the ITIL Application Management function.
Brian.Dean
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Brian.Dean,
User Rank: Ninja
6/20/2014 | 9:19:15 AM
Re: Additional certs?
Susan, that is a good point, often times it can take decades to buildup these expertise, either through education/certification or from experience, or both, all this requires resources in the form of time or capital, and the returns should definitely be able to match the initial investment.

And rightly so, a firm should expect to compensate an individual that is going from a financial management position to a CFO position, with a $100k+ range pay. 
Susan Fogarty
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Susan Fogarty,
User Rank: Strategist
6/20/2014 | 10:34:13 AM
Re: Additional certs?
Aditya, I unfortunately don't quite understand all the details of the disagreement, but there's an article about it here:

http://ubm.io/1m3H6Ec

And I have heard other speakers and experts say that that ITIL's is too static and forces businesses to adapt to a common model when they should be developing one that is unique to their own needs.
ReturnoftheMus
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ReturnoftheMus,
User Rank: Moderator
6/20/2014 | 1:25:02 PM
LOL, if World-War III were to break out tomorrow Greg would probably blame it on ITIL
'ITIL's is too static and forces businesses to adapt to a common model'

That common model has helped many an Enterprise solve the business/IT alignment conundrum that has plauged them for many years. It's also a framework and like all frameworks, you pick and choose the parts that are most relevant.

However, in this context I doubt it could be classed as a cutting-edge skill, a bit like Project and Risk Management, only for the experienced.

I think the best bets on the list were NSX and Cisco's Network Programmabilty offerings, everything else seemed more geared towards developers. On the OpenStack front, I'd probably go with the RedHat distro rather than Mirantis.
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