In 2024, top IT priorities are expected to remain focused on the security of IT assets and networks, managing remote and cloud-based communications and networks, and managing internal zero-trust networks that are being deployed in remote facilities to run IoT (Internet of Things) and other types of localized processing.
Supporting these priorities will require IT network professionals to sharpen their skills. Taking on continuing education or a technical certification also builds your resume.
So, what are some of the best educational courses and network certifications to consider?
Computer Networking-Digital Network Security
Allison offers a free, self-paced network security course that covers defining network infrastructure and network security, network security protocols, custom RRAS (routing and remote access service) configuration, firewalls and network security, proxy servers, and security systems. It is a nice overview course for individuals new to network security.
Caltech Cyber Security Bootcamp
Caltech offers a 24-week certification in network cyber security that includes six weeks of “real world” projects with sandbox labs and practice tools. Participants gain experience in both offensive and defensive cybersecurity and learn about network security and digital forensics. The University also offers an online job portal for students. This is an intensive network security certification for advanced network professionals who wish to further advance their skills.
CompTIA Security Certification
Recommended for IT professionals with at least two years of security experience, the CompTIA Security Certification equips participants with the knowledge and skills needed to install and configure systems to secure networks, applications, and devices. The course also covers threat analysis and mitigation, risk management, and governance. The course list price is $2,499.
Vendor-specific security networking courses and certifications
Cisco, Fortinet, Juniper Networks, and Palo Alto Networks are among the network vendors that offer network security courses for their platforms.
Cloud network design and management
Cloud Computing Specialization
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign offers a six-part, intermediate-level cloud course that covers cloud networking, cloud computing, and cloud applications. The course culminates with a 21-hour cloud computing project that leads to certification. Topics covered and skills gained include but are not limited to Cloud Computing, Distributed Computing Architecture, Cloud Infrastructure, Cloud Networking, and Security Engineering. The course spans three months at ten hours per week.
Vendor-specific cloud networking courses and certifications
If your site is using Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud, each vendor has a set of cloud/network courses and certifications that provide training and practices on how its cloud and cloud networks operate, what you can do to manage your on-cloud network with them, and which cloud management tools are available.
Courses and certifications are:
Although many of these courses and certifications cover aspects of cloud that may not be directly network-linked, the depth of understanding that they offer enables network professionals to optimize network designs, performance, and security based upon a broader, deeper understanding of cloud functionality.
Zero-trust networks, IoT, and securing the edge
Forrester offers a 60-day zero-trust networks course that discusses the business cases for implementing zero trust networks, how to implement a zero trust network, and what IT must do to provide ongoing support for zero trust networks. Participants who complete the course and pass an online final exam will receive a certificate. The cost is $2,350 per person.
Introduction to Edge Computing Course Program
Presented by IEEE, the Edge Computing Course Program is a five-course study of edge computing. The program overviews edge computing and then drills down into practical applications for edge. Courses on designing edge security solutions and gaining experience with edge tools and software are of particular interest to network professionals.
Depending on your job needs and career aspirations, there is a broad assortment of network courses that can address the present network priorities and pain points of companies, as well as the career aspirations of network professionals.
Many of these courses and certifications are vendor-neutral, while others are sponsored by network vendors themselves and can be extremely useful if you are using a particular vendor's platform and want to learn more.
Network courses and certifications come in myriad forms and at a variety of price points. The most robust courses tend to be offered at robust price points, while other courses at minor or intermediate levels can be small investments of both time and money.
Regardless of which educational pathway you choose, network technologies are continually moving forward, so it is incumbent on everyone in the field to keep up. The good news is that there is a wide variety of educational offerings to choose from.