A Cisco Certified Network Professional is a highly sought-after career designation. It requires formal computer education and certifications. An associate's degree is required in some cases and a bachelor's in others. Job options for network professionals are still growing as of 2015.
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Network analysts and engineers develop and maintain an organization's computer network system. Their job duties include designing, installing, and supporting local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), databases, intranets, and the Internet. Network professionals may enhance their experience and salary by completing certifications programs, such as the Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) program.
|Required Education||Certificate, associate's or bachelor's degree in computer or information science, or a related field|
|Certification||A range of voluntary certifications are offered by Cisco Systems; many require at least one year of experience in addition to proficiency tests|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||8% for network and computer systems administrators*|
|Median Salary (2015)||$77,810 for network and computer systems administrators*|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Salary Information for Cisco Certified Network Professionals
Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) does not specify salary ranges based on certification levels, it did note in May 2015 that the median annual salary earned by network and computer systems administrators was $77,810. PayScale.com reported that as of 2016, the salary earned by certified network engineers specializing in Cisco networking ranged from $56,035 to $107,365 per year.
Career Information for Cisco Certified Network Professionals
A Cisco Certified Network Professional often works as a network technician, systems engineer, network analyst, or systems administrator. They design, implement, repair, and maintain network systems for an organization. A CCNP typically needs at least one year of experience before applying for this certification. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that employment for network professionals will increase 8% from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). Industries employing the largest number of network professionals include computer systems design companies, schools, and telecommunications firms, according to the BLS.
Overview of Cisco Certifications
Cisco Systems offers both general and focused certifications, which all require passing at least one written examination. General certifications are offered at four different levels of expertise in seven different paths, including routing and switching, design, network security, and storage networking.
The entry-level designation is Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT), though professionals with enough work experience may opt to skip this level to attain the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) designation. The CCNA is a prerequisite for the professional designation of CCNP.
Cisco also provides expert-level certifications which do not formally require a previous certification, though in-depth knowledge is an expectation. The expert-level certification process includes a hands-on lab examination in addition to a written examination. Cisco also offers its highest designation, Cisco Certified Architect, in the design path. Only those with a current CCDE are eligible.
A Cisco Certified Network Professional is a highly-paid occupation, and jobs for network professionals are still increasing as of 2015. Earning this title requires various certifications, as well as an associate's or even a bachelor's degree in many cases, depending on the need.