Aspiring Cisco-certified professionals usually enter training at any point with few prerequisites other than an interest in pursuing the career. If a program at a community college is selected, admissions criteria, such as completion of a high school diploma, must usually be met. Cisco Systems authorizes its training partners, and it is recommended that any school chosen be designated as such.
Upon completion of any training program, students must take a specific certifying examination. A wide range of programs are available, including self-study, online and on-site programs. Some certification programs are offered in conjunction with an associate degree programs in information technology, and some are stand-alone programs.
Certificate of Achievement - Cisco Network Associate
A course of study preparing students for the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certifying examination generally requires six months or two semesters to complete. Graduates will be able to install and manage simple local and wide area networks and understand Cisco router configurations. Specific course topics include the following:
- Building a simple network
- Ethernet and wireless local area networks (LAN's)
- LAN and wide area network (WAN) connections
- Network implementation
- Network management
- Switched network construction
Certificate of Achievement - Cisco Network Professional
A Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) training program prepares students to install and manage larger LAN's and WAN's with up to 500 nodes. The CCNP curriculum includes:
- Building scalable Cisco networks
- Cisco multilayer switched networks
- Securing converged wide area networks
- Optimizing converged networks
Associate of Applied Science in Computer Networking Technology
Earning an associate degree in networking with a specialization in Cisco Systems provides graduates with the opportunity to acquire leadership roles in information technology. Such programs take four to six semesters to complete, and graduates are usually prepared to complete the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) or Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) certification examinations and therefore obtain those credentials. In addition to core general education courses, all of the courses required for the certificate programs are included, and the appropriate examinations must be passed. Typically course topics include:
- Computer fundamentals
- Psychology of motivation
- Communication arts
- Computer servicing
- Networking concepts
Popular Career Options
Individuals who participate in CISCO training can go on to many lucrative careers. Some job titles might include a computer network architect, computer programmer, computer support specialist and computer systems analyst just to name a few.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The BLS states that the employment for computer network architects is expected to grow 9% from 2014-2024. As of May 2015, these architects make a mean annual wage of $103,110.
In addition to the programs and certifications discussed previously, additional certification options are available in routing and switching, design, network security, service provider, storage networking, voice and wireless.
Cisco Systems offers numerous virtual events, webcasts, seminars and conferences each year to certified networking personnel. Topics include the creation of more efficient and cost-effective processes and education on the most current technologies. Cisco-certified associates, professionals, experts and architects are eligible for membership in the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), a professional society for engineers and members of the technology community. Membership provides access to various education events, career support services and online communities.
Cisco training programs can be found in certificate and associate degree forms, with programs catering towards different levels of Cisco knowledge. Graduates may go on to pursue careers in computer programming, network architecture, and related fields.