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Which Certification Paths to Take?

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Recommended Study Path

Please bear in mind that this is my personal advice based upon my 10 years in IT as an employee, contractor and company owner. Add to that the 3,000 plus students I have coached and supported in their studies and careers.

I don't know you personal circumstances to take what I have to say on board and then make your own mind up!

I recommend this path:

CCNA - CCNP - [CCNA Voice/Sec] [CCSP] CCVP] - CCIE

I do not personally recommend:

CCNA - CCNA Voice/Sec - CCNP etc.

My Reasoning ------------

If you want to cut the mustard as a Cisco network engineer you will spend 90% of your time dealing with VLANs and routing issues. 10% will be security and or voice.

If you want to earn maximum money and get the best return on your study time then CCNA and CCNP is the way to go. A CCNP will out earn a CCNP every time as well as avoid the mad dash for CCNA level roles when advertised.

If you find yourself working in a strong voice or security background then you may want to do the CCNA sec or voice before the CCNP. That is up to you and your circumstances.

If there isn't a strong call for that where you are then either avoid the CCNA voice/sec completely and stick to learning the 90% of stuff you will need to know day-to-day as a Cisco engineer.

Your Call ---------

Please just take what I have said into consideration and then take a few days to think about it and then make your own mind up.

If your passion is voice or security then go for it. Just bear in mind that if you can't get the VLANs or routing to work then your voice and security experience won't help you fix the issue.

Paul Browning

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1 of 1 people found the following comment or review helpful:
Yep, agreed..., June 5, 2012
By mrmeamotokeoto - See all my comment or reviews    
Deffo do my CCNP R&S after CCNA R&S. Once CCNP is done I can easily go back and get Security, Voice, Wi-Fi etc. To be honest though, if I was going down Security route, I would go for Checkpoint CCSA. For Wi-Fi, I don't often come across sites using Cisco equipment (down to cost), it's usually Aruba (yuk), for voice though, usually it's Cisco, Mitel etc...
0 of 0 people found the following comment or review helpful:
Old Guy, April 16, 2012
By RNAComm - See all my comment or reviews    
I am currently studying for my ICND2 exam and will soon have to make the "What next?" decision in the next few month. I see the logic for the CCNP as the next step if your already employed with a firm but I am opening up a contracting business and would like people's opinion about whither the CCNP is the best next step in my situation.
0 of 0 people found the following comment or review helpful:
great post, May 27, 2011
By shveta - See all my comment or reviews    
Very informative.Now I can make an informed decision.
I agree a strong base is necessary before we get to any specialization.
0 of 0 people found the following comment or review helpful:
I've changed my mind, September 19, 2010
By mrlogic0 - See all my comment or reviews    
I passed the CCNA in July and since then have been studying for the CWNA (vendor-neutral wireless exam)

I took the exam recently on a Free Retake offer (just wanted to see what it was like - I knew I didn't have a chance to pass).

My original plan was to pass this exam and then the CCNA Wireless (natural progression as lots of overlap with CWNA), however, after reading Paul's suggestions and looking at various vacancies to gauge if there is a need for wireless, I have changed my plan slightly.

CWNA >> CCNP Switch >> CCNP Route >> CCNP Tshoot >> CCNA Wireless.

I think this will better suit my ambition of getting into contracting quicker.
0 of 0 people found the following comment or review helpful:
good article, September 14, 2010
By vladccie - See all my comment or reviews    
Great article with good advice and reasoning behind it.

A strong foundation in routing/switching is required for voice and security design or troubleshooting.

The individual choice will depend very much on personal circumstances, intersts, background and current job roles.
0 of 0 people found the following comment or review helpful:
True, September 12, 2010
By Paul - See all my comment or reviews    
As I said - you have to make your own mind up. I still believe in strong foundations and there is a certain risk/danger if some specialise too early.

Cheers

Paul
0 of 0 people found the following comment or review helpful:
Mostly agree ish, September 8, 2010
By crispy - See all my comment or reviews    
But it's not always about Routing & Switching...

Security Contract roles that I have seen don't require CCNP at all, but do require some other non cisco technologies (nokia/checkpoint/juniper) as well as your standard CCSP (ASA/IPS technologies).

I do agree that a CCNP would stand you in good stead, and my lab is geared for full CCNP/CCSP as well CCIE (just need 2 x 3560's for CCIE R&S) - but I am digressing.

Some roles need you to hit the ground running, no matter the vocation - i wouldn't want to put someone in charge of security of a big network where all they know is how to route and switch ... just my two pence.

Still, CCNP is still the way to go for a lot of roles, but they others are catching up, they are rarer and sometimes more sought after ...

Cheers,
Chris P
2 of 2 people found the following comment or review helpful:
Which Path, September 6, 2010
By pwilko - See all my comment or reviews    
Good advice Paul,

I think if you are after a job CCNA then CCNP is the way to go. I did the CCNA Sec after CCNA, because Secuirty was a real weakness which I needed to improve in my current role, and I am glad I did.

Now I believe I need to be at CCNP in my currently role, and I am into it now.

The Cisco world now has so many streams, but CCNA and CCNP Routing and Switching are still the main benchmarks.

Peter
1 of 1 people found the following comment or review helpful:
Mostly agree, September 6, 2010
By erratictoad - See all my comment or reviews    
As someone who's had to do things the hard way because there was nobody to show me the 'right way' (another story another time) and who is currently in a 2nd / 3rd line role I do mostly agree with you.

However, where I disagree is the "you will spend 90% of your time" comment. I find in my current role... and I accept it could be different for other 'similar' roles that 50% of my time is spent on security based queries - as in, is the firewall blocking access type of thing.

I would estimate of the remaining 50% that only a max of 30% is routing / vlans stuff - and that includes chcecking routing from / to firewalls.

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