Is a CISCO certification worth it?

Is A CISCO Certification Worth It?

R Bhargav

Last updated December 1, 2016


Among the most sought-after certifications in the IT industry, CCNA, CCNP, CCIE are the most popular. As a CISCO certified professional, employers can rest assured of your proficiency in the fundamentals and concepts of networking. According to a recent PayScale report, the salary earned by certified network engineers specializing in CISCO networking ranges from $50,971 to $101, 017 per year.

CISCO Systems offers both general and dedicated certifications, which require candidates to take an examination. The general certifications have been classified into four different levels of expertise that are offered in seven different paths – including routing and switching, design, security, and storage networking.
Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT) is an entry-level certification, while professionals with enough work experience usually opt for Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) which also acts as a pre-requisite for CCNP.

In the specialized certification category, Cisco Certified Architect is rated to be the highest designation. For most experienced professionals, holding a CISCO certification is essential; however, if you are a resher, or are new to this stream, you may have your apprehensions regarding the value of the certification. We have listed four major reasons why a CISCO certification carries so much weight.

Reason #1: A CISCO Certification Enhances And Validates Your Networking Knowledge

One of the chief reasons to enroll in certification training is to enhance one’s knowledge. Most of the certifications cover wide range of technologies and protocols. Though not all of the topics covered in the training are useful for day-to-day work, it is essential to have a basic knowledge of all the topics.

  1. By earning a CISCO certification, you would be expanding your knowledge and experience base. You will be able to find and solve issues better, aside from being able to install, configure, operate, and troubleshoot routed and switched networks better & more quickly than before. Skills that you may already possess are honed and sharpened to a high level with the benefit of a mentor to guide you at every stage, thus making you industry-ready sooner.
  2. Doing a CISCO certification also exposes professionals to topics in networking they may not even have been aware of, prior to opting for certification training.
  3. A CISCO certification also arms professionals with the expertise necessary to tackle issues in real-world environments, with the pressures and risks associated with network deployment and maintenance in large organizations.

Reason #2: A CISCO Certification Opens Up New Avenues for Career Advancement

A CISCO certification puts your career on the fast-track as far as the roles that are offered to you are concerned, which means much better visibility in terms of your job profile. You will be performing the current tasks at an advanced level, with increased responsibilities, and have more ownership of tasks. Though some may argue that getting promotions is also possible without being certified, earning a certification speeds up the promotion process, & results in much larger salary hikes.

Reason #3: A CISCO Certification Nets You Steep Salary Hikes

Certifications validate that you have a certain level of knowledge and skills. They serve as proof of your skillsets in networking and troubleshooting.

Certain firms (especially CISCO partners) will directly hire CISCO certified professionals instead of hiring uncertified professionals. If you have a higher level of certification, it will help you land higher pay compensation.

As of May 2014, the US Bureau of Statistics (BLS) reports an average annual salary of $79,770 for network and system administrators, with the highest paid professionals drawing $120,000 or more. According to the InfoSec Institute, CCNA professionals can earn as much as $118,830 a year, on average.

Also, according to the BLS, there will be a 12% increase in demand for network professionals (including computer systems design companies, schools, telecom firms) between 2012 & 2022.

Reason #4: Employers Prefer CISCO Certified Professionals

International Data Corporation’s (IDC) December 2008 study, "Impact of Training: Functional Excellence Leads to Operational Productivity", supports the fact that training and certifications have a positive impact on strengthening return on investment, lower costs, and increased productivity for employers.

Listed below are a few benefits of CISCO certification training for employers:

  • According to 66% of managers, a CISCO certification improves the overall level of service and support offered to IT end users and customers.
  • Organizations with 40-55% of team members who are certified perform well above the average.
  • CISCO certification increases customer satisfaction because trained employees have a better understanding of how to deal with issues and solve them with a higher success rate.
  • According to 75% of managers, CISCO certifications are important for better team performance.

Considering these benefits to employers, a CISCO certification will serve to highlight your resume to potential recruiters, and help you stand apart from the crowd of non-certified professionals.

Reason #5: The Future Benefits Of A CISCO Certification Far Outweigh Opportunity Costs

Although mileage varies from person to person, for the average professional with no experience in Networking or even in the IT industry, completing an entire CISCO track –say, the R/S or Routing-Switching track- would take a maximum of 1500 hours of study to complete three certifications, CCNA R/S, CCNP R/S, and CCIE R/S.

At the US average wage for graduates of $16/hour, this translates to an opportunity cost of $24,000, assuming the professional were to quit their job to prepare for the certification exams full-time. With an average starting pay of over $50,000 per annum, getting a CISCO certification would mean the professional could spend an entire year preparing full-time and break-even after 6 months at the new job.  

About the Author

An experienced process analyst at Simplilearn, the author specializes in adapting current quality management best practices to the needs of fast-paced digital businesses. An MS in MechEng with over eight years of professional experience in various domains, Bhargav was previously associated with Paradox Interactive, The Creative Assembly, and Mott MacDonald LLC.


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