What IT pros in the UK should know about the new Cisco cert requirements

IT pros considering Cisco professional certifications to improve their CVs face new requirements that address hot areas such as IoT and SD-WAN and new choices that include programming certifications.

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A major revamp of Cisco’s network certification program started this week, so IT pros seeking to beef up their credentials – and those looking to renew certifications they’ve already earned – face a different set of requirements.

The overhaul of the cert exams means changes to the body of knowledge that IT pros need to master in order to qualify. It also introduces Cisco DevNet certifications focused on programming that are meant to prepare candidates for employment in Cisco networking environments that rely more and more on software. 

The new line-up is in response to IT job postings that increasingly seek skills the former certifications didn’t address, particularly in emerging areas such as IoT, SD-WAN, multi-cloud, and machine learning.

In the UK, the CCNA and CCNP are two of the most desired certifications, and there are changes to both.

The new CCIE certification is issued in five areas of concentration – enterprise, security, service provider, collaboration, or data center – and requires candidates to pass a written exam and a lab exam in the core topic. Similarly, the CCNA is offered in the same concentration areas and requires passing the same core written exam as the CCIE but has a written concentration exam rather than the lab exam.

The most in-demand certifications are CCNA and CCNP in routing and switching, CCNA in security, Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT), and Cisco Certified Design Associate (CCDA), according to Global Knowledge.

The certifications are popular in part because those who have them may stand to earn more. According to IT Jobs Watch, the median annual salary for jobs in the UK (excluding London) that require Cisco certifications is £47,500, compared to £46,500 for all other academic and professional certifications. The same numbers for jobs in London are £70,000 for Cisco certifications and £60,000 for other academic and professional certs.

Drilling down, IT Jobs Watch says jobs requiring a CCNP pay a median salary of £60,000 in London and £50,000 in the rest of the UK. The average UK salary for a CCIE ranges from £90,000 for a CCIE in collaboration down to £63,750 for one in routing and switching. However, the certs aren’t a guarantee of higher pay. The median UK salary for a job requiring a CCNA is £45,000, slightly less than the average £46,500 for other academic and professional certifications.

Where to take prep classes

In the UK, courses to prepare candidates for the Cisco certification exams are available in classrooms and online. Here are a few of each.

In London, certificate seekers can take Cisco-certification prep courses at London Metropolitan University. These include CCNA routing and switching, CCNP routing and switching, CCNA security and CCNA cybersecurity operations.

The Open University offers Cisco classes to prep for CCNA and CCNP exams.

Focus on Training offers a range of Cisco prep courses in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and other UK cities.

The Knowledge Academy holds Cisco-cert prep classes in dozens of locations throughout the UK.

Sites offering online classes include reed.co.uk, distancelearningcentre, coursesonline, My Training Academy, among others. Cisco itself offers training for the certificate exams as well.

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