Which certification is best for you?
One of the best ways for IT professionals to legitimize their professional expertise is through certification. With a nearly endless supply of certifications in existence and only 24 hours in a day, it is important that time is spent getting the certifications that will have the greatest possible impact on your resume.
Two of the best-known names in the IT industry are Microsoft and Cisco. Read on to learn more about the most popular certifications that are offered by these two tech giants.
Cisco certifications are quite straightforward. The CCNA Routing and Switching certification is a good ”catch-all” for demonstrating skills with Cisco products and procedures to potential employers.
The CCNA certification has no prerequisites. Candidates can either take 100-105 ICND1 and 200-105 ICND2 exams or the 200-125 accelerated CCNA exam. The certification needs to be updated every three years.
You can update your certification either by retaking one of the qualifying exams (with the exception of 100-105 ICND1) or by going for certain higher level Cisco certifications. In February 2020, Cisco will update their existing path to certification with a new model. Find out more about existing and upcoming ways to get CCNA certified on their website.
If you are interested in working with Cisco hardware and systems, you go with the CCNA certification. However, what certification should you go for if you work with Microsoft programs and systems?
MCSA and MCSE Certification
Because Microsoft has such a wide range of products and services, their certification scheme can’t be as straightforward as Cisco’s. There is no catch-all certification.
However, if you want to become certified with Microsoft, you probably want either an MCSA (Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate) entry-level certification, or MCSE (Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert) expert-level certification.
After changes in 2017, Microsoft offers five core competency areas, or 'paths' to MCSE certification, through different MCSA level courses.
The five core paths are:
- Core Infrastructure
- Data Management & Analytics
- App Builder
- Business Applications
Each path offers a different number of required courses at the MSCA level and one elective. Candidates can complete the exams on a path in any order to receive the appropriate certification. Once the required courses are completed, candidates take one of the electives within their chosen competency area to acheive the MSCE certification, then choose a different elective the next year in order to keep their certification relevant and their knowledge broad.
The requirements and number of courses for each MSCE certification vary, but all of them will start with MCSA-level courses. Microsoft clearly lists all of its certifications and their requirements for both MSCA and MSCE.
Whether you choose the CCNA or an MCSA or MCSE, you can be sure that employers will understand what their value and know that they can expect a certain level of expertise from someone who has been able to pass the stringent requirements to either a Cisco or Microsoft certification!