As we head into 2023, you might be asking what are the best networking certifications for your career? And given how much time and money earning networking certifications can take, it’s no wonder.
Here at Dynamic, we’re asked for the same certifications time and time again. To clients, they’re a benchmark. Networking certifications are an indicator of three attractive qualities to employers: your skills, your experience, and your desire to continually learn and level up your skills.
According to Skillsoft’s ‘2022 IT Skills and Salary Report’, 91% of IT Professionals here in Europe hold at least one certification. Meanwhile, research from Cisco shows that 99% of organisations use certifications to influence their hiring decisions.
The statistics show that certifications aren’t just incredibly important for your career, but that a massive number of IT professionals are continuously improving their IT skills.
So we’ve spoken to Dynamic Search Solutions’ Managing Consultants, Chris Armistead-Cargan and Mark Humphreys; two of our Dynamic recruiters who have over 17 years of combined experience in Network and Infrastructure recruitment. And we asked them to share with you the certifications that their clients most want to see: AKA, the best networking certifications for your career in 2023.
The Best Networking Certifications For Professionals Working With MSPs
When we asked Mark for what he considers the most valuable certificate for anyone working in a Managed Service Provider environment, he only had one answer:
“The CCNP Enterprise: It’s a no brainer. The CCNP Enterprise sets you up for everything you need to know about working with networks at an MSP.”
And the statistics would have to agree. In Global Knowledge’s 2021 IT Skills and Salary Report, the CCNP Enterprise featured on multiple regions “Top 10 Paying Certifications” lists. And the 2022 report shows that Cisco certifications are in the “Top 5 Most Popularly Held” and “Most Pursued” certifications lists.
However, as certifications become more commonplace. On average, respondents hold four certifications in their field, with 41% of them earned in the last six months. So while the CCNP Enterprise is still one of the most valuable certs to earn, it doesn’t make you stand out as much as it used to.
After earning your CCNP Enterprise, you then have options to progress further down the Enterprise route, or into Wireless, Collaboration, Data Center, Network Security and now Cyber Security.
But for those who are working at MSPs, there are two paths that IT professionals typically follow.
“You have the opportunity to go down the ‘software defined route’ or the ‘security route’. The 300 – 415 ENSDWI Concentration Exam for the CCNP Enterprise is a great way to learn SD-WAN, which is one of the hottest skills on the market at the moment. Software Defined Networks are the future, especially within Enterprise, SD-Access, DNAC
Alternatively, you can go down the cyber security route: Cyber Security is always going to be needed. Which makes the CCNP Security an attractive complimentary Cisco certification to earn alongside your CCNP Enterprise.
Cisco FirePOWER is in massive demand at the moment. And the CCNP Security can offer experience working with this, depending on the exams you choose.”
The CCNP Enterprise is one of the strongest foundational certifications you can earn. But if you go get your CCNP Enterprise, get another track with it and double specialise? You’re set for 2023. You’ll be able to explore new career options, progress further down your chosen career path and bargain higher salaries.
The Best Networking Certifications For Professionals Working With ISPs
Meanwhile, over in the ISP space, Juniper is starting to make significant gains in the market. Mark had this to say about which Networking certifications would be the best for those working in ISPs:
“Juniper Certifications are becoming some of the hottest certifications on the market right now, especially in the Internet Service Provider space. They are really starting to challenge Cisco certifications in terms of value, and they could put you in a great position for 2023 in the ISP space. Because Juniper is cheaper for businesses. I work with a lot of companies that have, or are planning to make the switch to Juniper systems.”
Looking into the future of 2023 and beyond, CCNP level equivalent certifications such as the JNCIP-SP or JNCIS-SP are two certifications that will add long-term value to your professional career, especially if Juniper continues to expand in the market. But while Juniper are making gains in the market, this doesn’t mean they’re the only ones out there. We spoke to Chris Armistead-Cargan for what his clients want to see:
“Yes, Juniper is cheaper, which is obviously attractive for businesses. But that doesn’t mean Cisco is dead. A lot of companies still use Cisco, and don’t want to, or can’t make the transition over to Juniper systems.
And right now, there’s still more jobs on the market for a Cisco certified IT professional. For those who are working with service provider networks, the CCNP Service Provider is still a certification that’s going to be a significant boost to your career.”
The Best Network Security Certifications For Your Career
So we’ve touched on Security certifications while discussing the best certifications for both ISPs and MSPs. But what if you want the flexibility and ability to work at either? Lucky for you, this is where Fortinet’s NSE certifications step in.
The Fortinet Network Security Expert (NSE) program offers 8 individual certifications that indicate your level of expertise with Fortinet Cyber Security systems. And Fortinet has exploded in the past few years. Fortinet has become increasingly valuable to employees and employers over the years. A trend which only looks likely to continue.
“Our clients at ISPs and MSPs both want Fortinet certified professionals. So earning your NSE certification really gives you flexibility in your career. Fortinet Security seems to be the hottest product out there at the moment.
Of course they’re not the only systems out there. Cisco ASA and firePOWER are red-hot at the moment, and that doesn’t seem likely to change.
5 years ago, Fortinet wasn’t as big: But now, everyone uses it. It’s cheaper and it’s very good at what it does. So working towards your NSE 7 should be a career goal for every Cyber Security professional: But the NSE 6 is still a great certification to have”
The Three Best Networking Certifications for Your Networking Career in 2023
We asked Mark and Chris to summarise the three most valuable certifications to employers will be in 2023:
Mark: “The three hottest certifications in networking for 2023 are: The JNCIS-SP. NSE Fortinet 6, 7 or 8. And of course, the CCNP Enterprise.”
Chris: “For me, the most valuable certifications are the CCNP Enterprise, CCNP Security, and NSE 4 or 7. If they had an NSE 7, I’d want to speak to them. They’d automatically be a great candidate for a number of roles. Or if they had a CCNP Enterprise coupled with an NSE 4, they’d be a really valuable Network Engineer.”
Of course, we can’t tell you what is the best certification for you. That depends on the area of networking you work in, the systems you enjoy working on and your chosen career path.
But what we can give you, is some expert insight into employers and the networking market as we head into 2023. As well as offer you advice from the experts on earning your certifications. For those looking to earn a CCNP Enterprise or other complimentary Cisco certifications, we’ve worked with industry experts to put together a comprehensive guide to earning your Cisco certifications.