How to Choose: Which Certification Is Best for Networking?

by Brett Hanley | Aug 13, 2018
Which networking certification is best for you?

Throughout your IT career, certifications can help validate the skills that get you to the next level. When it comes to networking and IT infrastructure, choosing the best certification can be confusing. Making sure you have a solid foundation of IT knowledge is a great place to start. Then you can choose whether vendor-neutral or vendor-specific certifications are your best option. Keep reading to determine what certification is best for networking.

Begin with the Basics

Whether you’re a career changer just getting started in IT or you’re in an entry-level role and thinking about your next move, you’ll want to make sure you have a solid foundation of IT knowledge. CompTIA Core Skills Certifications set a baseline of knowledge that will serve you well throughout your IT career.

CompTIA Core Skills Certifications

  • CompTIA IT Fundamentals+

    CompTIA IT Fundamentals+ is designed for those with little to no experience and introduces the building blocks of IT. It helps career changers and students in other fields decide whether or not IT is right for them, making it the perfect first step for a career in networking.

  • CompTIA A+

    Many employers seek out candidates with CompTIA A+. when they’re hiring for entry-level IT and help desk positions. It’s about much more than PC support – CompTIA A+ prepares candidates to troubleshoot and problem solve and covers a wide range of IT issues, from networking and operating systems to mobile devices and security.

The Best Certifications for Networking

Once you have a solid foundation of IT skills, you can look toward a specialization in networking. Here are some of the top IT certifications for a networking career.

The CompTIA Infrastructure Career Pathway

The five certifications along the CompTIA Infrastructure Career Pathway validate the skills needed across IT operations. CompTIA certifications are vendor neutral, which means the skills covered can be applied to any devices and systems, and many include performance-based questions, which means test takers must demonstrate the hands-on skills needed to do the job.

  • CompTIA Network+

    Fast track your career. Click here to subscribe today and save 10 percent on CompTIA products. IT pros who hold CompTIA Network+. are ready to manage and design networks, properly control network devices, enhance network performance, troubleshoot network issues and maintain network security. It aligns with IT job roles including network administrator, junior systems engineer, network support specialist and network analyst positions. CompTIA Network+ is an ideal match for IT professionals wondering, “Which certification is best for networking?”

  • CompTIA Security+

    CompTIA Security+. validates the baseline skills needed to perform core IT security functions. It focuses on the latest trends and techniques in risk management, risk mitigation, threat management and intrusion detection, helping network professionals understand how to keep their organizations secure and connected. It aligns with IT job roles such as systems administrator, network administrator, security administrator and junior IT auditor/penetration tester.

  • CompTIA Linux+

    CompTIA Linux+. covers concepts including system configuration, the command line interface, scripting basics, network settings and services and system security. IT networking professionals with CompTIA Linux+ know how to configure, boot and troubleshoot system network settings and services and write scripts and perform basic SQL data manipulation. It aligns with job roles such as technical support specialist, systems administrator, network administrator, web administrator and Linux administrator.

  • CompTIA Server+

    CompTIA Server+. prepares IT pros to work in data centers and cloud environments, validating the skills needed to work on major server platforms. It covers server administration skills like virtualization, security and network-attached storage as well as networking, troubleshooting and disaster recovery. CompTIA Server+ aligns with IT roles such as server support technician, IT/server technician, server administrator and storage administrator.

  • CompTIA Cloud+

    As cloud computing becomes more prevalent in today’s organizations, IT networking professionals need the skills to maintain and optimize cloud infrastructure services. CompTIA Cloud+. ensures IT pros can successfully execute workload migrations to the cloud, properly allocate cloud resources, implement security controls and troubleshoot capacity, automation, connectivity and security issues. It aligns with IT jobs such as systems administrator, network administrator, systems engineer, network engineer and cloud engineer.

Cisco Routing and Switching Certifications

If you’re looking for vendor-specific networking certifications, Cisco is among the most popular. By combining CompTIA certifications with vendor-specific certifications, an IT professional can validate their job role expertise in applying those skills to a specific tool. Cisco certifications are categorized by experience level – associate, professional and expert – and apply networking skills to Cisco devices.

  • Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Routing and Switching

    CCNA Routing and Switching covers interactions and network functions of firewalls, wireless controllers and access points. The IT certifications covers installing, configuring, operating and troubleshooting Cisco switches and routers, mitigating basic security issues and working with wireless networks. CCNA Routing and Switching aligns with IT jobs including network administrator, network engineer and network specialist.

  • Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) Routing and Switching

    CCNP Routing and Switching certifications is recommended for those with one to three years of networking experience. It covers advanced security, voice, wireless and video solutions relevant to both physical and virtual networks. CCNP Routing and Switching aligns with IT jobs including network technician, systems engineer, network engineer and support engineer.

  • Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) Routing and Switching

    CCIE Routing and Switching is for expert-level engineers who plan, operate and troubleshoot complex IT infrastructures. It’s recommended for IT pros with three to five years of networking experience and covers topics like layer 2 and 3 technologies, virtual private network (VPN) technologies and infrastructure security and services.

Which certification is best for networking? It depends both on your experience level and the type of IT infrastructure work you’ll be doing. For a more detailed plan, take a look at CompTIA’s IT Certification Roadmap to find certifications related to network and cloud technologies; hardware, services and infrastructure; storage and data and more.

Launch your infrastructure career with CompTIA Network+.


  • Anushka Sinha

    Monday, October 22, 2018

    Thank you for choosing this topic for discussion...can you please provide breif about CCNA certification..What is the overall syllabus,Overall time period for preparation,CCNA training institiute,Study material,Online sites for preparation...I want to do this certification so please help me for figure it out or if there is any alternatives for this certification that also suggest me..waiting for your valuable suggestion..Once again Thank you

  • Monday, October 22, 2018

    Hi, Anushka! Thanks for your question. While we are not experts on CCNA, we can tell you that it is comparable to CompTIA Network+. The key difference is that CCNA validates the skills related to Cisco equipment whereas CompTIA Network+ validates general networking skills that can be applied to products from any vendor. CCNA is also recommended for people with slightly more networking experience (9 months for CompTIA Network+ vs 1-3 years for CCNA). If you are just getting into networking, CompTIA Network+ may be a better option for you. CompTIA recently released CertMaster Learn for CompTIA Network+, which will help you get up to speed on the skills you need to get certified. Check it out here: Good luck!

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