Network Administration: Certification - dummies

Network Administration: Certification

Certification is becoming increasingly important in today’s competitive job market. So you may want to pursue certification— not just to improve your skills, but also to improve your resume. Certification is an expensive proposition. Each test can cost several hundred dollars, and depending on your technical skills, you may need to buy books to study or enroll in training courses before you take the tests.

You can pursue two basic types of certification: vendor-specific certification and vendor-neutral certification. The major software vendors such as Microsoft and Cisco provide certification programs for their own equipment and software. CompTIA, a nonprofit industry trade association, provides the best-known vendor-neutral certification.

The following sections describe some of the certifications offered by CompTIA, Microsoft, and Cisco.



  • A+ is a basic certification for an entry-level computer technician. To attain A+ certification, you have to pass two exams: one on computer hardware, the other on operating systems.

  • Linux+ covers basic Linux skills such as installation, operations, and troubleshooting. This certification is vendor neutral, so it doesn’t depend on any particular version of Linux.

  • Network+ is a popular vendor-neutral networking certification. It covers four major topic areas: Media and Topologies, Protocols and Standards, Network Implementation, and Network Support.

  • Server+ covers network server hardware. It includes details such as installing and upgrading server hardware, installing and configuring a NOS, and so on.

  • Security+ is for security specialists. The exam topics include general security concepts, communication security, infrastructure security, basics of cryptography, and operational/organizational security.



  • MCTS, or Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist, is a certification in a specific Microsoft technology or product.

  • MCITP, or Microsoft Certified IT Professional, is a certification in deploying and maintaining IT infrastructure.

  • MCSE, or Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer, is a prestigious certification for networking professionals who design and implement networks. To gain this certification, you have to pass a total of seven exams. Microsoft offers separate Windows 2000 Server and Windows Server 2003 certification tracks.

  • MCSA, or Microsoft Certified System Administrator, is for networking professionals who administer existing networks.



  • CCNA, or Cisco Certified Network Associate, is an entry-level apprentice certification. A CCNA should be able to install, configure, and operate Cisco equipment for small networks (under 100 nodes).

  • CCNP, or Cisco Certified Network Professional, is a professional-level certification for Cisco equipment. A CCNP should be able to install, configure, and troubleshoot Cisco networks of virtually any size.

  • CCDA, or Cisco Certified Design Associate, is an entry-level certification for network design.

  • CCDP, or Cisco Certified Design Professional, is for network design professionals. Both the CCDA and CCNA certifications are prerequisites for the CCDP.

  • CCIP, or Cisco Certified Internetwork Professional, is a professional-level certification that emphasizes advanced use of IP and related protocols to create intranetworks.

  • CCIE, or Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert, is the top dog of Cisco certifications.

  • And much more! There are many more Cisco certifications to choose from, including certification for security, voice technology, wireless networking, and more.