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Other Certifications to Consider

There is a laundry list of secondary certifications that you can consider after you have achieved a primary certification such as the CNE or the MCSE. One of the most popular (and financially rewarding) is a Cisco certification. Like Novell and Microsoft, Cisco offers an array of certifications in its own product line. Its entry-level certification, the Cisco Certified Network Administrator (CCNA), is a well-accepted and useful certification, especially as Cisco routers and switches become increasingly popular.

If you have achieved a high-level, primary certification such as the Master CNE or one of the upper-level Microsoft certifications, you may want to consider the Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP). This is Cisco's intermediate certification and can add considerable value to your list of credentials.

Then there is the Cisco Certified Internet Professional (CCIE), which is quite possibly the most respected certification in the industry today. The CCIE costs thousands of dollars and hundreds of man-hours to obtain. It also includes travel costs, as the test is administered only at Cisco's lab in San Jose. The test costs approximately $1,000, and very few people pass it the first time. This explains why there are only a handful of CCIEs around the country. Nonetheless, for anyone looking to get to the top if the IT ladder, the CCIE is the ultimate goal to shoot for.

Product-Specific

Finally, there are dozens of other credentials that you can pursue, most of them product-specific, but each with its own set of advantages. Oracle offers several levels of certification training that can be useful and make you much more valuable. Intel is also entering the certification business with its e-Business certification. There are also high-end certifications from companies such as SolutionBank, ERP, and Baan. They are for the most serious IT professionals and specifically target IT professionals in high-level consulting positions.

Employer Needs

Perhaps the best way to determine what secondary certifications you should pursue is to determine the needs of your current employer. For example, if you are a CNE and your company is also doing a lot of work with Cisco, you may want to consider the CCNA or CCNP.

In many cases, your employer will even pay for you to obtain these certifications. This can be a huge advantage to you because, if there is one thing certifications are not, it's cheap. One way to offset the cost of certification training is through self-study courses and computer-based training. Self-study also allows you to progress at your own pace without taking time off from work.

Whatever route you chose to follow, rest assured that it will provide you with plenty of challenges and opportunities for growth.

Lance Starr is a writer with TestOut! Corp., a manufacturer of computer-based training and network simulation products. Lance previously was a technical marketing representative for Novell.

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