How to Increase Your IT Salary with Cisco Certifications

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In the current working environment, it can be hard to locate a position in the IT field, especially when just entering the workplace or the field specifically. However, with some experience and the right certifications come additional positions and additional financial incentives. So let's take a look at some salary figures for networking professionals specifically and how Cisco certifications can affect your overall salary.

Increasing Your Salary with Cisco Certifications

As with any profession, the more knowledge and more experience that you bring into a position, the more leverage you have in terms of salary requirements. Making the decision to achieve Cisco certification in the first place is a big step in terms of money and time and should be considered carefully.

If you're interested in pursuing a life of networking engineering/architecture, it is wise to get into Cisco certifications. Cisco certifications are very popular, well known asset to any individual looking to increase their networking knowledge and employment opportunities. Since Cisco certifications are so well known, companies use them as a metric of basic networking knowledge regardless of whether they use Cisco equipment or not. Achieving the higher levels of Cisco certification can also greatly increase your level of income, not to mention job opportunities.

Figure 1 shows the Indeed.com average salaries available to those with a basic networking title and those who are Cisco certified with associate, professional or expert level certifications. It is obvious from this survey that the achievement of a Cisco certification can be quite useful in requesting higher level of compensation.

2011 Cisco Salaries

Figure 1: Indeed.com Salary Results

The Global Knowledge salary survey results shown in Figure 2 also back up the Indeed.com data. The higher the Cisco certification achieved the higher the total salary. These results are of course a good sign to those looking to invest the money and time that are required to achieve these certifications. While the cost of achieving Cisco certifications is not too great as the certification exams are not too overly priced, it is still money that must be allocated away from other family budgetary items and must be considered closely.

2011 Cisco Salaries

Figure 2: Global Knowledge Cisco Salary Results

How to Increase Your Salary with Cisco Certifications

So where should you start? How can you earn more with Cisco certifications?

Whether you are brand new to the IT field or have some experience and certifications under your belt, you'll want to start with the associate level Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification. There are two certification paths that you can take to achieve your CCNA certification:

  • You can take just one exam: 640-802 CCNA -- recommended for candidates with more experience
  • Or you can take two exams: 640-822 ICND1 and 640-813 ICND2 -- recommended for candidates with minimal experience

The advantage of the 640-802 exam is that you achieve your CCNA with just one test, but that also makes it a much more difficult exam. The second certification path allows you to split up your training and examination into two manageable chunks. By completing the 640-822 ICND1 exam, you also earn Cisco's entry level Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT) certification.

You can learn more about both of these CCNA certification options and get some valuable study tips in our Cisco CCNA Certification Guide.

Cisco CertificationsAchieving your CCNA is a vital first step and a prerequisite for all other Cisco certifications. From there you have a number of options, which depend on your interest in the field. Cisco offers a number of CCNA specialties including:

If you're interested in getting into the design aspects, you might want to consider the Cisco Certified Design Associate (CCDA) certification which has a heavy focus on designing Cisco solutions, instead of administering them.

Advancing Your IT Career with Cisco Certifications

Cisco also offers professional level and expert level certifications, including CCNP, CCDP and CCIE. There are also a number of specialty certifications available at the advanced level in a number of different areas. Here's a breakdown of the available Cisco certifications for each level and specialty:

Cisco Certification Breakdown

And here's a quick list of just some of the Cisco Specialist Concentrations:

  • Advanced Routing and Switching
  • Data Center
  • VPN and Security
  • Wireless LAN

Moving on to the professional level Cisco certifications will help advance your career and increase your salary; your specialty area will depend on your interests and job prospects, but whichever path you choose will be a step up.

You can get more information on Cisco Certifications from Cisco.com, the Cisco Learning Network and our Cisco Certification section.

Hopefully, this article and the salary data will help you make better education investment decisions in the future. While these investments will require a certain level of sacrifice on your part, your efforts will most certainly be paid off in spades in the years to come.

Ready to test your skills in CCNA? See how they stack up with this assessment from Smarterer. Start this CCNA test now

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Contributor

Sean Wilkins

Sean Wilkins is an accomplished networking consultant who has been in the IT field for more than 20 years, working with several large enterprises. He is a writer for infoDispersion and his educational accomplishments include: a Master’s of Science in Information Technology with a focus in Network Architecture and Design, and a Master’s of Science in Organizational Management. Sean holds certifications with Cisco (CCNP/CCDP), Microsoft (MCSE) and CompTIA (A+ and Network+).