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Top 11 Network Administrator Certifications

This article outlines the top certifications for network administrators, including what they involve, their benefits, and which ones are most popular.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 16 min read

Certifications are an important way for network administrators to demonstrate their knowledge and experience in the field. They provide a valuable way for potential employers to quickly assess a candidate's qualifications and skills, as well as their ability to effectively manage and maintain a network. Certifications also help employers differentiate between applicants who have a basic understanding of networking concepts and those who have gained more advanced knowledge through formal study or hands-on experience. Furthermore, certifications can help network administrators stay up-to-date on the latest technologies, giving them an edge over those without the proper credentials when seeking employment.

This article reviews some of the top certifications for Network Administrators and explains how they can help to advance a network administrator's career.

What are Network Administrator Certifications?

Network administrator certification is a type of professional credential that demonstrates an individual's knowledge and skills in areas such as network design, installation and configuration, monitoring, troubleshooting, and security. It also provides insight into the best practices for managing a network infrastructure.

Network administrator certifications can help an individual stand out from other job applicants by showing employers that they have the necessary skills to be successful in the role. Additionally, it can give an individual an edge over their peers when competing for promotions or salary increases. By having a certification, employers are more likely to trust that the individual has a good understanding of the networks they will be managing. Network administrator certifications also provide individuals with opportunities to learn new technologies and stay up-to-date on industry trends. This helps them stay competitive in their profession and make sure they are able to meet the changing needs of their organization.

Pro Tip: Network administrator certifications can be a great way to increase your knowledge and skills in network administration. However, before committing to a certification program, make sure it is accredited by an industry-recognized organization such as CompTIA or Cisco. Additionally, research the specific requirements for the certification you are interested in attaining to ensure that it is a good fit for your career path.

Related: What does a Network Administrator do?

Top 11 Network Administrator Certifications

Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Network Administrators today.

1. CompTIA Network+

CompTIA Network+ is an industry-recognized certification that validates the knowledge and skills required to troubleshoot, configure, and manage basic network infrastructure. It is designed for networking professionals with at least nine months of experience in network support or administration, or who have already earned the CompTIA A+ certification.

The CompTIA Network+ exam consists of 90 multiple choice and performance-based questions, which must be completed within 90 minutes. The exam covers topics such as network technologies, installation and configuration, media and topologies, management, security, and troubleshooting.

To get CompTIA Network+, you must pass the CompTIA Network+ Exam (N10-007). You can register for the exam through Pearson VUE or Prometric testing centers. Most test centers are open seven days a week and offer both online and in-person exams.

The cost of taking the CompTIA Network+ Exam varies by region but typically ranges from $250 - $300 USD.

2. Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)

Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) is a certification offered by Cisco Systems that validates an individual's knowledge and skills in networking. It is one of the most popular IT certifications in the world, and it is designed to give professionals the knowledge they need to install, configure, operate, and troubleshoot medium-sized routed and switched networks.

It typically takes around 6-12 months to complete the CCNA certification process depending on how much time you are able to dedicate to studying. To get the certification, you must pass two exams: ICND1 and ICND2. The cost for these exams varies depending on your location but generally ranges from $250-$400 USD per exam.

To prepare for the exams, it is recommended that you take a course or use online resources such as books or videos. Additionally, there are practice tests available online which can help you prepare for the actual exam. Once you have passed both exams, you will receive your CCNA certification.

3. Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE): Server Infrastructure

Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE): Server Infrastructure is a certification program designed to validate the skills and knowledge of IT professionals in designing, implementing, and managing a Windows Server infrastructure. It covers topics such as server hardware, storage solutions, active directory, virtualization technologies, network services and applications, remote access solutions, and monitoring and maintenance.

To get the MCSE: Server Infrastructure certification, you must pass four exams: two core exams (70-410 & 70-411) and two elective exams (70-412 & 70-413). The core exams cover topics such as installation, configuration, storage management, networking fundamentals, active directory services and virtualization. The elective exams cover topics such as advanced networking services, disaster recovery planning and implementation of high availability solutions.

It typically takes between three to six months to prepare for the MCSE: Server Infrastructure certification depending on your current level of knowledge. To prepare for the exam you should have hands-on experience with Windows Server 2012 or 2016 operating systems as well as an understanding of networking concepts such as IP addressing schemes and routing protocols. You can also take online courses or attend instructor-led classes offered by Microsoft Learning Partners to help you prepare for the exam.

The cost for each exam is $165 USD per exam. Therefore the total cost for all four exams would be $660 USD.

4. Juniper Networks Certified Internet Specialist (JNCIS)

Juniper Networks Certified Internet Specialist (JNCIS) is a certification program offered by Juniper Networks, Inc. It is designed to demonstrate an individual’s expertise in the design and implementation of Juniper network solutions. The JNCIS certification is divided into two levels: Associate and Professional.

The Associate level focuses on basic knowledge of Juniper networks, while the Professional level covers more advanced topics such as routing, switching, security, and virtual private networks (VPN). To obtain the JNCIS certification, candidates must pass one or more exams that cover the topics listed above.

It typically takes between 6 months to 1 year to prepare for the JNCIS certification exams. Candidates can use a combination of self-study materials such as books and online courses to prepare for their exams. Additionally, there are several boot camps available from various vendors that provide intensive training for those who wish to pursue their JNCIS certification quickly.

The cost of obtaining the JNCIS certification varies depending on which exams you choose to take and which vendor you use for your training materials or boot camp. Generally speaking, it can cost anywhere from $500-$3000 USD to obtain your JNCIS certification.

5. Check Point Certified Security Administrator (CCSA)

Check Point Certified Security Administrator (CCSA) is a certification program designed to validate an individual's knowledge and skills in administering Check Point security solutions. The CCSA certification demonstrates that the holder has the knowledge and skills to install, configure, manage, and troubleshoot basic Check Point security systems.

The CCSA certification requires successful completion of a two-day training course which covers topics such as installation, configuration, management and troubleshooting of Check Point Security Gateway and Management Software Blades. After completing the course, candidates must pass a multiple-choice exam to earn their certification.

The cost of the CCSA training course varies depending on the provider but typically ranges from $2,000 - $3,000 USD. The exam fee is included in the cost of the training course.

To maintain your CCSA certification you must complete a re-certification process every three years by passing an updated version of the exam or taking an approved refresher course.

6. Citrix Certified Professional – Networking (CCP-N)

Citrix Certified Professional – Networking (CCP-N) is a certification program designed to validate the skills and knowledge of networking professionals. The CCP-N certification is intended for those who have experience in configuring, managing, and troubleshooting Citrix NetScaler products.

The CCP-N exam consists of 65 multiple choice questions and takes approximately 90 minutes to complete. Candidates must achieve a passing score of 70% or higher to receive their certification.

To get certified as a CCP-N, candidates must first register for the exam through the Citrix website. Once registered, they can purchase the exam voucher from Pearson VUE which will allow them to take the exam at an authorized testing center. The cost of the exam voucher is $250 USD.

Once you have passed the exam, you will receive your official CCP-N certification via email within 2-4 weeks after your successful completion of the test. This certificate will be valid for three years from the date of issue and can be renewed by taking an additional advanced level course or passing another relevant Citrix certification exam.

7. VMware Certified Professional – Network Virtualization (VCP-NV)

VMware Certified Professional – Network Virtualization (VCP-NV) is a certification designed to validate an individual’s knowledge and skills in deploying, configuring, and managing VMware NSX virtual networks. It is a professional-level credential that demonstrates expertise in the areas of network virtualization, security, automation, and operations.

The VCP-NV certification requires passing two exams: the VMware Certified Professional 6 – Network Virtualization (VCP6-NV) exam and the VMware NSX Troubleshooting and Operations (VCP6-NVTO) exam. The VCP6-NV exam covers topics such as networking fundamentals, NSX architecture, installation and configuration of NSX components, management of logical networks with NSX Manager, and troubleshooting of NSX components. The VCP6-NVTO exam covers topics such as troubleshooting of networking components in an NSX environment, operations tasks for an NSX environment, automation with PowerNSX or vRealize Orchestrator/vRealize Automation (vRO/vRA), and integration with existing infrastructure components.

It typically takes between 4 to 6 months to complete the training required to obtain the VCP-NV certification. Candidates should have at least 6 months experience working with VMware vSphere before attempting the exams.

The cost for both exams is $450 USD each. To get started on your journey towards becoming a VCP-NV certified professional you will need to purchase the official training materials from VMware which can be found on their website or through a third party vendor.

8. AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate

AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate is an industry-recognized certification that validates your knowledge and technical skills in designing, deploying, and operating applications on the Amazon Web Services platform. With this certification, you can demonstrate your expertise in cloud architecture, storage, networking, databases, security, automation, scalability, and more.

The AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate exam consists of multiple-choice questions that assess your understanding of the AWS platform. The exam typically takes two hours to complete and covers topics such as designing highly available and cost-efficient systems on AWS; selecting appropriate services based on data, compute, database or security requirements; identifying appropriate use of AWS architectural best practices; estimating costs associated with implementation solutions; and troubleshooting architectures.

To get the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate certification you need to pass the exam which is offered by Amazon Web Services (AWS). You can register for the exam through the AWS Certification website.

The cost of the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate exam varies depending on your location but typically ranges from $150 to $300 USD.

9. Red Hat Certified System Administrator (RHCSA)

Red Hat Certified System Administrator (RHCSA) is a certification program designed to validate the skills and knowledge of experienced system administrators who are responsible for the day-to-day operation and maintenance of Red Hat Enterprise Linux systems. This certification requires an understanding of basic system administration tasks, such as configuring local storage, managing users and groups, setting up network services, and securing systems.

The RHCSA exam typically takes two to three hours to complete. It consists of multiple choice questions that assess a candidate’s knowledge of Linux commands, configuration files, and system administration tools. The exam also includes practical tasks that require candidates to demonstrate their ability to perform specific administrative tasks on a live system.

To get certified as an RHCSA, you must pass the RHCSA exam. You can take the exam either online or at a testing center. To prepare for the exam, you should have at least six months of experience working with Red Hat Enterprise Linux systems and be familiar with basic system administration concepts. You can also take training courses offered by Red Hat or third-party vendors to help you prepare for the exam.

The cost of taking the RHCSA exam varies depending on where you take it and how many attempts you need before passing it. The cost ranges from $200-$400 USD per attempt.

10. F5 Networks Certified Technology Specialist (F5-CTS)

F5 Networks Certified Technology Specialist (F5-CTS) is a certification program that validates an individual’s knowledge and skills in the deployment, configuration, and troubleshooting of F5 Networks products. It covers topics such as BIG-IP Local Traffic Manager (LTM), BIG-IP Global Traffic Manager (GTM), Application Security Manager (ASM), Access Policy Manager (APM), WebAccelerator, and FirePass.

The F5-CTS certification is available through the F5 Certification Program. To become certified, you must pass two exams: the F5 101 exam and the F5 201 exam. The 101 exam focuses on basic product knowledge while the 201 exam focuses on advanced product knowledge.

The exams take approximately 90 minutes each to complete and are available online or at Pearson VUE testing centers. The cost of the exams varies depending on your geographic location but typically ranges from $125-$150 USD per exam.

11. Palo Alto Networks Accredited Configuration Engineer (ACE)

Palo Alto Networks Accredited Configuration Engineer (ACE) is a certification program designed to validate the skills and knowledge of professionals who configure, manage, and troubleshoot Palo Alto Networks next-generation firewalls. It is an intermediate-level certification that requires a minimum of one year of experience with Palo Alto Networks products.

To obtain the ACE certification, you must pass two exams: the PAN-OS 8.1 Administration exam and the Firewall 9.0 Troubleshooting exam. The exams are administered by Pearson VUE, which offers both online and in-person testing options. The cost for each exam is $150 USD.

The total time required to complete the ACE certification depends on your level of experience with Palo Alto Networks products and your ability to study effectively for the exams. Most people take between 1-2 months to prepare for both exams, but some may take longer or shorter depending on their individual circumstances.

Do You Really Need a Network Administrator Certificate?

The answer to whether you need a network administrator certificate depends on your goals and the type of job you are seeking. For many jobs in the IT field, having a network administrator certificate is not necessary, but it can be beneficial if you want to be considered for more advanced positions.

Having a network administrator certificate demonstrates that you have taken the time to learn and practice the necessary skills to manage complex networks. It also shows employers that you understand how different components of a network work together and are able to properly configure and maintain them. In addition, having a certificate may make it easier for employers to find qualified candidates since it provides them with assurance that applicants have at least some level of expertise in the field.

On the other hand, if you are looking for an entry-level job as an IT technician or help desk specialist, then a network administrator certification may not be required. These types of positions often involve troubleshooting basic problems without needing an advanced understanding of networking technology. However, if you plan on advancing your career in IT, then obtaining a certification could help open up more opportunities down the road.

In conclusion, whether or not you need a network administrator certificate will depend on your individual goals and what type of job you are seeking. While it is not always required for entry-level positions, having one could give employers confidence in your abilities and open up more opportunities for advancement later on.

Related: Network Administrator Resume Examples

FAQs About Network Administrator Certifications

1. What certifications are available for network administrators?

Answer: Network administrators can obtain certifications such as Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA), Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE), CompTIA Network+, and Juniper Networks Certified Internet Associate (JNCIA).

2. What is the best certification for a network administrator?

Answer: The best certification for a network administrator depends on the individual's goals, experience level, and desired job role. It is important to research each option to decide which certification best matches the individual’s needs.

3. How long does it take to become certified as a network administrator?

Answer: The amount of time needed to become certified varies depending on the specific certification chosen, but typically ranges from six months to two years.

4. How much do network administrator certifications cost?

Answer: Certification costs vary depending on the provider and type of certification chosen, but typically range from $200 - $500 USD per exam.

5. Are there any prerequisites for becoming certified as a network administrator?

Answer: Most certifications require knowledge of networking fundamentals and experience in networking technologies, but specific prerequisites may vary by provider and type of certification chosen.