Top 11 Network Consultant Certifications
This article provides an overview of the most popular network consultant certifications, including information on prerequisites, exam content, and cost.
Published 18 min read
Certifications are important for network consultants in the job market because they demonstrate a level of expertise and knowledge that employers can rely on. Certifications provide proof that a consultant has the skills and experience necessary to be successful in the role, and can give potential employers confidence in hiring them. Additionally, certifications provide an opportunity for networking consultants to stay up-to-date on industry trends, technologies, and best practices, which can help ensure that they remain competitive in their field.
The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the most beneficial certifications for Network Consultants, and to explain how they can boost their career prospects.
What are Network Consultant Certifications?
Network consultant certification is a professional designation that demonstrates a person's expertise in the design, implementation, and maintenance of computer networks. This type of certification is usually obtained through formal training programs and examinations administered by recognized organizations such as Cisco, Microsoft, or CompTIA.
Having network consultant certification can be beneficial for those looking to enter the field or enhance their career opportunities and job prospects. It serves as proof that an individual has the knowledge and skills necessary to provide guidance on network-related topics. Network consultants are able to assess a company’s current IT infrastructure and offer advice on how best to improve it. They can also help organizations plan for future growth and upgrade their hardware or software components as needed. With their knowledge of networking technologies, they can assist with troubleshooting issues related to connectivity, security, performance, scalability, etc.
The network consultant certification provides assurance to employers that an individual is knowledgeable in the field of networking technology and is capable of providing high-quality results. It also indicates that the person has taken the necessary steps to become certified in this area of expertise. As technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace, having a credential like this can help ensure that professionals stay up-to-date with industry trends and developments so they can provide quality services to their clients.
Pro Tip: Before pursuing a network consultant certification, make sure you have a solid understanding of the fundamentals of networking, as well as hands-on experience with network design and management. This will help ensure that you are adequately prepared to take on the challenges of a network consultant role.
Related: What does a Network Consultant do?
Top 11 Network Consultant Certifications
Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Network Consultants today.
1. Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP)
Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) is a certification program offered by Cisco Systems, Inc. that provides the skills and knowledge necessary to design, implement, configure, troubleshoot and maintain networks based on Cisco products and technologies. The CCNP certification requires passing four exams: Routing & Switching, Security, Service Provider and Collaboration.
It typically takes between six months to one year to complete the CCNP certification depending on your experience level and commitment to studying. To get the CCNP certification you must first pass the Cisco Certified Entry Network Technician (CCENT) exam or have an active Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification. You must then pass three additional exams in order to achieve the CCNP credential: two of which are core exams that cover topics such as routing & switching, security, service provider or collaboration; and one concentration exam that covers a specific technology track such as wireless or data center.
The cost of each individual exam varies but can range from $250-$400 USD per exam. In addition to the cost of the exams there may be additional costs for study materials such as books or practice tests.
2. CompTIA Network+
CompTIA Network+ is an internationally recognized certification that validates the knowledge and skills of IT professionals in networking technologies. It is a vendor-neutral certification, meaning it is not specific to any particular vendor or technology. The Network+ certification covers topics such as network architecture, network operations, network security, network troubleshooting, and industry best practices.
It typically takes around four months to study for and pass the CompTIA Network+ exam. The exam consists of 90 multiple-choice questions and requires a passing score of 720 out of 900 points.
To get the CompTIA Network+ certification, you must first purchase the exam voucher from CompTIA's website. The cost of the voucher varies depending on your location but typically ranges from $200-$300 USD. After purchasing the voucher, you can then register for and take the exam at an authorized testing center near you.
Once you have passed the exam, you will receive your official CompTIA Network+ certification via email within two weeks. This certification is valid for three years after which time it must be renewed by taking a new version of the exam.
3. Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE): Server Infrastructure
Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE): Server Infrastructure is a certification that validates an individual’s skills in designing, implementing, and managing a Windows Server infrastructure. This certification demonstrates that the individual has the knowledge and experience to manage large-scale virtualization projects, secure networks, and develop business continuity strategies.
It typically takes around six months to complete the required training and exams for this certification. To get certified as an MCSE: Server Infrastructure, you need to pass five exams: two core exams on Windows Server 2012 R2, one elective exam related to server infrastructure topics such as networking or storage solutions, one exam on configuring advanced Windows Server 2012 services, and one exam on designing and implementing a server infrastructure.
The cost of getting certified as an MCSE: Server Infrastructure depends on the type of training you choose. Self-study materials can range from free online resources to paid courses. The cost of taking the examinations is around $150 per exam.
4. Citrix Certified Professional – Networking (CCP-N)
Citrix Certified Professional – Networking (CCP-N) is a certification program offered by Citrix that validates an individual’s skills and knowledge in deploying, configuring, managing, and troubleshooting Citrix NetScaler products. The certification is designed to help IT professionals demonstrate their expertise in building and optimizing secure networks with Citrix solutions.
The CCP-N exam consists of 65 multiple choice questions and has a time limit of 90 minutes. Candidates must achieve a score of 70% or higher to pass the exam. The exam covers topics such as network architecture, NetScaler components, traffic management, security features, optimization techniques, and troubleshooting.
To get the CCP-N certification, candidates must first complete the prerequisite training course “Networking with Citrix NetScaler 11” or equivalent experience. After completing the course or gaining equivalent experience, candidates can register for the CCP-N exam through Pearson VUE or Prometric testing centers.
The cost of the CCP-N exam is $200 USD for U.S./Canada residents and €150 EUR for non-U.S./Canada residents.
5. Juniper Networks Certified Internet Associate (JNCIA)
Juniper Networks Certified Internet Associate (JNCIA) is a certification program designed to validate an individual's knowledge and skills in Juniper Network technologies. The JNCIA is the entry-level certification for all Juniper Network certifications and provides a foundation of understanding of networking concepts, routing and switching, security, and services.
It typically takes around two months to study for the JNCIA exam. To prepare, individuals should review the official Juniper Networks Certification Program Study Guide, which covers topics such as networking fundamentals, routing protocols, switching technologies, security fundamentals, and services. Additionally, there are practice exams available to help you prepare for the exam.
In order to obtain the JNCIA certification, individuals must pass the JN0-103 exam with a score of 75% or higher. The exam is offered at Pearson VUE testing centers worldwide. The cost of taking the exam varies by country but typically ranges from $200-$300 USD.
6. F5 Networks Certified Technology Specialist (F5-CTS)
F5 Networks Certified Technology Specialist (F5-CTS) is a certification program designed to recognize IT professionals who have demonstrated expertise in the F5 Networks product suite. The F5-CTS certification is an entry-level certification that verifies the technical knowledge of individuals who are responsible for configuring, troubleshooting, and managing F5 Networks products.
The F5-CTS certification requires passing a single exam that covers topics such as network fundamentals, traffic management, security, application delivery, automation and orchestration. The exam consists of 65 multiple choice questions and must be completed within two hours.
To get the F5-CTS certification you must first register with Pearson VUE and pay the exam fee of $250 USD. Once registered you can take the exam at any Pearson VUE testing center or online from your home or office. You will need to provide proof of identity when taking the exam in person at a testing center.
Once you have passed the exam you will receive your official certificate from F5 Networks via email within 10 business days. Your certificate will be valid for three years from date of issuance.
7. Palo Alto Networks Certified Network Security Engineer (PCNSE)
The Palo Alto Networks Certified Network Security Engineer (PCNSE) is a certification program designed to validate the knowledge and skills of network security engineers in deploying, configuring, managing, and troubleshooting the Palo Alto Networks next-generation firewalls. It is an industry-recognized certification that demonstrates an individual’s expertise in the field of network security.
The PCNSE exam consists of 65 multiple-choice questions and takes approximately 90 minutes to complete. To obtain the PCNSE certification, individuals must pass a proctored online exam administered by Pearson VUE. The exam fee is $250 USD.
In order to become a PCNSE certified engineer, individuals must have experience with Palo Alto Networks products and services such as Panorama, GlobalProtect, Traps, WildFire, and URL Filtering. They must also possess an understanding of networking concepts such as TCP/IP protocols, routing protocols, IPSec VPNs, and authentication methods. Additionally, they should be familiar with firewall policies and rule sets as well as threat prevention technologies such as anti-virus scanning and intrusion prevention systems (IPS).
Once all requirements are met and the exam has been passed successfully, the individual will receive their official PCNSE certificate within 4-6 weeks after passing the exam.
8. Check Point Certified Security Administrator (CCSA)
Check Point Certified Security Administrator (CCSA) is an industry-recognized certification that validates a professional’s skills in managing and configuring Check Point Security Gateway and Management Software Blades. It is designed for professionals who are responsible for day-to-day operations of Check Point security solutions, including installation, configuration, and troubleshooting.
The CCSA certification requires passing one exam, which covers topics such as basic networking concepts, installation and configuration of Check Point products, managing user access control, setting up VPNs, configuring security policies, and more. The exam takes about 90 minutes to complete and consists of 70 multiple choice questions.
To get the CCSA certification you need to register for the exam at Pearson VUE or Prometric testing centers. The cost of the exam varies depending on your location but typically ranges from $250 to $300 USD.
Once you have passed the exam you will be awarded the CCSA certification. This certification is valid for two years after which you must recertify by taking the latest version of the exam.
9. VMware Certified Professional – Network Virtualization (VCP-NV)
VMware Certified Professional – Network Virtualization (VCP-NV) is a certification that validates the skills and knowledge of IT professionals in designing, deploying, and managing VMware NSX networks. It is designed to demonstrate proficiency in the use of VMware NSX technology and its related components.
The VCP-NV certification requires passing an exam as well as completing a course or having equivalent experience with VMware NSX. The exam typically takes two hours to complete and consists of 60 questions.
The course required for the certification is called "VMware Network Virtualization Fundamentals" which is offered through VMware Education Services. The cost of the course varies depending on location but typically ranges from $2,000 - $3,000 USD.
In order to take the exam, candidates must first register with Pearson VUE and pay an associated fee which is currently $250 USD. Once registered with Pearson VUE, candidates can schedule their exam at any authorized testing center.
Once the exam has been completed successfully, candidates will receive their official VCP-NV certification via email within five business days.
10. Riverbed Certified Solutions Associate – WAN Optimization (RCSA-WO)
Riverbed Certified Solutions Associate – WAN Optimization (RCSA-WO) is a certification program offered by Riverbed Technology. It validates an individual’s knowledge and skills in the design, implementation, and management of Riverbed WAN optimization solutions. This certification is intended for IT professionals who are responsible for deploying, configuring, and managing Riverbed WAN optimization solutions.
The RCSA-WO exam consists of 60 multiple choice questions that must be completed within 90 minutes. Candidates must score at least 70% to pass the exam. The exam covers topics such as network architecture, product features, installation and configuration, performance tuning, troubleshooting, and more.
To become certified as an RCSA-WO, candidates must first register with Riverbed Certification Program (RCP). After registering with RCP, candidates can purchase the RCSA-WO exam voucher from Pearson VUE or Prometric Testing Centers. The cost of the exam voucher is $200 USD. Once purchased, candidates can schedule their exam at any Pearson VUE or Prometric Test Center worldwide.
Once a candidate has successfully passed the RCSA-WO exam they will receive an email confirming their certification status along with a digital badge to display on their website or social media accounts. The certification is valid for three years after which time it must be renewed by taking the recertification exam.
11. Arista Networks Certified Engineering Associate (ACE-A)
Arista Networks Certified Engineering Associate (ACE-A) is a certification program designed to develop and validate the skills of Arista network engineers. It is a comprehensive, hands-on training and certification program that covers the fundamentals of Arista’s products, technologies, and architectures. The ACE-A certification is intended for network engineers who are new to Arista or need to refresh their knowledge on Arista’s products and services.
The ACE-A certification consists of two parts: the Arista Certified Engineering Associate Exam and the Arista Certified Engineering Associate Lab. The exam takes approximately 90 minutes to complete and tests your knowledge of Arista’s products, technologies, architectures, protocols, and troubleshooting techniques. The lab portion requires you to build an end-to-end network using Arista hardware and software. It takes approximately 8 hours to complete the lab portion of the certification.
To get the ACE-A certification you must first register for the exam by visiting the Arista website. Once you have registered for the exam you will be given access to study materials such as practice exams and labs that can help you prepare for both parts of the certification. After passing both parts of the certification process you will receive your ACE-A certificate from Arista Networks.
The cost for taking the ACE-A exam is $200 USD per person.
Do You Really Need a Network Consultant Certificate?
When deciding whether or not to pursue a network consultant certificate, it is important to consider the advantages and disadvantages that come with obtaining one. While a network consultant certificate can be beneficial for those who are looking to advance their career in networking technology, it may also be unnecessary depending on one’s current job role and experience.
One of the primary benefits of having a network consultant certificate is that it will demonstrate an individual’s knowledge and proficiency in the field. A certification can validate an individual’s abilities and show employers that they possess the skills needed to perform as a network consultant. Additionally, having a certification may increase an individual’s chances of being hired or promoted as many employers prefer applicants with certifications.
However, there are some drawbacks associated with obtaining a network consultant certificate. First, these certifications typically require time and money to obtain which can be difficult for those who already have full-time jobs or other commitments. Additionally, some organizations may not recognize certain certifications or view them as insufficient compared to more extensive degrees such as a Master’s in Computer Science. Lastly, even if all requirements are met for obtaining the certificate, there is no guarantee that it will lead to finding employment or promotion opportunities since most organizations look for individuals with experience in addition to education credentials.
Ultimately, whether or not someone should pursue a network consultant certificate depends on their current job role, experience level, and future aspirations. If an individual already has considerable experience in networking technology and does not plan on changing careers anytime soon then pursuing a certification may be unnecessary. However, if someone is looking to enter into the field of networking technology then obtaining a certification could be beneficial as it will help demonstrate their knowledge and proficiency in the subject matter while also potentially leading to better job prospects down the line.
Related: Network Consultant Resume Examples
FAQs About Network Consultant Certifications
Q1. What is a Network Consultant Certification?
A1. A Network Consultant Certification is a certification that demonstrates expertise in the field of networking and related technologies, such as routers, switches, firewalls, and more. It typically requires passing an exam offered by a recognized organization or vendor, such as Cisco or CompTIA.
Q2. What are the benefits of getting a Network Consultant Certification?
A2. A Network Consultant Certification can provide added credibility to your current skill set and help you stand out in the job market. Additionally, it may open up new career opportunities or allow you to move up in your current position.
Q3. How do I prepare for a Network Consultant Certification exam?
A3. Preparation for a Network Consultant Certification exam typically involves studying textbooks, taking practice tests, and attending study groups or classes offered by certified instructors. Additionally, many organizations offer online courses to help individuals prepare for their exams.
Q4. How often should I renew my Network Consultant Certification?
A4. Renewal requirements vary depending on the type of certification you have obtained and the organization offering it; however, most certifications require renewal every three years to maintain validity and currency with today’s technology trends and best practices.
Q5. Are there any prerequisites required before taking a Network Consultant Certification exam?
A5: Generally speaking, there are no prerequisites needed before taking a Network Consultant Certification exam; however some organizations may require that candidates have prior experience or knowledge in certain areas before they can take an exam or receive certification from them.