Certification Survey Extra is a series of periodic dispatches that give added insight into the findings of our most recent Certification Survey. These posts contain previously unpublished Certification Survey data.
Before you can climb the computer networking ladder to expert-level certifications with six-figure salaries, you have start at the bottom and gradually build up your skills. That doesn’t always mean going from one certification to the next: Some people get their foundational knowledge of networking elsewhere and progress by other means — getting a full-time computer networking job, for example.
A couple of the certified networking professionals who responded to our recent Computer Networking Certification Survey actually entered the networking certification realm more or less at the tippy top of our metaphorical ladder. In the case of those intrepid souls, Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert (CCIE) Routing & Switching was the first computer networking certification to land on their résumés.
That sort of achievement does tend to be something of an extreme outlier. It’s far more common that people board the computer networking certification express much closer to the first station or two on the line. As you might expect, networking giant Cisco’s Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Routing & Switching is a clear favorite. CCNA Routing & Switching is the first computer networking certification earned by 42.4 percent of survey respondents.
Also making a strong impression is the Network+ credential offered by tech industry associate CompTIA. Network+ was the first computer networking certification claimed by a solid 30.3 percent of respondents. For those who choose certification as their preferred path to computer networking knowledge, there’s a strong likelihood of beginning that journey with either CCNA Routing & Switching or Network+.
There are 25 other certs each claimed in our survey by at least one individual as their point of entry to the computer networking certification world. Only three of them rise above the pack: Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT), the first step for 3 percent of respondents; Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) Data Center, the first step for 4.2 percent; and Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) Windows Server 2012, the first step for 6.1 percent.
We also asked survey respondents to tell us how long they worked in computer networking before turning to certification. Here’s what we learned:
Question: How many years did you work in computer networking before obtaining your first certification?
Less than 1 year — 18.6 percent
1 year — 10.9 percent
2 years — 11.8 percent
3 years — 12.3 percent
4 years — 9 percent
5 years — 9 percent
6 years — 3.8 percent
7 years — 1.9 percent
8 years — 0.9 percent
9 years — 1.4 percent
10 years — 4.7 percent
More than 10 years — 15.7 percent
More than half (53.6 percent) of those surveyed worked in computer networking for three or fewer years before getting a cert, and almost 19 percent weren’t even in the game for an entire year before seeking certification. And at the other end of the spectrum, we see a not insignificant number of those who clearly entered the field by other means, and only got around to certification gradually.