Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Learning to Be a Qualified Success; Information and Communication Technology

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Learning to Be a Qualified Success; Information and Communication Technology

Article excerpt


FEW people like exams. Most of us can remember sitting in the school hall, freshly sharpened pencil at the ready, in a state of sheer panic induced by the pile of paper on the desk. Nevertheless, certifications are a key principle in the data communications world and, if you invest the time, trouble and money to gain a vendor qualification, you can go a long way.

Cisco is one of the most popular vendors of data communications equipment.

The company has been incredibly acquisitive over the past few years, buying new companies and technologies, and adding their customer bases to its books.

Consequently, walk into any IT department and the chances are you will see a Cisco router or switch humming away to itself in a corner. Gaining certification as a Cisco expert will, therefore, stand you in good stead when going for that all-important job.

Cisco's certification breaks down into a number of levels according to Mike Pilbeam, director of systems engineering for the company in the UK. The most basic entry-level qualification is the Cisco Certified Network Associate [CCNA]. This qualification involves a basic level of networking knowledge, enabling those who pass it to manage devices and perform basic configuration.

The company includes CCNA testing in its Cisco Academy programme, which is a set of courses targeting colleges. Next up is the Cisco Certified Design Associate [CCDA] accreditation, which the company offers alongside CCNA training for graduates entering its own employment.

"We have a graduate training scheme. That scheme is a 20-week focused training course, followed by some time in the company," says Pilbeam. "At the end of the first session (10-12 weeks) we expect them to get CCNA and CCDA within a couple of weeks.

They should breeze through that," he says.

Cisco divides its amateur and expert certifications into associate and professional programmes and, having passed the associate certifications, data networking professionals can take on the Cisco Certified Network Professional [CCNP] and Cisco Certified Design Professional [CCDP] qualifications.

The former involves hands-on technical troubleshooting skills, while the latter is a sign of an individual's ability to design a networking solution.

Gaining these certifications gives a networking professional more than the required qualifications to gain a fulltime job within Cisco, explains Pilbeam, adding that he asks graduates to get these certifications within nine months of joining the company.

At this point, network professionals will be ready to study for the Cisco Certified Internetworking Engineer [CCIE] qualification.

There are about 7,000 CCIEs on a global basis, meaning that they are fairly thin on the ground. Getting your CCIE qualification is no mean feat. …

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