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Cisco Certifications For Cybersecurity

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By: Shimon Brathwaite

April 20, 2021

Cisco has been a leader in Information Technology and Networking for over 30 years. Most corporations still rely on Cisco technology, and having a solid understanding of them can be an asset for any technology professional. Not only has Cisco made advancements in technology, but in their information security training and certification programs. The importance or effectiveness of cybersecurity certifications for learning is debatable. However, most people agree they are useful in helping you land jobs, especially as a beginner when you do not have any work experience to demonstrate to potential employers. To that end, Cisco certifications can assist you in obtaining the fundamental knowledge you need to start or excel in your career. Anyone who works in security knows that having a sound understanding of networking is important. Cisco's certifications focus on network security by teaching a strong understanding of the underlying network concepts. Cisco certifications aim to teach candidates the important networking concepts needed to be effective in cybersecurity.


*Cisco Certified Network Associate* (CCNA) is an information technology certification that teaches students important networking concepts needed to understand IT infrastructure. While the CCNA is primarily focused on networking, it has several different options; one is the CCNA security credential, which focuses on teaching concepts relevant to someone who works in network security.

CCIE Security

This Cisco certification is an expert-level certification that focuses on security best practices. It requires candidates to pass two exams. The first is a qualifying exam covering core security technologies, and the second is a hands-on lab exam covering security technologies and solutions. The average annual pay for a CCIE (Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert) in the United States is around $149,000 per year. This certification is designed for candidates with at least 5-7 years of experience and demonstrates an expert-level understanding of security technologies.


This certification exam is about implementing Cisco cybersecurity operations; it prepares candidates for working in Security Operations Centers. A security operations center (SOC) is the central unit for handling security issues in an organization. Simply put, large companies may receive hundreds or thousands of alerts per day relating to different potential security incidents. The SOC is responsible for reviewing those alerts and identifying which ones require further investigation and resolution. SOCs are one of the best places for people looking to break into the industry for a few reasons:

  • Level 1 SOC analysts usually require little or no experience and are good entry-level positions.
  • You are exposed to countless types of security incidents due to the large volume of alerts.
  • SOCs have multiple tiers of analysts, so if you are looking for somewhere that's easy to move up, this may be a good option for you.

There are typically three tiers of SOC analysts: SOC level 1, 2, & 3. As you go higher from level to level, you are responsible for handling more serious security incidents; the higher-level analysts have more experience and, therefore, will receive a higher salary because of their senior positions. For an entry-level person, this is good because lower-level SOC analysts can move up to the higher levels. Also, entry-level SOC analysts are already within the company, and they know how that specific SOC environment works. Often, a certification like this is more than enough to get your foot in the door, and then you can work your way up from there.


Cisco is a well-trusted vendor for its networking equipment and its certification programs. Obtaining a certification from them can be useful in starting a career in cybersecurity. Particularly their CCNA and Cisco SECOPS certifications are designed for entry-level candidates, and the content is simple enough that you can jump straight into it. The CCIE security, on the other hand, is an expert level certification and is tailored for people with 5-7 years of work experience and are currently working in an environment where a lot of Cisco equipment is used. Either way, whether you are a complete beginner or established in your career, Cisco certifications can be useful in advancing your career.

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