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Are Cisco's Specialist Certs Right For You?

By - Source: Toms IT Pro

Cisco's Specialist certifications cover some of the hottest networking technologies, including Network Programmability, Internet of Things (IoT), Security, Collaboration and more. See if a Specialist credential from Cisco is right for you.

While it's easy to dismiss Cisco's various Specialist credentials as something of a grab-bag, catch-all area, this is where (and how) Cisco usually introduces key new topics, tools, and technologies. It's also where the business end of the networking biz gets something of a certification workout, for those who work in sales or sales support seeking a certain level of technical expertise. This makes Cisco's Specialist domain much more interesting than it might seem at first blush. 

MORE: Cisco Certifications And Career Guide
MORE: Best Networking Certifications

Cisco Specialist Certifications

The Cisco Learning staff recently blogged about the Specialist certification program, explaining the many and varied offerings available in this area. Today, Cisco offers close to 20 Specialist credentials across 8 different categories:

  1. Network Programmability: The Cisco Network Programmability Specialist certifications enhance your networking skills through foundational networking knowledge and allow you to use your software skills to develop network applications in programmable environments. [4 credentials available]
  2. Internet of Things (IoT): The IoT specialist program includes the Industrial Networking Specialist certification. This certification is for information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) professionals in the manufacturing, process control, and oil and gas industries.  It evaluates foundational skills to manage and administer networked industrial control systems. It provides plant administrators, control system engineers and traditional network engineers with an understanding of the networking technologies needed in today's connected plants and enterprises. [1 credential available]
  3. Security: This specialization emphasizes the real-world best practices of network security engineering, utilizing such products as Cisco IOS softwareCisco Adaptive Security Appliances and Cisco security management tools. The Security Specialist certification program also offers an incremental way to develop security skills over a period of time that allows for alignment to the Cisco CCNP Security certification. [1 credential available]
  4. Collaboration: The Collaboration specialist programs focus on Cisco Collaboration technology skills building and validation. They align closely with the on-the-job performance needs of Collaboration engineers, Unified Contact Center Enterprise engineers and networking professionals seeking to specialize in the planning, design, implementation and management of deployments. [3 credentials available]
  5. Data Center: With the Data Center specialist programs, you can enhance your skills and abilities to design, install, and support a data center networking solution. Data center specialist certifications geared toward unified computing, unified fabric, or flexpods can enhance your technical skills, confidence and the value you bring to your IT department. [6 credentials available]
  6. Business: The business specialist certifications are holistic and reflect multiple topics often described in today's IT roles. These subjects include: business analysis, technology trends, finance, business-focused solution design, organization change / IT adoption and effective communication. [6 credentials available]
  7. Operating System Software: The Cisco Operating System Software Specialist program validates proficiency in Cisco internetwork operating systems and includes the Cisco IOS XR Specialist Certification. [1 credential available]
  8. Service Provider: These specialist certifications enhance your skills and ability to design, install, and support specific aspects of service provider networks. Service Provider certifications can help expand your career path by allowing you to become a valuable resource to your organization in such a niche market. [2 credentials available]

For more details on Cisco's Specialist credentials, check out this Certifications page on The Cisco Learning Network along with this Specialist certifications index page, which offers links to all of the individual certs.

If your career is taking a Cisco turn, and you're looking for a good place to get started or to dig more deeply into Cisco platforms and technologies, that's exactly what the Specialist credentials are intended to enable and support. Please, check them out as you also look into the more familiar Cisco certs, like the CCNA, CCNP, and CCIE.