Credit: ShutterstockThough networking of all kinds remains a white-hot IT concern and technology area, nothing could be hotter than wireless technologies for everything from local area networking with 802.11ac, to the widespread proliferation and adoption of fourth-generation (4G) wireless wide area networking technologies, such as LTE.
The five certs that we cite in this article represent just a small sample of the total number of wireless IT certifications available in today's marketplace. Last year, we cheated a little bit and lumped all three of the primary Cisco wireless certifications (CCNA Wireless, CCNP Wireless and CCIE Wireless) together to make room for other worthy certifications. This year, we treat the CCNA Wireless and CCNP Wireless separately, based in part on extreme popularity with employers. Noticeably absent from this year's best-of-class list is the Juniper Networks Certified Specialist Wireless LAN (JNCIS-WLAN); although the cert is still active the exam is no longer available.
Salaries in the industry vary considerably, but entry-level wireless networking professionals should expect to make roughly $58,000 to $62,000. SimplyHired reported average earnings for CWNAs at $58,524 to $64,700 for those holding the GIAC GWAN cert. Of course, these are just average salaries, and other factors, such as job role and experience, can greatly influence earning potential. When looking at salaries by job role rather than individual cert, you'll find average salaries are much higher. For example, SimplyHired reports average earnings for network architects (a common role performed by CCNP Wireless credential holders) at $121,174, with earnings on the high end in excess of $170,000.
In preparation for this article, we conducted a random survey of various IT job boards to see what certs are being requested by prospective employers. In reviewing the results, it's important to remember that factors such as geography, the current climate of the employment market and the complexity of the cert influence outcomes. You can expect to see lower numbers on more senior certs because, quite frankly, they're more difficult to obtain and fewer people possess them than entry- and mid-level wireless certs.
Job Board Survey Results
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- Top 5 Wireless Networking Certs
- CWNA: Certified Wireless Network Administrator
- CWDP: Certified Wireless Design Professional
- CCNA Wireless: Cisco Certified Network Associate Wireless
- CCNP Wireless: Cisco Certified Network Professional Wireless
- SANS GAWN: GIAC Assessing & Auditing Wireless Networks
- Beyond the Top 5: More Wireless Certs