Increase Your Earning Potential with Cisco Network Design Skills and Certifications


As an experienced network engineer ponders the appropriate commands to implement QoS on a Cisco Nexus 7000 switch, it is possible that his or her thoughts could turn to making more money.

There are limited alternatives:

  • Obtaining a raise in the existing job (assuming good or excellent performance reviews and can be complicated by management’s budget guidelines)
  • Get a promotion with a pay increase
  • Apply for a job with another company at higher pay
  • Switch to a higher-paying career

Another alternative doesn’t involve changing jobs or careers. Instead, it involves gaining additional skills in network design and obtaining the associated Cisco certifications. Statistical information shows the salaries associated with network design certifications and the skillsets that go with them are highly valued and compensated.

Below are the 15 top-paying technology certifications for 2012, according to The web site lists several pages of references for the information.

Average Salary
1 PMP (Project Management Professional) $111,909
2 CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional) 110,342
3 CCDA (Certified Cisco Design Associate) 101,915
4 ITIL v3 Foundation 97,691
5 MCSE (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer) 91,650
6 VCP (VMware Certified Professional) 91,648
7 CCNP (Cisco Certified Network Professional) 90,457
8 CompTIA Server+ 84,997
9 MCITP (Microsoft Certified IT Professional) 84,330
10 CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate) 82,993
11 MCSA (Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator) 82,923
12 CompTIA Security 80,066
13 MCP (Microsoft Certified Professional) 79,363
14 CCENT (Cisco Certified Entry Network Technician) 74,764
15 CompTIA Network+ 71,207

Note: CCIE and CCDP are absent because there were not enough entries to be statistically accurate.

It is not surprising that Cisco certifications rank high, but it might be surprising to some to note that the Cisco CCDA ranks number THREE.

Now, take a look at this comparison of Cisco certification salaries from several sources:

Information Source
Annual Salary
CCDA $93,953 $98,142 $95,160 $94,799
CCDP $104,760 $90,556* $105,960 $103,199
CCNA $79,675 $85,251 $81,890 $79,699
CCNP $89,860 $98,610 $91,860 $89,749
CCENT $71,664 $67,560 $65,750
CCIE Various $120,000–$200,000

*Value is based on a small sample and may be less trustworthy.

Unless a network engineer’s salary is already above the levels shown by these studies, one fact becomes obvious: obtaining a Cisco Network Design certification is a way to make more money. These certifications can be obtained by attending the appropriate Cisco training classes and passing the associated Cisco certification exams. These certifications are well within the reach of any experienced network engineer, and CCNA certification or experience level is the only prerequisite.

BUT (there is always a “but”), getting the certification is not enough by itself. Network design skills are also required. These skills can be obtained in several ways:

  1. Volunteer to work with experienced network designers or design teams.
  2. Work with a mentor.
  3. Determine the requirements within the organization and meet them.

Bottom line: Achieving Cisco networking certifications can result in higher pay when accompanied by the appropriate skills. Of course, if gaining the needed skills turns out to be impossible within his or her current organization, the network professional may need to explore opportunities with other companies to use the new certification(s).

Related Courses
For ?CCDA certification (Cisco Exam 640–864):
CCDA Boot Camp 

For CCDP certification (Cisco Exams 642–902, 642–813, and 640–874):
ARCH — Designing Cisco Network Service Architectures v2.1
SWITCH — Implementing Cisco IP Switched Networks v1.0
ROUTE — Implementing Cisco IP Routing v1.0

About the Author
Ray Dooley, BS, MBA, CCSI, CCNA, CCNP, CCDA, CCDP, SE, FE, has been a network professional in several capacities for more than 30 years. He is the course director at Global Knowledge for CCDA, ARCH, SWITCH, ROUTE, TSHOOT, and ICMI. He has developed courses for Global Knowledge, Cisco Systems, and GE.

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