As harsh as it seems, experience isn't always enough. Author David Fells covers some of the more prominent vendor-neutral certifications available and shows which you might need to keep your career on track.
Last on our list of vendor-neutral certifications is the Planet 3 Certified Wireless Network Professional. The CWNP program is, as described by Planet 3, the industry standard for vendor-neutral wireless LAN certification. The CWNP program offers three levels of certification: fundamental, advanced, and expert. The fundamental level is covered by the CWNA (Certified Wireless network Administrator) program. This certification tests basic knowledge of RF technologies, wireless LAN technologies, implementation and management, troubleshooting, site surveys, security, and industry standards. Covering the advanced level is the CWSP (Certified Wireless Security Expert) exam. This exam indicates advanced knowledge of securing wireless LANs. Passing the CWNP exam is a prerequisite for taking this exam. At the advanced level, we also find the CWAP (Certified Wireless Analysis Professional) certification. This program focuses entirely on the analysis and troubleshooting of wireless LAN systems. As with the CWSP exam, passing the CWNA exam is a prerequisite for taking this exam.
At the expert level is the CWNE (Certified Wireless Network Expert) certification. To take this exam a candidate must have passed all three of the previously mentioned exams. This certification ensures that the candidate has mastered all relevant skills to administer, install, configure, troubleshoot, and design wireless networks.
Wireless networks are growing in popularity each day. They offer unparalleled versatility and accessibility, but they also offer unparalleled security risks. All information on a wireless network can be detected by any device operating in the same frequency spectrum. Securing wireless networks is quickly becoming a must have skill, and it seems a certainty that wireless security will become a core part of the other security certifications available to IT professionals. Holding a combination of security certifications, including traditional and wireless network security, is certainly the best way for solution providers to gain the trust of larger business clients who need diverse technologies to support increasingly diverse needs.
Vendor-neutral certifications are certainly not to be overlooked by IT professionals looking to enhance their market value or even those just looking for a new challenge. Training costs for vendor-neutral exams tend to be far less than training costs for vendor-specific exams. The cost of obtaining the CCSE (Cisco Certified Security Expert) exam is more than five times the cost of Linux+, and training courses for CCSE regularly cost more than $2000, where Linux+ training courses are offered online for under $500. Vendor-neutral certifications are growing quickly in importance and IT professionals should expect that trend to continue for years to come as technologies become more diverse and solutions more homogeneous.