You want to get certified in the WiFi field, but which one is right for you? Well Clark Kent will help you decide. I presently have certifications granted by 3 of the biggest WiFi vendors and 3 vendor-neutral certifications. First lets look at the biggest vendors out there. Cisco bought Meraki in 2013 so that kept them in the top slot. HP bought Aruba keeping them at a strong #2.
CWNP was founded by Planet3 Wireless but I think is simply CWNP now. There are a total of 5 tests in the certification track. CWTS, CWNA, CWSP, CWDP, CWAP
I have taken all of these (except I skipped the CWTS) I have passed all the exams except the CWAP which I am presently working on. These are great exams that really dig into RF and 802.11. They also test your knowledge of “the tools of the trade” like packet analyzers and spectrum analyzers. The tests vary in price from $150 to $225. It is good idea to get one of the bundles from CWNP. They offer a bundle with practice exams, textbook, and exam voucher for $325. At present there are only 163 CWNE’s in the world. This certification is real deal. Pass the CWNA and the 3 Professional level certs and you are eligible to apply for the CWNE. After publishing WiFi related material and verification of employment and good character, the CWNP board will grant you CWNE status.
More info at CWNP website: www.cwnp.com/certifications/
Cisco has a Wireless certification track which follows the same model as their other tracks take the CENT entry-level networking exam based on routing and switching. Then take the CCNA. To achieve the CCNP you will need to pass 4 exams. The exams are based on Site Survey, Voice/QoS, Security, and Mobility (this encompassed RTLS, WNMS, and MESH). Once you achieve this (which I have) you can go for the CCIE, that is only if you are a masochist. I have passed the CCIE written, but failed the CCIE practical exam twice. I am not 100% sure but I think I will subject myself to this again in the future. There are also very few Wireless CCIEs. Cisco does not publish the exact number but it is around 150 last it was referenced. The Cisco track is very vendor-specific and not nearly as deep as the CWNP in IEEE and RF fundamentals. The exams vary from $125 – $250 for associate and professional level. The CCIE written is $400 and the lab is $1600.
Cisco wireless certification page:
Aruba (an HP company) offers a similar track as Cisco to advance in the Aruba WiFi realm. Aruba offers the ACMA, ACMP, ACMX and ACDX. I presently hold the ACMA and the ACMP. I would say that the Aruba is a hybrid of the Cisco and CWNP tracks as it is vendor-specific but strong on standards as well. Aruba’s exams are all $125 except for the expert level exams, they are $1000. There is another track that is interesting and helpful; it is for Aruba’s ClearPass. ClearPass is an access management platform that is great for BYOD and Guest Access as well as TACACS and RADIUS.
Find out more from Aruba here:
Meraki also has a certification called the CMNA. It is based on taking a class and completing the labs and an exam. I did complete this certification but it is in a different class of certs. It is not taken at a Pearson Vue and it is free of charge. Many of the vendors have this type of certification. I have done these for Enterasys, Symbol, and Motorola in the past. In general certifications are a great way to further your knowledge and education while increasing your potential for earning more. Good luck and Happy studying!