Top Data Center Networking Certifications to Boost Your Career in 2024

Looking to advance your data center networking career? Check out our top picks for data center networking certifications in 2024 to boost your credentials.

Christopher Tozzi, Technology Analyst

June 17, 2024

4 Min Read
Data center networking certification illustration
Alamy

If you want to start – or advance – your career in data center networking, obtaining a relevant networking certification is a smart move. Certifications show employers that you know your stuff when it comes to niche areas of expertise like managing data center networks.

That said, finding data center networking certifications can be tough. Almost no certifications focus on data center networking specifically, so you’ll need to think creatively about which credentials to pursue if this is the domain you want to focus on.

Keep reading for tips on that front as we break down the top data center networking certifications to consider for folks interested in developing their careers.

The Challenge of Data Center Networking Certifications

There is a wide array of data center certifications designed for people who want to pursue careers in data centers in general.

Data center networking, however, is an outlier. No major certifications are available that focus specifically on networking for data centers. Nor are you likely to find a degree program that focuses specifically on this area.

That’s a bit surprising given that data center networking is unique in many respects. Unlike networking in public clouds, where virtually all the components you’d deal with are software-defined and can be managed using cloud providers’ consoles and other tools, data center networking involves both physical and virtual network infrastructure. It’s also important to master concepts like how interconnects work and how to ensure that network design advances data center sustainability goals.

Related:A Guide to the Top Data Center Security Certifications

Top Data Center Networking Certifications

Even though data center networking isn’t a major area of exclusive focus for certification providers, there are several certifications that cover many of the core networking concepts you’ll need to understand to thrive as a data center network engineer.

Here’s a look at the top data center networking certification offerings:

CCNA

The Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification is Cisco’s main entry-level certification for network engineering. It covers the fundamentals of modern networking, ranging from how to manage IP addresses to how to enhance network security – all of which are important skills for network engineering and management within data centers.

If you already have extensive networking experience (and a resume to prove it), the CCNA may be overkill. But for folks just getting started with networking careers, CCNA is a great way to demonstrate basic skills.

Related:The DEI Illusion: Breaking Gender Bias in Data Centers

CCNP

The Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) certification is Cisco’s more advanced networking certification. Like the CCNA, the CCNP covers a variety of concepts and skills that are central to data center networking. But unlike the CCNA, the CCNP is designed for more advanced engineers.

So, if you already have some networking experience or certifications but want to go further, consider obtaining a CCNP certificate.

JNCIA-Junos

JNCIA-Junos is essentially Juniper’s equivalent of the CCNA certification. It’s designed for practitioners with basic or intermediate knowledge of networking. It covers similar concepts, including the fundamentals of data center networking.

Obtaining a JNCIA-Junos certificate is an obvious smart move if you work in a data center that uses Juniper equipment, or if you’ve already obtained certifications from other networking vendors and want to prove you have broad mastery of the ecosystem.

In addition, JNCIA-Junos opens the door to other Juniper certifications that focus on specific aspects of networking – such as packet switching and routing, which is covered by the JNCIS-SP certification and which may be especially valuable for data center engineers who need to manage complex network architectures and traffic patterns.

Cloud Provider Networking Certifications

Amazon Web Services (AWS)  offers a networking credential, called Certified Advanced Networking, that focuses on advanced networking concepts in the cloud. Azure offers a similar credential, as does Google Cloud Platform.

Since the cloud is distinct from data centers, not all the material covered by these certifications applies directly to data center networking. However, there is a fair amount of overlap.

Plus, if you plan to work for an organization that leverages private data centers in addition to the public cloud, having a certification related to cloud networking, in addition to one of the generic networking certifications described above, signals to employers that you're prepared to manage complex networks within a hybrid or multi-cloud environment.

Conclusion

Becoming certified in data center engineering is less straightforward than gaining a certification for certain other skill domains. But a variety of relevant certifications are out there. You just need to decide how complex you want the certification to be, and whether you want to focus only on data centers or extend your demonstrated expertise to cover public cloud networking.

About the Author(s)

Christopher Tozzi

Technology Analyst, Fixate.IO

Christopher Tozzi is a technology analyst with subject matter expertise in cloud computing, application development, open source software, virtualization, containers and more. He also lectures at a major university in the Albany, New York, area. His book, “For Fun and Profit: A History of the Free and Open Source Software Revolution,” was published by MIT Press.

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