Many certification programs are available for network engineers to expand their knowledge and build more experience. If you are looking to test and prove your professional skills, experience, and credibility by getting some of the most exciting and sought-after certifications available, continue reading to find out where to start.
This blog provides an overview of certifications worth earning if you are on your way to becoming a network engineer, are a seasoned network engineer looking to take that next professional step, or if you are simply an IT professional wanting to get up to speed on the latest tools and trends. You will learn about the benefits of getting certified, six well-regarded introductory and advanced certifications, and the education, qualifications, and skills needed to become a network engineer.
Why Get Certified?
Getting a certification in a network engineering related field can help you achieve the next step in your career. Not only can it validate your skills and knowledge, but it can also make you more marketable to employers or give you the skills your boss needs to see so you can take on that new responsibility and earn that promotion.
If you are looking for a new job, many employers will require at least one certification for network engineer positions. A network engineer certification can help you stand out from the crowd when applying for that new role. In a competitive market, any edge you can give yourself is valuable. Certification shows that you are willing to go the extra mile to demonstrate your skills and commitment to your chosen field. By becoming certified, you will be able to demonstrate to a hiring manager that you have the skills and knowledge necessary for the job.
The six certifications listed below are some of the most popular options for network engineers.
If you are interested in getting any of the above certifications, SANS provides training courses that will prepare you to test for each of them.
GIAC’s Security Essentials (GSEC) is a great certification for a network engineer to pursue, and a SANS training course like SEC401: Security Essentials: Network, Endpoint, and Cloud will provide the skills and hands-on training that will give you an edge when testing for the certification.
In the SEC401: Security Essentials: Network, Endpoint and Cloud training course, you will learn the strengths of and differences between AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platforms and how to leverage each. You will learn how to build a security program, defend against ransomware, use command line tools, and identify system weaknesses and make them more secure. You will learn how to use the command line to search systems for compromise as well as how to automate continuous monitoring through scripting. Hands-on training includes using Wireshark, Snort, and PowerShell scripting, among other interactive activities.
The SEC503: Network Monitoring and Threat Detection In-Depth training course prepares you for the GIAC Certified Intrusion Analyst (GCIA) certification. It will teach you how to analyze site traffic, identify zero-day threats, triage network alerts, and reconstruct events. You will learn how to use hands-on network forensic investigation tools, behavioral network monitoring tools, and how to set up network monitoring for maximum detection. With almost 40 hands-on training labs, you will learn how to use Snort, Suricata, Zeek, as well as NetFlow/IPFIX tools, and others.
The SEC511: Continuous Monitoring and Security Operations training course provides the knowledge to test for the GIAC Continuous Monitoring (GMON) certification. You can expect to learn about defensible security architecture, network security monitoring, continuous diagnostics and mitigation, and continuous security monitoring. You will learn how to analyze and detect threats and prevent an attacker’s attempts at intrusion. You will learn how to identify architecture deficiencies, design secure infrastructure, and determine an organization’s security monitoring needs as well as its current monitoring capabilities. In the course’s hands-on labs, you will take part in daily NetWars cyber challenges.
SEC530: Defensible Security Architecture and Engineering: Implementing Zero Trust for the Hybrid Enterprise gives you the skills you need to pass the GIAC Defensible Security Architecture (GDSA) certification. In this course, you learn tactics and how to use tools to implement early warning detection and respond to most attacks. This training course provides 23 hands-on labs and focuses heavily on leveraging your organization’s current infrastructure, including switches, routers, firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention systems, web application firewalls, security information and event management, sandboxes, encryption, public key infrastructure, and proxies, etc. SEC530 provides you with everything you ever wanted to know about zero trust.
SEC488: Cloud Security Essentials readies you for the GIAC Cloud Security Essentials (GCLD) certification, providing you with 20 hands-on labs and skills like identifying cloud service provider (CSP) risks, evaluating CSP documentation, controls, and reports to determine trustworthiness and how to identify control ownership. Hands-on training includes using AWS and Azure web consoles, open-source tools, command line, log and security services, and Terraform.
If going after the GIAC Public Cloud Security (GPCS) certification, SEC510: Public Cloud Security: AWS, Azure, and GCP is an ideal training course to take to prepare. This course teaches you how the three largest cloud providers work and best practices for securely configuring and leveraging their tools and services. You will learn the finer details of identity and access management, how encryption at rest and in transit are handled by each provider, how to apply defense in depth techniques, and how to best provide secure access across cloud environments.
There are many different ways to become a network engineer. You can earn a degree in computer science or network engineering, complete a certificate program that includes professional certifications, or you can complete any one of the industry standard SANS training courses listed above.
While an undergraduate degree is a great way to pursue a career in network engineering, it may not fit into everyone’s busy life. A bachelor’s degree in network engineering or similar computer science related field will take years to complete, while SANS training courses are usually six days and impart the knowledge needed to pass any number of certifications that employers will often accept instead of a degree. Certificate programs like the SANS Technology Institute’s undergraduate certificate in applied cybersecurity can provide a quicker route to a career than a degree program.
Network engineers need to use cybersecurity techniques in any given position. If you’re looking for an accredited bachelor’s degree or certificate program that offers hands-on training, support from a dedicated student advisor, and a proven pathway to a career, the SANS Technology Institute has two great undergraduate cybersecurity programs for students of all ages. If you are interested in pursuing a bachelor’s degree, the SANS Technology Institute’s bachelor’s degree program in applied cybersecurity is a great solution. This program for transfer students includes nine GIAC certifications and a virtual internship as an apprentice incident handler with the Internet Storm Center, the world’s leading global cyber threat detection network. Another option is SANS Technology Institute’s undergraduate certificate program in applied cybersecurity, which is available to students and career changers who have at least 48 college credits. The SANS.edu undergraduate certificate program is composed of four courses which provide you the skills and knowledge to earn four GIAC certifications and launch a cybersecurity career. In both undergraduate programs at SANS, you’ll receive lifetime support from the SANS.edu Career Center.
You can also become a network engineer through on-the-job training. Many employers offer paid training programs that can help you learn the skills you need to be successful in this career.
Once you have completed your training, the next step is to get certified. As mentioned earlier, certification can validate your skills and knowledge, make you more marketable to employers, and help you advance your career.
A network engineer must be able to understand and configure network hardware such as routers, switches, and firewalls. They must also be able to troubleshoot network issues. In addition, network engineers must have a strong understanding of network protocols like TCP/IP, DHCP, and DNS. They must also be familiar with network security measures such as VPNs and intrusion detection systems. Finally, network engineers must have superb project management skills. They must be able to plan, implement, and manage complex network projects.
The skills required of a network engineer are complex and many, but with the right training and cybersecurity certification, you will be a success in this field.