This year has been crazy! I have graduated University with a 1st class honours, attained the CCNA Routing & Switching certification and been offered a job with Cisco Systems. All that hasn’t been easy but I’ve managed to achieve all that with hard work, dedication and by having a passion for networking and security.

So with 2017 just around the corner I have decided to formulate a plan that will allow me to further enhance my learning by gaining some more certifications. Now for me, certifications are a good way to stay motivated because they require work in order to pass the exams. This allows me to set goals and really understand the technologies I am learning about and with that in mind, the following are certifications I plan on getting in 2017.

CCNA Routing & Switching 200 – 125

Those that follow Cisco certifications will know that a few months ago Cisco released the new exam blueprint for the CCNA R&S certification. This means that the exam I passed, the CCNA R&S 200 – 120 is no longer an exam you can take. Cisco introduced a few new topics in this new certification, some of which include BGP and DMVPN.

All was not at a loss for me because Cisco was so kind as to release a free CCNA Bridging course on the Networking Academy website that included all the new topics introduced in the 200 – 125 exam. I went through the bridging course to learn the new technologies however didn’t plan on taking the exam again. But with my new upcoming job, I might not be able to avoid taking this exam so I plan on covering the CCNA R&S topics again as a refresh.

So you could say that this certification is one that I am preparing for just in case I have to take the exam however it’s not where my main focus resides.

CCNA Security 210 – 260

I have been studying for this certification for the last 6 months because I became more focused on network security oppose to just networking. Throughout University I was always interested in the security of networks and how I could protect them so I made the transition into the network security field. My last few jobs have been within the security field and my new role with Cisco will allow me to continue the security journey, specializing in Cisco products.

So with my motivations in mind I plan on taking the Cisco security certification pathway right the way to the CCIE Security. I was going to take this exam in the beginning of 2017 but due to the recent developments with my job, I have the opportunity to study more and take the exam through the company.

Securing Sourcefire Intrusion Prevention Systems (SSFIPS) 500 -285

This is another exam I have been studying for over the last 6 months and it is one certification I plan on passing before March 2017.

Cisco’s IPS is very popular right now and I plan on working extensively with this technology in the future. I believe for those that have no work experience with this particular product, some things won’t make sense. The reason I say that is because some of the practice exam questions ask where certain elements are located on the GUI and although the book by Todd Lammle does show you, its not the same as getting hands on experience. It helps that I have access to my own personal lab and I can practice with the technology before taking the exam.

I do believe my upcoming role also has a VMware certification planned but until I know more details I will focus on the three exams I have just mentioned. It’s not going to be easy balancing work with training but with the correct preparation I believe I can finish 2017 with more certifications.

Do you have certification exams planned for 2017?