Wednesday 18 December 2013

Wi-Fi Certification: CWNP vs Cisco

I thought I'd do a quick blog on WLAN certification paths...

Firstly, I'd like to say how great it was to begin reading the CWNA and CWDP study guides.  As a wireless engineer if you only ever read two books read these...  You'll be a great engineer if you apply that knowledge to business.  If you follow the past and present CWNP guys on twitter you'll find that they are not only hugely talented WLAN geeks but also very intuitive business people.  This comes across in the CWNP literature and exams.  They are steeped in foundation knowledge of the standards and protocols, plus deployment strategies aren't tied to a vendor.

Moving onto Cisco... From a career perspective Cisco hold a huge majority and Cisco Partners want you to have Cisco accreditation. You'll be sought after in the partner world if you can provide exams that enable Wireless Specialisation for resellers.  This is the reason my Cisco certs came first.

My main gripe with the Cisco wireless exams is that lots of questions are product and version specific. It's almost like there is an element of presages knowledge that Cisco feel needs to be understood by engineers.  For example, how many clients does a 2500 WLC support?  The unwritten rule is that the engineer needs to know which version the exam was written for... Make sure you keep those old data sheets and configuration guides - these numbers change!

Here's a CCNP Mobility question that made me laugh. "You have wireless clients and wireless tags supporting CCX, do you need to buy an AeroScout license to track them?"  The answer is no... you'll know this if you've sold/deployed it.  But is it really a question that defines a good engineer, or a sales checkbox?

I'm about to begin the CWAP and CWSP, and very much looking forward to it.  I'll then be aiming to get my CWNE by the close of 2014.  A qualification that I already consider to be a mark of a top-class wireless engineer.

A final thought... Now that I'm doing the hiring.  I have a CWNP qualified guy and a Cisco qualified guy.  Who will get the job?

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