As a certified instructor with over a decade of experience in Cisco, F5, and Arista technologies, I am often asked about the best Cisco training courses to take for career advancement. With so many available courses and specializations, the answer can vary based on your current role or preferred career path. In this blog, I will share my top three Cisco courses that I believe can help take your career to the next level.

Before we dive into the top courses, let me first clarify that you should already have networking knowledge, ideally CCNA or at least CCNA level, before taking these courses. With that being said, let's move on to the courses.

Implementing and Operating Cisco Security Core Technologies (SCOR)

This course is perfect for those who want to specialize in Cisco Security. It covers a wide range of technologies such as next-generation firewall, VPN, web and email security, DNS, advanced malware, and more. It also covers 802.1x, SDN, different attacks, programmability, and automation. Once you pass the associated exam, which is also titled SCOR, you will be halfway to CCNP Security and eligible to take the CCIE Security lab. When you pass the exam, you will be certified as a Cisco Certified Specialist in Security Core.

Implementing and Configuring Cisco Identity Services Engine (SISE)

This course is a specialization under CCNP Security. It covers components associated with Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE), an identity management solution that works with switches, firewalls, VPNs, WLC, active directory, endpoints, and more. ISE is a difficult solution to understand, as it covers many different features such as AAA, 802.1x, CWA, posture, trustsec, and more, which are not related to even routing and switching from CCNA. However, knowing this solution will provide you with better opportunities as it can be implemented with data center enterprise, service provider, and more. Additionally, Cisco ISE is a core component of SD-Access or DNA-C solutions.

Designing Cisco Enterprise Networks (ENSLD)

This course is ideal for those who want to specialize in enterprise networks. It covers advanced routing, WAN, virtualization, network assurance, security, and more. This course is also associated with the CCNP Enterprise certification. It is a more general course that covers a broad range of topics, making it a good choice for those who want to become well-rounded network engineers.

While there are many other great Cisco courses available, I believe these three courses are the best in terms of career advancement. It is important to note that while these courses are not easy, they are definitely worth the investment of time and money.

As I've mentioned earlier, the best Cisco course out there is the Implementing Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure or DC-ACI. This course is different from traditional networking as it is designed for cloud and next-generation data centers. It's an advanced course, and it's very rare, even in the grey market. In fact, you can't build your own DC-ACI lab without purchasing the hardware, but the simulation is available with very limited features. This technology is getting even more in demand, and if you specialize in ACI and you're good at it, you can earn a minimum of 240k per year, especially in California.

However, there are limitations to this course. Some important topics such as SDN basics, configuring APIC using CLI, and ACI troubleshooting are not included in the course. But, the good news is that some instructors add these topics before they discuss ACI. They use lots of whiteboarding discussions to cover these topics and, if there is extra time, they will add CLI and ACI troubleshooting.

It's important to note that not all labs are created equal, and some Cisco training partners use a different lab that's not as good as the lab environment shown. Additionally, due to the pandemic, we have less access to enterprise or office networks. While we still use Cisco e for VPN like VPN posture assessment, we use less wireless and 8021x. So, we don't use the full capability of Cisco ICE when everyone is working from home, which makes a Cisco ICE specialist a little less in demand.


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