Cisco announced a bundle of new and revamped credentials within its Specialist certification tier—12 in all—nearly two weeks ago at the company’s channel partner summit. While some of these credentials tend to be directed more toward individuals who work in Cisco’s sales channel, a lot of titles would be more broadly applicable within the IT workforce, said Don Field, director of certifications for Cisco Systems.
“Just to be clear, any of the certifications we offer are available to anyone who comes to one of our testing centers,” he explained. “We don’t decide for people what certifications people are most interested in. Generally speaking, any of the certifications that don’t have the word ‘sales’ in them have a technical component to them. They may be on the design side. They may be in implementation and operations. People in technical fields might have an interest in any of those certifications. For example, wireless tends to be a popular area for certification, and that’s true not just among channel partners, but also our customers.”
The new certifications are the Cisco Foundation Sales Specialist, Cisco Foundation Field Specialist, Cisco Foundation Design Specialist, Cisco Routing and Switching Sales Specialist, Cisco Routing and Switching Solutions Specialist, Cisco Routing and Switching Field Specialist, Cisco Security Solutions and Design Specialist, Cisco Security Sales Specialist, Cisco Advanced Security Field Specialist, Cisco Advanced Wireless LAN Sales Specialist, Cisco Advanced Wireless LAN Field Specialist and Cisco Advanced Wireless LAN Design Specialist.
Obviously, this is a big deal for both Cisco’s certification program and the IT professionals who are pursuing credentials in these areas. “There’s no doubt that introducing 12 new certifications at one time is certainly the largest that we’ve ever done,” Field said. “It is significant from our perspective. It does represent a major growth and evolution in the offerings we have for our Specialist certifications.”
“What’s significant is the channel program to which these are associated,” he added. “We issued this set of certifications in conjunction with some significant announcements about changes that we were making to enhance our overall channel partner program. That’s a major change we’ve made as an organization, and these are important supporting elements. Having said that, we’re always changing, modifying, growing and improving the certifications we offer. This happened to be a moment when a good number of them would be announced together, but it’s neither the beginning nor the end of the changes in growth in our certification offerings.”
Indeed, a few older Specialist certifications will sunset as a result of these new releases. “Some of these certifications have existed in a previous portfolio and in fact are still available, but they will be end-of-life-ing,” said Cindy Hoffman, manager of Cisco’s certification tracks. “For example, the Advanced Wireless LAN Design Specialist, Field Specialist and Sales Specialist are all representative of evolutions. The previous Specialist-level certifications are now out of date, so we will be (retiring) those over the next 90 days. These are essentially updates to programs that currently exist.”
For more information, see http://www.cisco.com.