Eye on Certification: Wireless
Several businesses have been enthusiastic about “cutting the cord” on some parts of their networks as costs associated with wireless solutions have continued to fall and bandwidth has gone up. A few concerns about these technologies, however, have held back demand to some extent. Apprehensions about the tangled sets of standards, speed of service, interference with communications and inadequate security have hampered acceptance of wireless in some instances, but as the technology improves and capabilities increase, many more companies likely will be persuaded to embrace it.
The best assurance that wireless networks will work efficiently, effectively and safely is having qualified professionals on hand to create, implement and maintain these solutions. Here are some of the certs that have a reputation for demonstrating a certain level of skills with wireless:
Planet3 Wireless operates the Certified Wireless Networking Professional (CWNP) program, perhaps the most well-known vendor-neutral wireless certification suite on the market. The CWNP suite encompasses five distinct job roles in the wireless field, and Planet3 Wireless offers classes, books, practice tests and other resources for all its certification tracks.
CWNP’s Wireless# (“Wireless Sharp”) certification was launched last year as an introductory certification around very basic knowledge in this field. This credential covers Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, WiMax, ZigBee or Infrared topics, which includes standards, operations and circumstances. For the time being, Wireless# is not directly connected to other CWNP certifications.
The Certified Wireless Network Administrator (CWNA) credential, which is the foundation-level certification for the program, verifies a candidate can administer a wireless local area network (WLAN). The CWNA requires successful completion of one exam, which covers radio frequency technologies, wireless LAN technologies, wireless LAN implementation and management, wireless LAN security and wireless LAN industry and standards.
The more advanced certifications in the CWNP program are the Certified Wireless Security Professional (CWSP), which deals with wireless LAN intrusion, wireless LAN security policy and wireless LAN security solutions, and Certified Wireless Analysis Professional (CWAP), which covers media access control (MAC) frames and exchange processes, physical layer technologies and wireless LAN protocol analyzer use and trace interpretation. The Certified Wireless Networking Expert (CWNE), the highest-level credential in the CWNP array, involves a practical exam that validates proficiency in sophisticated wireless techniques like packet analysis, intrusion detection, performance analysis and advanced design.
For more information, see http://www.cwnp.com.
AreTec, a research and development organization that promotes standardization in wireless and convergence, offers a vendor-neutral wireless training and certification program. There are three spheres within the series: AreTec Certified Wireless Engineer (ACWE), AreTec Certified Wireless Developer (AceWD) and AreTec Certified Wireless Architect (ACWA).
The ACWE involves a combination of five career tracks: wireless applications development, which encompasses location-based services and J2ME and Java in wireless environments; wireless DSP, RF and antennae, which covers analog and digital data communications and multimedia signal processing; wireless telecom carriers, which goes over providers, networks and GPS and satellite communications; wireless networking and security, which addresses security implementation, protocols and architectures; and wireless embedded systems, which includes circuit designs and protocol interfacing. Each of these paths lasts 80 hours, more than 50 percent which is spent working with hands-on lab projects.
These five tracks continue with the ACWD, in which participants will select a specialized area of expertise within the certification body of knowledge. This certification is 200 hours, and more than half of that time is spent in lab practice courses.
Finally, there’s the highest AreTec credential, ACWA, which has no classroom training. It entails completion of a written paper over a two-hour span and a four-day lab test.
For more information, see http://www.aretechnologies.net.
The National Association of Radio and Telecommunications Engineers (NARTE) offers a comprehensive certification program for professionals handling the implementation of wireless LANs, Bluetooth, Unlicensed National Information Infrastructure (UNII, pronounced “you knee”) devices and unlicensed personal communications services (PCS) systems.
NARTE’s certification program has four tracks: telecommunications, unlicensed wireless systems installation, electromagnetic compatibility and electrostatic discharge control. Within these tracks are two classifications, technician and engineer. In addition to meeting specific experience and educational prerequisites, candidates must successfully complete the required exams and submit references who can confirm competency and character.
For more information, see http://www.narte.org.