Wi-Fi and wireless technologies are largely appreciated nowadays. As more and more enterprises are also relying upon wireless technology, there is a huge demand for wireless networking professionals across the globe. Even for the existing network administrators, additional knowledge of wireless networking is appreciated. Not just for the administrators, but from salesperson to the CEO, working knowledge of wireless networking is considered to be essential.
Certified Wireless Networking Professional (CWNP)
One certification we hear the most about while thinking of gaining wireless networking skill-set is CWNP. It is a foundation-level vendor-neutral certification which testifies an administrator’s ability to handle wireless networks. Many wireless LAN related topics are covered in the total coursework of CWAP, and the certification levels are divided into four as below.
- Entry Level: This covers the bare minimum skill-set required for beginners, and consists of one certification as CWTS (Certified Wireless Technology Specialist).
CWTS validates the basic knowledge and skills of the professionals on enterprise 802.11 wireless network. It is a sales and support level certification in the CWNP track. You have to undergo a test with a score of 70% or more to get CWTS credentials. The major topic covered in CWTS are:
- Wi-Fi Standards
- Software and Hardware
- RF (Radio Frequency) basics
- Site Survey and installation of network
- Support and troubleshooting
- Compliance and security.
- Administrator Level: This is meant for the wireless network admins to possess the needed skill-set at work which also includes one certification as CWNA (Certified Wireless Network Administrator).
CWNA is also a baseline certification testifying the Enterprise Wi-Fi administration skill, which acts as a springboard to dive into more advanced security, analysis, design, and expert network type certifications. An exam has to be passed with 70% or higher marks. The validity of the certification is 3 years. To extend, you have to pass any of the CWSP, CWDP, or CWAP before the expiry of CWNA to get another three-year validity.
Major topics covered under CWNA are:
- RF technologies
- Concepts of antenna
- Hardware and software in Wireless LAN
- Design – installation – management of Wi-Fi networks
- Wireless standards
- 11 wireless network architecture
- Wireless network security and troubleshooting.
- Professional Level: Ideal for those who work as networking professionals, which consist of three key domains of wireless technology with three distinct certifications as:
CWSP (Certified Wireless Security Professional)
The wireless network security administrators need to have an in-depth knowledge of the latest tools, software applications, and technology trends. Certified Wireless Network Expert certification will help testify these skills and knowledge of network administrators. Those who clear the CWSP certification can earn credits towards the CWNE certification
CWNA is the prerequisite for CWSP certification. You can register for CWSP exam through Pearson Vue Test Centers and score 70% to clear it. CWSP is also valid for three years only and to extend you need to pass the latest CWSP exam.
Major topics covered for the exam are:
- Techniques of WLAN discovery
- Attack and Intrusion Detection.
- 11 wireless network protocol analysis
- Implementing Wireless Intrusion Prevention Systems (WIPS)
- Layer 2 & Layer 3 VPNs over the 802.11 wireless networks
- Network Security designs of Enterprise, SOHO, SMB, and public
- Managed Endpoint Security Systems
- 11 Authentication & Key
CWDP (Certified Wireless Design Professional)
CWDP is a highly reputed certification in IT sector in terms of career advancement. Those who crack CWDP certification exam will earn credits for CWNE certificate. CWDP is the higher-level certification valid for CWNP. To earn CWDP, you have to clear the exam at Pearson Vue test center and get 70%. The instructors should get 80% or higher to clear it. CWDP is valid for 3 years and to recertify it, and you need to clear current CWNA.
CWAP (Certified Wireless Analysis Professional)
As a professional level certification for CWNP, for CWAP certification, one should have a valid CWNA. The score to get is 70% or higher for general and 80% or higher for instructor level exam takers. CWAP is also valid for three years, and you need to clear the latest CWNA credential and also pass current CWAP to extend it for three more years.
The topics covered under CWAP are:
- 11 Physical (PHY) Layer Technologies and Frame Formats
- 11 MAC Layer technologies and Frame Formats
- 11 Frame Exchanges and Operation
- Spectrum Analysis
- Protocol Analysis
- Expert Level: This is the most advanced level of certification for the complete suite of CWNP, which is considered as the masters of wireless networking. This consists of one advanced level certification as CWNE (Certified Wireless Networking Expert).
CWNE is the final step towards earning a full-stack CWNP credential. Earning CWNE certifies that you are the master of all skills to plan, install, configure, administer, and troubleshoot any types of the wireless networking system. CWNE holders also demonstrate in-depth knowledge of intrusion detection, protocol analysis, performance analysis, spectrum analysis, QoS analysis, prevention, and advanced design, etc.
Confronting the question ‘is the CWNP certification worth it? By getting through all the above steps, we can say that CWNP certification is an easily recognizable benchmark for the recruiters, which testifies the motivation, dedication, and technical skills of a candidate to work in wireless LAN environments. As the competition for IT jobs becomes stiffer, having a certification will offer significant benefits to the job hunters.
How does CWNP benefit you?
CWMP helps technology job seekers in the following ways:
- When you have to compete with other candidates with the same academic qualifications and level of experience applicable to the position, the one who possesses a CWNP may get a significant edge over others.
- For individual professionals, spending money for CWNP certification is something like getting job insurance. CWNP gives you a transferable skill-set, and unlike many other provider certificates, CWNP doesn’t lock you into the products of a specific vendor. So, you have a lesser risk of being laid off or getting fired during economic slowdowns.
- Taking the initiative for such certification testifies not only your technical skills, but also your commitment and motivation towards this career, which will be counted greatly when employers consider you into similar roles.
As we have seen, gaining a CWNP certification by going through various levels will enhance your skills and expertise in changing technologies in the Wi-Fi spectrum. Getting such a professional certificate will also yield better work performance and also help gain promotions for you.
Getting a CWNP certification will also make you a part of the elite community of creamy‑layer network professionals who are certified. The opportunity to participate and interact with this community will help in your personal and professional growth as well as set open new opportunities for you from across the globe. Apart from holding the certificate, being a part of this premium peer group may be a turning point in your professional life.