In the old relations between industry and academia, it was the academia that held the laurel wreath and the commanding position. And you made your transition from universities to the corporations and applied sciences. But starting with Microsoft and then Cisco completely changed the game, now the relations have reversed to some extent.
Just to give you an example of the size of this change. Can you imagine some big pharmaceutical company giving you a certification that guarantees you a job that allows you to make medicine that would be consumed by millions of people and put a fat pay cheque in your pocket along with it? Nope. It would be the other way round. Some big university would hand you a degree that would allow you to work with a company that makes medicines that millions consume.
So, what changed? The computer revolution happened. Smart graduates from universities realized how much freedom in innovation and technology creation computer science could bring them and how they could achieve that without the machine works of mainstream university education. They began to revolutionize information technology to such an extent that the same universities they had to be certified by, were now forced to teach the basics of the technologies that their companies had developed.
One of these leading innovators was Cisco. Chances are that if you work in any corporation or organization that uses computers on a large-scale, you are probably using some form of technology developed by Cisco. Whether you are doing voice or video conferencing in a business meeting or sharing files on your office server, Cisco is most likely the technical support you are relying upon.
Now that Cisco’s technological innovations and services had become indispensable to a swiftly digitizing and e-commerce driven world, they decided to step into educating young professionals and imparting the technical skills necessary for operating, maintaining and developing their technological solutions and networking systems.
Now here is how this new culture of Cisco’s technical and company driven certification differs from the old school university computer science degrees.
1. Continuous Evolution
In order to keep your certification, whether it is a basic CCNA or the highly coveted CCIE, you need to keep upgrading your technical know how and pass theory and hands-on exams every two years or so, otherwise your certification is suspended and you can no longer avail employment through it.
2. Optimized Technical Specialization
Each Cisco certification trains you sharply in a particular field without making you spend your time mastering theory and courses that might never come to your use in applied industry and your job market. You learn exactly what you need to.
3. Complete Standardization
All Cisco certifications are standardized to the utmost level, whether you pass your exam in New Dehli or Tokyo or Los Angeles. Compare this with the wide diversity of quality and individual differences in faculty, campuses and syllabi of university degrees.
4. Pioneers and Innovators
Only the best of the brains in information technology and computing get to the significant tiers and ranks of Cisco certified professionals. Just to give you an idea, in a world where there are over 300,000 notable computer science graduates, only 25,000 have been able to pass the CCIE certification by Cisco. So passing the advanced level Cisco certifications basically puts you among the elite of the IT world.
5. Significant Pay Scales
Last but not least, the difference between the pay scales of those who are Cisco certified and those who are not is substantial. The average salary for mid-to-high level Cisco certified professional ranges from $80,000 – $110,000 ( according to payscale.
Having spent a few years with companies like TestWarrior.com that help young professionals train for the exams and lab sessions for Cisco Certification Exams and being a young working mother myself, I highly recommend investing in upgrading your technical skill set with standardized and specialized certifications rather than general theoretical degrees which are on average 5 times more expensive.