Cisco, AWS Launch New Professional AI Certs

AI skills are in low supply and in high demand. With consumer and corporate appetite for AI growing, it's no surprise that organizations are willing to pay significantly higher wages to employees with AI expertise.

A recent PwC study, for instance, indicated that jobs requiring AI skills carry a 25 percent average wage premium in the United States.

To help employees distinguish themselves for their AI skills, Cisco and Amazon Web Services (AWS) each recently launched new AI certifications.

CCDE - AI Infrastructure
The Cisco certification is called Cisco Certified Design Expert (CCDE) - AI Infrastructure. Announced earlier this month, the new CCDE - AI Infrastructure certification will be open for tests starting next February, during the 2025 Cisco Live conference in Amsterdam.

Cisco describes this certification as expert-level, vendor-agnostic, and designed to develop skills around AI infrastructure design. Upon completion, IT pros will become proficient at "designing network architectures optimized for AI workloads; GPU optimization; building for high-performance generative AI network fabrics; and ensuring the security, sustainability and compliance of networks that support AI," per Cisco's announcement.

Broadly, the CCDE - AI Infrastructure certification covers these four topics:

  • AI/Machine learning, compliance and governance: This section differentiates between various AI use cases, how they impact the network and how that network should be designed. This domain covers designing for regulations regarding data sovereignty and data locality, energy use, and cost optimization.
  • Network: Nothing happens without the network. This domain includes the properties and functions provided by the network, the differences between different connectivity models, and ensuring adequate bandwidth.
  • Security: Security must be built into infrastructure, not bolted on later. This domain includes secure networks and the process of securing AI applications with relevant web filtering techniques. It also includes AI-enabled tools for log analysis and correlation
  • Hardware and environment: This domain requires a thorough knowledge of specific hardware used to run AI, enabling candidates to choose and use them appropriately. This domain also includes storage options and the use of various AI-enabled tools for log analysis and correlation.

Cisco has released free study materials on its Cisco U education portal to help IT pros prepare for the CCDE - AI Infrastructure exam.

AWS 'Practitioner' and 'Associate' Certs
Cloud giant AWS, meanwhile, introduced two new AI certifications, one entry-level and one intermediate. Both are still in the beta stage, with registrations set to begin on Aug. 13.

The AWS Certified AI Practitioner is "foundational-level," according to AWS' announcement last week. It's aimed at IT pros with only "limited" experience in AI or machine learning (ML), as well as non-IT pros -- for instance, those who work in marketing, sales, human resources, accounting and other non-technical roles.

Those who achieve the AWS Certified AI Practitioner certificate will have a proven "understanding of AI and generative AI concepts," as well as the "ability to recognize opportunities that benefit from AI" and "knowledge on using AI tools responsibly."

The other AWS certificate, dubbed AWS Certified Machine Learning Engineer - Associate, is meant for IT pros with at least "one year of experience building, deploying, and maintaining AI and ML solutions on AWS."

This certificate promises to build skills around ML engineering, enabling professionals to scale AI models for real-time use. "This certification validates an individual's skills in developing, deploying, maintaining, and monitoring AI, ML, and generative AI solutions," said AWS.

Like Cisco, AWS has created multiple free online training modules to help professionals study for these certifications. The modules, which are accessible via the AWS Skill Builder site, are part of AWS' broader goal of educating up to 2 million people on AI by next year.

About the Author

Gladys Rama (@GladysRama3) is the editorial director of Converge360.