Professional Certifications are crucial in the IT world. From an employer’s perspective, they demonstrate deep knowledge in complex areas and verification of your abilities as a professional. For entry-level and veteran IT professionals, they reflect much more.
The certification process allows you to grow, progress in your career and drive the passion that contributes to your success.
Certifications verify understanding, aptitude and provide a learning mindset that distinguishes you from the competition.
Certified employees are in demand and are trusted to operate Cisco networks globally.
Cisco’s market share including security and other enterprise networking technologies makes them one of the top leaders in the IT world.
Currently, Cisco’s certification library offers a plethora of avenues, allowing you to tailor your learning path directly to your career, interests and goals.
Each Cisco exam you pass gains you a certification (or part of it) and adds a new chapter to your professional story.
In this article we’ll compare CCNA vs CCNP which are two of the most important and popular certifications offered by Cisco, so let’s start.
Table of Contents
|Exams Required||One Exam (200-301)||Two Exams:
· Core exam: 350-401 ENCOR
· Concentration Exam
|Exams Cost||$300||$400 for Core Exam
$300 for Concentration Exam
|Job Roles||· Network Support Engineer/Technician
· Junior Network Engineer
· Network Administrator
· Helpdesk Technician
|· Senior Network Engineer
· Network Architect / Designer
· 3rd Level Support Engineer
· Team Leader
· Network Specialist
|Average Salary (USA)||$75,000 per year||$102,500 per year|
Brief Description of CCNA
Cisco architected the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) program to assist you with proving your fundamental skills in the fast-paced landscape of networking.
The program has one certification that validates a wide range of fundamentals for all TCP/IP networking careers with topics that include network fundamentals, network access, IP connectivity, IP services, security fundamentals, and automation and programmability.
Recently revamped for the latest technologies and job roles, the CCNA provides the foundation you need to take your career in any direction.
The CCNA is one of the industry’s most widely recognized and respected associate-level certifications providing employers and fellow colleagues with a new level of confidence in those who obtain the qualification.
The CCNA certification requires one exam, 200-301 Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA).
To take the 200-301 exam, or any Cisco exam, you will use the services of Pearson VUE (vue.com).
To ensure you are appropriately prepared for the exam, you should be aware of the topics that will be covered.
To find the details, go to www.cisco.com/go/certifications, look for the CCNA page, and navigate until you see the exam topics.
Reading and understanding the exam topics, especially deciding the depth of skills required for each exam topic, necessitates some thought.
Each exam topic mentions the name of some technology, but it also lists some keywords that imply the depth to which you must master the topic.
For example, “Configure and verify IPv4 addressing and subnetting” means that you should be able to not only configure IPv4 addresses and subnets, but you should understand them well enough to verify that the configuration works.
Another example: “Describe the purpose of first hop redundancy protocol”, the describe keyword tells you to be ready to describe whatever a “first hop redundancy protocol” is and have the knowledge of how it works.
Brief Description of CCNP
Cisco’s professional-level certifications path includes several disciplines such as DevNet, Enterprise networking, Collaboration, Data Center etc.
The most popular Professional Level Certification is the Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) Enterprise.
The CCNP equips you to tackle most of today’s job roles in IT networking technologies.
These certifications validate the breadth and depth of your knowledge, covering the fundamental concepts that span a technology area while also providing the flexibility to choose a concentration area.
Each professional-level certification requires only two exams: one core exam and one concentration exam of your choice, so you can focus on the areas that excite you.
Core exams in each CCNP technology track serve as qualifying exams for CCIE lab exams. There are many tracks available to suit all skills, they range from Enterprise to Security to Collaboration. However, we will explore the Enterprise track a little deeper as said above.
Among the industry’s most widely recognized and respected certifications, CCNP sets you apart. In addition, completing any CCNP certification exam earns you a Cisco Specialist certification, so you get recognized for your accomplishments along the way.
The CCNP Enterprise certification provides real-world, job-focused skills in key areas in networking. CCNP Enterprise validates the knowledge you need to excel in your job as high-value Network Engineer.
To earn CCNP Enterprise, you pass two exams: a core exam and a concentration exam of your choice.
The core exam, Implementing and Operating Cisco Enterprise Network Core Technologies (350-401 ENCOR) focuses on your knowledge of enterprise infrastructure including dual-stack (IPv4 and IPv6) architecture, virtualization, infrastructure, network assurance, security, and automation.
From here, you can now take a concentration exam, with pathways ranging from advanced routing to SD-WAN to Wireless and much more! The booking process is the same as the CCNA (via Pearson VUE).
CCNA vs CCNP in Terms of Job Roles
A CCNA will typically land a job role as a Network Support Engineer, Junior Network Engineer or Network Administrator.
These roles typically involve overseeing the essential issues that have associations with controlling and keeping up a business’s network.
Day-to-day tasks could involve arranging and installing network hardware and/or software, producing network status reports, providing remote assistance to other engineers and investigating network issues.
A CCNP on the other hand will most likely hold the title of Senior Network Engineer or Network Architect.
These roles involve managing and mentoring junior network engineers and resolving advanced support issues.
Overall, you will be accountable for the functional management of the network, delegation of tasks, resolution of advanced network issues and designing new network environments.
Day-to-day tasks include working with other senior network staff to design and implement changes, configuring hardware, reporting to upper management and carrying out regular performance tests.
CCNA vs CCNP in Terms of Salary
The average CCNA salary in the USA is $75,000 per year or $38.46 per hour. Entry-level positions start at $60,000 per year while most experienced workers make up to $110,000 per year according to Talent.
The average network engineer CCNP salary in the USA is $102,500 per year or $52.56 per hour. Entry-level positions start at $82,250 per year while most experienced workers make up to $142,350 per year according to Talent.
CCNA vs CCNP – Recertification Requirements
Recertification is a critical indicator to you and your employer that you are current with technology trends.
All certification levels have a three-year recertification requirement (for both CCNA and CCNP).
Certified members can recertify by completing continuing education learning (such as Cisco Live training sessions), taking exams, or a combination of both.
Recertification requirements must be met prior to the certification expiration date. Individuals with expired certification(s) must complete the full examination process again to earn active status.
Recertification can occur at any time during the active period by advancing to the next level of certifications, earning continuing education credits, or a combination of both.
Your highest level of certification will renew all other certifications at that level and below.
For example, if you had 2 CCNPs and a CCNA, recertifying a single CCNP will renew the other CCNP and your CCNA.
Cost of CCNA and CCNP Exams
According to Cisco, the CCNA exam (CCNA 200-301) costs $300
The CCNP exam costs are:
- CCNP Core exams (350-xxx): $400
- CCNP Concentration exams (300-xxx): $300
Can I go for CCNP without CCNA?
In the past, you had to earn the CCNA first before completing the CCNP.
However, the new Cisco certification requirements allow you to earn your Cisco CCNP directly without completing the CCNA first. So, the CCNA is NOT a pre-requisite for the CCNP anymore.
Now that we’ve explored the nuts and bolts of the CCNA and CCNP, only a single question remains…which one do I choose?
The answer greatly depends on you, your technical ability, seniority and career goals.
Are you a college/university graduate looking to get your foot in the door? CCNA is probably the best for you.
If you are already in the field and wish to take your career to the next level, then stretching yourself and going for the CCNP could be the best option. Or…why not do both?
You can always start small and work your way up to the CCNP. Whichever avenue you go down, good luck when your exam date arrives!