The Cisco certification program provides a path for anyone interested in making a career in technology. Cisco makes continual changes to its certification program to keep it aligned to job roles.
In 2019-20, the program underwent a major overhaul. CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate) and CCNP (Cisco Certified Network Professional), two of Cisco’s most popular certifications, changed too. This article provides up-to-date information, taking recent changes into account.
What’s the Difference Between Cisco’s CCNA and the CCNP
What is a CCNP?
A Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) helps IT professionals build on the fundamental skills they learned during the CCNA. This certification provides further education and training on topics such as local area networks, wide area networks and remote access. Similar to the CCNA, you can choose from several specializations when you enroll in a CCNP program, including:
What is a CCNA?
A Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) is an entry-level certification that may be a requirement for an IT role. The CCNA prepares IT professionals by teaching them the fundamentals of networking. When you begin your CCNA certification process, you may choose from several available specializations, including:
CCNA vs. CCNP
A CCNA and a CCNP are both certifications that IT professionals can earn to advance in their careers. However, there are some differences in the education requirements, training material and job opportunities associated with each of these certifications. Here is how they compare in a few key areas:
While the CCNA program and the CCNP program focus on similar topics, each program has different prerequisites you must meet before enrolling. To register for a CCNA certification program, you may need to first complete a Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT) certification depending on which specialty you choose. Some CCNA specialties do not require you to have a CCENT certification before enrolling. In this case, a strong understanding of information technology and a desire to continue learning may suffice.
Since the CCNP program is more advanced, IT professionals must receive the CCNA certificate that corresponds with their chosen CCNP specialty before they can enroll. You may also need to obtain a high school degree or GED to qualify for a CCNP program. Consider researching your ideal program to learn more about the prerequisites.
Training and skills
While both CCNA programs and CCNP programs provide training for IT professionals, the training is different in each program. If you enroll in a CCNA program, you can learn how to install, configure and run small to medium-sized routing and switching networks. You may also learn how to troubleshoot issues and eliminate private security threats. Finally, a CCNA program can teach you how to establish connections with remote sites.
If you enroll in a CCNP program, you can further develop the skills you learned during your CCNA training. In your CCNP program, you may focus on how to install, troubleshoot and configure networks. You may also learn to manage routers and switches that make up the core of the network. Finally, a CCNP program can teach you how to maintain edge applications where voice, wireless and security integration into the network.
Another difference between the CCNA program and the CCNP program is the number of exams IT professionals must pass before receiving their certification. Most CCNA programs only require you to pass one exam to receive your certification.
Since the CCNP certification is more advanced than the CCNA certification, it requires more testing. To obtain your CCNP certification you may need to pass three to four exams depending on the area you choose to specialize in.
Since CCNA programs and CCNP programs involve different levels of education and training, IT professionals with each of these certifications usually earn different amounts of compensation. IT professionals who have completed their CCNP certification tend to earn more than IT professionals who have only completed their CCNA certification.
However, the pay for IT professionals can also vary depending on work experience, the size of the employer and geographic location. For example, an IT professional with a CCNA and 10 years of experience who works for a large corporation may earn more than an entry-level CCNP who works for a small business.
Why are Cisco certifications important?
Completing a Cisco certification may help you:
CCNA level job opportunities and salaries
While IT professionals who have completed either a CCNA certification or a CCNP certification may both work in the technology field, CCNA holders tend to be eligible for more entry-level job roles based on their education and experience. Here are some popular career options for IT professionals with a CCNA certification:
Primary duties: A help desk engineer provides technical support to help customers resolve computer-related issues. They may troubleshoot problems, update support tickets and install hardware or software for users. Help desk engineers usually communicate with clients over the phone or via email.
Primary duties: A network technician implements, maintains and repairs network systems. They are also responsible for assessing the businesss needs and ensuring the system is well-optimized. Network technicians may educate employees on how to use the network, provide updates to senior management and perform scheduled updates.
Primary duties: System administrators, also known as server administrators, oversee networks to ensure the system runs efficiently. They may install hardware and software updates, implement security systems and help recover information in the event of a cyber-attack or system failure.
Primary duties: IT security specialists help protect a companys data. They work to minimize risk by researching trends in data security and implementing new systems. They may also set up access and permissions for new users on the network and train staff members.
Primary duties: VOIP engineers work with voice over internet protocol networks, which are used to make calls using the internet instead of a landline. They may design, install and maintain VOIP systems. VOIP engineers may also troubleshoot issues with network capacity to ensure high performance, implement network hardware modules and train staff on system protocols.
CCNP level job opportunities and salaries
A CCNP may be qualified to apply for all the jobs listed above in addition to more advanced roles in the technology field. Some popular career options for CCNPs include:
Primary duties: Network analysts monitor communication protocols, evaluate router performance, track data transfer speeds and optimize the networks storage capabilities to ensure efficiency. They may also provide IT support and often work closely with a team of programmers, designers and IT managers. Network analysts must stay informed about new hardware, software and programming tools so they can recommend the most effective systems for their company.
Primary duties: An IT manager helps organizations implement the most up-to-date technology to fit their needs. They may also negotiate contracts with vendors, develop plans that meet the companys long-term goals and improve cybersecurity. IT managers may also communicate technology-related matters with executives from their company to coordinate the best solutions for ongoing maintenance and security.
Primary duties: A systems engineer monitors the performance of an organizations systems to improve efficiency. Systems engineers can work in a wide variety of industries, including software development, nanotechnology, robotics and civil engineering. They may also help design information and operational support systems based on their companys needs.
Primary duties: A network engineer implements and maintains the computer network of an organization. They assess network issues and develop solutions. Network support engineers usually work alongside network technicians and report to a systems engineer. In addition to maintaining a companys computer network, they may also maintain their phone system and security system.
Primary duties: An infrastructure engineer builds and maintains a companys IT infrastructure. They work to ensure all the technological operations run smoothly and help troubleshoot issues when they arise. They may also maintain virtual private networks (VPNs) and install components on servers. Infrastructure engineers can work in an office or from home.
Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
Is CCNP harder than CCNA?
Is CCNA required for CCNP?
It will no longer be necessary to have a CCNA certification in order to obtain a CCNP certification. To obtain a CCIE certification a CCNP certification will no longer be a mandatory prerequisite.
Should I skip CCNA and get CCNP?
Is CCNP worth it 2022?