Skip to content

CCNA vs CCNP Certification: Difficulty, Job Roles, Salary Comparison & More


Are you considering a career in networking, but not sure which certification path is right for you? Look no further – CCNA vs CCNP will provide the insights to help make your decision.

In simplified terms, the CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate) is an entry-level certification providing foundational networking knowledge while the CCNP (Cisco Certified Network Professional) requires a prior CCNA and offers deeper knowledge and specialization within specific areas such as routing & switching, collaboration etc.. Learn about both certifications so that you can decide which option fits your lifestyle and professional development plans!

Overview of CCNA and CCNP certifications

In today’s fast-paced technology-driven world, certifications have become a crucial aspect of any IT professional’s career. Among the various certifications available, CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate) and CCNP (Cisco Certified Network Professional) have been gaining immense popularity.

CCNA is an entry-level certification that lays the foundation for a Cisco career while CCNP is an advanced level certification that helps professionals gain expertise in various networking concepts. Aiming to provide globally recognized credentials, these certifications not only validate one’s skills but also open up a plethora of job opportunities in the industry. The courses for these certifications are designed to deliver practical knowledge along with theoretical concepts and cover aspects such as routing and switching, WAN, security, and more. So, if you are seeking a career in networking or want to advance in your current role, CCNA and CCNP certifications can pave the way for a promising future.

Difference between CCNA and CCNP

The CCNA and CCNP certifications are both essential to those working within the Cisco ecosystem. As a massive provider of networking and infrastructure components, Cisco has been a pioneer in their innovation of routing, switching, and networking technologies.

However, while both certifications are connected to the same company and industry, they differ significantly in the skills they teach and the direction they lead you towards within IT positions. It is important to note that these certifications require rigorous hours of studying before taking the exams and have a validity of three years before needing to be renewed.

Career Differences

If you are considering pursuing a career in IT, choosing the right certification can make all the difference. The CCNA and CCNP certifications both provide valuable skills and knowledge, but they lead to different career paths.

With a CCNA certification, you can begin working in an entry-level position such as a Network Support Engineer or Helpdesk Technician.

On the other hand, a CCNP certification is ideal for IT professionals who want to take their careers to the next level and progress to positions such as Network Analyst, Systems Engineer, or IT Team Leader.


If you’re considering pursuing Cisco networking certifications, it’s important to understand the prerequisites for both the CCNA and CCNP programs.

The CCNA program may require you to first obtain a CCENT certification, depending on the specialty you choose. Even if a CCENT isn’t required, a solid understanding of information technology is essential for success.

On the other hand, the CCNP program is more advanced and requires candidates to already hold a corresponding CCNA certification. Additionally, a high school degree or GED may be necessary to enroll in a CCNP program. Before deciding which program to pursue, take the time to research the specific requirements and ensure you meet the prerequisites.

Educational requirements

CCNA only requires passing one exam. The current CCNA exam topics are:

  • Exam 100-105: ICND1 Interconnecting Cisco Networking Devices Part 1
  • Exam 200-105: ICND2 Interconnecting Cisco Networking Devices Part 2

The CCNP certification requires passing two or more exams, including a core exam and at least one concentration exam. The current CCNP exam topics are:

  • Exam 300-101: ROUTE Implementing Cisco IP Routing
  • Exam 300-115: SWITCH Implementing Cisco IP Switched Networks
  • Exam 300-135: TSHOOT Troubleshooting and Maintaining Cisco IP Networks

This means that the CCNP is generally more comprehensive and involves a deeper level of knowledge and understanding of networking concepts. However, the CCNA is a great starting point for those new to the field or looking to gain a foundational understanding of networking, before pursuing more advanced certifications like the CCNP.


When it comes to earning potential, IT professionals with a CCNP certification generally make more than those with a CCNA certification. This is likely due to the fact that the CCNP certification requires a higher level of education and training.

However, it’s important to note that there are other factors that can impact salary, such as work experience and the size of the employer.

Level of Difficulty

While the CCNA is a great starting point for beginners, the CCNP takes things up a notch. With its more advanced concepts and deeper knowledge requirements, this certification is best suited for individuals with a strong foundation in networking.

Exam Cost

For those looking to advance their network engineering skills, the CCNA and CCNP exams are two popular options. However, it’s important to consider the cost of each exam before diving in.

While the CCNA exam is a great starting point, the CCNP exams take things to the next level with a much more advanced level of knowledge required. As a result, it’s no surprise that the CCNP exams are generally more expensive than the CCNA exam. But for those willing to invest in their education and career, the rewards of passing these advanced exams can be significant.

CCNA-level job opportunities and salaries

If you’re considering a career in the technology industry and have completed a CCNA certification, congratulations! With your education and experience, you’re now eligible for a variety of entry-level IT roles.

Some popular job options for CCNA holders include network engineer, IT support specialist, and network technician. The good news is that these roles not only offer plenty of opportunities for growth and advancement, but they also come with competitive salaries.

Help desk engineer

As a help desk engineer, you’ll get to use your problem-solving skills to assist customers in resolving various computer-related issues. From troubleshooting problems to installing software and hardware, you’ll be the person clients turn to for technical support.

And with the average salary for this role being over $51,000 per year, it’s a financially rewarding career choice as well. Whether you prefer working in an office or remotely, the opportunities for a career in help desk engineering are plentiful.

Network technician

A network technician plays a pivotal role in ensuring that a business’s network systems operate at maximum efficiency. They implement, maintain, and repair these systems, while also assessing the company’s specific needs to optimize it further.

Not only that, a network technician may also train employees on how to use the network, and provide timely updates to senior management regarding any issues or progress. With an average salary of $69,544 per year, this role is ideal for individuals who have a passion for technology and problem-solving.

IT security specialist

IT security specialists play a vital role in safeguarding a company’s valuable data against potential threats. In today’s digital age, cybersecurity is more important than ever, and these professionals are at the forefront of this critical work.

To ensure maximum protection, they constantly search for ways to improve data security and develop new systems accordingly. As well as their technical expertise, IT security specialists play an important role in staff training. They work closely with employees, ensuring everyone is aware of the latest threats and know how to follow best practices to avoid them.

With an average salary of almost $71,000 per year, IT security specialists are well-compensated for their essential work in keeping our digital world secure.

Systems administrator

Are you tech-savvy, detail-oriented and well-versed in all things IT? If so, a career as a systems administrator might be just the thing for you. This crucial position is responsible for managing servers and networks to guarantee seamless daily operations.

As a system administrator, you’ll be tasked with everything from installing software updates to ensuring security protocols are in place to prevent cyber-attacks. And if the worst does occur, your expertise will be instrumental in recovering precious data.

Plus, with an average salary of $76,288 per year in the USA, this profession offers a solid compensation package that is hard to pass up. Think you have what it takes to keep networks running like clockwork? Consider joining the ranks of the invaluable system administrators.

VOIP engineer

VOIP engineers are essential in the age of digital communication. Their role includes designing and setting up voice-over-internet protocol networks that allow individuals to make calls using the internet rather than traditional landlines.

In addition to the initial installation process, these engineers are responsible for maintaining and troubleshooting VOIP systems. By monitoring network capacity and implementing necessary upgrades, VOIP engineers ensure high-quality call performance for both businesses and individuals. They also often train staff on the protocols and best practices surrounding VOIP systems.

With an average salary of $90,968 per year in the USA, it’s clear that this profession is highly valued and in-demand.

CCNP-level job opportunities and salaries

As a highly skilled professional in the field of technology, a CCNP is qualified to apply for a wide variety of jobs that offer competitive salaries and exciting opportunities for growth.

In addition to the roles listed above, a CCNP may also be eligible for more advanced positions, including network architects or network engineers. These positions often come with higher salaries and greater responsibilities, making them ideal for individuals looking to further their careers in the technology industry.

As a CCNP, you can expect to earn a salary that is commensurate with your level of expertise, making this field an excellent choice for those looking to make a solid investment in their future.

Network analyst

Network analysts play an increasingly vital role in ensuring businesses maintain efficient and effective communication channels. With their primary focus being on optimizing network performance, network analysts evaluate routers, monitor data transfer speeds, and track communication protocols to ensure smooth operations. Their skill set goes beyond just technical ability, however, as they also provide IT support and work collaboratively with teams across different departments.

Keeping up-to-date with the latest advancements in hardware, software, and programming is also essential, as network analysts need to recommend the most effective systems to best serve their company.

With an average salary of $75,015 per year, network analysts are well-compensated for their expertise and invaluable contributions to the success of businesses.

IT manager

In today’s fast-paced business world, an IT manager is an essential role in ensuring organizations stay on top of the latest technology trends. These professionals are responsible for designing and implementing technology solutions to match a company’s specific needs.

In addition to their technical expertise, IT managers are skilled negotiators who ensure their organization is getting the best value from technology vendors. Plus, they work with company executives to develop long-term plans that prioritize cybersecurity and ongoing maintenance.

With an average annual salary of almost $88,000, it’s clear that IT management is a critical role in today’s digital landscape.

Network engineer

As technology advances, companies of all industries have come to rely on their computer network to keep business running smoothly. That’s where a network engineer comes in.

With an average salary of $90,148 per year in the USA, these skilled professionals are responsible for implementing and maintaining a company’s computer network.

As a network engineer, one must assess network issues and develop solutions alongside network technicians. They work closely with systems engineers to ensure everything is running as efficiently as possible. In addition to working on the computer network, network engineers may also maintain phone and security systems.

Systems engineer

With an average salary of $93,745 per year in the United States, systems engineers are tasked with the important responsibility of monitoring and improving the performance of an organization’s systems.

Systems engineer play a key role in designing and implementing information and operational support systems that cater to the specific needs of their employer. From software development to civil engineering, systems engineers have a wide range of industries to choose from when it comes to finding employment.

As technology continues to evolve at an unprecedented rate, the demand for skilled systems engineers is only expected to rise in the years to come.

Infrastructure engineer

The backbone of any successful company is its IT infrastructure. That’s where infrastructure engineers come in – the unsung heroes of technological operations. They ensure that everything from servers to VPNs run smoothly and efficiently, providing support whenever an issue arises. If you’re someone who loves tinkering with technology and can diagnose and resolve problems quickly, you would be ideal for the role of an infrastructure engineer.

With an average salary of $107,957 per year, not to mention the option of working remotely from home, it’s a career path that’s both financially and professionally rewarding.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *