So you have finally made up your mind to pursue with a Cisco Certified Program to give wings to your career? It is a very good decision to boost up your future prospects. However, you must be aware that Cisco offers a number of certificate programs with different prerequisites. The two most important certifications are CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate) and CCNP (Cisco Certified Network Professional). It becomes necessary to make a comparative study between the two so that a career aspirant is able to decide which one he should opt for. In order to choose the best, a thorough analysis of both the certificates needs to be done.
Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)
As you are aware that all Cisco based certifications have their own value. Therefore, when you are stepping out to enroll for a CCNA course, you must be familiar with the curriculum of the program. Here you will have to learn and also get knowledge about how to organize and operate the medium levelled switches and routers. Side by side, you also learn how to verify and then implement connections through remote sites by using WAN.
In short, the CCNA program usually focuses on these vital topics that includes-
- How to Conduct IP Addressing
- Information on VLAN and WLAN
- How to design WAN and LAN
- Info on Network Security and Management that includes ACL
- Information about OSL models
- Getting knowledge about routers and routing network that includes EIGRP, RIP and OSPF
If you want you can also get certification in CCNA Voice, CCNA Wireless and CCNA Security. However, these are basically corresponding courses. This is not all. Cisco has introduced a number of Advanced CCNA exams specifically for the professionals such as CCIE and CCNP.
A Big Relief for Admission Seekers
The Cisco is kind enough to provide a big relief to all the individuals who are willing to peruse the CCNA course. There is no such terms and conditions in order to get the certificate. The only requirement that needs to be fulfilled is passing the exam. You can first enroll at a training center to receive a formal training so that you are better prepared for the examination. You can also avail the study materials published by Cisco. Other than that, you can also attend online classes and webinars. It is to be reminded that the duration for the test is about 90 minutes.
Validity of the Certificate
Yet another vital point to remember at this juncture is that the validity period for the CCNA certification is about three years. Once the validity period expires, you have to renew it after qualifying the exam. Cisco is upgrading its certificate programs on regular basis. It emphasises on a curriculum which is based on the specific industry standards and needs.
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The Important Exams to Qualify
If you are aspiring to obtain a CCNA certificate and give an extra edge to your career, then you must pass either of two examinations. These include-
- Combined CCNA Exam (200-120)
- ICND1 Exam (100-101) and the ICND2 (200-101)
The first Combined CCNA Exam (200-120) is a composite exam which focuses on routing and switching. The preparation of the exam needs to be done by enrolling for the Cisco Networking Devices: Accelerated (CCNAX) course. You will have to prove your acquired knowledge in installing and operating as well as troubleshooting small to mediocre enterprise branch network. Actually it comprises of chapters ICND 1 and ICND2.
ICND 1 and ICND2 is two different topics. While the first part primarily centers around different types of networking and media, basics of switching, how to conduct TCP/IP, IP addressing, routing and WAN technologies besides others, the second part is dealing with advanced networks in switching, determining of VLANS and IP routes, managing the traffic and much more.
It’s a Bet: You Opted for Best
There is no doubt over the fact that all Cisco Certifications are becoming incredibly popular and their demand is hiking with each passing day. If you want to serve the IT sector, believe it, you couldn’t have asked for a better course than CCNA. Several hundred thousand individuals have already cleared the exam and are placed well in various IT companies all around the globe. Still, if you have any doubt about the success of your career, than all that will vanish after going through the benefits of perusing the CCNA program.
Promotion Opportunity with a Good Increment in Pay
So, let’s start with an aspect which will bring a huge smile on your face. Of course your aim of perusing this course is to flourish your career and the CCNA certification is certainly not going to disappoint you on that front. As soon as you will show the certificate to the HR department of your company, you can surely expect a promotion in your designation and also a hike in your salary. However, the percentage of increment may vary from one company to another.
Enhancement of Knowledge
There is no denial to the fact that every course or program of study helps in increasing one’s knowledge as we come to know about new topics. The same can be said about the CCNA certificate course. Although it does not require any academic qualification but you acquire a good sound knowledge on network and switching. This course is not only meant for youngsters looking to establish their career in IT field but also for the experienced persons who are associated with the industry. You will always remain updated with the latest developments in the field.
Getting a Recognition
With CCNA certificate you also earn a self recognition. You will notice that your employer as well as your seniors at workplace will start valuing your opinions and also give the much needed respect. In fact, you can dictate the terms to the recruiter instead of him doing so when negotiating the salary column.
Expected CCNA Salary
So far, you want read all positive about the CCNA certificate and also have been assured of a good hike in your pay. It must have increased your curiosity about the expected salary. A female Network Associate can expect an average salary ranging from $55,000 to $90,000. On the other hand, the males usually get a pay around $54,000 to $89500. It is good to know that a female receives more than a male.
The Job Profile of CCNA
Now that you are glad to know the payment associated with CCNA, you also must get familiar with what kind of job profile can you expect? Well, talking of job responsibilities there are a number of designations that you can apply for. It includes network engineer, system engineer, administrating the IT networking, IT Manager or even a Director. The more experience you gain, better are your chances of promotion.
Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP)
For those who are not contained with just a Certificate in Network Associate and want to move on further, the Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) is a perfect program to add more stars on your shoulder. Like CCNA, it is also a routing and switching based course specifically designed for the network and system engineers. But here you need to have a couple of years experience in networking field and also should have obtained a valid CCNA certificate. The job profile is more or less similar; the only dissimilarity is that here the professionals have advanced and profound knowledge on the subject.
The Subject Matter of CCNP Program
As said there is not much of a difference between the CCNA and CCNP programs. The course mainly focuses on developing a few skills that include-
Establishing a Better Coordination
First and foremost it teaches you to establish a better coordination with the network engineers and specialists while undertaking a project. The issues are related to wireless, video and voice solutions and sorting out the advanced security problems.
Designing and Developing Troubleshoot and LAN
You also get to learn and get trained in designing and implementing troubleshoot and Local Area Network including authenticating it.
Essential Criteria for Obtaining the Certificate
Unlike CCNA, CCNP requires the individuals to satisfy a few prerequisites. You can apply for the course only after availing the CCNA Routing and Switching Certificate. Apart from that, you can also obtain the certificate if you posses the Cisco CCIE certification.
Are You an Eligible Candidate?
You have to find the answer to this obvious question before enrolling for the Cisco Certified Network Professional. The reply would be affirmative if you are a network engineer who has just started out his career after getting the CCNA certificate. This no doubt is a tailor-made program for those associated in the field of networking and security such as specialists, administrators, consultants and so on.
The CCNP Examination
As far as the examinations associated with the CCNP program are concerned, there are basically three major tests which include-
- SWITCH 642-813
- ROUTE 642-902
- TSHOOT 642-832
The Exam Curriculum
All the three examinations will have questions related to advance routing and switching. In addition, you also need to remain updated on latest developments on security and networking. Whether it is Switch, Route or TSHOOT all questions will be Multiple Choice Questions along with drag and drop and fill in the gaps. So, it is basically a objective type question paper. It must be noted that the subject matter of the examination keeps on changing without any prior notice; hence the candidate has to come thoroughly prepared.
Time Allotment for Each Exam
The maximum time allotted to complete each of the three papers is about two hours or 120 minutes. However, the total number of questions to be attempted is different. For the ROUTE exam, you need to attempt about 45 to 55 questions; whereas, if you are appearing for the SWITCH or the TSHOOT exam, the number of questions will be around 35 to 45.
The Validity of the Certificate
Here too, like the CCNA, the validity of the CCNP is about three years. It means that you have to again sit for an examination after its expiry and pass the exam to get the specialized certificate. One additional benefit is that the person awarded with the prestigious CCNP certificate also obtains a special certificate as Forum Certified Gold Engineer.
Expected CCNP Salary
It is quite obvious that the salary of a Networking Professional will be much higher than that of a Networking Associate as the post is quite senior. On completion of the course and obtaining the certificate you can definitely expect an average salary of about $117,000. However, if you have just entered into the field you can still get a pay of around $41,000 which may go as high as $1, 33,000. Wow! What a flying start to a career.
CCNP is Simply Unbeatable
This phrase is completely true and appropriate in context to CCNP certification. You get lump sum advantage which can be discussed in the following points-
- Knowledge of three different elements namely; ROUTE; SWITCH; and TSHOOT and work effectively on them
- Acquire knowledge how to organize various networks and keep an eye on routing and switching techniques
- Strategizing and executing the plans for establishing LAN enterprise network and troubleshoot with specialists
- Have profound knowledge on advance techniques related to IP addressing, VLAN, IOS licensing and how to route Inter-VLAN
- The Certificate adds a great value to your career and you can rise to of the highest designations in the IT company
- The individuals gets a lifetime opportunity to work with some of the top-notched IT companies around the globe
- Lastly, it has been found in a study conducted by U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), that the demand for skilled and eligible Network professionals is increasing at a steady rate
- It was also found in a research that the average salary of a CCNP holder is nine percent more than other professionals of the IT sector
Which One Should I Opt For?
Both CCNA and CCNP are offered by the Cisco Certifications and have indomitable prospects. However, you can only apply for CCNP once you have received the CCNA certificate after passing the exam. Therefore, the final suggestion would be to first choose CCNA, complete it and then proceed further. Moreover, you are making your knowledge about networking more profound which will help while you are perusing the CCNP program.
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