CCNA vs CCNP: Understanding the Key Differences

If you’re considering a career in the IT industry, you’ve probably come across the terms CCNA and CCNP. Both certifications are offered by Cisco, the leading provider of networking hardware, software, and telecommunications equipment. While both certifications focus on networking and information technology, there are significant differences between them. In this article, IT exams will […]

March 25, 2023

If you’re considering a career in the IT industry, you’ve probably come across the terms CCNA and CCNP. Both certifications are offered by Cisco, the leading provider of networking hardware, software, and telecommunications equipment. While both certifications focus on networking and information technology, there are significant differences between them. In this article, IT exams will explore the key differences between CCNA vs CCNP certificates to help you decide which one is right for you.


CCNA and CCNP are two of the most popular networking certifications offered by Cisco. While CCNA is an entry-level certification, CCNP is a more advanced certification. These two certificates serve to verify the abilities and expertise of those who operate as networking specialists in the IT industry. If you’re planning to pursue a career in networking, you’ll need to have one of these certifications under your belt.

Overview Of CCNA

The Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification has grown to be one of the industry’s most prestigious entry-level networking credentials. The CCNA certification is intended for network engineers with 1 to 2 years of experience. The most significant advantage of CCNA training is the low cost of the CCNA certification.

The primary goal of this Cisco certification is to give an associate-level certification for networking enthusiasts and beginners who already have some expertise. Students interested in the CCNA program must pass exams and get instruction in the installation, maintenance, and troubleshooting of Cisco’s medium networking equipment. Students in this program are also assessed and instructed in end-to-end networking troubleshooting and installation.

The CCNA certification also allows hopefuls to understand more about the fundamentals and ideas of the Cisco networking environment. Furthermore, the certification offers newcomers with extensive understanding of using IT equipment without incident. Although the content has been tailored to the Cisco environment, it is also fundamentally useful—those who obtain this certification may use their knowledge in a variety of circumstances and boost their marketability across several platforms.

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Overview Of CCNP

The Cisco Certified Network Professional qualification is abbreviated as CCNP. This certification is accessible to IT workers with at least one year of professional networking experience. A high school diploma or its equivalent is also required.

The CCNP certification is designed for professionals looking for specialized training programs in the implementation, maintenance, and planning of Cisco’s extensive portfolio of high-end network solution products. The CCNP certification curriculum is made up of several courses that cover the fundamentals of IT networking. Some examples are:

  • Remote access through Cisco
  • Cisco advanced routing technology
  • Cisco multilayer networking
  • Optimizing converged networks
  • Scalable internet works

This certification program trains professionals to troubleshoot, implement, and maintain wide area networks (WAN) and local area networks (LAN) for systems with 100 to 500 nodes. Students in this certification program also develop knowledge of a variety of network technologies and protocols, such as Route Redistribution, Access Lists, Ethernet, and AppleTalk.

The major goal of the certification course is to prepare professionals for the CCNP test. A set of practice examinations are given to students to assess their comprehension and expertise of Cisco’s IP switching network and IP routing technologies. These exams also assess the student’s abilities to debug, test, and maintain different methodologies.

Exam Requirements For CCNA vs CCNP


You must pass one test to become a Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA). The following are the current CCNA test topics:

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

You must pass two tests to become a Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP). The following are the current CCNP test topics:

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

Cisco also provides certification paths for certain technologies, such as Cisco Certified Design Professional (CCDP) and Cisco Certified Voice Professional (CCVP).

Both the CCNA and CCNP examinations are multiple-choice with a variety of question formats. Some questions ask you to choose the best answer from a list of possibilities, while others ask you to drag & drop answers into the right sequence. The tests are also offered in a variety of languages, including English, Spanish, Japanese, and Simplified Chinese.

The CCNA test will take 90 minutes to complete, while the CCNP exam will take 120 minutes. Both examinations are proctored and available at Pearson VUE testing facilities. The tests can also be taken online using the Cisco Online Exam Portal.

Before taking the CCNA or CCNP examinations, Cisco advises that you have at least one year of experience working with Cisco networking equipment. You should also be acquainted with the Cisco IOS command line interface (CLI) and have a fundamental grasp of IP networking.

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CCNA vs CCNP: Exam Difficulty

Candidates must pass an exam to get a CCNA or CCNP certification. The complexity of these tests varies according to the individual’s level of expertise and knowledge. However, the CCNA test is generally seen to be simpler than the CCNP exam.

The CCNA test may be perceived as simpler since it covers a narrower range of subjects than the CCNP exam. The CCNP exam goes on more complex topics including network security and IP routing. But of course, in case you have already familiarized yourself with all those topics then you would find it not that difficult.

Since applicants may utilize a simulator the entire time, the CCNA examination may be perceived as being easier for this reason as well. Candidate familiarization with the Cisco IOS and education on numerous networking concepts can be facilitated using this simulator. The usage of a simulator is prohibited for the CCNP test, in contrast.

In general, depending on a person’s prior knowledge and level of competence, the CCNA and CCNP examinations can be of varying degrees of difficulty. Some people could find it simpler than others who are less aware of the subjects included in the CCNA exam. Additionally, some students may find the CCNA test easier if they use a simulator throughout the test.

Benefits Of CCNA vs CCNP

The CCNA and CCNP certifications are highly valued in the IT sector and offer a wealth of benefits for IT specialists. These certifications validate candidates’ ability by attesting to their knowledge of networking technology and networking skills. Additionally, they provide up better employment chances that include a range of positions including network engineer, network administrator, and network consultant, hence extending career options in the IT industry. Additionally, those with CCNA and CCNP certificates might earn more money than their non-certified competitors in the same positions. These certificates also act as career-advancing catalysts and significant stepping stones to more difficult Cisco certifications like CCIE.

Job Opportunities For CCNA vs CCNP


While both CCNA and CCNP-certified IT workers can operate in the technology area, CCNA holders are more likely to be qualified for entry-level employment opportunities based on their education and experience. Here are some typical job paths for CCNA-certified IT professionals:

CCNA-level job opportunities

1. Help desk engineer

A help desk engineer’s primary responsibilities include providing technical support to clients in order to assist them in resolving computer-related difficulties. They may diagnose issues, update support requests, and help consumers install gear or software. Help desk engineers often communicate with clients over the phone or via email, and they may work in an office or remotely.

2. Network technician

A network technician’s primary responsibilities include implementing, maintaining, and repairing network systems. The system must be properly optimized, and they are also in charge of studying the demands of the firm. In addition to providing top management with updates and carrying out planned updates, network technicians may teach staff members how to utilize the network.

3. IT security specialist

IT security professionals assist in the protection of a company’s data. They try to reduce risk by analyzing data security trends and deploying new methods. They may also set up network access and permissions for new users and teach staff members.

4. Systems Administrator

System administrators, often known as server administrators, manage networks to ensure that the system performs smoothly. They may install hardware and software upgrades, set up security mechanisms, and assist with data recovery in the case of a cyber-attack or system failure.

5. VOIP engineer

VOIP engineers mostly deal with voice-over-internet protocol networks, which are used to make calls via the internet rather than a landline. They could create, implement, and manage VOIP systems. To guarantee excellent performance, VOIP engineers may also repair network capacity issues, add network hardware modules, and teach personnel about 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:

1. Network analyst

To guarantee efficiency, network analysts monitor communication protocols, analyze router performance, measure data transfer speeds, and improve the network’s storage capacity. They may also offer IT assistance and frequently collaborate with a team of programmers, designers, and IT managers. Network analysts must remain up to date on new hardware, software, and programming tools in order to suggest the most effective systems for their organization.

2. IT manager

Primary responsibilities: An IT manager assists firms in implementing the most up-to-date technology to meet their demands. They may also negotiate vendor contracts, create strategies to satisfy the company’s long-term objectives, and increase cybersecurity. IT managers may also discuss technology-related issues with corporate leaders in order to coordinate the best solutions for continuing maintenance and security.

3. Network Engineer

A network engineer’s primary responsibilities include implementing and maintaining an organization’s computer network. They analyze network problems and devise solutions. Network support engineers often collaborate with network technicians and report to a systems engineer. They may also handle a company’s phone system and security system in addition to the computer network.

4. Systems engineer

Simply said, systems engineers examine organizational systems to identify more effective procedures. Analyzing system problems and choosing the best solution to satisfy project requirements are typical actions. completing a job from start to finish.

5. Infrastructure Engineer

As an infrastructure engineer, they are in charge of employing the most recent technology to develop, implement, and manage the IT infrastructure and make sure all the systems within a business run without a hitch. They make sure that all IT systems are updated to help the organization run efficiently. They are also responsible for maintaining storage area networks, virtualization systems, and cabled internet connections. They also supervise the automated workflow tools, middleware application servers like Oracle Weblogic and IBM WebSphere, and IT infrastructure engineers who are in charge of system management.

Salary Expectations For CCNA vs CCNP

The CCNA and CCNP certifications are highly valued in the IT industry and are associated with higher pay than non-certified individuals in the same role. The following are some CCNA and CCNP professionals’ salary ranges in the US:

CCNA Salary Expectations

  • Network Administrator – The CCNA average salary for a network administrator with this certification is around $60,000 to $80,000 per year.
  • Network Engineer – A network engineer with CCNA certification can earn between $70,000 and $100,000 per year.
  • Technical Support Engineer – A technical support engineer with CCNA certification’s salary range can fluctuate between $50,000 and $70,000 per year.

CCNP Salary Expectations

  • Network Engineer – A network engineer with CCNP certification may expect to earn between $90,000 and $120,000 per year.
  • Network Architect – A network architect with CCNP certification may expect to earn between $120,000 and $150,000 per year.
  • Network Consultant – A network consultant with CCNP certification may expect to earn between $100,000 and $130,000 per year.

Please keep in mind that these wage expectations are simply guidelines and may vary depending on factors such as location, industry, and years of experience.

Training Options For CCNA vs CCNP


Individuals must grasp networking principles, network infrastructure, and network security in order to become CCNA or CCNP certified. Individuals who wish to prepare for the CCNA and CCNP certification tests can choose from a variety of training choices.


Self-study is a popular method for people who like to learn at their own speed and have the freedom to study whenever and wherever they desire. There are several online resources, like books, videos, practice tests, and online courses, that may assist students in preparing for the CCNA and CCNP certification examinations. Cisco’s official certification manuals, Udemy, Coursera, and Pluralsight are among the most popular resources.

Instructor-Led Training

Individuals who prefer a structured learning environment and want to engage with an instructor and other students often choose instructor-led courses. Cisco provides in-person and online instructor-led training for both the CCNA and CCNP certifications. There are also a number of training facilities and boot camps that provide CCNA and CCNP training programs.

Network Simulators and Emulators

Network simulators and emulators are software tools that allow people to practice and evaluate their network abilities by simulating and emulating a network environment. To study for the CCNA and CCNP certification tests, network simulators and emulators such as Cisco Packet Tracer, GNS3, and Boson NetSim are available.

Hands-on Experience

Hands-on experience is an important part of preparing for the CCNA and CCNP certifications since it allows individuals to apply their knowledge in real-world circumstances. Individuals can acquire hands-on experience by establishing their own home labs or by using virtual labs provided by Cisco or training centers.

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Which Certification Is Right For You?


The CCNA is a basic networking certification that covers networking concepts, network infrastructure, and network security. The CCNP certification is an advanced-level certification that covers more sophisticated networking subjects such as advanced routing, switching, and troubleshooting. If you are new to networking, the CCNA certification may be for you. If you already have some networking experience and wish to enhance your knowledge, the CCNP certification may be a better option.

Career Goals

Your employment objectives may also influence the certification you pursue. If you are just beginning your networking profession and wish to get a basic grasp of networking, CCNA can help you get started. If you want to be a network architect or engineer, the CCNP can help you build the abilities required for those positions.

Job Requirements

Job needs might also influence which certifications you seek. Many entry-level networking jobs need CCNA certification, while more advanced ones may necessitate CCNP certification. Investigating job ads in your region might provide you with an idea of the sorts of certifications necessary for various professions.

Personal Interest

Personal interest is also a significant consideration while selecting a certification. If you are enthusiastic about networking and want to learn everything you can, the CCNP may be a better fit. If you want to learn the fundamentals of networking, the CCNA certification may be an excellent place to start.



How long does it take to study for the CCNA certification?

Depending on your background and study habits, CCNA certification preparation normally takes three to six months.

Can I skip the CCNA certification and go straight to CCNP?

It is not advised to proceed directly to CCNP without first earning the CCNA certification. The CCNA certification offers a strong networking foundation that will be helpful while pursuing the CCNP certification.

Are there any prerequisites for the CCNP certification?

Yes, in order to be eligible for the CCNP certification, you must hold a current CCNA or any other CCIE certification.

Can I renew my CCNA or CCNP certification after it expires?

By passing the most recent test, you may keep your CCNA or CCNP certification active.

How much does it cost to obtain the CCNA and CCNP certifications?

Currently, each CCNA exam cost is about $300, and each CCNP exam costs about $400. There can also be extra expenses for training materials and courses.


In conclusion, the networking industry greatly respects both the CCNA and CCNP credentials. While CCNA is a foundational certification that covers networking fundamentals, CCNP is an advanced certification that covers more advanced networking principles. There are several training choices available to assist with exam preparation, and both credentials come with good employment chances and compensation expectations.

The decision between the CCNA vs CCNP depends on a number of variables, including experience, career ambitions, work needs, and personal interests. Finding the certification that is the perfect match for you will require an investigation into these variables. In the end, earning certification may be a terrific method to progress your career in the industry, increase your networking knowledge and abilities, and uncover new employment chances.