CCNA Vs. CCNP: Which one to Choose?

CCNA Vs. CCNP: Which one to Choose?

8 mins read11.6K Views Comment
Jaya Sharma
Senior Executive Content
Updated on Sep 24, 2023 03:02 IST

Over the last decade, the credibility of certifications, with respect to job search, career growth and acquiring optimum salary compensation has increased exponentially and the same can be seen in the recent surveys on the same. When it comes to certifications, Cisco holds a substantial weightage in terms of recognition. Being the major player in production for switches & routers utilized in instituting an efficient network, Cisco has introduced many certifications that test professionals on hardware and networking. This was done to ensure that their clients get expert help in handling and troubleshooting hardware issues.


CCNA vs. CCNP is a comparison that one must have a clarity about in order to choose suitable career path. These come in the lists of most valuable certifications on several websites. IT experts have rated these certifications only second to any four-degree program and first when it comes to job performance predictions. Let’s find out what these two popular courses hold, because of which they have robust credibility.

Table of Contents

CCNA vs. CCNP: What is the difference?

Certification Level Associate-level certification. Professional-level certification.
Prerequisite None (though knowledge of networking basics is recommended). Valid CCNA certification or any Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) certification is recommended.
Target Audience Entry-level network professionals, network support technicians, and help desk technicians. Experienced network professionals, network engineers, and system administrators.
Focus Provides foundational knowledge in networking concepts. Offers in-depth knowledge and skills in specific networking specializations.
Exam Structure Typically requires one or two exams, depending on the specialization. Requires multiple exams, usually three or more, based on the chosen track (e.g., Routing & Switching, Security).
Validity 3 years. After which recertification is needed. 3 years. Recertification is required after this period.
Job Roles Network technician, support engineer, network administrator. Network specialist, solutions architect, network engineer, system engineer.
Depth of Knowledge Covers basic networking concepts, technologies, and skills. Delves deeper into advanced networking concepts, strategies, and troubleshooting techniques.
Lab Component May include basic lab simulations to test practical knowledge. Often includes complex lab simulations and hands-on tasks to test advanced practical skills.

Why choose CCNA?

Cisco Certifications Network Associate (CCNA) is one of the most renowned & popular networking certifications in the industry. By acquiring this certification, a professional becomes equally profound as someone having a couple of years of experience in network engineering. Fundamentals involved in the introduction of this certification was to complement basic certifications like CCIE. It offers an outline of the networking sector to aspiring professionals & beginners along with giving a thorough insight into the Cisco networking environment to scholars.

Along with these basics, CCNA also makes professionals aware of operating IT equipment without facing issues. Another reason for CCNA being the most popular is that it requires negligible training to attain the certification and it is very much affordable. Among various modules, CCNA now offers several certifications in distinct specializations like Wireless, Security, Voice, WAN, Data Center and Service Provider. CCNA ensures that any professional getting certified is well equipped with capabilities of installing, operating & configuring switches & routers and can implement connections to remote sites for instance WAN along with keeping the network secure from malicious attacks. Professionals after certification also become capable of resolving issues arising in the network.

Types of CCNA Certifications

Each CCNA specialization offers unique skills and knowledge tailored to specific areas of networking, ensuring professionals are equipped to handle various roles and responsibilities in the IT industry.

1. CCNA Routing and Switching:

  • Focuses on installing, configuring, and troubleshooting enterprise-level routers and switches.
  • Covers network infrastructure including routing, switching, and basic network services.
  • Ideal for network specialists, support engineers, and network administrators.

2. CCNA Security:

  • Concentrates on securing Cisco networks and managing security infrastructures.
  • Covers core security technologies, installation, troubleshooting, and monitoring.
  • Suitable for job roles like security administrator and network security specialist.

3. CCNA Cloud:

  • Addresses cloud computing solutions, deployments, and models.
  • Teaches cloud infrastructure setup, cloud provisioning, and management.
  • Targeted at cloud engineers, cloud administrators, and network engineers.

4. CCNA Design:

  • Focuses on designing Cisco network architectures.
  • Covers design methodologies, objectives, and network structure.
  • Ideal for network design engineers and system engineers.

5. CCNA Collaboration:

  • Covers voice, video, data, and mobile applications in collaboration solutions.
  • Teaches configuration, troubleshooting, and networking of voice and video solutions.
  • Suitable for collaboration engineers, video engineers, and IP telephony engineers.

6. CCNA Cyber Operations:

  • Focuses on cybersecurity operations and threat detection.
  • Covers security monitoring, incident response, and network intrusion analysis.
  • Targeted at security operation center (SOC) personnel and incident responders.

7. CCNA Data Center Technologies:

  • Addresses data center networking fundamentals and technologies.
  • Covers storage networking, virtualization, and cloud computing.
  • Ideal for data center network administrators and engineers.

8. CCNA Industrial Plants:

  • Focuses on converging IT and industrial networks.
  • Covers industrial networking solutions and standards, such as Ethernet/IP.
  • Suitable for plant administrators, control system engineers, and IT/OT engineers.

9. CCNA Service Provider:

  • Concentrates on configuring and implementing baseline Cisco Service Provider Next-Generation networks.
  • Covers core networking, transport technologies, and network infrastructure.
  • Targeted at service provider network engineers, technicians, and designers.

Know more about CCNA Courses

Why CCNP? 

Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) is a certification suitable for professionals either with 1-2 years of experience in networking or who have already qualified for the CCNA certifications. Professionals equipped with CCNP certification are experts in troubleshooting, installing & maintaining Wide Area Network and Local Area Network for systems. CCNP aspirants gain profound knowledge & exposure in a wide range of network features & protocols comprising Access Lists, Ethernet, Route Redistribution and AppleTalk.

The examinations pertinent to the certification tests an aspirant’s comprehension, knowledge and implementation of Cisco’s IP switched network & IP routing technologies along with the ability to test, maintain and troubleshoot several latest technologies. Similar to CCNA, CCNP also offers modules in distinct specializations like Voice, Data Center, Service Provider, Wireless, Security and Routing & Switching. In the process of acquiring CCNP, one needs to connect networks so as to optimize the data speed & prevent choke points from appearing.

Accomplishing CCNP enables a professional to carry out roles as network engineer, network technician, support engineer and systems engineer. Knowledge gained from this certification will embed a robust institution of networking as these abilities work both in today’s world and would stay relevant for times to come. Moreover, CCNP certification gives you a solid grounding in designing requirements & operating Cisco wireless networks & mobility infrastructures.

Its wireless module concentrates on wireless networking principles & theory along with identifying proficiency in technical acumen of professionals capable of assessing & translating networks in the very field. The certification’s security module explains the concepts of security in routers, networking devices, switches along with supporting & troubleshooting Firewalls IDS/IPS and VPNS solutions for networking. Cloud specialization in the certification is suited for cloud engineers, administrators, designers and architects serving in data centres. It also provides abilities required for designing, automating, managing cloud & infrastructures as services.

Types of CCNP certifications

Each CCNP specialization offers advanced skills and knowledge tailored to specific areas of networking, ensuring professionals are equipped to handle various roles and responsibilities in the IT industry.

1. CCNP Cloud:

  • Focuses on cloud solutions in complex data center environments.
  • Covers cloud design, implementation, automation, and troubleshooting.
  • Ideal for cloud engineers, cloud administrators, and network engineers.

2. CCNP Service Provider:

  • Concentrates on advanced routing, services, and infrastructure for service provider solutions.
  • Covers the deployment of Cisco service provider solutions.
  • Targeted at network engineers and technicians in service provider environments.

3. CCNP Collaboration:

  • Addresses advanced collaboration solutions, including voice and video.
  • Covers design, deployment, and troubleshooting of collaboration networks.
  • Suitable for collaboration network engineers and system engineers.

4. CCNP Data Center:

  • Focuses on data center solutions, including infrastructure, automation, and application-centric infrastructure.
  • Covers design, implementation, and troubleshooting of data center networks.
  • Ideal for data center network engineers and solutions engineers.

5. CCNP Wireless:

  • Concentrates on designing, implementing, and troubleshooting Cisco wireless networks.
  • Covers advanced knowledge of wireless technologies and principles.
  • Targeted at wireless network engineers and technicians.

6. CCNP Security:

  • Focuses on advanced security solutions and technologies.
  • Covers the design, deployment, and troubleshooting of Cisco security solutions.
  • Suitable for network security engineers and firewall administrators.

7. CCNP Routing and Switching:

  • Addresses advanced routing and switching solutions for enterprise networks.
  • Covers planning, implementation, verification, and troubleshooting of complex network infrastructure.
  • Ideal for network engineers, system engineers, and network support specialists.

CCNA vs. CCNP: Which One To Choose?

It completely depends upon the career status of a professional when it comes to choosing what certification to go for. As CCNP is a higher level of certification than CCNA. To acquire CCNP, you should opt for CCNA certifications first, followed by the professional level CCNP certification. Another way is to gain a couple of years of experience in the field and then attempt to go for a CCNP certification.


How can you acquire certification in CCNP enterprise?

For gaining a CCNP Enterprise certificate, you need to pass two exams including a core exam and enterprise concentration examination of your choice. Every CCNP enterprise program will earn you individual specialist certification.

CCNA vs. CCNP certifications: what are the basic difference?

CCNA certifications are associate-level whereas CCNP are professional level certifications. A professional holding any CCNA certification can pursue a career as Network Support Engineer, Helpdesk Engineer, Network Technician, Service Desk Engineer/Technician and First and Second Line Support. On the other hand, a professional having CCNP certification can go for job profiles including Third Line Support, Network Analyst, Network Engineer, Systems Engineer, IT Team Leader and Network Specialist. Summing up, a person with CCNP certification is qualified for senior-level jobs in comparison with CCNA certified professionals.

Which one is better: CCNP R&S or CCNP Security?

Anyone who wants to pursue a career in the IT field can go for CCNP security initially. However, to dive into security, you must have knowledge of Routing and Switching. A good approach would be to go for CCNA R&S, then CCNP R&S and then CCNA security followed by CCNP Security.

Can I directly go for CCNP certification?

No, it is no longer mandatory to have CCNA certification for obtaining CCNA certification. However, it is recommended to go for CCNA certification since it is an entry-level certification whereas CCNP is professional certification.

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About the Author
Jaya Sharma
Senior Executive Content

Jaya is a writer with an experience of over 5 years in content creation and marketing. Her writing style is versatile since she likes to write as per the requirement of the domain. She has worked on Technology, Fina... Read Full Bio


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