CISCO Certifications: All you need to know about CCNA, CCNP & CCIE
Cisco Systems, Inc. founded in December 1984 has become one of the greatest business pioneers in the field of networking. This 31 years old company offers various networking related devices like routers, switches, firewalls, modules, SAN to name a few and it also offers very well known Cisco certifications like Cisco Certified Network Associate, Cisco Certified Network Professional, and Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert. All of the CISCO certifications have great value in IT Industry.
Let’s take a look at some of the key points from all the levels of the certifications.
1. Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician:
Being the entry level of certification, CCENT doesn’t offer much but it contains knowledge of most basic technologies and terms used in a higher level of certification like CCNA or CCDA. It, in a way, covers theoretical half and introductory topics of CCNA. Some of the topics covered are,
- Data network operations:
- Implementation of a small switched network:
- IP addressing and services for small branch offices
- Implementation of a small routed network
- Understanding of wireless LANs
- Securing the network
- Understanding of WANs
This certification costs only $165 and there are no prerequisites for the exam. Based on knowledge and experience, CCENT can earn a handsome amount of money and also he/she can apply for any higher lever of cisco certifications.
2. Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA):
One of the most respected certification in the list is CISCO CCNA. It ensures a candidate’s ability to configure, manage and troubleshoot small and medium type network in the real world. CCNA Certification can be achieved by two means. Either by taking two separate exams ICND1 and ICND2 or by taking one exam CCNAx.
Now, CCNA is not a single certification. There are 11 tracks in which you can make your career, Routing & Switching, Security, Data Centre, IoT and Cyber Ops to name a few.
A complete detail of CCNA certification can be found in the below-mentioned article.
There is no prerequisite in most of CCNA certifications. The cost of the certification depends on the track you choose. It is $300 for most of the CCNA Certification. Course covered in CCNA is as follows,
- Operation of IP Data Networks
- LAN Switching Technologies
- IP addressing (IPv4 / IPv6)
- Subnetting, VLSM, Summarization
- IP Routing Technologies
- IP Services
- Network Device Security
- Troubleshooting of network
- WAN Technologies
CCNA Cyber Ops is one of the newest certification introduced this year by Cisco.
If you are wondering what kind of jobs you can get after CCNA, you might want to check out the following article.
You can also go for any higher level of CISCO Certifications after CCNA.
3. Cisco Certified Networking Professional (CCNP):
CCNP has also become quite popular among IT Industries. They are looking for candidates who can troubleshoot both Local Area Network and Wide Area Network with approx 100-500 nodes in it. But before going for CCNP, Cisco recommends of having at least 1-2 years of experience in a company after either completing CCNA or after getting CCNA Certified.
Since it is a professional level certification, it focuses more on Cisco-based high-end network solution products. Again there are a lot of tracks in CCNP. You can get complete details about CCNP Certification from here.
CCNP is composite of three exams each costing $300 but it depends on the track you are going for. Topics covered in CCNP are,
- Cisco remote access
- Cisco advanced routing
- Cisco multilayer switching
- Converged network optimization
- Scalable internetworks
You can expect a good salary on the basis of knowledge and experience. Also know that if you are certified professional or even if you have mentioned CCNP in your resume, you will be asked questions based on your professional level knowledge. If you are certified professional, you will be given the responsibility of managing both LAN and WAN of a company Don’t let the network go down.
To attempt CCNP, you must first pass CCNA then you can go for CCNP certification exam.
4. Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert (CCIE):
Being the second highest level of certification offered by Cisco out of all cisco certifications, it tests everything out of the candidate like, ability to plan, operate and troubleshoot complex, converged network infrastructures on a wide variety of Cisco equipment. Cisco recommends of having at least 4-5 years of experience in the industry then go for CCIE certification. CCIE is not for freshers. If you are a CCIE fresher, you will be asked by Interviewer, “How can you be an expert if you have no knowledge of real networks?” It is like you know how to drive a car but only in simulators, when it comes to real world, you fail. In most of the cases, you will be not be considered for the job unless you try to fake your previous job experience which is not a good idea in any way.
CCIE exams are costly too. It is a composite exam of Written and Lab. The total cost of the exam can go up to $2050 depending on the track. Common tasks for an expert networker are,
Common tasks may include expert-level involvement in:
- Application and device management
- Performance maximization
- Troubleshooting events and incidents
- Diagnosing and resolving connectivity problems
- Increasing bandwidth
- Improving response times
- Managing LAN and WAN interfaces along with routers and switches
- Optimizing service provider features and technologies
Also being costly doesn’t mean that exam is easy. CCIE is considered as one of the toughest IT Exams. A typical network scenario for lab exam can contain up to 10-15 routers and 12-15 switches or more. Patience is the key for getting CCIE certification.
Cisco will give you a unique number when you pass CCIE and it will be your identity in the networking world. You must have seen the certification track as follows,
But believe me, getting a CCIE number is nothing like that. Here is the right picture to represent the struggle of getting a CCIE number.
However, once you get CCIE Certified, you will be in the position to buy all the clothes. So, don’t worry about that.
5. Cisco Certified Architect (CCAr):
The highest level of Cisco certification is CCAr. It is offered after CCDE. According to CCIE hall of Fame, there are only 10 CCAr in the world. It is not only because the exam is tough but it is expensive too. CCAr can cost up to $15,000. Phew, that’s a lot of money there. You can get the complete idea of CCAr-Cisco Certified Architect Certification from here.
Comparison: The Big Picture
It’s really hard to compare these cisco certifications because each of them holds great value in their respective field. But let’s compare them on the basis of some factors,
1. Average time to completion: Entry level certification like CCENT and CCNA do not take much time to complete if you are only aiming for exams but if you go for knowledge, it will take time. For example, the average time to complete a CCNA course thoroughly is 45 days. For CCNP it is 3-4 months and for CCIE, it can take up to one year or more depending on how much time you spend in lab and theory. Don’t even think about CCAr for now.
2. Exam Cost: Certification cost is also a factor to consider when choosing a certification. You will have to spend a good amount of money on the course and then on cisco certifications. CCNA, CCNP, & CCIE all are costly where CCIE is on the top followed by CCNP and then CCNA.
3. Number of Exams: However there is no prerequisite in most of the CCNA exams but in the case of CCNP you must obtain a CCNA first. Also, a number of exams to be taken also vary in certification. You can get complete details here. If you are going for Certification, it will take both Time and Money. You can still go for knowledge only. There is no prerequisite in CCIE.
4. Experience Required: CCENT and CCNA are basic cisco certifications so you don’t need any prior experience but for CCNP and CCIE, Cisco recommends to get at least 1-2 and 3-5 years of experience of the real world respectively.
5. Career Level: Let’s assign one of four values to a certification, based on how it’s positioned for candidates:
- Entry-level, basic, or beginner: 2
- Intermediate or novice: 4
- Advanced or senior-level: 6
- Expert, instructor, or specialist-level: 8.
So, CCENT and CCNA certifications would be worth 2 on this scale, and the various Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) certifications would be worth a minimum of 8.
6. Income: If you rank a certification’s income potential as low (2 points), medium (4 points), high (6 points) or extremely high (8 points), CCENT and CCNA would score 2-5 points, CCNP will get 6-8 points and CCIE would go beyond 8.
7. Recertification: Cisco Certifications expire with the time. You need to renew them by either taking Higher level of certification or by taking the same exam again. But do I have to pay again for certification? you would ask. Of course, you will have to. You can check various recertification policies by Cisco in the following article.
That was everything you need to know about Cisco Certifications. Feel free to ask any question in comment section. Happy Learning.