CCNA Vs. CCNP – A Comparison Between The Two Certifications



Cisco certifications are popular among IT professionals. The Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification is one of the most commonly sought-after IT certifications. The Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) is another one of the highest levels of certification


The CCNA and CCNP certifications are available through different organizations, which offer an array of training options. This article compares these two certifications and provides a case study for each.


The CCNP certification is more comprehensive than the CCNA because it covers much more than just operating Cisco routers and switches. It also encompasses advanced networking topics like load balancing, application integration, voice over IP (VoIP) integration with voice mailboxes and security solutions like IPSec VPNs or SSL VPNs for remote access control over the Internet.


What Exactly Is CCNA?

The CCNA is the entry-level certification for those who want to learn and understand Cisco networking, but the CCNP is the advanced level certification. The Cisco-certified network administrator has more knowledge about the network architecture, operation and management. In general, it is a more advanced certification than CCNA and it is required for those who want to work with BSS, switched networks, routing and switching technologies.


How can you pass the Certification Exam?

Here are some tips to pass the CCNA certification exam:

  1. Make sure you have a good grasp of TCP/IP. You can practice with a book or online resources.
  2. Take practice exams to see how you would fare on the actual exam. Do not just guess what questions will be asked, but also know why they would be asked and what you need to do in order to answer them correctly.
  3. Take breaks between studying for different topics. If you study one topic for too long, your brain will get tired and it won’t work as well as it should. Take a break after about an hour or so, then come back and study some more. This also helps to prevent procrastination because when you take timely short breaks from studying, it makes it easier for your brain to focus on one thing at a time!
  4. Make sure that you have enough sleep before taking the CCNA exams. Your mind needs rest so it can function at best while taking the test!



CCNA Exam Details

The CCNA certifications are issued by Cisco Systems and are comprised of three levels:


  1. CCNA Routing and Switching Certification
  2. CCNP Routing and Switching Certification
  3. CCIE Routing and Switching Certification


The exam covers network architecture and design, including IP addressing and subnetting; basic routing; and switching basics. It also covers security by covering topics such as firewalls, intrusion detection systems (IDSs), virus protection and authentication methods.


CCNP Exam – A Quick Intro

The CCNP is an advanced level of expertise that allows you to design, implement, operate and troubleshoot a network using the Cisco IOS software and compatible routers, switches, bridges and access points. You can also manage the IP addressing scheme of your network and configure advanced features like Quality of Service (QoS), DHCP Snooping, Routing Protocols (RIPv1/2/3), IPv6, Virtualization and Wireless Technologies.


CCNP exam includes more advanced topics in networking such as voice over IP (VoIP), video over IP (VIP), data center technologies such as virtual private networks (VPNs) and web security.


The CCNP is normally obtained by completing two exams:


  1. Exam 300-101 – Interconnecting Cisco Network Devices Part 1 (ICND1): This exam tests a candidate’s knowledge of LAN switching technologies, including voice and data integration, protocols, media types and cabling. Candidates will also learn how to configure basic LANs using switches, routers and wireless access points.
  2. Exam 300-115 – CCNP Routing and Switching (R&S): This exam tests a candidate’s knowledge of enterprise routing protocols such as Open Shortest Path First (OSPF), Enhanced Interior Gateway Routing Protocol (EIGRP) and Border Gateway Protocol version 4 (BGP4). Candidates will also be expected to demonstrate their knowledge of enterprise wide-area network design using MPLS technology


The Exam Details

The CCNP exam is divided into four parts:

Routers and Switches (45 questions) – This part includes topics such as router tables, VLANs, access control lists (ACLs), subinterfaces and more.


Network Security (45 questions) – This part covers topics like network security architecture and threat mitigation strategies.


Data Center Technologies (60 questions) – This part covers topics such as virtualization technologies such as VMware vSphere or Microsoft Hyper-V and Cisco Nexus switches.


Application Development with Web Applications (25 questions) – This part covers topics like web application development using technologies such as Java EE applications or .NET Framework 4 with Visual Studio 2012.



CCNA Vs CCNP – A Comparison

The CCNA and CCNP certifications are available through different organizations, which offer an array of training options. Here we compare these two certifications and provide a case study for each.


There are many differences between CCNA and CCNP:


The most obvious difference is that the CCNA is a certification of basic networking knowledge, while the CCNP is a certification of intermediate and advanced level networking knowledge. The CCNA exam tests your knowledge of TCP/IP, routing and bridging, network fundamentals, IPv4 addressing, subnetting and troubleshooting TCP/IP-based networks.


The CCNP exam tests your knowledge of advanced routing protocols, IP services and implementation techniques. You will also be required to demonstrate skills in designing, deploying and troubleshooting large scale IP networks using industry standard tools.


The difference between these two certifications is that the CCNA focuses on just one aspect of networking, whereas the CCNP includes another aspect as well. Typically, people who want to become CCNP professionals have already done the initial training at some point before they start studying for the certification. The most common areas where this additional training is available are security and operations management, which are often covered by these kinds of certifications.


The difference between CCNA and CCNP is the amount of work.


The CCNA exam requires you to study for 90 minutes and the CCNP exam requires you to study for 50 minutes. This means that if you study for 12 days, you will be able to pass both exams in one day.


The CCNA exam is more technical than the CCNP exam. The Cisco Networking Academy’s certification tracks are designed to prepare students for specific entry-level roles within the networking industry. The curriculum focuses on foundational knowledge, as well as hands-on experience with real-world skills such as operating Cisco routers, switches, and wireless access points (WAPs).

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