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Pick Your Path to Networking Knowledge: CCNA or Network+

Engineer works on server roomCisco Certified Network Association, or CCNA as it is commonly called, is sponsored by Cisco, the worldwide market leader for networking equipment. CCNA has been a favorite associate-level certification for networking newcomers for decades and is valued by employers around the globe. One big reason for such widespread acceptance is that the world is literally filled with Cisco networking devices. It is rare to come across a network that doesn’t use at least some Cisco devices.


While Network+ covers general networking theories, CCNA offers a deeper dive into networking theories, technologies, and protocols. Because Cisco is a network equipment vendor, CCNA’s objectives focus on Cisco devices. A significant portion of the instruction is all about configuring and troubleshooting Cisco devices on a network.


Because CCNA is intended to give you a deeper understanding of the subjects covered in the certification, it has evolved over time. Cisco has redesigned CCNA to match industry evolution, and by splitting it into different CCNA tracks. Cisco currently offers nine CCNA tracks in addition to the Cisco Certified Design Associate (CCDA), an associate-level certification for network design.


Network+ compares to Cisco’s CCNA Routing and Switching track. CCNA Routing and Switching starts with explaining basic network fundamentals and concepts and then goes deeper to explain network devices such as routers and switches, as well as the protocols used to transport network traffic. Practitioners also learn different configuration and troubleshooting commands for routers and switches — a big plus that prepares you for real world job tasks.


Other topics covered by CCNA include WAN technologies used to connect remote network infrastructure together, network infrastructure services such as DHCP and TFTP (as well as securing the network using best practices), and infrastructure management for the different devices. Because CCNA Routing and Switching focuses more on infrastructure devices and services, rather than general networking theory, it is considered a more advanced certification than Network+


CCNA certification explains networking concepts in an easy to understand format suitable for networking newcomers with little or no networking knowledge. CCNA certification will prepare practitioners for jobs such as Network Operations Center (NOC) engineers and network administrators. It is also a desirable first step to more advanced certifications such as Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) and Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE).


Make your choice


Whichever certification you pursue, the choice should be based upon your individual circumstances. Both credentials are respected foundational-level networking certifications upon which to build a career. Network+ offers a more general coverage of networking concepts, touches more topics than any single CCNA certification, and provides a solid knowledge base for networking newcomers.


On the other hand, CCNA is more focused, provides a more in-depth coverage of theories and technologies and gives you practical exposure working with network devices. CCNA is a good choice if you want to strengthen your network knowledge and pursue a career in building and operating a network infrastructure comprised of Cisco devices.




Ahmed Badr is a network consultant with more than 10 years of experience designing, implementing and operating large scale network infrastructures. He holds a BSc in Communications and one in Electronics Engineering, and a Master of Business Administration. He also holds a CCIE certificate in Routing and Switching since 2008. Ahmed can be contacted at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..