Cisco CCNA or CompTIA Network+ | Which One Should You Pursue in 2023?
Hi all! For a long time we have not talked about official certification, and today it is time to talk about the two most popular certificates in the field of computer networks Cisco CCNA and CompTIA Network +. We will talk about how they differ, which certificate is easier or more difficult to obtain, whether it is worth getting this certificate at all and what it gives.
Since we always write posts only about what we ourselves once went through, this post is no exception. Personally, I had exactly the same choice and dilemma for which exam to prepare for and whether we even need this certificate. At one time, I chose CompTIA Network +. Why this choice, I will tell a little later. Everything in order in this post.
Cisco CCNA: A comprehensive certification program offered by Cisco, covering a wide range of networking topics including network fundamentals, routing and switching, security, and wireless technologies. CISCO has a fairly large range of certificates in its stock and all of them in one way or another relate to their personal software and products (which is quite logical). The entire final exam is based on testing knowledge of their software.
CCNA - Main Cisco Page (source)
I don't like this approach. I have always loved and still love to receive more general and universal certificates that would give me a basis for further independent growth. Undoubtedly, preparing for this exam provides such a base, but too much emphasis on Cisco products does not just give me the choice to concentrate on something else.
CompTIA Network+: A vendor-neutral certification focusing on core networking concepts, network troubleshooting, network infrastructure, and security aspects. This is a more general certificate, and the preparation for obtaining it will be more comprehensive and cover much more basic, but common topics and problems. While the Cisco certification is more aimed at network engineers, CompTIA Network+ is aimed at training DevOps engineers and system administrators. It's not bad or good, it's just a fact.
CCNA: Widely recognized in the networking industry, particularly in organizations that use Cisco networking equipment. CCNA-certified professionals often find opportunities as network administrators, network engineers, or system engineers. In other words, Cisco trains specialists who will maintain their equipment, work with it and their software. You will understand this as soon as you watch the curriculum or the first tutorial on YouTube.
CompTIA Certifications (source)
Network+: A vendor-neutral certification that demonstrates foundational networking knowledge. Network+ certification is valued by employers across various industries and can open doors to roles such as network technicians, support specialists, or IT help desk positions. At one time, I received this certificate just for getting the position of a technical support engineer. I remember very well how in an interview I was asked questions that seemed to be taken from the Network + exam.
I think that from the above facts you already roughly understand which of these exams is more difficult and which is easier, however, I consider it my duty to briefly talk about this.
CCNA - Meme (source)
CCNA: The CCNA exam is known for its technical depth and requires a solid understanding of networking concepts. It is recommended to have some prior networking knowledge and hands-on experience before attempting the CCNA exam. In a word, this is not a beginner-friendly exam. In order to start preparing for it, it would be nice to get acquainted with some literature if you did not have similar experience with networks. We once described a list of such technical literature in a separate article.
Network+: Considered to be less challenging compared to CCNA, Network+ is designed for individuals with beginner-level networking knowledge. It serves as a great entry point for those who are new to networking or seeking to validate their foundational skills. You can start preparing for this exam without prior knowledge, absolutely from scratch. If you look at all the certificates from CompTIA as a whole, you will understand that this is the basic stack of certificates for an IT specialist in 2023 in any field of activity.
CCNA: CCNA covers a broad range of networking topics, including network fundamentals, routing and switching, security, wireless technologies, and network automation. It delves deeper into Cisco-specific technologies and configuration. The topics covered are mega important and necessary for everyone who is going to work with networks in one way or another. This set of sections and topics is universal, just as the sections are universal when learning any programming language (where there are loops, conditions, arrays, and so on). So this is not an advantage or specificity, but rather a classic.
CCNA - Covered Topics (source)
Network+: Network+ provides a broader overview of networking concepts, focusing on network infrastructure, network troubleshooting, network operations, and network security. It covers a wide range of networking technologies and principles applicable to various vendors. As I said, this certificate is more aimed at system administrators and DevOps engineers than network engineers, which is why the covered sections are devoted to support activities.
I have already expressed some of my thoughts on this matter, but for more structured material, I consider it necessary to take a separate paragraph of the post about career advancement.
CCNA: With its Cisco-specific focus, CCNA is beneficial for those aiming to specialize in Cisco networking technologies and pursue advanced Cisco certifications like CCNP or CCIE. In my opinion, preparing for this exam gives very narrow knowledge and does not cause a desire to develop further in this area. I fully understand that Cisco is a major player in the software and networking arena, however, I personally wanted more versatility and freedom - to teach and prepare for difficulties, not solutions.
Network+: Network+ serves as a solid foundation for further career growth and can be complemented with other specialized certifications in areas such as cybersecurity, cloud computing, or network design. As I already wrote, this is a more general exam, preparing for which, you will be a jack of all trades. You will not only be a plumber, as in the case of Cisco, but also a mechanic, mechanic and engineer (sorry for the comparison, but this is a great metaphor for illustrating my thoughts).
It may sound like I hate Cisco CCNA. This is wrong. They have a worthy certificate, which is perfectly recognized and recognizable by any company in the world, however, in my understanding, training and certification should be built differently. In my understanding, a company that certifies employees should not confirm a person’s knowledge of a particular product or software, but confirm general knowledge, acquired and assimilated horizons and readiness to move further in learning. This is probably why at one time I made a choice in favor of Network + and now I do not regret anything.