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CCNA vs. CCNP: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 26, 2023
CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate) is an entry-level Cisco certification, while CCNP (Cisco Certified Network Professional) is a more advanced certification requiring a deeper understanding of Cisco solutions.

Key Differences

CCNA is an introductory certification from Cisco Systems, aiming to equip individuals with foundational knowledge in networking. CCNP, on the other hand, signifies a more advanced level of expertise, delving deeper into complex networking solutions provided by Cisco.
While CCNA sets the groundwork for networking professionals by covering essential topics, CCNP assumes that individuals already possess that foundational knowledge and builds upon it, introducing more advanced concepts and practices.
To attain the CCNA certification, individuals usually need to pass a single exam, which tests their basic understanding of networking. CCNP certification typically requires passing multiple exams, each focusing on a specific area of expertise within the networking domain.
Earning a CCNA certification can be seen as the first step in a Cisco networking career, offering individuals an entry into the world of network administration. CCNP acts as a subsequent step, targeting those who wish to specialize and advance their careers in particular areas of networking.
Professionals with a CCNA certification might be considered for roles like network technician or support engineer. In contrast, those holding a CCNP certification may be more suited for roles such as network engineer or solutions specialist, given their advanced knowledge.

Comparison Chart



Depth of Knowledge

Deeper and specialized

Exam Requirements

Typically one exam
Multiple exams, each on specific topics

Career Implications

Suitable for roles like network technician or support engineer
Suited for roles like network engineer or solutions specialist

Certification Focus

Basics of networking
In-depth understanding of specific areas within networking

CCNA and CCNP Definitions


A widely recognized IT certification for individuals beginning in networking.
Earning a CCNA can open doors to numerous entry-level positions in IT.


A step towards mastering and implementing Cisco network solutions.
While studying for the CCNP, Ron became proficient in advanced routing and switching techniques.


A certification indicating foundational knowledge in Cisco networking solutions.
Many companies look for a CCNA certification when hiring network technicians.


A recognized IT certification for individuals specializing in specific areas of networking.
Being a CCNP certified professional gave Linda an edge in her job applications.


A step towards understanding basic network infrastructures and technologies.
Studying for the CCNA, Sarah learned about various networking protocols and their functions.


An advanced certification by Cisco for networking specialists.
After gaining a few years of experience, Jane pursued her CCNP to advance her career.


A qualification that can enhance one's prospects in the IT networking domain.
With a CCNA under his belt, Mark felt more confident applying for networking jobs.


A certification indicating specialized knowledge in Cisco's advanced networking solutions.
Network architects in larger enterprises often hold a CCNP certification.


An entry-level certification by Cisco for networking professionals.
After completing his studies, Jake decided to start with the CCNA to enter the networking field.


A qualification that can significantly elevate one's standing in the IT networking field.
With his CCNP certification, Alex secured a senior network engineer position at a top tech firm.


What does CCNA stand for?

CCNA stands for "Cisco Certified Network Associate."

What is the duration of the CCNA exam?

The CCNA exam duration is typically 120 minutes.

Who should pursue the CCNA certification?

Anyone looking to build a career in networking or those seeking to validate their foundational networking knowledge and skills should consider pursuing the CCNA certification.

How frequently does Cisco update the CCNA and CCNP exams?

Cisco reviews and updates their exams periodically, usually every few years, to ensure they remain relevant with the latest technology trends.

Are there prerequisites for the CCNP certification?

As of the last update, Cisco does not mandate having a CCNA certification before pursuing CCNP. However, knowledge equivalent to CCNA level is recommended.

Are there other CCNP tracks besides Enterprise?

Yes, there are multiple CCNP tracks, including CCNP Security, CCNP Data Center, CCNP Collaboration, and others.

What about CCNP-certified professionals?

They can apply for roles like Network Engineer, Systems Engineer, Network Specialist, and other advanced networking positions.

Can CCNA be a stepping stone to CCNP?

Absolutely. Many professionals start with CCNA to build foundational knowledge and then progress to CCNP for deeper expertise.

What does CCNP stand for?

CCNP stands for "Cisco Certified Network Professional."

What topics are covered in the CCNP Enterprise track?

CCNP Enterprise covers topics like dual stack (IPv4 and IPv6) architecture, virtualization, infrastructure, network assurance, security, and automation.

How long is the validity of the CCNA and CCNP certifications?

Both the CCNA and CCNP certifications are typically valid for three years from the date of passing the exams.

How can one renew their CCNA or CCNP certification?

One can renew by passing the same exam, passing a higher-level exam, or through Cisco's Continuing Education program.

Is hands-on experience required for these certifications?

While hands-on experience isn't a strict prerequisite, practical experience will significantly help in understanding the concepts and performing well in the exams.

Are simulation questions included in the exams?

Yes, both CCNA and CCNP exams can include simulation-based questions to test practical understanding of networking concepts.

How much does it cost to take the CCNA and CCNP exams?

Exam prices can vary by region and over time. It's best to check Cisco's official website or authorized testing centers for the latest pricing information.

What is CCNA?

CCNA is an entry-level certification offered by Cisco that validates an individual's knowledge and skills in network fundamentals, network access, IP connectivity, IP services, security fundamentals, and automation and programmability.

What jobs can someone with a CCNA certification typically apply for?

Roles such as Network Technician, Support Engineer, Network Administrator, and similar positions are suitable for CCNA certified individuals.

Does Cisco provide study materials for CCNA and CCNP?

Yes, Cisco offers a range of study materials, including books, online courses, and practice exams.

How does CCNP differ from CCNA?

While CCNA provides foundational knowledge in networking, CCNP is a more advanced level certification that delves deeper into complex networking solutions, including planning, implementing, verifying, and troubleshooting.

How many exams are required to achieve CCNP certification?

The number of exams depends on the specific CCNP track (e.g., CCNP Enterprise). Generally, it requires a core exam and one or more concentration exams.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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