Cisco Certified Network Associate Certification Program and Tracks

The Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Certification program by Cisco is an Associate Level certification that is a continuation on the foundations of the Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT) certification. The CCNA associate level certification program is designed for an increased alignment with the constantly changing network industry, its more demanding job roles and the greater need for fundamental skills in networking professionals. Being a Cisco certification program, CCNA caters specifically to the efficient management of Cisco network solutions in enterprise environments. Network professionals seeking the CCNA are required to pass only two specifically required exams in order to achieve fast track certifications.

The CCNA certification, though a step above CCENT, is still basically an entry level certification. It is very well-known as compared to the later certification stages possibly due to it being easier to obtain that the more advanced levels of certification. Despite this, it is also recognized within the IT and network industry as proof of a network professional’s capabilities in configuring, installing, managing and providing support services for small to medium sized Cisco networks. Although network engineers are in high demand on the job markets, typically the jobs require that they possess experience which entry level professionals obviously don’t have. The CCNA certification is a great way to overcome this hurdle because it substitutes for experience by proving that entry level network professionals do have the knowledge and skills necessary to be hired as network engineers.

  • CCNA Benefits and Salary

Earning a CCNA certification can act as a jump start for your career especially as an entry level employee. It is the difference between standard help desk operators and network engineers who work in actual server rooms and on networking systems. An additional benefit is that most of the CCNA tracks do NOT have any prerequisites needed to take the exam so any person can use the CCNA as a way to enter the network industry without any prior experience or knowledge beyond that needed in order to pass the exams.

The salaries for CCNA certified professionals are very widespread on the pay scale from the humblest of numbers to those in excess of $100, 000. According to a survey of 8,137 CCNA professionals conducted by, the average annual salaries of CCNAs varied from $39,195 to $118,830, based on the survey participant’s years of experience, location and job title. CCNAs with less than 1 year of experience averaged $39,195 yearly while those with 20 years or more of experience averaged $90,454 annually.

It is to be noted that these salaries are only for CCNA certificate holders who have not achieved more advanced certifications so there is a direct correlation in your pay scale and the number of years’ experience. A higher certification level like CCNP would cut the years of experience needed to achieve a similar experience instead of waiting 20 years to achieve salaries in excess of $90, 000. The study also showed that San Jose, California also has the highest average annual salaries followed by Washington DC and New York. The job titles also have impact on the annual salary according to the study which showed that CCNA professionals who held the title of Senior Network Engineer earned the most average annual salary while System administrators earned the least.

The Cisco Certified Network Associate Routing and Switching (CCNA Routing and Switchin) certification program is designed for entry-level network engineers to help establish them in the network industry by validating their foundational knowledge in networking and proving that they have progressed beyond the basic CCENT or CCT Routing and Switching levels of expertise.

CCNA Routing and Switching is especially for the network related job roles such as Network Administrators, Network Specialists and Network Support Engineers who have less than 1 to 3 years of network industry experience. The CCNA Routing and Switching proves that they have the ability to and knowledge of configuring, installing, operating, and troubleshooting small to medium size Cisco routed and switched networks. There are no prerequisites for the CCNA Routing and Switching Certification.

  • CCNA Data Center

The Cisco Certified Network Associate Data Center (CCNA Data Center) certification is designed for data center specialists and network administrators to validate their capabilities in as far as equipment installation, data center design and maintenance are concerned. The CCNA Data Center certification is focused on specific job roles in its training and certification testing such that network professionals who pass the certification program are prepared for the exact jobs that they are likely to be hired for. This is also a great way to substitute for on the job experience that many entry level exam takers do not have in managing data center networks. The CCNA certification addresses the core areas that are key to network systems such as data center network which is in essence what is needed for any network administrator role whether you have experience or not. There are no prerequisites for the CCNA Data Center certification program.

The Cisco Certified Network Associate Security (CCNA Security) is designed to act as proof of associate level skills and knowledge that are necessary for securing Cisco networks and infrastructure. The CCNA Security certification is an entry way to job roles such as Network Security Administrator, IT Network Security Engineer or System Administrator. Network professionals are expected to demonstrate the knowhow and expert skills that are required to identify threats and vulnerabilities that exist in networks, develop or improve upon security infrastructure as well as to design solutions to mitigate security threats.

The CCNA Security curriculum focuses on the most important security technologies that are related to the installation, monitoring and troubleshooting of Cisco network devices in order to preserve their integrity, accessibility and confidentiality. Certification is based on the successful validation of a network professional’s ability to ensure the security of data and devices, present ways of guaranteeing their continued competency and display a mastery of security technologies used by Cisco in its security infrastructure. The CCNA Security certification has the following prerequisites:

  • Any current and valid Cisco CCENT certification, or
  • Any current and valid CCNA Routing and Switching, or
  • Any current and valid CCIE certification

The Cisco Certified Network Associate Service Provider (CCNA Service Provider) certification is designed for service provider job roles such as Service Provider Network Engineer, Network Technician and Service Provider Network Engineer. It focuses on the roles that interface with the most current of Service Provider industry networking technologies, devices and trends. The CCNA Service Provider validates the ability of network professionals to design, implement, configure and troubleshoot Cisco Service Provider Next Generation networks. CCNA Service Provider certified professionals are competent in the deployment, maintenance and improvement of carrier grade Cisco network infrastructures. There are no prerequisites for the CCNA Service Provider certification.

  • CCNA Service Provider Operations

The Cisco Certified Network Associate Service Provider Operations (CCNA Service Provider Operations) Certification is designed to demonstrate the basic skills and knowhow of network professionals on the level of a Tier I support engineer. The skills most focused on by the certification are those related to the ability to troubleshoot carrier class IP NGN core Cisco network infrastructure. The CCNA Service Provider Operations curriculum incorporates network incidents, events and faults as well as network design configuration, and performance management. Knowledge of network procedures, NMS tools and management protocols is essential to achieving the CCNA Service Provider. As of February 1, 2015, the CCNA Service Provider certification will be retired and no new certification will be taking its place. The last certification will be on January 31, 2015. The CCNA Service Provider certification has the following prerequisites:

  • Any current and valid Cisco CCENT certification, or
  • Any current and valid CCNA certification, or
  • Any current and valid CCIE certification
  • CCNA Video

The Cisco Certified Network Associate Video (CCNA Video) certification is designed for audiovisual network professionals who work frequently with traditional video analog solutions so that they can expand on their current skills into Video-over-IP systems as a way of advancing their career. The CCNA Video certification is a skill and job role focused program that emphasizes on the training in and implementation of video and video collaboration products. Network professionals learn how to set up new users in the system, deploy video end points, and operate networked Cisco video solutions. The CCNA Video certification is also relevant for CCNA Voice networking professionals and related services as a way of extending their career by venturing into video networking. There are no prerequisites for the CCNA Video certification track.

The Cisco Certified Network Associate Voice (CCNA Voice) is a way for network professionals to prove that they have associate level skills and knowhow that is required to administer and maintain a voice network. The Cisco CCNA Voice certification target specialized job roles within the network industry that utilize Cisco voice technologies including job roles like Voice Engineer, Voice Technologies Administrator, and Voice Manager. Interested network professionals have to prove skills in a wide variety of VoIP technologies including IP telephony, IP PBX, handset, voicemail solutions and call control. The skills being validated also relate to Cisco Unified Communications and associated job roles. The following are prerequisites for the CCNA Voice certification.

  • Any current and valid Cisco CCENT certification, or
  • A current and valid CCNA Routing and Switching  certification, or
  • Any current and valid CCIE certification

The Cisco Certified Network Associate Wireless (CCNA Wireless) certification demonstrates that network professionals have associate level knowledge and expertise in configuring, implementing and providing support of wireless LANs networks that use Cisco equipment. The CCNA Wireless certification tests on the ability to support basic wireless networks that use a Cisco WLAN within the context of small to medium enterprise networks. The CCNA Wireless certification has the following prerequisites:

  • Any current and valid Cisco CCENT certification, or
  • A current and valid CCNA Routing and Switching  certification, or
  • Any current and valid CCIE certification

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