CCNA vs A+: Here’s Everything You Need To Know About It
Are you a professional in the Information Technology space who has been working on the helpdesk for a while? Or are you just starting a career in the industry? Irrespective of who you are, for you to build up your career in the IT space and become successful, one thing is sure and that is – you need to enroll and earn as many certifications as you can.
In the information technology space, there are tons of credentials that you can earn to boost your career and become respected. For instance, two of the most widely compared advanced certifications in the industry are the CompTIA A+ and Cisco CCNA. In the past, many people across various social media platforms have always found it pretty much challenging to decide which of the two certifications to earn first.
You need to understand that both A+ and CCNA are great credentials in the IT space. Earning A+ is a great first move if you’re looking to get into the field quickly. However, CCNA will be a better choice if you’re a professional or a fresh graduate interested in network administrator or a more advanced cybersecurity role.
Let’s face it; the best way to choose between CompTIA A+ and Cisco CCNA is to fully understand the difference between them. To make things easier for you, in the rest of this article, I’ll be performing a face-off between the two certifications to enable you to make a better choice. So, without further ado, let’s get straight down to business.
Here’s What You Need to Know About CompTIA A+ and Cisco
Before going ahead to perform the face-off between the two certifications; CompTIA A+ and Cisco CCNA, let’s start by getting familiar with them.
What Is Cisco CCNA?
The Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) is an advanced-level certification designed by CISCO – the world’s leading company that manufactures and sells networking equipment. The CCNA exam aims at validating your skills and expertise, as well as your ability to diagnose, fix, configure various networks.
Unlike most certifications out there, the CCNA exam is quick – it only lasts for 120 minutes. The exam often includes about 100 to 120 questions that cover real-life issues. Moreover, the questions often come as a mix of multiple-choice, drag-and-drop, fill-in-the-blank, simulation, simplest, and testlet.
That said, here are some of the aspects of information technology that you can expect the CCNA exam to cover:
- Network fundamentals
- IP services
- Security fundamentals
- Network access
- Automation and programmability
- IP connectivity
What is CompTIA A+?
A+ is a certification designed by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) – an American non-profit trade association. For you to earn this certification, there are two different exams that you need to pass; they include Core 1 (220-1001) and Core 2 (220-1002).
The CompTIA A+ is a performance-based certification that helps to validate a candidate’s ability to repair PCs, troubleshoot, and resolve a wider variety of issues related to networking, operating systems, mobile devices, and security.
Furthermore, for you to pass and earn the CompTIA A+ certification, you need to get yourself familiar with a broader diversity of knowledge, some of which include the following:
- Ability to display baseline security skills for IT support professionals.
- Having the right skills to configure various device operating systems, such as Linux, Windows, Mac, Chrome OS, Android, and iOS.
- Troubleshooting to detect core service and support issues, while providing viable solutions to resolve them.
- Support basic IT infrastructure and networking
- Configure, assemble, & disassemble PC, mobile, and IoT device hardware
- Implement information security controls appropriate to helpdesk and technical support roles
The Face-Off: Cisco CCNA vs CompTIA A+
Now, it’s time to talk about the difference between the two certifications and why you should choose one over the other. However, before proceeding to that, I need you to understand the both CCNA and A+ have been around for a long time. They’re highly recognized credentials in the industry regulated by two industry giants; CompTIA and Cisco.
- Career path
One of the many factors that you need to put into consideration when it comes to choosing between CCNA and A+ is your career path. That’s so because the two credentials offer different end goals.
For instance, the CompTIA A+ certification is specifically designed for people who are looking to break into the IT field. By enrolling in and passing the exams, you’ll be A+ certified, which will increase your chances of getting entry-level jobs in the following areas:
- Associate network engineer
- Data support technician
- Service desk analyst
- End-user computing technician
- Field service technician
- Help desk technician
- Technical support specialist
- Desktop support administrator
- Help desk tech
- System support specialist
On the other hand, the Cisco CCNA certification is only ideal for professionals looking to get advanced entry-level positions, such as network-related and cybersecurity jobs. With that, it means the CCNA certification helps to get higher-level jobs in the IT space compared to the A+ certification.
Here are some of the jobs you can get with your Cisco CCNA certification:
- Solutions Design Engineer
- Cloud Engineer
- Network Admin
- Systems Admin
- Network Analyst
- Infrastructure Engineer
- Unified Communications Engineer
- Network Design Engineer
- Average annual salary
The average annual salary is another factor that you need to look at before choosing between CCNA and CompTIA A+. According to ZipRectuiter, the average annual salary of a Cisco CCNA certified professional is $84,376. By conversion, that’s about $41 per hour.
On the other hand, the annual salary of a CompTIA A+ certified professional is between $45,000 and $60,000. If you’re lucky enough to get a job as a desktop support analyst, you should expect an average pay of $60,000. IT support specialists with A+ certification can earn as high as $54,500 annually.
- Which of them is easier to pass?
Let’s face it; both CompTIA A+ and Cisco CCNA certifications have a similar difficulty level. What that means is that – for you to pass and earn any of the credentials, you need to invest a lot of time and effort, studying and practicing.
The bottom line is, irrespective of the certifications you’re opting for between A+ and CCNA, you need to understand that you need to study well, get familiar and understand every aspect they’re covering.
How much it costs to earn each of the certifications is another factor that you need to consider. In case you don’t know, there are different categories of the CCNA exam. The most popular of them is the CCNA Routing and Switching, which costs about $330. Others include the following:
- CCNA Security – $465
- CCNA Service Provider – $600
- CCNA Wireless – $465
On the other hand, the cost of enrolling for and earning the CompTIA A+ exam is slightly lower than that of its counterpart. There are two exams for you to write; each of them costs about $232.