MCSE Vs. CCNA: 5 Differences You Should Know!

Those interested in the Information Technology (IT) field need to arm themselves with certain degrees. These would equip them for the work that they dream of doing and also enable them to develop this area further.

Two such degrees are the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) and Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) designations. These two options are often a factor of confusion for IT professionals looking to advance their certifications. Their availability and applications are two key factors in deciding which degree one should pursue.
mcse vs ccna
To help out such individuals, a discussion of the differences between MCSE and CCNA is given below. This information would hopefully help in making decisions that would help one get an effective and advantageous education:

1. Qualifications And Requirements

The CCNA designation is designed for those IT professionals who have one, two, or three years of work experience. More specifically, this work experience should be in business solutions. This could include installing and maintaining LANs, WANs, dial-up networks, etc. other areas of expertise could include Ethernet, Cisco switches and routers, frame relay, and similar protocols.

The MCSE, on the other hand, is for IT professionals who are already in the industry. They are thus more current than the ones eligible for CCNA. MCSE exams require no particular prerequisites, unlike the CCNA. However, the MCSE exam-takers have to have some experience with the relevant IT tools. There are also some optional preparatory courses offered by Microsoft. These require a minimum of two years’ experiment with Microsoft technology.

2. Specializations Offered

The specialization offered in the CCNA degree are in data centers, routing, cloud, switching, service provider, etc. The Routing and switching fields need a certification that the CCNA can provide. A candidate for the CCNA also needs to have certain certifications in industrial, society and wireless. Based on these, an IT professional would have to clear some exams.

The specialties for an MCSE credential include messaging, private cloud, server infrastructure, communication, and much more. The specialties are hence much more specific and require quite a few more exams than the CCNA.

3. Period Of Validity

The downside to CCNA certifications is that they are only valid for about three years. Due to the rapid advancement in technology, CCNA professionals have to recertify themselves after this time. They have to either pass a current CCNA exam in another specialty or pass a certification exam. These test the candidate at a specialist or professional level.

MCSE certifications are also liable for recertification through passing an exam every three years. In this case, MCSE and CCNA are similar.

4. Different Types Of Network

Obviously, the two designations under discussion are associated with different types of networks.

A Microsoft network is centered around a server. A server is a computer that is configured to carry out certain specific functions.

A server takes care of the computers associated with its domain. It can save their user activity and passwords on that particular network. It would also have options for leasing, which consists of giving our IP addresses.

On the other hand, a Cisco network does not work by keeping track of the devices on its network. Their main aim is to keep track of the routers. This is so it is easy to redirect traffic between server networks. The IP numbers are noted and directed towards their relevant routers. Cisco routers are hence somewhat limited in their function.

Hence, Cisco networks don’t give out word processing or graphic design. They don’t provide entertainment. However, they can be of use in downloading the software their users need from anywhere across networks. Hence, a Cisco router would not have a service of its own but can provide the service nonetheless.

Understanding these differences is the key to understanding the comparison between MCSE and CCNA.

An IT professional should know what he wants to be doing at the end of the day. This would help greatly in the decision between studying for one qualification or the other.

5. Type Of Work Required

Deciding between the qualifications also means knowing what each designation would mean for the professional. If one does MCSE, they would be expected to support a Microsoft server with vigilance.

Such a server needs weekly, if not daily support. This is because the server has to track the users, along with IP numbers, applications, and security.

Hence, Microsoft engineers have to constantly work with their servers. There is a lot of important client data closely connected with this task.

The Cisco network support is quite unlike that of Microsoft. This is because the Cisco network and router are configured together, and then the router can be left alone. It is highly unlikely that one would need to touch the router for as much as one year. At the very least, Cisco engineers would be free of the router for at least six months.

This is because Cisco routers work quietly and efficiently. Their routing protocol works the way it is set up, with few bumps along the way. The paths in the local network and the Internet are set out in a somewhat permanent way. There is no need to meddle here.

Because of the different work requirements, MCSE and CCNA holders would have different job openings. Companies looking for a Microsoft engineer would most likely hire them for daily work. This could lead to a long-term contract. For those with a CCNA certification, the demand would most likely be that of outsourcing to specialists. Hence, they would not just work with one company at a time.

As a result, the salary for a CCNA holder would likely be slightly higher than for an MCSE professional.

This is because the former is more specialized than the latter. However, an MCSE engineer would probably have more job stability than an IT professional certified in CCNA.


Becoming a computer professional is not just playing around with technical devices. In order to have a proper position within this field, one needs experience above all. This would come from practice and study.

Whichever certification one decides to pursue, they should be prepared to put in their blood and sweat. Studying is unavoidable in this field at all levels. Additionally, computer technology is constantly changing and advancing. One should be prepared to update their certifications and expertise accordingly.

Author Bio
Priscilla Ellie is an Educator, IT professional and a Blogger. Besides, she is also active on online academic writing website where you can buy your premium edition of “do my assignment“. She has done Masters in Business and Education Management.

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