If you‘re interested in getting your Cisco Certification, it’s important to understand how the process works and what’s involved with getting certified from Cisco. There are two distinct ways you can go about getting your CCNA, or CCNP, qualification. You can get it by working at a smaller-scale company with a smaller set of employees. Or you can work for a company that has hundreds of thousands of employees and is in need of someone to complete their CCNA Exam.

So, what’s the difference between these two alternatives? First, let’s get acronyms out of the dust. CCNA stands for Cisco Certified Network Associate and CCNP is short for Cisco Certified Network Professional, which is the worldwide recognized title for Cisco Certified Network Engineers. As can be clearly seen from those two names, both organizations use the same Cisco name in order to acknowledge their membership in the organization.

Once you’ve determined the path you wish to pursue, it’s time to move on and meet up with an IT professional to discuss your goals. The two of you will sit down at a Starbucks coffee shop and you’ll discuss your goals and any steps you need to take in order to meet them. That should include a discussion about what your objectives are – either obtaining your Cisco certification or passing the Cisco routing exams. Your Cisco professional level certification expert will let you know if your path is correct and what you need to do to reach your objectives. If there’s anything he or she notices that you don’t understand, make sure you ask questions.

Now, your expert might suggest passing the CCNA or CCNP exams. But what if you don’t have enough experience or time to devote to that? The experts recommend another route to consider. You might want to consider Cisco Routing and Switching (Cisco SSTP) instead.

What exactly is SSTP? Cisco SSTP is a secondary certification after your CCNA or CCDA certification. Cisco makes these exams available as a third party product. Rather than relying on Cisco’s own resources and having you spend a bunch of money on their equipment, the third party company takes a good look at your current network setup and design to come up with a real world, realistic exam.

Having said that, when you decide to go ahead with Cisco SSTP, the choice is yours. Should you choose to work with a Cisco Routing and Switching support company or a third party router and switch vendor? And how do you choose a support company that can provide the real-world skills you need to pass your exams and become certified?

The Cisco Certification Hierarchy has been well documented for many years. In fact, it was originally developed for network engineers who were passing the 200125 exam. They wanted to have a standardized test to ensure they understood all the concepts in the CCNA, CCIE, and CCNP exams. Over time, the CCNA has evolved into two different exams, one of which is still in use today called the 200125 exam. Cisco now has its own official certification tool, the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) exam.

The Cisco Certification Hierarchy has three levels. The basic level certification is the first two-hundred hours of hands on lab work. At this point, an associate level technician can be trained in the use of routers and switches. After this level certification, a Cisco specialist can take a national examination called the CCNA or CCDA. At the highest level, the CCNP certification is achieved after two hundred hours of hands on lab work and passing the CCNA exam.

For those who already know a lot about networking or feel they are skilled enough to handle switching and routers, but not at the higher certifications, there is a third option. The Cisco Certified Information Technology Specialist (CCIT) certification, also written by Cisco, covers a broader range of information technology. Many CCITs now work as network consultants.