Career / Career Progression

What Types of Jobs Can You Get with a CCNA?

by Team Nuggets
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Updated on December 6, 2023

Whether you've recently passed a CCNA certification or are considering taking the plunge, you're here because you're ready to take on more responsibility in a networking role — or maybe specialize. As you start your job hunt, it's important to know the different job titles associated with the CCNA exam.

However, it can get confusing. That's because Cisco used to offer ten different CCNA certifications focused on different skill sets, like routing, switching, cyberops, security, etc. As of November 2023, Cisco drastically changed its exam structure to include five tiers of certifications: Entry, Associate, Professional, Expert, and Architect.

It can get complicated, but each tier has several different Cisco certifications. Here's how they break down: 

You might notice there is now only one CCNA exam at the associate level. This exam is no longer specialized. Instead, it covers a range of different topics in one exam aimed at junior-level ITs, meaning those with around one year of experience. Below, we'll cover the topics on the exam, the benefits of this certification, and then explore jobs you might expect to get with this certification. 

What Does the New CCNA Certification Cover? 

The new CCNA certification proves you have the skills to navigate the ever-changing landscape of IT and is designed for folks with a year or more of experience. The CCNA does not have any prerequisite training. (This means getting associate-level Cisco certifications might help you a bit, but it's not required.) 

The CCNA exam covers a range of topics, including network fundamentals, network access, IP connectivity, IP services, security fundamentals, automation, and programmability. Sitting for the exam will set you back $300 as of the most recent publication date of this article, so make sure you've studied up and are well-prepared before taking the leap! 

The certification is valid for three years, at which point you'll either need to earn 30 continuing education credits or pass a qualifying exam. 

If you're feeling overwhelmed at the thought of taking the exam, prepare for the CCNA exam with the CBT Nuggets CCNA course so you can gain your CCNA certification to help with your job search or career path!

Is the CCNA Certification Worth it?

Wondering if taking the time to study and take the CCNA certification is worth it? For many IT professionals, it is. Benefits can include: 

  • Higher salary: By proving you have the skills required for your role, you can command a higher salary than un-certified counterparts. 

  • More career opportunities: Having a CCNA may help you get hired in better job roles or help you earn a promotion in your current role. 

  • Stay updated in your industry: The IT world changes fast. Getting certified (and staying certified!) will ensure you stay abreast of any changes in the industry. 

Now that you understand how the CCNA certification has changed in recent years and the benefits of passing the exam, let's discuss the roles you can expect to get with this certification. 

Job Roles That Require (or Prefer) a CCNA Certification 

The required certifications are often folded into the "preferred certifications" sections of seemingly generic IT job listings. Because the CCNA certification covers a broad range of topics, most jobs requiring a CCNA will have broader titles. Here are a few jobs that are likely to ask for a CCNA. 

Network Administrator 

Network administrators are responsible for keeping the computer network running. It is sometimes an entry-level role, but often requires a bachelor's degree, CCNA, or equivalent experience. Responsibilities may include installing hardware, troubleshooting connectivity issues, repairing devices, installing malware programs, and handling lower-level security issues. 

Salary ranges vary based on the organization's exact responsibilities, location, and size. You can expect to earn a salary between $60,000 and $90,000. 

Network Engineer 

A step up from network administrators are network engineers. This role is often responsible for designing, building, and maintaining an organization's computer network. They may deal with hardware and software, handle lower-level security concerns, and help repair or update devices. 

Salary and the exact responsibilities will, of course, vary based on location and the organization. Some network engineer roles may have certifications besides a CCNA, but experience may suffice. The average salary for a network engineer is between $100,000 and $150,000. Learning additional skills can help increase your salary. 

Systems Administrator 

Also called sysadmins, systems administrators are responsible for ensuring an organization's computer system runs well and meets the needs of everyone in the organization. Responsibilities often include troubleshooting issues, maintaining computer servers, and ensuring networks run fast and efficiently. 

The average salary for a sysadmin is between $80,000 and $130,000 based on location, the size of the organization you work for, and your responsibilities. In addition to CCNA certification, consider taking additional systems administrator training to qualify for these roles. 

System Engineer 

A system engineer is responsible for implementing a computer system. Common responsibilities include planning, designing, and implementing a computer network or computer system. While system administrator and system engineer are sometimes used interchangeably, in general, engineers are responsible for creating a system, while administrators oversee the system after implementation. 

The average salary of a system engineer ranges between $90,000 and $140,000, depending on location, responsibilities, and additional benefits and bonuses. 

Final Thoughts 

Job titles and responsibilities are not uniform and often vary based on the organization's size, whether they are businesses or government agencies, and what technologies and IT strategies they employ.

While we've flagged some job titles that could require a CCNA, your best bet is to closely examine the certifications needed for even generic network admin and engineer positions. The certifications often dictate the type of work you'll be expected to perform, even if the job title does not.

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