Microsoft Certification vs. Cisco Certification


Published on February 13, 2015


It is important for any IT professional to have the correct training so that they can do their job properly and to the best of their ability. Two of the best known names in the IT industry - Microsoft and Cisco, offer their own certification courses and qualifications. Both of these courses and qualifications seem quite similar, so which is better. This guide will look at Microsoft certification Vs. Cisco certification and help you to see which certification is best in which circumstances.

Microsoft Certifications:

Microsoft have a wide range of different courses and qualifications for different types of IT professionals. The MCSE (Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert) is aimed at professionals with working experience of Microsoft Windows servers and networks. The courses test the IT professional’s ability to design, install, setup and troubleshoot a Microsoft based network. The courses use simulations to train and ask questions.

Microsoft Certifications

People taking the MCSE course will need to pass a total of five exams in order to earn the prized MCSE accreditation. The first three exams will all focus on working with Windows Server and SQL server. The certification doesn't last forever though, you will be expected to re-sit the exam every three years to demonstrate your knowledge is evolving with the Windows ecosystem.

The main benefit of a Microsoft certification is that absolutely everyone will know what it means. Even if you are talking to someone who knows nothing about IT then they will understand that the Microsoft certification means that you are good at your job. This may be helpful when applying for jobs at smaller companies where the IT department might not be as experienced as large data centers. A Microsoft certification is a great asset and fact to put on your CV, it will instantly make you stand out from the competition who don't have a professional certification.

Microsoft certifications aren't easy, although some people do believe they are easier to achieve than Cisco certifications. You will still be expected to learn a lot of facts and methods to pass correctly. It's also worth noting that sometimes two of the answers to a question might achieve the same result. However, the correct answer will only be the answer that is the best practice option for Microsoft.

As Microsoft certifications will only typically teach the best practices according to Microsoft, it can difficult to apply the skills you learn to other platforms. This may create problems since not all networks are based on Microsoft Servers. However, many tech professionals have stated that the certifications show a willingness to learn and understand various platforms, so it is true that Microsoft certifications could open up new jobs for you.

The reason that some people find studying for Microsoft certifications easier is because they are more popular. This means that there are plenty of resources online for anyone studying and trying to take the exams. There are even lots of practice exams online which are similar to the actual exams. This should make it easier to practice and ensure you are answering the questions correctly.

The certification is valid for a period of three years. After which you will lose your certification, unless you re-sit. Most people will continually renew their certification as soon as a new major release of Windows server comes out. This ensures that they can work with the newest networks, and as most of the knowledge is backwards compatible it is still helpful for all other networks.

Cisco Certifications:

Another popular form of IT certification for IT professionals is the CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate). The certification is designed for professionals which have work experience with cisco routers, switches and other it equipment. The certification also proves an ability to design, set up, install and maintain networks, including WAN and LAN networks. This knowledge is useful to install, commission and configure firewalls, routers, and servers.

Cisco Certifications

There are some specializations in the CCNA certifications depending on your chosen area. These include switching, routing, service provider and data center. The specialty chosen will affect the number of exams you will need to sit and study for.

All of the CCNA certifications will expire after a period of three years. Re-certification can be done by passing another exam in another specialty area.

Although getting any form of professional IT certification is quite difficult, many people have suggested that getting a cisco certification is more difficult than a Microsoft one. This is because the wording in the cisco exams is often quite difficult to understand. They will also test that you have a good understanding of subnets and how networks work. In order to be able to pass cisco certification exams, you will need to think quickly and be able to answer accurately.

Cisco exams have many more questions on them than a Microsoft exam. This means that finding practice questions that are similar to the actual exam you are sitting will be very difficult. Some people have to re-sit the exam several times before they are able to pass.

Microsoft Certification vs. Cisco Certification

Microsoft Certification Cisco Certification
Everyone will know Microsoft even if they don't know much about IT Cisco is a well-respected manufacturer of enterprise grade IT infrastructure
Looks great on your CV Shows experience with cisco IT equipment
Shows experience working with Microsoft servers and software Skills can be applied to many other IT brands
More practice questions and information available online  
More popular choice of certification  
Not everyone is a fan of Microsoft Can be difficult to get
Only teaches the Microsoft best practice method Expensive
Difficult to apply everything learned to different platforms Some people may not know of Cisco
Not every company uses Microsoft powered servers Need to be renewed after 3 years

Hopefully by now you have an understanding of what you would learn on Microsoft and Cisco courses? Both of these courses can be used to further your career and land a better paid job. However, each certification suits different types of career path. MS certifications tend to concentrate mainly on server side maintenance, whereas cisco is more applicable to a network engineer position.

While it is possible to do either job with either certification. You will find that if you are interested in network engineering then Cisco will be more beneficial. If you are interested in offering help desk support, working with Microsoft servers and databases then the Microsoft certifications will be great. Remember though, that no certification can teach you everything you need to know, you still need to be willing to learn each and every day.

About the Author

Eshna is a writer at Simplilearn. She has done Masters in Journalism and Mass Communication and is a Gold Medalist in the same. A voracious reader, she has penned several articles in leading national newspapers like TOI, HT and The Telegraph. She loves traveling and photography.


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