Cisco CCNA vs. CompTIA A+

If you are a professional working in the IT industry, you may have heard of certifications like CCNA and A+. They are excellent options to help you advance in networking or security domains.

So, what are the differences between these two certificates? Which certification should you pursue? I will discuss these certificates to help you make the best decision. Let’s get going!

What Is CCNA?

CCNA is an advanced IT certificate issued by CISCO. It’s among the top companies that produce and sell networking equipment worldwide.

The primary focus of CCNA is the networking field. It helps verify your ability and skills in performing various networking tasks.

It also covers all the knowledge you need to pursue a career in this industry. You must pass a single exam to acquire this certificate.

It’s significantly quicker than the other options. You must complete around 100 to 120 questions within this timeframe.

A CCNA certificate

What Is A+?

A+ is a popular IT certificate distributed by CompTIA. You must complete two exams (220-1001 and 220-1002, or Core 1 and Core 2) to acquire this certificate.

The area of focus for A+ holders is networking. The tool helps validate your skills and knowledge in performing various IT tasks related to networks.

A+ also covers essential skills required for the IT industry. You must possess a deep experience in computer science to qualify for this certificate.

An A+ certificate

Key Differences

Both CCNA and A+ feature very high recognition and respect in the industry.

They are ideal for different career paths and skill levels. To choose between CCNA and A+, you must understand their core values and areas of focus.

I will dwell on their features in the sections below. Let’s first check out this quick comparison table!

ScopeFocus on entry-level positions and skillsFocus on advanced levels
RequirementsThere are no specific requirementsAround one year of experience
Exam FormatTwo exams, each 90 minutes for an exam and 120 questions for oneOnly one exam with 100 – 120 questions for 120 minutes
Validity3 years3 years
Career OpportunitiesFocus mainly on networking on an entry levelFocus mainly on networking on a professional level


CompTIA A+ is the best certificate for positions like service technician or desktop support. It gives you an approach to entry-level positions.

Meanwhile, CCNA focuses more on security and networking techs. It positions you for higher roles. Thus, it’s typically ideal for professionals in networking.

Difficulty Level

I have taken both exams and accessed some of their popular training materials. I can conclude that CCNA and CompTIA A+ share a similar difficulty level.

However, the CompTIA A+ certification requires candidates to pass two exams.

Meanwhile, you only need to pass one single test to qualify for CCNA. Therefore, the A+ will cost you more time and effort.

Both exams feature equal difficulty


There are no prerequisites for the CCNA exam. Yet, it’s recommended that you have at least one year of experience in using Cisco tools and products.

Similarly, the CompTIA A+ exam doesn’t have any specific requirements for candidates. Yet, you should have a firm foundation in networking and security.


You will pay $246 for the CompTIA A+. You can pay for higher options to acquire extra learning resources and a free retake voucher. Meanwhile, you will pay $300 for the CCNA exam voucher (including tax).

Exam Format

The exam format can help you partially estimate its difficulty. For instance, the CCNA exam requires candidates to complete 120 questions within 120 minutes. All the questions will be multiple-choice and focus on Networking skills.

A+ features up to two exams. Each one consists of 100 to 120 questions. The form of questions is also diverse, ranging from multiple choice to simulations.


Both CompTIA A+ and CCNA last for three years after the day you obtain them.

With the A+, you can easily renew the certificate for another three years. You just need to attend some CE activities or training courses. Another way is to acquire some other certificates of CompTIA to extend A+.

Meanwhile, you have to pay an annual fee to maintain your CCNA. In addition, the process of extending your CCNA is much more challenging.

You have to acquire a higher-level certificate to renew your CCNA. Or else you have to retake the exam and pay for the voucher.

For these reasons, CCNA will cost you more time and money in the long run.


Your income will vary based on your current position, business, and level of expertise. There’s a significant difference when comparing average incomes.

A survey indicates that CCNA holders share an average salary of $89,681 per year. The number for CompTIA A+ professionals ranges from $45,000 to $60,000.

It’s not strange since CCNA focuses on the more advanced levels. Its holder typically holds higher positions in the firm. Thus, they possess higher incomes.

Career Opportunities

Both two options focus on the networking industry. Yet, they will lead to different career outcomes.

CCNA is designed for professional candidates. Its holders are typically experts who want to advance their expertise in the field. Thus, it will help you seek higher-level professions and roles.

Meanwhile, A+ gives you an approach to lower-level positions. It helps the graduates qualify for jobs relating to the network support.

CCNA is a better choice for professionals

Which One Should You Choose?

A+ will help you approach the networking field easier through entry roles. Some popular examples are the helpdesk or software support.

If you want to break into the IT industry through a low-level position at the beginning, an A+ certificate will help you seek more job opportunities. It also covers the essential skills required for networking.

Meanwhile, CCNA focuses more on the professional level. It’s ideal for experts who want to prove their expertise and deep experience.

So, you should consider your skill and level of expertise to make the decision.

Final Thoughts

Choosing between CCNA and A+ is pretty simple. You should first identify your area of focus in the IT field. Do you prefer networking or related domains? Consider your interests and skill sets to make the decision.

If you are already a professional in networking, CCNA is an excellent choice to extend your knowledge and advance your career prospects.

Meanwhile, A+ is more suitable for entry-level candidates who want to build a foundation in networking.

Thank you for reading!