We live in a digital era driven by cutting-edge IT technologies. And having certifications from renowned technology giants in the core IT fields can provide you with an edge in the job market. Certifications complement your education and experience, providing you with the fuel to boost your career.
They allow recruiters to gauge your credibility and competence in meticulously performing IT related tasks, based on your specialization areas. When it comes to IT certifications, professionals generally find themselves asking the question: which of the two leading certifications are better and more lucrative for their career – Microsoft or Cisco?
Both IT giants offer a number of beginners and advanced level certifications in IT administration and network security, educating and training individuals with the implementation and management of the latest trends and technologies.
However, choosing between the two is often difficult as professionals are unable to determine which one would be better for their career.
To provide you with a clear picture of which of the two would be best for you, here is a lowdown of Microsoft and Cisco certifications:
1. Microsoft Certifications
Microsoft offers a whole host of certifications and courses for IT professionals, each focused on providing training to IT professionals related to advanced knowledge of their respective fields. One of the most prominent certifications is Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) that provides knowledge and training for handling and implementing Windows networks and servers.
Candidates are required to have several years of experience in configuration, installation, development, and troubleshooting databases and servers for this certification. If you are planning to get MCSE certified, you must pass five different exams to earn the accreditation.
The exams are related to working with and managing SQL Server and Windows Server. For college students, Microsoft has certifications like Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) that enables students to build their core skills in computers and IT, without needing to have any prior experience or knowledge.
Aside from this, there is another program, known as Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP), was launched back in 2012, geared towards increasing the competency and credibility of individuals, making them better candidates for IT job openings.
Microsoft has also introduced Re-certification programs that allow you to refresh your skills by putting them to the test while ensuring that you are aware of the latest developments. Microsoft has divided its certifications into three levels, namely, Associate, Expert, and Master.
2. Microsoft Certification Benefits
In addition to having a higher knowledge of Microsoft systems, one of the common benefits of being Microsoft certified is that it instantly creates a positive image in the recruiters’ mind, mainly because of the pristine reputation Microsoft has in the IT global village.
The fact that even a layman, without a technical background, will know that your skills are more refined as compared to other candidates. Based on your certification nature, it will give off an impression that you understand the related Microsoft programs and know your way around fixing issues.
According to Microsoft, professionals have shared that they received a 20 per cent increase in their salary after earning a Microsoft certification.
3. Microsoft Certification Challenges
Microsoft requires professionals to stay on top of the recent trends and developments of its technology and mandates them to re-take the exam every three years. Some people might think that clearing Microsoft exams are easier and don’t require prior preparation.
In reality, only those professionals who complete tutorials and courses offered by Microsoft or getting training from reputable online certification preparation sites are able to clear the exams with flying colours.
It is recommended that whether you are aiming to earn MSCE, MTA, MCP, or any other Microsoft certification, you must take online training before appearing for the exam.
4. Cisco Certifications
For professionals looking to develop their career in networking and systems administration, Cisco certification training and courses are the best choices. Cisco certifications, in terms of credibility and popularity, are almost similar to Microsoft certifications as Cisco is a well-known IT giant and a leader in high-technology services and products.
Cisco certification courses cover various areas of networking systems and offer in-depth knowledge about business communication devices. One of the popular certifications is a Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) that is designed for professionals with prior experience in Cisco switches, routers, and other related IT equipment.
It enables you to develop a good understanding of the IT network topology and best practices for creating a secure and well-thought-out networking infrastructure. Just like Microsoft, Cisco certification courses are in high demand in the IT job market and gives professionals an edge when applying for jobs in renowned and established companies.
They have been divided into five stages, namely, Entry, Associate, Professional, Expert and, Architect, that increase your competence upon clearing each respective exam.
Cisco training courses enable individuals to learn about several areas of networking, such as installation, administration, and configuration of servers, routers, and firewalls in business setups of all sizes. Earning one of Cisco certifications proves the ability of an IT professional to design, develop, install, and manage networks and systems, like LAN and WAN, across the organization’s IT infrastructure.
Companies powered by Cisco products prefer IT professionals bearing relevant certifications, providing an opportunity to secure higher pay scale.
People can work in a wide range of roles such as Systems Engineer, Technical Support Engineer, Network Administrator, Network Engineer, Sr. Network Engineer, and Information Technology (IT) Manager.
6. Cisco Certification Challenges
Just like Microsoft, Cisco requires professionals to stay on top of the recent trends and developments of its technology and mandates them to re-take the exam every three years.
In addition to this, candidates have suggested that when preparing for Cisco certification courses, they face much more difficult as compared to Microsoft certifications. Some candidates have expressed that the questions and their wording are quite hard for them to understand.
7. The Verdict: Microsoft or Cisco Certification?
While Microsoft and Cisco both offer great benefits in terms of enhancing knowledge and competency, the answer to which one is better depends on your area of focus in the IT landscape.
If you are engaged in the Windows server-side software and maintenance, Microsoft certifications would be a better choice for you. If your experience and qualification are related to network and hardware engineering, your best bet would be to take Cisco certification training and courses.