Information technology (IT) professionals have the option of earning numerous certifications, including Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) and Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) designations. For more information on these options, their availability and applications, continue reading below.

The Difference Between CCNA and MCSE CCNA Certification

The Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) designation is for network administrators, technicians and other professionals who create business solutions using Cisco switches and routers. CCNA professional configure, install and operate LANs, WANs and dial-up networks using IP, Ethernet, frame relay and other protocols. CCNA professionals are also trained to troubleshoot Cisco routers and switches, configure and maintain Cisco systems, and other related tasks. Depending on the training a student receives, he or she might have to take one or two exams.

MCSE Certification

The Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) designation is for IT professionals with 1-2 years of experience designing, installing, configuring and troubleshooting network systems. Earning this designation shows employers that an applicant has the know-how to design, administer and implement infrastructures for use on Microsoft Windows 2000 Server and Windows Server 2003. MCSE offers specializations in messaging and security as well. To earn MCSE certification for Microsoft Windows 2000 Server, students must pass seven exams: three on networking systems, one on client operating systems, one on design and two elective exams. To earn MCSE certification for Windows Server 2003, students must pass seven exams as well: four exams on networking systems, one exam on client operating systems, one exam on design and one elective exam.

Re certification

CCNA certifications expire after three years. After that time period, CCNA professionals must recertify. There are a number of ways to do this, including passing the current CCNA exam, passing any current Cisco specialist exam or passing a current CCNA concentration exam. Concentrations include wireless, voice, security and service provider operations.
Unlike the CCNA designation, MCSE certifications never expire. As long as there remains a need for professionals with these skills, the Microsoft Windows 2000 Server and Windows Server 2003 certifications remain valid.

Salary Information for CCNA and MCSE Professionals

Although these professionals are trained to perform different tasks, there really is not much difference in what they earn annually. According to, salaries reported in 2010 for both CCNA and MCSE professionals were:
CCNA Job TitleCCNA SalaryMCSE Job TitleMCSE Salary
IT Network Administrator$40,412-$60,612IT Network Administrator$44,907-$64,396
Systems Engineer$50,101-$76,337Systems Engineer$50,589-$77,866
Network Engineer$50,987-$74,898IT Manager$63,221-$94,139
IT Manager$61,502-$92,981Sr. Systems Engineer$71,226-$97,098
Sr. Network Engineer$72,130-$97,849IT Director$71,642-$109,210

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