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Cisco’s Associate Level Certifications: Which Is the Best for You?


Cisco offers 5 levels of IT certifications – Entry, Associate, Professional, Expert, and Architect level. The Entry levels are for absolute beginners, while the Associate levels are best suited for persons who already have some understanding of the foundational topics. Most persons however begin their IT journey however at the associate level as there is a lot of overlap between the entry level and the Associate level. This blog post will focus on the Cisco Associate level certifications with the goal of helping you get some background overview of what each certification is all about. It will help you understand which of Cisco’s associate-level certifications is the best fit for you.

The Cisco’s associate-level certifications have wide recognition and acceptance within the industry. It can give you good mileage in your career advancement. There are lots of opportunities that are available to holders of such certifications. If you decide to take any certifications, there will be some suggested training resources in each section to help you prepare and pass the exams.

Cisco’s Associate level certifications

Unlike Entry-level certifications which introduce you to the foundational topics, Cisco’s certifications at the associate level are designed for mastering the essential skills for both entry and mid-level jobs roles. The associate levels of certification are much broader and more intense. There is also some overlap with some of the entry-level topics but with much deeper insight.

Cisco offers three associate-level certifications, each of which is focused on either connecting, securing, or coding as it relates to networking infrastructure. Cisco certifications are;

  • The Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Certification
  • The CyberOps Associate Certification
  • The DevNet Associate Certification

It is important to differentiate between each of these certifications so as to be able to align them with your own career goals and interests.

1. Cisco Certified Network Associate Certification (CCNA 200-301)

Cisco's Associate Certification - The CCNA
Cisco’s Associate Certification – The CCNA

The CCNA is overwhelmingly one of the most popular certifications for a career in network i.e. the IT career that deals with how devices communicate with each other. It is at the core of modern communication infrastructure. The CCNA covers the core networking concepts and prepares you for a career in network-related disciplines.

It is a broad certification that includes a wide variety of subjects, from IP addressing to security, and automation of IT infrastructure. The CCNA will generally give you a good background to pursue any specialty in IT. Specialization in fields like cloud technology and cybersecurity requires an adequate understanding of networking concepts.

Career Opportunities And Salaries

The CCNA will prepare you for a wide variety of job roles in IT. Some of the typical job titles that the CCNA is suitable for include

  • Network Engineer/Administrator
  • Infrastructure Engineer
  • IT specialist
  • Systems Administrators
  • Network Technicians
  • IT support

According to ZipRecruiters, the average salary for the CCNA Certificate holder in the US is about $74,000/annum (as of 2023). The CCNA also provides foundational knowledge to pursue a career in other fields such as Security, Cloud technology, Solution Architecture, etc.

Exam Details and Requirements

Adequate understanding of the core Networking concepts is required to pass the CCNA (There are no programming language requirements or coding for the exam as of 2023), Although entry-level knowledge (such as those provided by the CCST Networking), is not a prerequisite for taking the CCNA.

The core areas covered by the CCNA exam include Network Fundamentals, Network Access, IP connectivity, IP services, Programmability and Automation, And, Security Fundamentals. The exam is 120mins, and the number of questions varies between 90 and 103. The passing score for the CCNA exam is about 825/1000.

The exam costs $300 and is available through PearsonVue or through the Cisco Online Testing. Validity of the CCNA is 3 years.

Suggested Study Materials

You will find a collection of study resources for the CCNA here. Most of these are freely available.

2. CyberOps Associate Certification (200-201 CBROPS)

Cisco's Certifications : CyberOps Certification
Cisco’s Certifications: CyberOps Certification

Cisco’s CyberOps Associate certification is focused on the security of critical IT infrastructure and applications. It validates the knowledge and skills that Security Operations Centers (SOC) need to detect, analyze, and respond to cybersecurity threats. In a world where there is an increase in cases of cybersecurity breaches, the CyberOps certification can prove vital to advancing a career in security-related roles. It builds on the skills and knowledge gained in the CCST Cybersecurity entry-level certification. It is ideal for the person who wants to advance a career in Cybersecurity.

Career Opportunities And Salaries

The demand for Cybersecurity professionals is enormous. CyberOps Associate certification is a doorway to gaining the skills and knowledge to function in many security roles. Some of the typical job roles that CyberOps prepares you for include Security

  • Security Operations Center (SOC) analyst
  • IT Security Operations Specialist
  • Cybersecurity Engineer, etc.

The Average salary for persons with the CyberOps certification in the US is $122,108 /year (ZipRecruiter, 2023).

Exam Details and Requirements

The CyberOps associate certification exam ( 200-201 CBROPS) will test your understanding of core security concepts and fundamentals. It is a 120-minute exam with about 100 questions. Cisco specifies that there are simulations of Practical Experience in the exams. The Passing score is 825/1000. The core areas that are tested in the exam are divided into the following sections;

  • Security Concepts
  • Security Monitoring
  • Host-Based Analysis
  • Network Intrusion Analysis
  • Security Policies and Procedures

The details of each section is in the Exam Topics Guide. There are no prerequisites to taking the exams, although it build on the foundations of the CSST Cybersecurity Certification. The cost of the CyberOps Exam is $300 and can be accessed either through Online Testing or through PeasonVue. The certificate is valid for 3 years.

Suggested Study Materials

3. DevNet Associate Certification (DEVASC 200-901)

Ciso's Certification - DevNet
Cisco’s DevNet Certification

The DevNet Associate Certification deals with Network Programmability, Network Automation, and Virtualization. technology. (There are some introductory parts of these concepts in the CCNA). it validates your skills in implementing basic network applications using Cisco as a base. It basically trains you to acquire software skills as well as know how to implement them in automating workflows across the network, collaboration, computing, and security infrastructure. The DevNet associate certification is for people who love to code (developers), and Cisco provides the infrastructure for you to do that.

DevNet is a combination of “development” and “Networking”. Unlike the CCNA, you will need some background in programming language (preferably Python), and learn how to use some basic developer tools like Git to manage your code. Be familiar with Cisco’s developers community;

Career Opportunities And Salaries

The DevNet Certification will prepare you for a wide variety of job roles in application design, automation, and software development. Some of the typical job titles that the DevNet is suitable for include;

  • Automation Engineer
  • Software Engineer Developer
  • NetDevOps Engineer (a combination of DevOps and Networking)
  • Cloud Infrastructure Engineer
  • Network Administrator/Engineer
  • Site Reliability Engineer

The Salaries for Cisco DevNet certification range vary widely. However, ZipReceruiters finds the average in the US to be $129,850/year.

Exam Details and Requirements

The DevNet Associate Certification exam (DEVASC 200-901) is a 120-minute duration exam, and the number of questions is about 100 (depending on the questions Cisco decides from their exam bank). The exam will test your understanding of these six broad sections, they are ;

  • Software Development and Design
  • Understanding and Using APIs
  • Application Deployment and Security
  • Custom Platforms and Development
  • Infrastructure and Automation
  • Network Fundamentals

The complete list of topics under each of the sections in the exam is available Exam Topics Guide. The passing score from the exam is about 825/1000. Cisco may decide to adjust this a little based on general performance. The exam is available through PearsonVue and through Online Testing. There are no prerequisites to the exam. The Certificate is also valid for 3 years.

Suggested Study Materials

Some helpful study resources to prepare for the DevNet Associate Exam are available in the link below;

How Do the CCNA, CyberOps, and the DevNet Compare To Each Other?

The 3 associate-level Cisco certifications are excellent for an excellent career in IT. The CCNA will help you drive a career in Networking and related niches. Some of the typical job roles the CCNA prepares you for include. Network Administration, Network Engineering, System administration. There are no requirements for coding skills. The demand for the CCN Certification is very high and it is generally a good certification to kick start a career in IT

The CyberOps Certification is for Cybersecurity job roles. Some of the typical job roles for CyberOps will include CyberSecurity Engineers, SOC Analysts, and IT Security Operations Specialists. You will need to understand cybersecurity principles and policies. You will need to learn other technologies such as Linux, some programming skills, the cloud, etc. Cybersecurity jobs are some of the most rewarding and high-demand skills in the Industry.

DevOps certification is the IT pathway if you love coding or you are a developer. Network programmability, automation, and virtualization are some of the core thrusts of this certification. Automation has a huge impact on modern infrastructure. It employs more efficient ways of managing IT Infrastructure. There is a never-ending demand for people who can innovate and do things more efficiently with scripts and applications. Some of the job roles this certification validates include Automation engineers, Site Reliability engineers, Cloud Infrastructure engineers, etc.

Which Is the Best for You?

The best option for you should be the associate certification that is in line with your career interests(as highlighted above) and skills. CCNA for Networking, CyberOps is security-orientated, DevNet for Developers. What do you hope to achieve with the certification? If you are not sure which of them to take, It might be worthwhile to consider the CCNA as your first choice. It is broader in scope and will also cover some of the basics in both the CyberOps and the DevNet.

The CCNA is also overwhelmingly among the most popular Cisco certifications. The knowledge gained in the CCNA can help you understand both the CyberOps and DevNet Certifications better if you decide to make a career change as you advance in your career.


The Cisco associate-level certifications are valuable certifications for a career in IT. They include the CCNA which is ideal for a networking career (Network Engineer, Network administrator, IT Specialist, System Engineering, etc. ), the CyberOps which focuses on the Security of IT infrastructure and is ideal for various cybersecurity roles ( Cybersecurity Engineer, SOC Analyst etc.), And finally, the DevNet Certification for people who want to pursue the developer’s role within the Cisco platform. They employ software and scripts for programming, automation, and virtualization. It is ideal for Automation engineers, SW Engineer developers, Site Reliability engineers, etc.

The choice of any of these Cisco certifications should align with your interests and career goals. If you want a career in “connecting devices” or networking, the CCNA is ideal, If you love to code, the DevNet should interest you. And if you want to focus on Cybersecurity, CyberOps should be your goal. If you are not sure about any of these, the CCNA is always a good fit in general for starting a career in IT.



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