Microsoft vs. Cisco: Which Certifications Are Better?

Have you ever imagined what the future of digital workforce will be like? Robots performing the task, artificial intelligence taking over the work done by people, or virtual reality replicating the present reality! Well, according to the survey conducted by JobBuzz (a flagship company of Times Jobs that reviews and rates the jobs), nearly 91% of the employees said that the times of the plain vanilla job is over, now the roles have undergone a paradigm shift hence it’s important to upgrade yourself according to the future skills and talent.

The certifications provided by Microsoft and Cisco are such courses that allow to bridge the gap between your skills and the fast-paced technological advancements. Now, let’s dive into deep details.

MICROSOFT CERTIFICATIONS: The growth of cloud technology and networking has resulted in several courses into the catalog of the tech giant, Microsoft. Such courses act like a holy grail for the candidates who want to climb the ladder of success. The courses, such as Microsoft Technology Associate, Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate, Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert, empower the students to reach out to the customers digitally.

CISCO CERTIFICATIONS: Cisco offers courses that are suitable for the new age companies. Its certificates (there are entry-, associate-, professional-, and expert-level credentials) figure out how to use the advanced technologies and how to run the campaigns for the corporate houses.

6 Differences between Microsoft and Cisco Certifications

As mentioned earlier, both the certification courses have its own share of advantages and disadvantages, but ultimately they boil down to one question: “Where should an individual build his/her career in networking technology or in the IT sector?” Let’s start a debate.

  1. Target Audience

Microsoft: The Microsoft course is intended for the professionals who want to gain deep-rooted knowledge in Windows servers and networks. The certifications test the learner’s ability to install, configure, and troubleshoot Microsoft based network. Those candidates who enroll in such course need to clear at least 5 exams in order to earn the accreditation. In this course, the student will learn about the topics like data management, business application, cloud platform, and infrastructure. It is designed for the experienced professionals who want to get hands-on training in Microsoft Windows SQL Server and Windows NT. The course will equip the students to gain necessary skills in:

  • Building the infrastructure solutions

  • Deploying the security measures in servers

  • Creating a multi-scale cloud platform

  • Deployment and maintenance of enterprise level cloud infrastructure

  • Design business intelligence for an enterprise to thrive

Cisco: Installing the routers and troubleshooting the concerns arising out of the networks is not the end of the journey of the Cisco course. The candidate will be taught about IP networking, networking security, routing, data center, and switching. This course is designed for the IT professionals who want to find the relevant jobs as a network associate/administrator or want to progress in the current IT field. The certifications equip the student to handle a different kind of networks efficiently, including:

  • Enterprise network installation, configuration and management

  • Network infrastructure deployment

  • Network security and managing the data vulnerabilities

  • Computer maintenance

  • Troubleshooting of network related problems

  • Maintenance of data center and technologies

  1. Benefits

Microsoft is a globally recognized company that everyone knows regardless of the kind of knowledge that one have in the IT field. This is the reason why a large number of candidates pursue this course. The Microsoft certifications add a great value to one’s CV, and will make instantly stand out from counterparts who are not armed with this certificate.

Cisco: There was a time when the businesses honchos used to sit over and discuss about planning and implementation of the networking technology, but nowadays, the Cisco specialists can do that. The certification actually helps an individual demonstrate their skills in business communication devices, standard networking, configuration of firewalls, routers, servers as well as Cisco technology. There are various courses that help you achieve the comprehensive knowledge and blueprints of this secured enterprise network. So, whether you are working for a small or big corporate house, Cisco technology can offer you a good career base.

There are several specializations that a candidate can choose from like routing and switching, data center, wireless, security, and service provider. The specialty will further affect the number of exams that an applicant is going to undertake.

  1. Pros and Cons

Microsoft: On the average, the Microsoft certifications are valid for 3 years and after that the candidate needs to re-take the credential. This time period ensures that the student is abreast with the latest Microsoft technologies.

The Microsoft certification tests are tough to undertake though they are comparatively easy as compared to the Cisco exams, but either way the candidate needs to gain a deep-rooted knowledge in this field. It is worth mentioning that the exam is a bit confusing because sometimes the applicant needs to answer similar questions twice.

The Microsoft certifications have a limited scope, as it is focused only on Microsoft and its related products, so the skills may not be valid to other platforms. Even though Microsoft dominates the IT space, yet the employers are willing to go beyond this technology and adopt highly customizable technology that can benefit them and their customers.

Cisco: The Cisco certificates are also valid for 3 years and after that you need to upgrade the skills. Apart from that, it is very difficult to clear these certification exams as not everyone knows about this technology, so the specialist is reluctant to hire the professionals.

  1. Reasons to Obtain

Microsoft: Though the Microsoft certifications are limited in scope however they can open up the gate of opportunities for the right candidate in the IT field. The reason why tables are in favor of Microsoft is because of its popularity.

Cisco: Today, the companies are looking for the applicants who have an edge over others and this course offers so. Becoming a Cisco certified specialist means exciting and lucrative opportunities in the IT field.

  1. Exam Preparation

Microsoft: There are a plenty of resources available online for the students preparing for the Microsoft certifications exams along with practice tests, which can help the candidate to pass the exam with flying colors.

Cisco: Though a lot of research materials and practice tests are not available on the online basis but a good instructor can alternate the knowledge. Also, the candidate can gain access to a global community of like-minded professionals.

  1. Certification Paths

Microsoft offers the following certification levels:

  • Microsoft Office Specialist

  • Microsoft Technology Associate

  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate

  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert

  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer

Cisco courses are limited but have a wide base. They are:

  • Entry level (CCENT, CCT)

  • Associate level (CCDA, CCNA)

  • Professional level (CCNP, CCDP)

  • Expert level (CCIE, CCAr)

Now, let’s tabulate the differences between the Microsoft and Cisco credentials.

Comparison: Microsoft vs. Cisco Certifications





The Microsoft courses are well-known in the IT field. Microsoft is actually a brand that adds value to your CV.

The Cisco courses rank low in terms of popularity and are meant for the networking professionals.

Knowledge can be applied for

Microsoft knowledge can be applied in Microsoft servers only.

Cisco knowledge can be easily applied to several IT brands.


A lot of study materials and practice tests are available for Microsoft exams.

The study material is limited on the online basis.


The certification exams are relatively easy.

The certification tests are difficult.

Working areas

If you want to enter into the IT field, the Microsoft certificates can do wonders. It is geared towards server and maintenance.

If you want to unveil the tricks and tactics of router, firewalls, and switching, the Cisco credentials are meant for you. The certificate is tilted more towards hardware and network engineering field.


The cost to obtain a Microsoft certificate is well within the means.

Obtaining the certificate is tad-expensive.

NOTE: The Microsoft server needs to be updated on weekly basis, while the Cisco router needs to be updated in 6 months.


The rapid influx of technology clearly suggests that these courses are not going to lose shine in the near future. However, keeping in mind the challenges, concerns, and possible solutions, it is very difficult to conclude as to which credential is the best. Both courses shed light on the evolving technology and have the power to change the future of the workplace. These Microsoft and Cisco certifications will definitely bring an impending change in the tech-led workforce. Moreover, you can choose both these credentials as they have its own strengths, so it will help you advance your career in the IT field and build a well-developed skill set.

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