Competition of Cisco and Juniper: What Are the Implications for Candidates Seeking Certification?
If you are even minimally involved in networking, you know that Cisco and Juniper are the leading developers of networking equipment and related accreditation pathways for networking professionals. Therefore, most people starting their careers in this field and seeking to undergo comprehensive training are faced with the choice of which vendor to choose and what their decision should be based on.
And the fact is that both qualifications have excellent qualities and require some diligence and time on the part of the professional. At the same time, there are aspects that distinguish both of these vendors, each of which can give you a definite advantage. However, it is worth keeping in mind that both certification programs are vendor-dependent, as each covers the specifics of the respective vendor including teams, equipment, and more. So, let’s take a closer look at them.
Juniper vs Cisco: Technical Comparison
Cisco has been a leader in providing networking solutions for the Internet for a long time and continues to maintain that status. And a leading role means high demand. This qualification program covers many principles and key networking topics with more emphasis on practice than theory. Therefore, after successfully obtaining the appropriate certificate, the holder can confidently claim broad practical skills.
So, your basic accreditation path would be CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate) >> CCNP (Cisco Certified Network Professional) >> CCIE (Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert). Note that intermediate and advanced level accreditation is available in the Enterprise, Security, and Service Provider technical directions.
At the same time, Juniper maintains its position as a strong competitor to Cisco for many years. The main feature of this vendor is the speed of its routers, which are designed using special hardware to provide high performance. For this reason, many ISPs use Juniper networking equipment to build nationwide backbones. Another strong point of Juniper is its operating system because of its high speed, flexibility, simplicity, and modularity.
Based on this, if a candidate has chosen Juniper as his preferred networking technology, or if he is interested in the Service Provider side of networking, then the choice of certifying body is self-explanatory. Here applicant should start with JNCIA-Junos, and continue to upgrade to Specialist (JNCIS), Professional (JNCIP), and Expert (JNCIE) levels in areas such as Service Provider Routing and Switching, as well as Enterprise Routing and Switching.
Juniper vs. Cisco: Competitiveness
Given the greater demand for Cisco technology, you can see many times more relevant job openings in the labor market. For some, this may seem like a plus because more choices for employment are guaranteed. But in this case, it should also be noted the higher competitiveness, as obtaining the initial CCNA accreditation is the gold standard for any IT enthusiast seeking to build a successful career within Cisco company or in companies that use Cisco products and solutions. Therefore, to become more competitive you will need to progress further through the Cisco accreditation program to appointments such as CCNP and CCIE.
In the meantime, the number of accredited Juniper engineers is much smaller than the specialists working with Cisco technologies, as the first company was founded later in 1996 (Cisco in 1984) and the number of employees is about 9,500 (as opposed to Cisco’s 77,500).
Therefore, Juniper guarantees less competition, which suggests that once the candidate is qualified, it may be easier to get the desired job. Moreover, there is a perception among recruiters that it is much harder to find certified Juniper experts. Thus, having this certificate puts the professional in an advantageous position. Hence, when a business company requires a Juniper engineer skill set, they will have to make the right applicant a good offer with excellent terms and conditions. Meanwhile, depending on the state of the job market in your area, there may be fewer positions available, so your search may take longer.
Juniper vs. Cisco: Financial Perspectives
Given the enormous difference in the size of the companies, it’s hard to gauge which one offers a higher average salary. But based on data from Glassdoor.com, similar positions at Juniper pay higher, for example, a Software Engineer at Cisco earns an average of $126k, and at Juniper $132k.
If the comparison is guided by the average salary of an entry-level certified specialist, you can refer to PayScale.com data. As a result, the CCNA certificate holder can claim $80k per year, while the Juniper Networks Certified Internet Associate can expect an average of $88k.
As you can now see, both Cisco and Juniper have a lot to offer the candidate, and the only difference is that they serve different purposes. Juniper as a rarer qualification is better suited for those who want to stand out from the competition and wow employers and recruiters. Whereas Cisco is more versatile and common, so it is seen as a safer and more guaranteed option for networking success. In any case, only you decide in whose favor to choose, guided by your goals, interests, and capabilities. Good luck!