Given your interests in both hardware and software, and your longer- term interest in obtaining an MBA, you will probably find that the Cisco path offers a longer certification ladder for you to climb (all the way to CCIE and related specializations, in fact) and therefore more career development and advancement opportunities. On the other hand, there is more demand for MCSEs (who make about the same as CCNPs, but significantly less than CCIEs on average) than for Cisco certified professionals, just in terms of sheer number of opportunities. Job duties differ greatly between the two organizations' programs. Without going into too much detail here, suffice it to say that Microsoft professionals tend to deal more with LAN system and network administration and Cisco professionals tend to deal more with LAN and WAN links, infrastructure, and switching issues. For more details on the programs themselves, please visit the Microsoft and Cisco Web pages for the certifications that interest you; you can start your Microsoft search at www.microsoft.com/mcp/ and your Cisco search at https://www.cisco.com/warp/public/10/wwtraining/certprog/.
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