In 2020 Cisco network certifications underwent a significant change to incorporate new and emerging technologies and fulfill the current industry demands. The Cisco CCNP certification witnesses significant changes.
Before the changes in 2020, Cisco offered ten CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate) specializations certifications. But now, there are no separate CCNA certifications available, and there is only one exam focusing on the networking fundamentals.
Similarly, the CCNP (Cisco Certified Network Professional) certification also witnessed a few significant changes related to specializations and the procedure for getting certified.
Cisco Certification Programs
There is a wide range of certification options to choose from as per your career requirements. These are:
- Cisco Certified Technician (CCT)
- Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)
- Cisco Certified Design Associate (CCDA)
- Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP)
- Cisco Certified Design Professional (CCDP)
- Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE)
- Cisco Certified Architect (CCAR)
These specializations validate your skills and expertise in working with Cisco-specific technologies. You can work either as a technological specialist or a digital transformation specialist. As the demand for Cisco certified professionals is rising globally, getting certified in any domain is a good choice.
Cisco entry-level, associate-level, and professional-level certifications require three years to complete, whereas, for CCIE and other specialist certifications, you need to invest another two years. CCAr takes five years to complete. Also, your journey does not end once you get certified, and you need to update your skills every three years by undergoing the recertification process.
CCNP Credential Exam
The basic CCNP exam format includes multiple-choice questions focusing on validating candidates’ deep knowledge about concepts in the CCNA curriculum. It covers your understanding of building large networks to deliver solutions and effective troubleshooting.
The concentration or the specialization exam tests your deep understanding of the topics. You choose the specialization area per your job requirement or the career track you want to move on.
Technological advancements are taking place at a fast rate, so the need to fill new tech job positions will increase manifolds. The demand for all tech domains is on the rise nowadays. So whatever certification you choose, there is a scope to grow and excel in your field.
Cisco CCNP Certification Specializations
If you want to be CCNP certified, you need to pass two exams. The first exam focuses on basic networking principles, and the second one covers one CCNP specialization domain that you choose.
CCNP Enterprise: Earlier, it was known as CCNP Routing and Switching certification. As per the official Cisco information, the fundamental exam for this credential covers domains like dual-stack (IPv4 and IPv6), virtualization, architecture, network assurance, infrastructure, automation, and security. The concentration exam covers SD-WAN, network design, automation, and wireless domains. For every professional-level certification, you need to select one concentration exam.
CCNP Data Center: The core exam evaluates your knowledge about implementing data center technologies like compute, network, storage, security, and automation. The concentration exam tests your skills in design, configuration, troubleshooting, and implementation of Cisco infrastructure and hardware.
CCNP Security: The core exam tests your understanding of security infrastructure. The concentration exam covers network security using Cisco firewalls, Cisco identity services engine implementation and configuration, and email security.
CCNP Service Provider: The core exam focuses on evaluating your knowledge about infrastructure, and the concentration exam focuses on areas like VPN services, automation, and advanced routing.
CCNP Collaboration: The core exam tests your skills related to collaboration infrastructure, and the concentration covers topics based on Cisco collaboration application implementation and automation deployment.
Cisco Certified DevNet Professional: The core exam includes software design and development knowledge, including application security and deployment, APIs, Cisco platforms, and automation and infrastructure. The concentration exam includes data center automation, DevOps automation, security automation, cloud, and IoT.
Earning Opportunities with a CCNP Certification
Several businesses nowadays look for candidates with an in-depth understanding of the networking concepts. Nowadays, companies and organizations do not want to depend on third parties for their network security requirements. And want to hire skilled security professionals to be a part of their in-house team. It is the primary factor in increasing the demand for trained network security professionals.
All the CCNP certifications come with a salary hike though the percentage may vary depending on the need of that particular talent. Other factors such as the company’s location, type of industry, organization’s size, and experience level also contribute to the salary hike.
So, the first step is to be clear about the area you want to specialize in and after that, join the CCNP certification training to take your career to the next level.
Getting started with CCNP
The most significant advantage of CCNP certification is that there are no prerequisites. You do not need to acquire a CCNA first. However, you must have a deep understanding of the exam topics and hands-on experience implementing enterprise networking solutions for three to five years.
So without wasting time on CCNA, an experienced professional can boost their career by following the CCNP route directly.
CCNP Exam Cost
Person VUE is the testing partner for Cisco’s CCNP certification exam. The core exam, referred to as 350-401 ENCOR, will cost you around $400, and the concentration exam will cost about $300 each.
All the tests are proctored, and you can opt for in-person, at the test center, or online examination mode.
Even if you have enough work experience, it is not recommended to sit for the exam without preparation. You must go through the curriculum and practice according to the exam format.
The Final Words
Technology is changing at a more rapid rate than ever before, and due to security concerns and cloud environment usage, networking technology has seen significant transformations in recent years. So, gaining a CCNP credential can prove a career booster for you.
However, due to the rising demand for skilled professionals and ever-changing technology, it is not advisable to stop gaining new credentials once you get certified.
So, after getting CCNP certified, you must try to gain expertise in Cisco-defined certifications and other IT areas. Today, the demand for professionals who can perform cross IT functions is rising.