Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT)

The Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT) certification is an entry-level certification that validates the holder’s ability to install and maintain a branch network of a small enterprise, including day-to-day operations and troubleshooting. CCENT holders are also trained in basic network security. CCENT covers basic networking knowledge and skills. General networking theory, routing and switching basics and an introduction to advanced networking technologies are included in this certification program. CCENT holders are expected to be familiar with a wide range of networking environments, from home offices to small businesses.

Who should get CCENT certification?

The CCENT certification is most appropriate for entry-level network support technicians. The CCENT certification can serve as a springboard for a network technician to obtain higher certifications. This is an entry-level certification that only covers the basics of networking technology. CCENT is a general certification that builds a foundation for more specialized certifications later on in the holder’s career. CCENT was first announced in 2007 by Cisco.

What is the average salary and job outlook for a CCENT certification holder?

According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job growth for even entry-level network technicians is expected to grow by over 20 percent between 2008 and 2018. Job prospects in this field are projected to be more numerous over the next decade, as well. Depending on the precise job title of a CCENT holder, the salary associated with this certification is between $30,000 and $70,000.

What pre-requisites and exams are required for CCENT certification?

A person wishing to apply for the CCENT certification does not have to obtain any prerequisite certifications. CCENT is somewhat confusing in that it is not a requirement for any other certification offered by Cisco. The next certification higher in the Cisco scale than CCENT, the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA), is a prerequisite for many other certifications. This is the result of a historical accident: CCENT was born out of a revision of CCNA in 2007.

To become CCENT certified, a prospective holder must pass the Interconnecting Cisco Networking Devices Part 1 exam (640-822 ICND1). The exam includes questions and topics on:

– networking fundamentals
– addressing Internet Protocol
– operating and configuring IOS devices
– fundamentals of routing and switching
– OSI and TCP/IP models
– connecting to a Wide Area Network
– Wide Area Network technologies
– basic wireless and security concepts
– configuring a variety of routing standards
– DHCP and NAT implementation
– simple network configuration.

What are the re-certification requirements for a Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT)?

A previous CCENT holder who wishes to become re-certified has a lot of options to choose from. Since CCENT is an entry-level certification, prior CCENT holders can achieve re-certification by choosing from various exams designed for other certifications. A CCENT is good for three years, and the holder must re-certify before the expiration date of his original CCENT certification, either by passing a more advanced exam or by re-taking the ICND1 exam.

The Cisco Certified Network Professional Security (CCNP Security) Exam

The Cisco Certified Network Professional Security (CCNP Security) is the replacement certification for the Cisco Certified Security Professional (CCSP) certification. The CCNP Security will fully take effect in October 2011. Cisco ceased to offer CCSP exams to new candidates in April 2011. CCNP Security focuses on certifying the holder’s ability to perform the job role of Cisco Network Security Engineer. This job role is responsible for maintaining security in Cisco networking devices such as switches and routers. CCNP Security holders will also be able to support, troubleshoot, deploy and choose between Virtual Private Networks, Intrusion Detection Systems, Intrusion Prevention Systems and firewalls.

Who should take the CCNP security exam?

CCNP Security is meant for network security professionals. Fortunately for them, the market for these jobs is expected to be robust over the next decade. The United States Department of Labor projects that jobs in the database administrators, computer systems and network category will grow by more than 20 percent in the 2008-2018 decade. This breaks down to approximately 280,000 jobs created over that time period. Excellent prospects make the CCNP Security certification more desirable for professionals seeking to take their careers to a new level.

This a professional level certification designed for security experts and network security professionals. The predecessor to the CCNP Security, the CCSP, was recognized by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Committee on National Security Systems (CNSS). The recognition pertained to the CNSS 4013 standard for training purposes. This advanced standard is designed for system administrators tasked with safeguarding networks. Candidates for the CCSP who met the standard were eligible to aid private entities in the protection of information. Additionally, they could assist federal agencies in defense of national security concerning information technology infrastructure.

Since the CCNP Security is a very recent development, it has not yet been recognized by the NSA or the CNSS. It probably will be so recognized in the future, due to the fact that the CCNP Security covers much of the same areas as the CCSP. The network security field has grown in recent years to include new threats, compliances and methods of protection. The CCNP Security certification will allow candidates who achieve it to combat new threats with greater sophistication and precision.

What is the average salary for someone with a CCNP Security certification?

According to the website SimplyHired, the average salary for a professional with the CCNP Security certification is $74,000 per year as of July 25, 2011. Spread out across multiple job titles, the CCNP Security certification fetches averages from $52,000 to $111,000 per year. The CCNP Security certification makes the holder stand out in the job market. Employers in technological industries are looking for new brains, and this certification broadcasts the holder’s skills loud and clear.

What exams do I have to pass to earn the CCNP Security designation?

There are three other certifications that can serve as prerequisites for the CCNP Security certification. Applicants must have a valid Cisco Certified Network Associate Security (CCNA Security) certification, a valid CCSP certification or a valid Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification with a passed Securing Network Devices exam. These prerequisites ensure the applicant has the necessary foundation to successfully complete the training programs and pass the examinations.

The CCNP Security certification requires the applicant to pass four examinations before obtaining it. These examinations are

– 642-647 VPN v1.0
– 642-617 FIREWALL v1.0
– 642-637 SECURE v1.0
– 642-627 IPS v7.0

Each exam lasts about an hour and a half. Examinees must answer between 60 and 70 questions. Exams are pass-fail and closed-book with no outside references allowed. The recommended training courses for the four exams are Implementing Cisco Intrusion Prevention System v7.0, Deploying Cisco ASA Firewall Solutions, Secure v1.0 Securing Networks with Cisco Routers and Switches and Implementing Cisco Intrusion Prevention System v7.0 respectively. The courses provide thorough grounding in all concepts associated with the exams and teach the applicant everything they need to know.

How do I maintain my CCNA Security status?

All professional certifications offered by Cisco have a three-year time limit. To re-certify, holders must pass one of several exams offered by Cisco before their current professional certification expires. Achieving any of the certifications listed as re-certification options automatically extends the CCNP Security holder’s active Associate and Professional certifications to the expiration date of the last one obtained.

CCNP Wireless Certification Overview (Cisco Certified Network Professional Wireless)

The Cisco Certified Network Professional Wireless (CCNP Wireless) certification is track of CCNP that focuses on wireless networking. A professional level certification, the CCNP Wireless specializes in wireless networking technology using Cisco products. Cisco began offering this certification in September 2009 in response to industry demand. The CCNP Wireless certification formalizes the holder’s knowledge and skills with regard to Cisco wireless networks. All aspects of implementing, designing and operating wireless networks built using Cisco products are covered by this certification. Wireless networking theory and principles are used to build a solid foundation that CCNP Wireless holders use to assess and meet business wireless networking needs. The certification aims to validate the holder’s ability to successfully translate those needs into a practical installation.

Should I take the exams for CCNP Wireless certification?

Wireless networking professionals such as network administrators, network architects and network engineers derive tremendous benefits from holding the CCNP Wireless certification. Individuals seeking these positions can rest assured of ample opportunities in the years ahead. The United States Department of Labor forecasts strong growth between now and 2018. Jobs are projected to increase by more than 20 percent between 2008 and 2018. In fact, the precise percentage of employment growth is expected to be around 30 percent, a phenomenal gain for this field. CCNP Wireless holders will likely find plenty of jobs available for them in the future.

What is the typical salary of someone with CCNP Wireless certification?

CCNP Wireless is a sub-track of the Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) certification. According to the market research firm Payscale, CCNP Wireless holders can command reasonably high salaries. The salary range can be large, as large as a difference of more than $60,000 with some positions, but the highest salaries pay over $100,000 annually. CCNP Wireless holders can leverage their skills to advance their careers in this kind of environment.

What do I need to do to earn CCNP Wireless status?

An individual who wishes to apply for the CCNP Wireless must have one of two prerequisite certifications. He or she must have an unexpired Cisco Certified Network Associate Wireless (CCNA Wireless) or a Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) certification in any track to qualify for the CCNP Wireless.

To obtain the CCNP Wireless, four exams must be passed. These exams are the 642-731 CUWSS, 642-741 IUWVN, 642-746 IUWMS and 642-736 IAUWS. Each exam is 90 minutes long and consists of 50 to 60 questions. The training courses for the exams each last five days. They sequentially train the student in setting up a wireless network, integrating various features such as Voice over Wireless Local Area Network services, mobility services and securing the wireless network against various threats.

How do I renew my CCNP Wireless certification?

All professional certifications from Cisco remain in force for a period of no longer than three years. After the three years are up, the certification expires, and the former holder loses all of the associated professional benefits. He must achieve re-certification to regain his former status. The former holder can choose from four options. Passing any professional level exam before the CCNP Wireless expires will re-certify him, as will passing any of the current CCIE exam offerings. Alternatively, he could pass currently offered Cisco Certified Design Expert (CCDE) practical or written exams. Finally, he could pass the board review and interview requirements for the Cisco Certified Architect (CCAr) certification, which automatically re-certifies the holder for all lower class certifications.

The CCNA SP Operations Exam

The Cisco Certified Network Associated Service Provider Operations (CCNA SP Operations) certifies a support engineer’s technical comprehension and practical abilities. The certification focuses on an environment of normative repaire within the context of large, high-speed core network infrastructure using Internet Protocol Next-Generation Network technology. The CCNA SP Operations curriculum features performance management, change, configuration, incident and fault procedures. Network management system tools and protocols are also given attention.

Who should take the CCNA SP Operations exam?

Network professionals like network support engineers can use the CCNA SP Operations to give their qualifications external validity. The CCNA SP Operations is an associate level certification that specializes in troubleshooting and maintenance of a high-speed IP NGN core network system. This certification has no prerequisites, but it serves as a prerequisite for other certifications, such as the Cisco Certified Network Professional Service Provider Operations (CCNP SP Operations), which is the next level above associate.

How much will I earn with the CCNA SP Operations certification?

The salary offered for a CCNA SP Operations position will depend on variables like previous work experience, truly knowing the concepts rather than simply passing the exam and whether the holder’s expertise is relevant to the business or the position. CCNA SP Operations holders who fit their positions well can earn high salaries, sometimes in the six-figure range. Senior Network Engineers with any CCNA track can earn between $61,000 and $112,000, for example. The precise figure offered a first-time CCNA SP Operations applicant will vary based on the factors listed above. The salaries listed by PayScale are in range form because it takes time to move from one salary level to the next.

The job market for these professionals is expected to improve by a large margin between 2008 and 2018. The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics predicts that 280,000 jobs in computer networking will be created in the next several years, a growth rate of over 20 percent. Prospects for professionals who hold a CCNA SP Operations certification are very positive.

How do I earn and maintain my CCNP SP Operations certification?

After achieving the CCNA SP Operations, the certification remains valid for three years. The holder must re-certify himself within those three years to maintain his status. He has multiple avenues to meet this goal. The easiest way is simply to pass the exam for any CCNA track. Alternatives involve moving up the Cisco pyramid, such as passing any 642-XXX professional level exam or any Cisco Specialist exam. Above these, the options include passing the written and practical exams for expert level certifications or even attempting to master the demanding architect level. The architect level is the highest certification that Cisco offers.

All About the Cisco Certified Network Associate Voice (CCNA Voice) Exam

The Cisco Certified Network Associate Voice (CCNA Voice) certification prepares the professional to operate and administer a voice network at an associate level. The certification will signify to employers that the professional is skilled in being a voice engineer, a voice manager or a voice technologies administrator. The certification will also ensure the professional can develop solutions for IP PBX, call control, handset and voicemail for VOIP technologies.

The CCNA Voice certification will involve implementing Cisco IOS Unified Communication. The candidate will receive access design covering mobility and Cisco Unified Communication architecture. Participants must earn the certificate by passing the 640-461 Introducing Cisco Voice and Unified Communications Administration (ICOMM) V8.0 or the Cisco CCNA Voice 640-460 IIUC advanced certification. The typical time to prepare for a CCNA Voice Exam requires four to six months. The exam is typically issued by Pearson VUE.

CCNA Voice certification will qualify a professional to implement this technology in large government organizations, corporations and colleges. Professionals also have the option to gain skills in the commercial arena. The CCNA Voice certification commercial option will train the candidate in skills suitable for companies with fewer than 2000 employees.

This may include retail businesses and small school districts. Cisco CallManager Express (CME) and Cisco Unity Express (CUE) are the primary technologies to learn to manage these networks. Candidates will be required to take the IIUS exam #640-460 to receive certification.

What classes should I take for the CCNA Voice exam, and what prerequisites do I need

Through several classes, candidates will gain the skills necessary to demonstrate proficiency in core Cisco switching and routing networks. Sample classes offered by Cisco include: Cisco Interconnecting Cisco Networking Devices Part 1 (ICND1), Cisco Interconnecting Cisco Networking Devices Part 2 (ICND1) and Introducing Cisco Voice and Unified Communications Administration (ICOMM) v8.0. Other classes may include the following:

•       An Overview of Cisco Unified Communications Solutions
•       An Overview of Administrator and End-User Interfaces
•       End Point and End-User Administration
•       Enablement of Cisco Unity Connection and Cisco Unified Presence
•       Enablement of End-User Telephony and Mobility Features
•       Cisco Unified Communication Solution Maintenance

Before beginning this course, candidates must have a working knowledge of converged voice and data networks. They must also have a basic knowledge of Cisco IOS gateways and a basic knowledge of Cisco Unified Communications Manager and Cisco Unity Connection. Analytical skills, logical thinking skills, mathematical ability and some networking abilities are required before studying to take the CCNA exam.

What will I learn by studying for the CCNA Voice exams?

Students will learn components, architecture, functionalities and features of Cisco Unified Communications.
System monitoring, moves, adds and changes are all taught in this curriculum. After completing the assignments, clients will be able to identify call signaling, media stream flows and the components of a Cisco Unified Communications solution. Students will also learn to discuss the administrator and end-user interface.

Students will also understand call flows in Cisco Unified Communications Manager and the Express version. Performing end-point and end-user administrator is also taught during these classes. Students will learn to describe all telephony features and how to maintain a Cisco Unified Communications solution. More information can be discovered on

Renewing your CCNA Voice certification

The CCNA Voice certification is valid for three years and then professionals must recertify. Recertification simply requires that you retake and pass the previous exam or achieve the next level of certification beyond CCNA.

Typical Salaries of CCNA Voice certification holders

Most professionals in this field will earn between $60,000 and $100,000 per year depending on the company, the economy and the area employed. Currently, the job market for CCNA Voice certified professionals is sound. There is a shortage of CCNA Voice networking professionals, so the demand is higher than normal. University students, helpdesk operators, IT professionals, network engineers, network support staff and system engineers are all eligible to pursue this certification.

Why Take the CCNA Security Exam?

The Cisco Certified Network Associated Security (CCNA Security) certification is meant to validate the knowledge and skills necessary to secure Cisco networks. CCNA Security enables the holder to demonstrate certain skills, including:

  • developing security infrastructure
  • recognizing vulnerabilities in and threats to networks
  • neutralizing security threats

CCNA Security places emphasis on core security technologies. It also focuses on installing, configuring and troubleshooting network devices to sustain the integrity of networks. Confidentiality and privacy of customer data are high priorities. CCNA Security centers around maintaining the competency in the technologies used by Cisco’s security structure. CCNA Security is designed for job roles like Network Security Specialist, Security Administrator and Network Security Support Engineer.

Job growth in Computer Network, Systems and Database Administrators, which includes security specialties, is expected to increase by over 20 percent between 2008 and 2018. Additionally, job prospects in this field are expected to be plentiful over the same time period. This provides ample opportunities for individuals who decide to upgrade their desirability by obtaining the CCNA Security certification.

Network Engineers with a CCNA Security certification can earn between $45,000 to $70,000 per year. Considering the prospects for job growth, wages are likely to remain favorable in the coming years. Other positions like Data Security Administrator can earn between $36,000 and $75,000 per year.

The CCNA Security certification is an associate-level, specialized certification, focusing on the security and integrity of Cisco networks and devices such as routers or switches. The National Security Agency (NSA) and the Committee on National Security Systems (CNSS) both recognize that the CCNA Security coursework meets the CNSS 4011 training standard. By complying with this standard, holders of CCNA Security certifications have the required training to assist private sector entities and federal agencies. CCNA Security network professionals help protect the information of private entities and aid in the defense of the nation’s critical IT infrastructure.

Cisco has the ability to recognize candidates who have met the CNSS 4011 training standard. Candidates who have met the standard will receive a letter recognizing their accomplishment. Candidates so recognized can, in turn, use the letter as proof of their completion of the CNSS 4011 standard and incorporate it in their professional documentation.

To become CCNA Security certified, a valid CCNA certification must have been previously obtained. If this is not the case, any valid Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) certification is also acceptable. The CCNA Security certification is valid for three years. To become re-certified, one of several examinations must be taken and passed before the three-year period is up and the certification expires.

The CCNA Security certification requires applicants to pass the 640-553 IINS exam. To prepare for the exam, the recommended training class is Implementing Cisco IOS Network Security (IINS). Students must have taken a previous class, Interconnecting Cisco Networking Devices Part 1 (ICND1), and have a working knowledge of Windows. The 640-553 IINS exam tests an applicant’s knowledge of securing Cisco routers and switches in addition to associated networks. The exam validates an applicant’s ability to install, configure and troubleshoot network devices to maintain the integrity of Cisco networks.

Cisco Certified Security Professional (CCSP)

The Cisco Certified Security Professional (CCSP) certification is a validation of advanced knowledge and skills required to secure Cisco networks. Network professionals that are CCSP certified have external confirmation of the skills that are necessary to manage and secure network infrastructures. CCSP certified professionals can accomplish these tasks in such as way that they reduce costs, mitigate threats and protect productivity. This curriculum places emphasis on Cisco systems such as the Cisco Router IOS and Catalyst Switch. Network professionals such as network administrators and security professionals can use the CCSP to sharpen their knowledge base and bring new skills to their professions.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job growth for computer network, systems and database administrators is projected to grow over 20 percent between 2008 and 2018. Additionally, the number of jobs in this field is expected to increase by approximately 286,600 over the 2008 – 2018 decade. Salary prospects are also likely to be excellent. In a range of job titles that hold the CCSP certification, from IT Network Engineer to Senior Network Engineer, salaries range from $43,000 to as high as $133,000 per year.

The CCSP is a professional level, highly specialized certification. The National Security Agency (NSA) and the Committee on National Security Systems (CNSS) have recognized that the CCSP certification meets the CNSS 4013 training standard. Professionals who maintain a valid CCSP certification assist private entities in protecting sensitive information as well as aid federal agencies in the defense of the United States’ crucial information technology infrastructure. The CNSS 4013 is an advanced standard designed and intended for system administrators who are responsible for the safety of critical networks.

Cisco has the authority and ability through NSA and the CNSS to recognize candidates who demonstrate that they have met the CNSS 4013 standard. Cisco will write such a candidate a formal recognition in letter form. The candidate can include the letter in their professional references and use it to confirm that he has met the standard.

The CCSP has three prerequisites: the Cisco Certified Network Associate Security (CCNA Security) certification, the CCNA Security plus the Cisco Secure Network Devices (SND) certification or any Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert certification. The SND certification prerequisite is only valid until November 17, 2011.

Cisco is planning on replacing the CCSP certification with an alternative: the Cisco Certified Network Professional Security (CCNP Security) certification. CCSP exams for new applicants ceased to be offered in April 2011. Existing CCSP holders will be able re-certify themselves only until October 2011. Individuals that have a valid CCSP certification who have passed the CCNP Security exams may be able to receive the CCNP Security certification.

To obtain the new CCNP Security certification, four exams must be passed: 642-637 SECURE v1.0, 642-617 FIREWALL v1.0, 642-647 VPN v1.0 and the 642-627 IPS v7.0. Each of these exams has a recommended training class: Secure v1.0 Securing Networks with Cisco Routers and Switches, Deploying Cisco ASA Firewall Solutions, Deploying Cisco ASA VPN Solutions and Implementing Cisco Intrusion Prevention System v7.0, respectively. To become re-certified, a holder of the CCNP Security certification must re-take the exams within three years of receiving the certification. All Cisco professional certifications are valid for three years.

Cisco Certified Network Professional Service Provider Operations (CCNP Service Provider Operations)

The Cisco Certified Network Professional Service Provider Operations (CCNP SP Operations) exam is designed specifically to validate the service provider skills of a Tier 1 or Tier 2 engineer. The CCNP SP Operations certification gives the engineer the ability to repair and troubleshoot IP NGN core service provider network infrastructures. The CCNP SP Operations recognizes network professionals that have the knowledge and skills necessary to perform critical tasks related to network maintenance. Detecting network problems and implementing solutions based on proactive measures using frameworks, operations management processes and network management systems are all part of this certification.

The curriculum for this certification includes quality of service (QoS) mechanisms using Cisco IOS and IOS XR, maintaining carrier class routing protocol environments and Multiprotocol Label Switching Virtual Private Network and Traffic Engineering deployments. Network professionals like network technicians and support providers can take advantage of the CCNP SP Operations to broadcast their skills and abilities.

Salary and Job Market for CCNP SP Operations

Job growth in the field of computer networks and systems, which includes jobs for network professionals holding the CCNP SP Operations, is projected to grow phenomenally. Over the decade from 2008 to 2018, job growth is expected to increase by more than 20 percent, adding more than 280,000 jobs. This will create numerous opportunities for network technicians, support providers and other network professionals. The need for skills related to information technology infrastructure will power this very strong job growth for years to come.

Such strong demand for individuals with certifications like the CCNP SP Operations will create incentives in the form of well-paying salaries. The market research firm PayScale, which specializes in reporting compensation data, bears this out. PayScale reports that all individuals who hold the Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) certification or sub-tracks like the CCNP SP Operations earn five-figure and six-figure salaries. PayScale lists certain positions as examples. They are

  • Senior Network Engineer: $65,000 to $113,000
  • Network Engineer: $47,000 to $90,000
  • Senior Systems Engineer: $59,000 to $116,000
  • Information Technology Manager: $43,000 to $111,000
  • Information Technology Network Engineer: $48,000 to $93,000

What are the prerequisites and recertification requirements?

This is a professional level certification that specializes in service provider skills for Cisco networks. As such, in the Cisco pyramid, it is higher than the associate level and lower than the expert level. Applicants must have already achieved the Cisco Certified Network Associated Service Provider Operations (CCNA SP Ops) as a prerequisite. After achieving the CCNP SP Operations certification, holders must re-certify every three years, which is the time limit for all Cisco professional level certifications. They have several options to accomplish this. Passing any professional level exam currently offered by Cisco will re-certify them for the CCNP SP Operations.

Alternative routes involve examinations further up on the pyramid. Passing the written exams for either the Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) or the Cisco Certified Design Expert (CCDE) will re-certify them. Additionally, passing the practical exam for the CCDE will also do the trick. Finally, passing the interview and board review for the Cisco Certified Architect (CCAr), the highest certification that Cisco offers, will re-certify the holder for all lower levels.

What exams are required to obtain CCNP SP Operations certification?

Achieving the CCNP SP Operations requires passing four examinations, each relating to a specific aspect of the certification’s skill set. The required exams are 642-770 OFCN, 642-775 MSPRP, 642-780 MSPVM and 642-785 MSPQS. All of them last one hour and 15 minutes and cover 60 to 75 questions. Each exam has a recommended training course that will prepare the applicant for the questions on that exam. The recommended training courses are Operational Foundations for Cisco Service Provider Core Networks, Maintaining Cisco Service Provider Routing Protocols, Maintaining Cisco Service Provider VPNs and MPLS Networks and Maintaining Cisco Service Provider Quality of Service.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to avail themselves of the recommended training courses. The questions in each exam are detailed and precise. They are designed to assess the applicant’s knowledge and skills, and must be rigorously formulated to do so.

Tips for the Cisco Certified Design Professional (CCDP) Exam

The Cisco Certified Design Professional (CCDP) is a certification that validates the ability of the holder to design and configure Cisco networks. Network professionals armed with the CCDP certification are able to design and create complex architectures integrating routing, addressing, security, data center and network management objectives. Holders of this certification are also able to discuss their ideas with clients and colleagues. The skills that CCDP holders have learned also include the ability to incorporate wireless domains and virtual private networks. The curriculum focuses on creating architecture for network service, building a multilayered switched network and designing scalable network schemata.

Network professionals like architects and engineers can use the CCDP certification to take their careers to new heights. Network architects and engineers are expected to experience increasing demand over the next decade. According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, a publication of the U.S. Department of Labor, the United States should see an increase of over 20 percent in the field of computer network, systems and database administrators within this decade. On a numerical basis, this equates to over 280,000 jobs created between 2008 and 2018. Job searchers in this field will find numerous opportunities awaiting them.

The widely known compensation data research firm PayScale has researched the salary ranges for five job titles with a CCDP certification. In order from least to most, these five jobs and their corresponding salary ranges are

  • Network Engineer, IT: $45,000 to $100,000
  • Systems Engineer: $84,000 to $104,000
  • Senior Network Engineer: $64,000 to $116,000
  • Network Engineer: $34,000 to $117,000
  • Senior Systems Engineer: $92,000 to $122,000

The CCDP is a professional level certification that specializes in network design and creation. In order to obtain the CCDP certification, applicants must have two valid prerequisite certifications. These are the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) and the Cisco Certified Design Associate (CCDA) certifications. Alternatively, a valid Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert in any track can serve as a prerequisite if the applicant does not have the CCNA and CCDA.

To become re-certified, the CCDP holder must re-take one of a number of specified exams before the CCDP expires. All professional level certifications offered by Cisco are valid for three years. The CCDP holder must re-certify before the CCDP expires. Re-certification automatically extends the validity of the certification until the new expiration date.

The CCDP requires the applicant to pass three exams in order to achieve certification. These exams are 642-902 Route, 642-813 Switch and Arch. Recommended training for the exams can be found in three courses: Implementing Cisco IP Routing, Implementing Cisco IP Switched Networks and Designing Cisco Network Service Architectures respectively.

CCDP Exam #1: 642-902 Route

This exam verifies the ability of the examinee to utilize advanced routing and IP addressing functionalities. The exam seeks to apply this knowledge to implement a secure and scalable network using the Cisco ISR router. The network will be connected to Wide Area Networks and Local Area Networks. Secure solutions for routing to mobile workers and branch offices will also be covered. The test is two hours long and comprises 52 questions.

CCDP Exam #2: 642-813 Switch

The Switch exam focuses on the ability of the candidate to implement very complex switching solutions using the Campus Enterprise Architecture by Cisco. The exam measures the candidate’s ability to design, plan and verify the solutions created using the architecture. It also incorporates tests of the candidate’s ability to integrate wireless local area networks, virtual local area networks and video and voice capabilities into the campus network. This test is also two hours long and comprises 52 questions.

CCDP Exam #3: Arch

A candidate is tested for the latest design and technologies in networking in this exam. Intelligent network services, network infrastructure and converged network solutions are all included in the test. This test is one hour and 15 minutes long and is comprised of 60 to 70 questions.

Overview of the Cisco Certified Design Associate (CCDA) Certification

The Cisco Certified Design Associate (CCDA) is proficient in designing, testing and evaluating Cisco routed, converged and switched local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs) and broadband networks in the small office/home office (SoHo) market involving less than 100 nodes. The CCDA is a step up from an entry level position and confirms competence in using Cisco network equipment – routers and switches – to develop a service-oriented network architecture (SONA).

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job market for the CCDA should be robust from 2008 to 2018 due to the need for the design of new computer networks, data communications and e-mail systems for businesses. The BLS classifies the CCDA as a network systems analyst involved in designing, testing and evaluating network architecture.

In 2008, employment for the network systems analyst was calculated to be 292,000 with an expected rapid growth increase of 53% over the decade to 447,800. These industries are expected to hire the most computer systems designers: data processing, healthcare, hosting and software publishing. The median annual wage for computer network systems analysts was $71,100 in May 2008.

The CCDA is a general, associate degree demonstrating basic knowledge of Cisco networking fundamentals. Cisco is well-recognized as the leader in networking equipment and its IT certifications are well-respected by the industry.

Cisco Systems was founded in 1984. It was instrumental in connecting computers together into networks using routers and switching equipment. In 1993, Cisco Academies established training certifications as benchmarks for competence in the networking profession.

Analytical, communication (written and spoken), mathematical and problem-solving skills are necessary for computer network designers. Typical coursework for the CCDA include database management, electronic business and systems design.

Switching knowledge of the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) and Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) are needed to pass the CCDA exam. It is also recommended that students gain Building Converged Cisco Multilayer Switched Networks (BCMSN) knowledge.

Certification requires passing the DESGN v2.1 exam. The Cisco certifications last three years.

Recertification requires passing one of the following exams:

  • Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)
  • Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE)
  • Cisco Certified Design Professional (CCDP)
  • Cisco Certified Design Expert (CCDE)