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.

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