Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP)

The Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) validates the holder’s skills on virtually everything related to Cisco networks. Planning, verifying, implementing and troubleshooting local and wide area networks for enterprises is all covered in this certification. Integrating various technologies such as video, wireless, security and voice solutions is also included in it. Working with specialists with regard to integration is emphasized. CCNP holders usually work on an independent basis with complicated network problems and try to find innovative solutions. The CCNP is most appropriate for job titles such as network technician, systems engineer, network engineer or support engineer.

Careers for CCNPs

The job market for titles like these is projected to expand precipitously in the coming years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is responsible for collecting and organizing data on all of the job categories that currently exist in the United States. To accomplish this goal, the BLS compiles and publishes the Occupational Outlook Handbook, which is revised every two years. The Handbook forecasts that the category including job titles related to network technology, engineering and administration will increase significantly in the next several years. Specifically, job growth is projected to increase more than 30 percent, providing plentiful opportunities for entry and advancement in this career path.

As to the available salary ranges, the CCNP certification can put the holder in the high-end of most of them. The market research company PayScale specializes in compensation data for a variety of different industries. It reports that the CCNP certification can fetch anywhere from an average of $43,000 to well over $100,000 per year. Depending on the job, some salaries are over $110,00 per year. The CCNP certification provides a tremendous boost to career goals for most holders.

About the CCNP Exam

Cisco groups its certifications visually in the form of a pyramid. The pyramid has five levels: entry, associate, professional, expert and architect. The CCNP is a professional level certification that specializes in network technology. In 2009, Cisco updated the CCNP to reflect changes in the networking industry. Advancements in routing and switched networks, in particular, made the update necessary.

Prerequisites for the CCNP include one that is beneath it on the pyramid and one that is above it. A Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) that is still in force can serve as a prerequisite. Alternatively, a Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) certification can also fulfill the prerequisite requirement.

Since all professional level certifications from Cisco are valid for a time period of three years, the holder must pass one of four options to recertify and retain his status and the associated benefits. The easiest option is for the holder to pass any currently offered professional level exam in the 642-XXX category. Another option is to pass the written exam for the CCIE certification. The holder may also pass either the practical or the written exam for the Cisco Certified Design Expert (CCDE), an expert level certification focusing on network design. Finally, completing the requirements for the Cisco Certified Architect (CCAr) will automatically certify him for all of his outstanding lesser certifications.

With the revision and update to the CCNP in 2009, the required examinations and training courses also changed. The courses for the CCNP are now 642-813 Switch, 642-832 Tshoot and 642-902 Route. The courses for these exams teach the applicant everything he needs to know about routing, switching and troubleshooting Cisco networks and associated devices. The courses each last five days. Two of them, Troubleshooting and Maintaining Cisco IP Networks and Implementing Cisco IP Routing, have 9.5 and 7.5 hours of self-directed online learning respectively.