Is CCNP Security Worth It?
Whether you are new to IT or a seasoned professional, you've probably heard about Cisco's new CCNP Security certification. Maybe you're thinking about expanding your knowledge — or taking your role in a new direction with a focus on security. Security technologies are becoming more important as cyber threats have become increasingly sophisticated and prevalent, which means the demand for qualified professionals is growing.
We want to look at the CCNP Security cert as a cybersecurity path that will take you closer toward your goal as a security professional. Perhaps you've seen the CCNP Security concentration and are wondering if you should pursue certification. How difficult is it to pass? And most importantly, is the CCNP Security worth it?
What is CCNP Security?
Cisco realizes that networking is just as much about security as it is about interconnectivity. This has resulted in an increased focus on security training that encompasses the best practices of previous CCNP Security versions. Now, there's a new focus on security at scale. Automation also plays a big role in modern networked systems.
In order to earn the new CCNP Security certification, you need to pass the core exam, SCOR-350-701: Implementing and Operating Cisco Security Core Technologies. It covers a wide array of security infrastructure topics including:
- Network security
- Cloud security
- Securing content in enterprise settings
- Network resources access
- Policy enforcement
An interesting note about the core exam: once you have passed it you are eligible to take the CCIE Security certification exam. After you have achieved core exam certification, you need to choose a concentration exam. We won't go into details about each exam, but there are currently six to choose from:
- Securing Networks with Cisco Firepower (SNCF 300-710)
- Implementing and Configuring Cisco Identity Services Engine (SISE 300-715)
- Securing Email with Cisco Email Security Appliance (SESA 300-720)
- Securing the Web with Cisco Web Security Appliance (SWSA 300-725)
- Implementing Secure Solutions with Virtual Private Networks (SVPN 300-730)
- Automating and Programming Cisco Security Solutions (SAUTO 300-735)
CCNP Security is similar to some other security-based certs as it also endows the holder with DoD 8570.01-M compliance. But on a technical level it is far more network-oriented, so the security concepts and principles that you do learn are within a Cisco context and are far more specialized than say CompTIA's Security+ certification.
CCNP Security is ideal for network professionals who need to concentrate on securing network devices and implementing security measures across the network. The exam measures candidates' knowledge of devices like firewalls, switches, and routers.
What Does CCNP Security Require?
As far as prerequisites go, there are none for the CCNP. In order to take the specialized concentration certification exams, you just need to first pass the core exam.
However, you should have a firm understanding of networking before attempting to earn this certification as it delves deeply into networking technologies. Cisco recommends three to five years experience in an environment working with Cisco networking equipment.
CCNP Security is valid for three years, and after that, needs to be renewed. The best way to stay certified is to keep climbing the Cisco certification ladder. This recertifies your current certifications while moving you toward bigger career prospects.
How Difficult is CCNP Security?
The CCNP is generally regarded by most test takers as being more difficult than the CCNA. This is partially because there are many more areas covered on the CCNP exam. Also, the depth of material is more intense with the CCNP than the CCNA. One other thing to note is that the questions are weighted differently between exams. There are fewer questions on the CCNP exam, but 30 more minutes to finish the exam.
What are the Pros of CCNP Security Certification?
There are many advantages to earning CCNP Security. Subjective benefits are the prestige of earning such a challenging cert and the recognition of your peers. But the bottom line is having a widely recognized and respected certification from Cisco will boost your credibility and marketability.
How about CCNP Security salary levels? The salary range of a certified CCNP Security holder averages out to around $113,369 a year, according to ZipRecruiter. This is a lot more than what the average CCNA Security jobs were offering in 2020.
The roles that you can expect to land with a CCNP include: Product Security Engineer, Security Operations Engineer, Lead Security Engineer, Senior Network Security Engineer, and Senior Information Security Engineer.
Most jobs that have requirements of both security and Cisco equipment administration and maintenance will view CCNP Security certification as a must. So, there are some roles out there that will require that you hold your CCNP Security as a minimum. As we mentioned earlier, this cert also gives you DoD clearance, making it a preferred certification for many government-based roles.
Within your own organization, If you are a CCNP Security holder you also have increased opportunities. You put yourself in a better position to ask for a raise or a promotion. Or even move into a new role. The CCNP Security demonstrates your commitment to learning and bettering yourself. An employee with that kind of determination will be highly valued and respected.
What are Cons of CCNP Security Certification?
As is the case with most certifications, there is a considerable amount of studying and prep that goes into the CCNP Security. The certification may be a foundational exam in the hierarchy of Cisco certs, but that does not make it easy. You should have between three and five years experience — and a solid understanding of the exam topics before you take the exam.
The CCNP certificate is valid for 3 years and there is a recertification policy that you can find here. In order to recertify, you can do one or more of the following:
- Take an exam
- Attend a Cisco Live training session
- Author related content
- Complete online training courses
- Complete instructor-led training
For Cisco professional-level certifications you can: pass one technology core exam, pass any two professional concentration exams, pass one CCIE lab exam. Passing any one professional concentration exam and earn 40 CE credits or earn 80 CE certs.
Is CCNP Security Worth It?
We have gone through a lot of details in this article. We discussed the CCNP Security experience requirements, topics covered on the exam, and salary potential. After all of that, we can answer the question, "Is the CCNP Security worth it" with a resounding yes!
Earning a CCNP Security certification will help to get your application to the top of the pile when applying for jobs. Companies value employees that are certified. Being certified not only ensures that you know what you are doing, but it also helps to attract more certified professionals as more opportunities to learn and innovate present themselves.
Security in enterprise environments is more important now than ever before. The CCNP Security shows that you understand how security requirements have changed, and that you know how to implement them.