Technology / Data

Roadmap to Success: CCNP Data Center

by Karin Klinger
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Published on June 28, 2016

Roadmap to Success is a series of posts designed to help learners better understand certification pathways, career opportunities associated with those certifications, and next steps beyond certification.

UPDATED: We updated this article June 13, 2017, to reflect relevant changes to the Cisco CCNP Data Center certification curriculum.

As data centers continue to evolve along with the business needs that drive them, the need for IT professionals who can effectively manage data centers is growing. The Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) Data Center is designed to affirm the knowledge and skills needed for data center network and implementation and maintenance. Typically, the CCNP Data Center qualifies learners for positions such as data center analyst, designer, administrator, engineer, and more.

Cisco Certified Networking Professional Data Center (CCNP Data Center) The Cisco Certified Networking Professional Data Center (CCNP Data Center) certification is uniquely focused on roles that particularly deal with data center design, installation, and maintenance. The CCNP Data Center certification is an advanced-level certification that carries the CCNA Data Center certification as a prerequisite. In addition to holding the CCNA Data Center certification, we recommend that learners have 2-4 years of data center experience, as well as have trained for CCNA Routing and Switching, ideally having earned the certification before beginning with CCNP Data Center.

The CCNP Data Center certification is currently undergoing some revisions with v5.0 exams retiring on July 23, 2017. CCNP Data Center v5.0 certification requires successful completion of four exams, but learners can choose from two pathways reflecting specializations for the final two exams.

CCNP Data Center v5.0 Exams (last day to test: July 23, 2017)

All learners must pass:

Next, learners must successfully complete two more exams, but can choose from: Troubleshooting Specialization

  • Cisco CCNP Data Center 642-035 DCUCT

  • Cisco CCNP Data Center 642-980 DCUFT

OR Design Specialization

  • Cisco CCNP Data Center 642-998 DCUCD

  • Cisco CCNP Data Center 642-996 DCUFD

CCNP Data Center v6.0 Exams (available now for testing)

  • 300-175 DCUCI: Implementing Cisco Data Center Unified Computing v6.0

  • 300-165 DCII: Implementing Cisco Data Center Infrastructure v6.0

  • 300-170 DCVAI: Implementing Cisco Data Center Virtualization and Automation v6.0

Next, learners must pass one more exam of their choosing:

  • 300-160 DCID: Designing Cisco Data Center Infrastructure v6.0


  • 300-180 DCIT: Troubleshooting Cisco Data Center Infrastructure v6.0

Learn more about the exams from Cisco's CCNP Data Center v5.0 to v6.0 Exam Highlights.

Exam Details Many of the details of the individual exams that make up the CCNP Data Center certification are shared.

Time allotted for exam: 1.5 hours (90 minutes) per exam Number of questions: 65-75 questions per v5.0 exam / 60-70 questions per v6.0 exam Passing score: Cisco does not publish the passing score for its exams Question types: Multiple choice/single answer; Multiple choice/multiple answers; Drag and drop; Fill-in-the-blank; Simulation; Testlet; Simlet Exam registration: Pearson VUE Exam cost: $300 (USD)* per exam *Learn more about exam fees from Pearson VUE Exam topics: (free resources)

Recertification Cisco's Associate-level certifications, including CCNP Data Center, are valid for three years from the date of certification. Learners can recertify by passing any Cisco 642-XXX or 300-XXX exam, any CCIE written exam, CCDE written or practical exam, or the CCAr interview and the CCAr board review.

The Next Step Some learners who earn their CCNP Data Center certification will choose to continue to advance their careers in data center specialization and within the Cisco universe. Those learners pursue the CCIE Data Center certification. Unfortunately, CBT Nuggets does not currently provide training for the CCIE Data Center exams.

Some learners may choose to diversify their certification vitae/resume by pursuing certifications that fall outside the scope of Cisco products. The most popular data center certifications pursued by CBT Nuggets learners often include:

  • VMware Certified Professional 6 Data Center Virtualization (VCP6-DCV) (made up of one exam: VMware vSphere 6 VCP6-DCV)

  • EMC2 Data Center Architect (EMCDCA) (currently no training available from CBT Nuggets)

Career Considerations provides a helpful salary guide to help learners determine appropriate pay scales for job opportunities associated with certification. reports a range of salaries for employees holding any CCNP certification between $46,041 and $152,930. Roles that are common for those holding the CCNP Data Center certification include systems administrator, network administrator, network operations analyst, network technician, data center analyst, data center designer, data center administrator, data center engineer, and more.

Cisco Certifications Cisco certifications are layered, with each layer building upon the knowledge and skills developed at previous layers, structurally designed as a pyramid. The layers are Entry, Associate, Professional, Expert, and Architect. Associate-level certifications include CloudCollaborationData Center, IndustrialRouting and SwitchingSecurity, Service Provider, and Wireless.

Once a learner has earned an Associate-level certification, they are eligible to pursue Cisco Certified Network Professional-level certifications. Cisco offers a variety of Professional-level certifications, including Design Professional (CCDP)CloudCollaborationData CenterRouting and SwitchingSecurityService Provider, and Wireless.

Finally, learners can choose to pursue Expert-level certifications, which include Design Expert (CCDE), CollaborationData Center, Routing and SwitchingSecurityService Provider, and Wireless.

Cisco provides an excellent certification overview that succinctly outlines each certification, its prerequisites, and related careers.

Begin exploring other Cisco certification options for which CBT Nuggets provides training to open up even more professional development opportunities.

Concluding Thoughts Nearly all organizations are dependent on effective data center management. So developing data center skills and knowledge equips you to advance your career now and in the future as the industry continues to evolve. Take your career to the next level with a certification and specialization that will create exciting opportunities!

Watch. Learn. Conquer the CCNP Data Center!

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