For those who are seeking employment in the information technology field, or are looking to gain additional training for their current positions, Cisco Systems, Inc. offers a wide range of certifications in its products. The Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) program is targeted toward IT professionals with at least one year of networking experience. The goal of the program is to advance students’ understanding of the planning, implementation, troubleshooting and verification skills needed to work in collaborative network environments. Cisco revised the CCNP program structure in 2010. The company made some changes to the curriculum in order to create a training that more closely predicted skills needed in the workplace.
Specializing in networking equipment, Cisco Systems is headquartered in San Jose, Calif. Its products have a heavy workplace focus, and span a wide variety of networking, security, and data management services and business solutions. Cisco offers five levels of IT certification on nine different product tracks. Certifications are available the following levels: Entry, Associate, Professional, Expert, and Architect. The product tracks offered are: Routing & Switching, Design, Network Security, Wireless, Voice, Data Center, Storage Networking, Service Provider, and Collaboration.
Training and exams related to each of these certifications are administered by the Cisco Learning Network, at learningnetwork.cisco.com. The online portal provides resources for learning options, business community networking, and careers, including a jobs listing portal for those who have completed their Cisco certifications. .
To complete the CCNP certification program, it is necessary to pass three required exams. The exams and areas covered are as follows:
- Implementing Cisco IP Routing: Exam covers IP addressing and routing, configuration of secure routing locations, and connecting routing to LAN and WAN networks
- Implementing Cisco IP Switched Networks: Exam covers skills related to the use of Cisco’s Campus Enterprise Architecture, including configuration for enterprise switching solutions and connection of various elements to campus networks
- Troubleshooting and Maintaining Cisco IP Networks: Exam covers the skills needed to perform regular maintenance on Cisco switching solutions
Each exam is 120 minutes and is available in English, with some options available in Japanese. The exams are administered in a proctored, timed environment, and are available in classroom or virtual classroom testing situations. Training courses for each test are available through the Cisco website, in classroom or self-directed modules. Training courses typically run for five days and specifically address the network skills that will be tested.
Before taking the exams, students must complete the Cisco Certified Network Associate program. Available in several disciplines, it is possible to obtain a CCNA certification in areas including Routing & Switching, Data Center, Service Provider Operations, Security, Voice and Wireless. Similarly, Professional-level certifications are available in each of those areas.
For entry into the CCNP program, Cisco recommends completing the CCNA in Routing & Switching. This track requires three exams on topics similar to those covered in the CCNP curriculum.