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 in Security (CCNP) program is targeted toward those professionals who work specifically in the security elements of their network. Topics covered by the certification process include security for network devices, routers, switches, and appliances, as well as network security solutions, such as firewalls. The certification requires four exams, and is valid for three years. Its curriculum has been recently expanded to include wireless technology and products.
Prior to moving to the CCNP model, Cisco offered the Cisco Certified Security Professional (CCSP) certification, which covered similar topics. The company retired the program in November 2011 and began transitioning to the CCNP curriculum. Those who hold the CCSP certification may use it to cover the prerequisites for the CCNP program.
Cisco also offers other levels of certification in its security products:
- CCNA Security: The associate level corresponds to professionals with 1 to 3 years of work experience, and helps qualify workers for entry-level jobs.
- Security Specialist certifications: Cisco offers Specialist certifications in many of its security products. These also correspond with 1 to 3 years of work experience.
- CCIE Security: The Internetwork Engineer level is a step beyond the professional certification. It corresponds with more than 7 years of experience, and helps qualify workers for top-level security positions.
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.
Cisco requires a background in network security for everyone entering the CCNP Security training program. In order the be qualified to begin taking the exams, a Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) with a focus on Security is required. The now-expired Cisco Certified Security Professional (CCSP) certification also fills the prerequisite requirement.
The four required exams for the CCNP certification in Security cover the following topics:
The exams are 90 minutes long and are administered in a timed, proctored environment in English. Each course comes with a recommended training option available through Cisco’s training website. These courses typically are five days long and are available in a classroom or a virtual learning setting. Additional education and experience likely will be required for most positions at this level of information technology.
After completing the Cisco Certified Network Professional for Security program, job-seekers will have the skills needed to manage complex workplace network environments. They’ll be tasked with keeping those environments safe from intruders, and managing and protecting all the information that passes through them. Some of the job areas available to someone with an advanced network security certification include: network security engineer, information security analyst, and computer security specialist.