Cisco CCNP Certification

Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) validates knowledge and skills required to install, configure and troubleshoot converged local and wide area networks with 100 to 500 or more nodes. With a CCNP certification, a network professional demonstrates the knowledge and skills required to manage the routers and switches that form the network core, as well as edge applications that integrate voice, wireless, and security into the network. The CCNP certification is designed for those with at least a year of network experience and an ability to work independently on complex network systems. The CCNP represents a high level of professional certification, which would be an excellent step for undertaking any other certification in addition to enhancing any candidate's employability.

The Certification Process

In order to obtain CCNP certification candidates are required to pass three exams, these exams are arranged separately from any training courses offered, further information on these exams can be seen by clicking on the titles. Candidates must hold CCNA Routing and Switching, or any CCIE in order to earn CCNP certification.

Note that this certification requires re-certification every three years; this can be done by performing any of the following:

Preparing for the Exams

The ROUTE exam lasts 120 minutes, containing somewhere between 45 to 55 questions. The questions are drawn in different proportions from the topics included in the exam. The SWITCH exam lasts 120 minutes with between 35 and 45 questions. The TSHOOT exam lasts 135 minutes with between 35 and 40 questions. Further details can be seen on the individual exam pages. We would recommend erring on the side of over preparation so as to ensure a mark high enough to provide a pass.

For more information on Cisco exam policies in general, take a look at this page.

Training Courses

GBdirect offer the Cisco approved courses aimed to provide the skills and knowledge required to earn this certification. The courses offered are:

While these courses will help prepare you for the exams they may not provide you with everything you need to pass them. To ensure this we would recommend hands on experience with the products concerned, along with additional reading from Cisco certification texts. It is advisable to look up the content of the exam, while performing practice labs and taking advantage of the practice exams available on the Cisco website should also prove beneficial. We welcome any reviews of your Cisco Certification experience, if you feel that you know of an improved learning method then please don't hesitate to get in touch.

Official Cisco Materials

Cisco provides a large amount of online materials, some of which is available through the certification pages themselves. An excellent starting point is to look at the exam content available on the exam page as well as a PDF that provides the exam guidelines.

The Cisco Learning Network area on the CCNP certification can be found here, containing list of materials corresponding to each individual exam. The CCNP syllabus can also be used as an excellent starting point.

Free training videos are also available from members of Cisco's learning community. These can be found on the Member-Led Recorded Study Sessions page and will serve as a highly recommended learning tool.

Cisco also hosts forums in the form of Study Groups, allowing for the discussion of any areas within CCNP certification. This is naturally very useful for finding information on specific areas, but also for finding overviews of certification as a whole.

An excellent Webinar is available, that covers the available learning materials, practice labs and the certification path as a whole. Some users report problems registering for the Learning Network and thus viewing this video.

Books

A range of texts are available for those studying for this certification:

CCNP Routing and Switching Official Certification Library This package contains the cert guides for all three exams within the CCNP certification. Reviewers are largely positive in regards to this text, praising the coverage of exam topics, along with clear structure and a variety of quizzes and tests. The book also covers the topics in a significant amount of depth; however it does not necessarily contain all the information needed to pass the exams, notably the SWITCH exam. Also this book is aimed at those with a significant amount of experience and background knowledge related to the relevant Cisco technologies. Those with less experience may want to purchase the foundation learning library instead. The component parts of this library can also be bough individually.

CCNP Routing and Switching Foundation Learning Library: Foundation Learning for CCNP This book contains the foundation learning guides for all three CCNP exams. These texts are aimed at those with a lower degree of experience and background knowledge, as such they are significantly more easy to understand and contain much more basic knowledge. Again reviewers note that the SWITCH section is somewhat lacking with reports of a significant number of errors in some editions. Otherwise this book should prove excellent learning material for the CCNP in addition to being a useful reference for later use.

The Bryant Advantage CCNP ROUTE Study Guide This guide receives highly favourable reviews, with praise given to its ease of explaining technical concepts in addition to exam focus, detailed diagram and in depth coverage. The book is also accompanied with links to a selection of instructional videos that helps to further explain relevant topics. Note that this book alone is unlikely to be enough to prepare you to pass the ROUTE exam and should be combined with a larger reference style guide. This book is especially good for those who have less Cisco experience, or struggle to follow the Cisco learning materials.

The Bryant Advantage CCNP SWITCH Study Guide This text also receives highly favourable reviews for its clear structure, exam focus, ease of understanding and fairly in depth coverage of exam topics. Reviewers generally accept that in combination with a more detailed publication this book can be exceedingly helpful in preparing for the exam.

How to Master CCNP ROUTE This text receives good reviews as a last minute revision tool or practical handbook. The book contains brief sections with clear diagrams and screenshots that provide excellent examples. Therefore this book can be used just before taking the exam as a quick review, thanks to its clear and concise style.

We welcome reviews and views of any text you have personal experience with, likewise if you feel we have missed off a more valuable study aid please do get in touch.

Additional Resources

The Techexams.net forum is one of the most active covering Cisco and other certifications, there is a great deal of detailed information related to either specific technical details or the certification as a whole.

CBT Nuggets offer instructional video courses for all three CCNP exams. ROUTE lasts approximately 15 hours, SWITCH lasts 11 hours and TSHOOT lasts around 13 hours.

Pluralsight also offers their own set of courses for each of the CCNP exams. Each exam is split into three sections, with sections ranging from 2 to 6 hours in length.

ROUTE: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

SWITCH: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

TSHOOT: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Practice tests for the CCNP exams are available from:

Kaplan SelfTest

MeasureUp

Transcender

What if I fail?

Don't panic. You will be able to see and your test result and the areas you felt weakest in, focus on content areas where your performance was weakest and areas with a high percentage of questions. Once you feel ready you can reschedule your exam. Cisco's exam retake policy is listed below:

The policies for retaking exams are as follows:

Excellent, you've passed

Upon passing you will receive a score report complete with your photo; this can be used to share with employers or other third parties. This will also grant you access to the Cisco Certifications Tracking System, allowing you to see certification progress, access logos for valid certifications, allow third parties/employers to see your certifications and to sign any necessary agreements.

Next Steps

CCNP tends to be the highest level of certification achieved by those pursuing Cisco certifications; however a higher level, CCIE, does exist. This is an extremely highly regarded certification that demonstrates the highest level of technical proficiency with Cisco technologies; due to the difficulty and specialised nature of this qualification we do not offer training courses. Further information can be found on Cisco's site.

CCNP, Salary and Contract Rates

A recent survey of IT jobs offered across the UK reported the following statistics on the average earning of salaried and contract workers holding CCNP certification. The UK average salary for a CCNP is £45,000, with the average salary for London being £47,500. A breakdown of this shows 90% are offered a salary of more than £35,000 while 10% are offered more than £63,500.

Contractor daily rates were also surveyed and the UK average was found to be £360 per day and £375 per day for the city of London. The further breakdown of these figures shows that 90% are offered a daily rate in excess of £250 while 10% are offered more than £450. Further details can be found on the IT Jobs Watch site.