Cisco CCDP (Design Professional) Certification

Cisco Certified Design Professional (CCDP) validates advanced knowledge of network design concepts and principles. With a CCDP certification, a network professional can discuss, design, and create advanced addressing and routing, security, network management, data center, and IP multicast complex multi-layered enterprise architectures that include virtual private networking and wireless domains. The CCDP curriculum includes building scalable internetworks, building multilayer switched networks, and designing network service architecture. The CCDP is a high level and very broad certification that includes elements of both design and routing and switching technologies.

The Certification Process

In order to obtain CCDP 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 AND CCDA, or any CCIE in order to qualify for the CCDP. The first two exams for this certification (ROUTE and SWITCH) are both in the CCNP Routing and Switching certification path and as such are covered here (link to CCNP) in our guide to CCNP.

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

Preparing for the Exams

For information and advice on preparing for the Route and SWITCH exams please refer to our guide to CCNP, only the ARCH exam will be considered in this guide. The ARCH exam lasts 75 minutes and contains between 50 and 60 questions. The exam is predominantly focused on the design of enterprise Campus Networks and Data Centres. 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 course aimed to provide the skills and knowledge required to earn this certification. The course offered is:

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

For materials relating to the SWITCH and ROUTE exams please see our guide to CCNP Routing and Switching.

Cisco provides some online materials, available through the certification pages themselves. However the quantity of content available through Cisco for this particular exam is somewhat smaller than usual. 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 syllabus for the CCDP certification can be found here.

Cisco hosts forums in the form of Study Groups, the CCDP Study Group can be found here, it may be worth looking at the CCNP or other areas of the learning network for information on elements that fall outside the area of the ARCH exam.

A few learning materials along with some practice questions can be found on the individual exam page on the learning network, this is located here.


Designing Cisco Network Service Architectures (ARCH) Foundation Learning Guide This book receives largely positive reviews and is praised with being one of the few exam texts that goes into sufficient detail whilst still maintaining a focus on the certification exam. As this book is a foundation learning guide as opposed to a cert guide it is also somewhat easier for those who may be recertifying after a period of time or who do not have as much experience as other candidates. Reviewers also praise the use of diagrams and suggest that this book would be suitable for reference use.

Cisco CCDP ARCH Simplified This book also receives good reviews, it is somewhat more exam focused than the foundation guide and is better suited to those who have a larger amount of background knowledge or are further along in the exam preparation process. That said there is still some depth to the material and this book could be a valuable study aid.

Top-Down Network Design While this text is not aimed at those taking certification specifically it is widely regarded as an excellent reference on the subject of Network Design. The book is credited with being highly in depth whilst still being written in such a manner that is easy for relative novices to understand. The book is also in the format of a step by step guide to the entire process of network design and as such is a good resource in terms of preparing for the ARCH exam and as a general reference for hands on situations.

Additional Resources

The 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. You may also want to look at the CCNP section for information on the ROUTE and SWITCH exams or other areas that the certification mentions.

At present there is only an old version of preparatory videos available on CBT Nuggets for the ARCH exam, whilst these are not for the updated exam they could still provide some valid preparation. This set of videos is approximately 10 hours long.

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

CCDP is a serious professional certification with the option to progress even higher to CCDE and even further to the highest level offered of CCAr. Due to the difficulty and more specialised nature of the CCDE no training is available, however more information is available on Cisco's site.

CCDP, 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 CCDP certification. The UK average salary for a CCDP is £57,500, with the average salary for London being £60,000. A breakdown of this shows 90% are offered a salary of more than £42,500 while 10% are offered more than £70,000.

Contractor daily rates were also surveyed and the UK average was found to be £400 per day and £450 per day for the city of London. The further breakdown of these figures shows that 90% are offered a daily rate in excess of £301 while 10% are offered more than £450. Further details can be found on the IT Jobs Watch site.