IT Certifications Spotlight: CCNP (Cisco Certified Network Professional)

July 23, 2013

Got a CCNP? VCAP? MCSE?  Thinking about one?  We’re taking a look at the top IT certifications and evaluating just how helpful/valuable they are to today’s IT professional.  It’s a confusing and oftentimes expensive process, but don’t worry—we’ve got you covered!  

A Quick Breakdown:

According to the Cisco website, the Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP)“validates the ability to plan, implement, verify and troubleshoot local and wide-area enterprise networks and work collaboratively with specialists on advanced security, voice, wireless and video solutions.”

The Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) certification is made up of three tests—the ROUTE, SWITCH, and TSHOOT exams, which cover IP Routing, IP Switched Networks, and troubleshooting/maintaining Cisco networks.

It requires a prerequisite; either the CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate) or any of the CCIE (Certified Internetwork Expert) certifications fulfill the requirement.

The tests are offered in a composite exam at a cost of $300. Cisco offers many training classes, as do other providers, at an extra cost. You can take these courses, or prepare on your own. This certification is most suitable for those with “at least one year of networking experience who are ready to advance their skills and work independently on complex network solutions.”

Positions for which this certification is well-suited include network technician, support engineer, systems engineer, or network engineer.

So… is it worth it?

The IT community is fairly divided about certifications in general (as these discussionsreveal), and the CCNP is no exception. On the one hand, the tests are expensive, preparation can be time-consuming, and it’s difficult to see the appeal in tying yourself to one company’s network solutions long-term.

On the other hand, though, there are some valid and very convincing points often made about the CCNP and IT certifications in general:

The fact of the matter is that HR folks are not IT folks. Their job is to find the best candidate for the job they are looking to fill, and for some, if not many, the best way to do that is to find the most qualified candidate. The most qualified candidate undoubtedly has good work experience in relevant positions and fields, but often also has accompanying education to prove s/he is committed to professional development and staying on top of industry information and news. For IT professionals, this education typically comes in the form of certifications. No one can deny than experience is critical, but it’s also impossible to expect folks to overlook a qualified candidate with experience and a certification just because someone else has “more experience”. (12)

Similarly, recruiters are trained to seek out the best, and the best are often represented by their commitment to growing their knowledge within their field—for example, by getting a certification. Many IT professionals observed that they started receiving plentiful calls from recruiters once they’d passed their certifications—after all, certifications confirm that those years of experience  make you a great fit for those positions. 

Another thing to consider: a few professionals in online discussions observed that with enough experience, the tests themselves are not extremely difficult. While lots of studying and extra preparation courses might seem essential, if you’ve built up a certain amount of professional experience, you should be well on your way to a passing score on the exam. This is not to say that the tests are easy, of course—but it’s very fair to expect your years of relevant projects and work to help you out in your preparation, if you are diligent.

Keep in mind that the CCNP made the list of the top-paying 15 IT certifications in 2013, too.

At the end of the day, it’s up to you to determine if the certification will be that last push you need toward the jobs you want, or if it might be too big of an investment to be worth it at the moment However, the general consensus among professionals seems to be that it’s usually worth it—you can take a peek at this chart from 2011 to get a sense of what your earnings might look like after the certification, and decide for yourself!

Do you have a CCNP? Do you feel it was worth it? Which certifications should we cover next? Drop us a line and let us know in the comments!

Posted By: Madeline Stone

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