How to Become a Cisco Certified Network Professional

There is no better time for you to become a certified network professional. Most businesses are expanding to offer their services online, increasing their reliance on the internal network to keep things running smoothly. Cisco, the largest networking equipment manufacturer in the world, has developed a valuable and respected certification program. This guide will give you a quick overview of what it means to be a Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) and how to obtain a professional certification with Cisco.

What is a CCNP?
There are 5 levels of certification for Cisco Careers: Entry level, Associate, Professional, Expert and Architect. CCNP certifies you at the third tier ‘Professional’ level, which is a relatively easy way to set yourself up to make $90,000 per year.

Profession Title Average Salary
Senior Systems Engineer, IT $91,333
IT Manager $90,913
Senior Network Engineer $89,374
Network Engineer, IT $72,123
Network Engineer $71,083
Telecommunications Network Engineer $64,572
Network Administrator $60,070


What Does a CCNPs Do?
As a CCNP you will develop, implement, maintain and troubleshoot local and wide area networks. You also work with specialists on security, voice, wireless and video solutions. CCNPs work on larger networks than a CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate) with nodes numbered at 500+.

What Are the Benefits of Being a CCNP?
CCNPs receive much higher pay than CCNAs and are given more freedom to complete work tasks. They are more likely than non-certified peers to achieve Senior and Management roles. Being a CCNP is also a prerequisite for becoming certified at the Expert and Architect levels.

How Do You Become a CCNP?
Any CCNA or CCIE with at least one year of networking experience can become a CCNP by successfully passing 3 exams: ROUTE, SWITCH and TSHOOT. Each exam is very difficult and covers lots of material.

The Exams
Experts advise that you take the exams in the order listed.

642-902 ROUTE

ROUTE is the core of the CCNP certification. It is the most challenging of the 3 exams. This exam focuses on IP routing principles, how to set up routes, and what makes Cisco network models different than their competitors.

Exam Facts:

  • Costs $200 per attempt
  • Approximately 120 minutes
  • 45-55 questions
  • Replaced BSCI exam

642-813 SWITCH

This exam focuses on 3 main subjects: the proper protocol for designing, configuring, and supporting multilayer switched networks, how switches communicate with each other, and how to integrate voice, video, VLANs and WLANs with campus networks.

Exam Facts:

  • Costs $200 per attempt
  • Approximately 120 minutes
  • 35-45 questions
  • Replaced BCMSN exam

642-832 TSHOOT

This exam forces you to combine routing and switching concepts to answer difficult troubleshooting questions. These questions will be conceptual with the goal of getting you to demonstrate Cisco’s preferred steps to take when troubleshooting network issues.

Exam Facts:

  • Costs $200 per attempt
  • Approximately 135 minutes
  • 35-40 questions
  • Replaced ISCW and ONT exams

Take the Next Step in Your Certification
There is no reason not to seek a CCNP if you currently meet the prerequisites. A CCNP will receive higher pay, more freedom at the workplace and the opportunity to advance to higher corporate rankings. If you meet the minimum requirements for the CCNP test, simply study these online training courses and you will be ready to advance your career. For information on how to take Cisco exams click here.