CCNP and CCIP
One of the commonest paths for Cisco engineers is to follow the route CCNA >> CCNP >> CCIE (R&S), but with the certifications changing year by year along with the the technologies that drive them, is this still the best path to follow? Many of the CCNPs I have met have considered adding at least one other Professional level certification to their collection and for those working for ISPs the obvious choice is the CCIP. Here’s a brief outline of the differences between the two.
The requirements for CCNP certification are:
* Current CCNA certification plus passes in the following exams:
* Building Cisco Scalable Internetworks
* Building Cisco Multilayer Switched Networks
* Building Cisco Remote Access Networks
* Cisco Internetwork Troubleshooting
The CCNP is possibly the most popular and well known of the Cisco certifications at the Professional level. The understanding, skills, and knowledge obtained during the study for these exams will prepare the candidate for most roles within companies who manage their own Cisco based networks, or ISPs who offer implementation, or support services.
Passing the CCNP exams requires both theoretical knowledge and practical experience; book work alone is not enough.
The requirements for CCIP certification are:
- Current CCNA certification plus passes in the following exams:
- Building Cisco Scalable Internetworks
- Implementing Cisco Quality of Service
- Implementing Cisco MPLS
- Configuring BGP on Cisco Routers
The understanding, skills, and knowledge obtained during the study for the CCIP exams will prepare the candidate for positions within larger organisations and ISPs who offer MPLS VPNs, IP QoS, BGP, and other advanced networking and internetworking services. The CCIP is ideal for Senior Network Engineers whose tasks include the configuration and support of complex MPLS VPNs over the ISPs core network. Most of those who are CCIP certified will already hold CCNP certification or will at least be at a similar technical level. As the demand for MPLS VPNs continues to rise so will the value of this relatively new certification.
Again, passing the CCIP exams requires both theoretical knowledge and practical experience but many of those who have taken this track have commented on the difficulty in passing the MPLS exam. Speaking from practical experience I have to agree that it is probably the most difficult exam I have taken, and I found it more difficult than the CCIE written exam. However, it is achievable and there are more resources appearing now to help the candidates with their studies e.g. the new book MPLS Configuration on Cisco IOS Software appears to be the kind of study guide that this exam has lacked so far.
The other choices at the professional level are CCSP (Security), CCDP (Design), and CCVP (Voice). Each have their merits but in the current climate arguably the most desirable of these is the CCSP as skills in network security are always in demand.