Cisco Certified Security Professional (CCSP)

The Cisco Certified Security Professional (CCSP) certification is a validation of advanced knowledge and skills required to secure Cisco networks. Network professionals that are CCSP certified have external confirmation of the skills that are necessary to manage and secure network infrastructures. CCSP certified professionals can accomplish these tasks in such as way that they reduce costs, mitigate threats and protect productivity. This curriculum places emphasis on Cisco systems such as the Cisco Router IOS and Catalyst Switch. Network professionals such as network administrators and security professionals can use the CCSP to sharpen their knowledge base and bring new skills to their professions.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job growth for computer network, systems and database administrators is projected to grow over 20 percent between 2008 and 2018. Additionally, the number of jobs in this field is expected to increase by approximately 286,600 over the 2008 – 2018 decade. Salary prospects are also likely to be excellent. In a range of job titles that hold the CCSP certification, from IT Network Engineer to Senior Network Engineer, salaries range from $43,000 to as high as $133,000 per year.

The CCSP is a professional level, highly specialized certification. The National Security Agency (NSA) and the Committee on National Security Systems (CNSS) have recognized that the CCSP certification meets the CNSS 4013 training standard. Professionals who maintain a valid CCSP certification assist private entities in protecting sensitive information as well as aid federal agencies in the defense of the United States’ crucial information technology infrastructure. The CNSS 4013 is an advanced standard designed and intended for system administrators who are responsible for the safety of critical networks.

Cisco has the authority and ability through NSA and the CNSS to recognize candidates who demonstrate that they have met the CNSS 4013 standard. Cisco will write such a candidate a formal recognition in letter form. The candidate can include the letter in their professional references and use it to confirm that he has met the standard.

The CCSP has three prerequisites: the Cisco Certified Network Associate Security (CCNA Security) certification, the CCNA Security plus the Cisco Secure Network Devices (SND) certification or any Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert certification. The SND certification prerequisite is only valid until November 17, 2011.

Cisco is planning on replacing the CCSP certification with an alternative: the Cisco Certified Network Professional Security (CCNP Security) certification. CCSP exams for new applicants ceased to be offered in April 2011. Existing CCSP holders will be able re-certify themselves only until October 2011. Individuals that have a valid CCSP certification who have passed the CCNP Security exams may be able to receive the CCNP Security certification.

To obtain the new CCNP Security certification, four exams must be passed: 642-637 SECURE v1.0, 642-617 FIREWALL v1.0, 642-647 VPN v1.0 and the 642-627 IPS v7.0. Each of these exams has a recommended training class: Secure v1.0 Securing Networks with Cisco Routers and Switches, Deploying Cisco ASA Firewall Solutions, Deploying Cisco ASA VPN Solutions and Implementing Cisco Intrusion Prevention System v7.0, respectively. To become re-certified, a holder of the CCNP Security certification must re-take the exams within three years of receiving the certification. All Cisco professional certifications are valid for three years.