Tips for the Cisco Certified Design Professional (CCDP) Exam

The Cisco Certified Design Professional (CCDP) is a certification that validates the ability of the holder to design and configure Cisco networks. Network professionals armed with the CCDP certification are able to design and create complex architectures integrating routing, addressing, security, data center and network management objectives. Holders of this certification are also able to discuss their ideas with clients and colleagues. The skills that CCDP holders have learned also include the ability to incorporate wireless domains and virtual private networks. The curriculum focuses on creating architecture for network service, building a multilayered switched network and designing scalable network schemata.

Network professionals like architects and engineers can use the CCDP certification to take their careers to new heights. Network architects and engineers are expected to experience increasing demand over the next decade. According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, a publication of the U.S. Department of Labor, the United States should see an increase of over 20 percent in the field of computer network, systems and database administrators within this decade. On a numerical basis, this equates to over 280,000 jobs created between 2008 and 2018. Job searchers in this field will find numerous opportunities awaiting them.

The widely known compensation data research firm PayScale has researched the salary ranges for five job titles with a CCDP certification. In order from least to most, these five jobs and their corresponding salary ranges are

  • Network Engineer, IT: $45,000 to $100,000
  • Systems Engineer: $84,000 to $104,000
  • Senior Network Engineer: $64,000 to $116,000
  • Network Engineer: $34,000 to $117,000
  • Senior Systems Engineer: $92,000 to $122,000

The CCDP is a professional level certification that specializes in network design and creation. In order to obtain the CCDP certification, applicants must have two valid prerequisite certifications. These are the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) and the Cisco Certified Design Associate (CCDA) certifications. Alternatively, a valid Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert in any track can serve as a prerequisite if the applicant does not have the CCNA and CCDA.

To become re-certified, the CCDP holder must re-take one of a number of specified exams before the CCDP expires. All professional level certifications offered by Cisco are valid for three years. The CCDP holder must re-certify before the CCDP expires. Re-certification automatically extends the validity of the certification until the new expiration date.

The CCDP requires the applicant to pass three exams in order to achieve certification. These exams are 642-902 Route, 642-813 Switch and Arch. Recommended training for the exams can be found in three courses: Implementing Cisco IP Routing, Implementing Cisco IP Switched Networks and Designing Cisco Network Service Architectures respectively.

CCDP Exam #1: 642-902 Route

This exam verifies the ability of the examinee to utilize advanced routing and IP addressing functionalities. The exam seeks to apply this knowledge to implement a secure and scalable network using the Cisco ISR router. The network will be connected to Wide Area Networks and Local Area Networks. Secure solutions for routing to mobile workers and branch offices will also be covered. The test is two hours long and comprises 52 questions.

CCDP Exam #2: 642-813 Switch

The Switch exam focuses on the ability of the candidate to implement very complex switching solutions using the Campus Enterprise Architecture by Cisco. The exam measures the candidate’s ability to design, plan and verify the solutions created using the architecture. It also incorporates tests of the candidate’s ability to integrate wireless local area networks, virtual local area networks and video and voice capabilities into the campus network. This test is also two hours long and comprises 52 questions.

CCDP Exam #3: Arch

A candidate is tested for the latest design and technologies in networking in this exam. Intelligent network services, network infrastructure and converged network solutions are all included in the test. This test is one hour and 15 minutes long and is comprised of 60 to 70 questions.