CCNA Security...What's Required

I just saw something this morning about Networkers Live 2009 coming up at the end of June and that reminded me that it has been nearly a year now since the CCNA Security certification was announced. For those reading this blog, I am curious, have you obtained the CCNA Security certification? If not, are you in process, or just still contemplating it? For those on the verge of deciding to pursue this certification, I want to take a few minutes to outline what’s involved and where it may lead. As you may know, last summer Cisco announced specializations at the CCNA level for Security, Voice, and Wireless. The creation of these tracks gave focus for those beginning their Cisco careers and I believe they serve as an excellent entry point into the larger Professional certification path. If you are thinking about pursuing your CCNA Security, then let’s start with the basics. First, you must either have a valid CCNA certification or earn one. You may earn the CCNA by passing the ICND 1 and ICND 2 exams or by taking and passing the CCNA Single Exam. If you choose the two exam route, you will earn the CCENT certification upon passing the ICND 1 Exam. Though these are the entry point exams for Cisco Certification, they are by no means easy, so I am pleased to see Cisco recognizing the effort required for the ICND 1 exam by awarding the CCENT certification. Ok….so let’s say you have taken ICND 1 and ICND 2 and you have passed- yippee!!!! Trust me, this is no small feat! Well if you are on your way to CCNA security, you are well on your way. Having cleared these initial hurdles, you are now ready to focus your studies on security and prepare for the 640-554 IINS exam. Though your general studies for CCNA will expose you to security concepts, it is in this exam that you will focus on security specifically. For a full description of the topics covered on the 640-553 IINS exam, you can access the following link: https://cisco.hosted.jivesoftware.com/community/certifications/security_ccna/iins?view=overview The 640-553 IINS exam follows the same general format as other Cisco exams and if you have faught your way through the CCNA certification process, you are likely familiar with this. In other words, be prepared to potentially questions of the following types: Multiple-choice, Testlet, Drag-and-drop, Simulated lab, and Simlet. In other words, it’s not going to be a walk in the park- still, with careful preparation in the various security topics covered on the exam (see link above) and a solid understanding of the core networking principles covered in your CCNA, you will be well prepared. So what happens “after” you pass the 640-553 exam? Well, at this point, you have earned the CCNA Security certification but equally as important, you are at a career cross-road. Do you continue on and pursue the CCSP certification, or take a breather and see what the market has to offer a newly minted CCNA Security? Depending on where you are in your career path and your ultimate goals, either might be the right choice. However if you decide to take a break for now, realize the technology, just like time, just keeps marching on, so be prepared to head back in and either recertify (CCNA Security is good for 3 years) or advance down the road to CCSP within the appropriate timeframe. If you are thinking about pushing forward into the CCSP certification, here is a link to the full list of exams required: http://cisco.com/web/learning/le3/le2/le37/le54/learning_certification_type_home.html Well, those are the basics of CCNA Security- at least from a “what’s required” perspective. In my upcoming postings I will start to explore specific exam topic areas, as well as whatever else you might have an interest in. If you have further questions about the certification process or recommendations around training and resources, please let me know and I would be happy to share my thoughts. Thanks for reading- have a great day!

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