Congratulations on your decision to earn your CCNP certification! As a CCIE, I can tell you that Cisco certifications are both financially and personally rewarding.
To earn your CCNP, you first have to earn your CCNA certification. Then you’re faced with a decision – take the three-exam CCNP path, or the four-exam path? They’re both quite demanding, so let’s take a look at each path.
The four-exam CCNP path includes the Building Scalable Cisco Internetworks exam (BSCI), Building Cisco Multilayer Switched Networks exam (BCMSN), Building Cisco Remote Access Networks (BCRAN), and Cisco Internetwork Troubleshooting (CIT) exam.
The three-exam path combines the BSCI and BCMSN exams into a single exam, called the Composite exam.
I’m often asked what order I recommend taking the exams in. After earning your CCNA, I recommend you begin studying for the BSCI exam immediately. You will find the fundamentals you learned in your CCNA studies will help you a great deal with this exam. You’re going to add to your CCNA knowledgebase quite a bit when it comes to OSPF and EIGRP, as well as being introduced to BGP.
I don’t have a preference between the BCMSN and BCRAN exams, but I do recommend you take the CIT exam last. You’ll be using all the skills you learned in the first three exams to pass the CIT. It’s a very demanding exam, and it’s a little hard to troubleshoot technologies that you haven’t learned yet!
The CCNP is both financially and personally fulfilling. Once you complete your CCNA studies, take a little breather and then get started on your CCNP studies. The more you know, the more valuable you are in today’s ever-changing IT job market.