Note: This page has been updated to include the February 24, 2020, CCNP Security revisions, as well as the CCNA CyberOps, now known as the Cisco Certified CyberOps Associate certification, which has undergone a name and curriculum change. On May 28, 2020, Cisco retired the 210-250 SECFND and 210-255 SECOPS exams, replaced by a single exam, the 200-201 CBROPS.
Many consider the Cisco Certified CyberOps Associate to be an excellent place to start for cybersecurity professionals. For example, it covers enough key principles like cryptography and a Security Operations Center (SOC) basics. One of the best aspects of this certification is that it has no prerequisites.
Why should you consider obtaining the Cisco CCNP Security certification? At first sight, it doesn't appear to be a fair comparison to the Cisco Certified CyberOps Associate. CCNP credentials are more sophisticated for starters, and candidates generally have to meet stringent requirements before taking the CCNP test. However, this is about to change. I'll get to that later.
Let's look at both of these certificates in more detail and explore why you would choose one over the other.
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Pros and Cons of Becoming a Cisco Certified CyberOps Associate
The Cisco Certified CyberOps Associate is a good choice for someone who wants to get into cybersecurity. It goes over the basics of Cisco hardware and software, but not in great depth. The Cisco Certified CyberOps Associate program also teaches you about security operations and is an excellent method to get a junior analyst position in a security operations center.
Because the CyberOps path has no prerequisites, you can skip straight to the 210-250 SECFND Security Fundamentals exam, which focuses on security technologies like host-based intrusion prevention systems, monitoring, and other hands-on technologies.
The 210-255 SECOPS test, which focuses on computer forensics, teaches students how to correlate data with suspicious activity and identify symptoms of an attack. It also covers incident response and handling capabilities and prepares applicants for employment based on cybersecurity principles.
The revised, streamlined 200-201 CBROPS exam would be available on May 29, 2020. The 200-201 CBROPS certification combines two 90-minute exams into a single 120-minute exam that focuses more on security concepts and analysis. Even though the new exam does not include explicit exam objectives for networking fundamentals, expect any Cisco exam to demand a solid understanding of those concepts. This is especially true when it comes to network security certifications.
It's important to note that the CyberOps Associate certification is a one-time requirement. This means that you can only go so far with that particular security track. If you want to use the certification as a springboard for further study, it may be a dead end.
In the end, this certification will help you grasp the mindset required for a cybersecurity position. If you're just getting started, it's a great option.
Pros and Cons of the Cisco CCNP Security Certification
Cisco is changing its certification scheme in February if you haven't heard yet. We've got all the information you need right here. Because of the reorganized CCNP Security certification, you can now take the CCNP Security (350-701 SCOR) test without any prior qualification, which is enormous.
Getting into CCNP territory used to take a long time because you had to pass multiple tiers of CCNA tests to get there. You can choose a specialist certification when you pass that exam. This allows you to concentrate on a specific area of security that will help you advance your career.
Decide where you want to go.
It's one thing to know about certifications, but what do they bring you? The outcome of getting certified should be work that you enjoy and find difficult at the very least. As persons attempting to get into the cybersecurity field, we must consider the benefits of one certification over another.
Exam difficulty should not be a decisive factor when deciding which certification path to pursue, but it is one. When comparing the CCNP Security and Cisco Certified CyberOps Associate certificates, it's essential to know who each is intended for. The Associate-level Cisco Certified and CCNP titles on the examinations are geared at two quite distinct experience levels, as you would have guessed.
Either of these certificates makes sense if you're starting in cybersecurity as a junior analyst. There is no prerequisite exam for either of these exam tracks, so that you might start with one of them for your first Cisco certification. If you're like me and recently received your CompTIA Sec+ certification, you might want to consider working in a SOC where log monitoring and analysis are a large part of the job. This is a fantastic place to start.
The Cisco Certified CyberOps Associate can teach you the core knowledge and abilities you'll need to succeed in such a setting. It also goes into greater detail in areas like incident response than Security+. However, after you've passed both CyberOps examinations (or one after May 2020), you've completed the certification process.
If you have more experience and wish to focus on a more specialized cybersecurity function, the CCNP Security certification may be a better fit. There are several explanations for this. There are no prerequisites, unlike the Cisco Certified CyberOps Associate. You can study for the core exam to demonstrate your understanding of essential topics and technologies, then pivot into a specialty that will help you advance or get a better job.
Finally, you wouldn't have to limit yourself to just one specialist exam. You may quickly alter your mind and take a different path if you need to go in another direction or master new abilities.
Everyone is unique, especially when it comes to career goals. Starting with the Cisco Certified CyberOps Associate may be advantageous for those with many IT administration expertise. However, based on your knowledge and practical knowledge in such contexts, the roles you will land will be entry-level to mid-range security responsibilities.
If you already work in a security operations center or a monitoring setting, CCNP Security may be a better fit for you. It teaches a wide range of abilities and provides plenty of opportunities for advancement.
When you combine job experience with the location you want to visit, the decision becomes a lot easier. If you're looking for your first job in cybersecurity, the Cisco Certified CyberOps Associate can help you get there. Suppose you want to take things to the next level and further your career. In that case, the CCNP Security will get you there, with the added benefit of career path alternatives that the Cisco Certified CyberOps Associate can't provide at this time.