The Cisco Certified Network Profession (CCNP) Enterprise Core or 350-401 ENCOR is the compulsory exam you must pass in order to become a Cisco Network Professional Professional. Passing the CCNP ENCOR exams alone qualifies or certifies you as a CCNP Specialist if you however combine it with any of the other 6 concentration exams (Data Center, Security, Collaboration, Service Provider, CyberOps, and DevNet). it qualifies you as a CCNP professional. It is such a crucial exam for a professional career advancement with Cisco. This blog post will help you explore some courses or resource materials to help you pass the CCNP 350-401 ENCOR examination.
It will also highlight some pieces of information you need to be aware of before you sit the exam. Some of these materials are free resources, while others may require you some purchase (I am not affiliated with any of them and there are not commissions accrued to me, just some nice resources to help you pass your exams).
What is the CCNP ENCOR Exam
The CCNP Encor Exam is the professional level Cisco’s exam written exam, which is valid for valid as part of the requirement for Professional Certification (CCNP) as well as Expert Level lab attempts. The focus is on testing the knowledge and skills required for implementing and operating Cisco’s core technologies in an enterprise environment. The core areas covered by the Encor exams include:
The details of each of the core sections are available in the ENCOR Exam Topics. This is the updated CCNP exam syllabus effective from September 19, 2023 (according to the Cisco year calendar) You will learn to configure, troubleshoot problems, and manage both wireless and wired networks i.e., as a standalone, the CCNP ENCOR Exams validate you as a CCNP Specialist.
The CCNP ENCOR exam costs $400, and there are about 100 – 105 questions, exam duration is 120 mins. Cisco has introduced Labs in the exam, so you may find some configuration questions in the exam. The passing score is in the 825/1000 range. The certification for this exam is valid for 3 years.
Importance Of the CCNP ENCOR Exam/Certification
The CCNP Enterprise Certification is a very valuable certification within the Cisco certifications offerings. There are 3 major use cases for it;
- For the CCNP Professional Certification – To be a CCNP Professional, you MUST pass the ENCOR Exam in addition to any of the concentration exams.
- It is a requirement for taking the CCIE Enterprise or CCIE Wireless Lab Exams.
- It can serve to recertify all Cisco lower Certifications (CCNA, CCNP) and also part of the CCIE recertification. It is worth 80 CE Credits (Continuous Education Credit). You only need 30 CE Credits for the CCNA, 80 CE Credits for the CCNP, and 120 points for the CCIE.
Prerequisite For The CCNP, Can You Pass Without The CCNA?
The CCNP builds on the foundational knowledge and skills of the CCNA. It is desirable that people taking should have passed the CCNA and gained some industry experience before taking the CCNP. However, according to Cisco, the CCNA is not a prerequisite to taking the CCNP exams. It is possible to pass the CCNP ENCOR exam without taking the CCNA, especially if you have covered the foundational or have some hands-on practical experience. There are no formal prerequisites for the CCNP, Cisco only expects you to have a significant level of understanding of foundational concepts in Networking, either through the CCNA or work experience.
The CCNP is a much more difficult exam to pass than the CCNA, most persons will prefer to take the CCNA before the CCNP. It improves your chances of passing the exam significantly. It is not uncommon to find some CCNA-level exam questions in the CCNP exam.
Free CCNP 350-401 ENCOR Courses
If you are looking for a free CCNP 350-401 ENCOR (shortened form of the “Enterprise Core”) Course, the following are some good complete courses that you can add to your study resource. It is always recommended to approach the CCNP with multiple study resources to give a broader perspective from different sources. These are some of the best free CCNP courses online, helpful if you are on a strict budget;
1. Free CCNP ENCOR 350-401 By Jeremy IT Labs
The course is by Jeremy McDowell (Jeremy IT Labs)- the creator of one of the best CCNA courses on YouTube. Jeremy is a great tutor. The course includes a separate video for lab exercises after each topic in the exam blueprint, and a separate lab file for hands-on practice. There are also Quizzes and Flashcards at the end of each video to help you remember the major concepts. The CCNP builds on the foundations of the CCNA, you can also check his CCNA collections to help you refresh foundational topics.
For a start, here is an Introductory video to the CCNP course here. The full collection of the free course is in the same playlist. The flashcards and Labs are available on request at https://sendfox.com/lp/1devy5
2. Free CCNP 350-401 ENCOR Complete Course By David Bombal
For all things related to Cisco and Cisco, David Bombal has the largest collection of material. This free CCNP ENCOR course will help prepare you for the Exams. There is so much emphasis on learning the topics of the CCNP exam guide through practical hands-on. You will find lots of lab demonstrations and real-world descriptions. There is also a paid version of the course on teachable (with additional benefits and collaboration with other great tutors). You will find the complete course here. More information and other free resources are available at https://courses.davidbombal.com/
Recommended Books And Courses For The CCNP
It is ideal that you include books as a major part of your study resource for the CCNP ENCOR Exam. Some recommendations are below;
1. CCNP And CCIE Enterprise Core ENCOR 350-401 Official Cert Guide, 2nd Edition
Cisco Recommends the CCNP And CCIE Enterprise Core ENCOR 350-401 Official Cert Guide, 2nd Edition (by Brad E, David H. Jasin G, and Ramiro R,). Available from Cisco Press for the exam. It has a lot of Practice Tests, Video training, Flashcards, and Exercise review. This book is extremely detailed for all the topics in the CCNP exams. It is always helpful to use it alongside the official exam guide. This current edition was released in 2023 (as opposed to the older edition in 2019) and is updated to reflect the last focus of the CCNP ENCOR exam. It has a companion website for some additional Practice Exam Tests. It also has some suggested study plans that can better help you organize your learning in a more structured manner.
2. CCNP and CCIE Enterprise Core ENCOR 350-401 Exam Cram Premium Edition And Practice Test
The CCNP and CCIE Enterprise Core ENCOR 350-401 Exam Cram by Donald Bacha is designed to help you master the key topics and pass the CCNP ENCOR exam from understanding Cisco Infrastructure, Enterprise Security, Automation, Design Architecture, virtualization, etc., to performing network assurance tasks -concepts that will enhance your scoring high in the exam. This edition also has its set of Practice exam tests and software to rehearse and pass the CCNP exam. It also has flashcards and Cram sheets to aid your memory
It is available on Amazon and on Pearson IT certification store.
Recommended Paid Courses for CCNP ENCOR Exam Preparation
If you are willing to invest in some premium courses for the CCNP ENCOR exam training, below are some recommendations you may want to consider (I have not been paid to promote them, just some good recommendations if you are looking for something to help you pass the CCNP). They are based on recommendations from candidates who have made use of the courses and from Cisco Training Partners.
- Cisco Official Training Partner – Implementing and Operating Cisco Enterprise Network Core Technologies (ENCOR). This is the official recommendation from Cisco.
- CCNP Enterprise (350-401 ENCOR) Online Training by CBT Nuggets, with videos, Virtual labs, and Practice Exam, led by Jeff Kish and his team of tutors. You can do a 1-week trial to access the course.
- Complete CCNP ENCOR (350-401) Master Class by David Bombal (an Emeritus CCIE and a Certified Cisco Systems Instructor) and Kelvin Wallace(Emeritus CCIE in both Enterprise Infrastructure and Collaboration). This course is available on Teachable and is a great resource to help you pass the CCNP ENCOR Exam. Available here
Practice exams and simulation tools
In addition to the Practice exam questions and simulations that are part of some of the study resources highlighted earlier, it is helpful to also have a separate Practice Exam and Simulation Package to give you a feel of what an actual one will be like. Two recommendations for this are;
This is a top-rated practice Exam question simulation guide. They simulate the style and difficulty of the real exam. It is a great tool to help you pass the CCNP ENCOR Exam. These 3 sets of Practice Exam, for a total of about 321 questions. There are detailed explanations for each answer they provide. (You can check the review of the BOSON EXSIM for the CCNA for some insights here)
The Cisco CCNP CCIE Enterprise ENCOR 350-4-2 Practice Exam by Anthony Sequeira is also a good practice exam resource. This practice exam is available on Udemy. It has 3 sets of Practice Exam tests and the rating is high on Udemy. Currently, it has about 231 Questions divided into 3 different exams. It is relatively cheap and can help in the exams.
Virtual Labs For The CCNP ENCOR EXAM
It is important you build your own labs to practice for the CCNP exams. Most of the courses highlighted earlier have some practical labs for each concept. The Cisco Modelling Lab (CML) the recommended for building your own lab. You can also build and test your own network using network emulators like Graphical Network Simulator(GNS3) or EVE-NG. It is important to note that the popular packet tracer (usually for the CCNA) will not be adequate for the CCNP.
Some Background For the CCNP 350-401
- The CCNP 350-401 Exam is an Advanced (professional) Exam, building on the foundational knowledge of the CCNA (the associate exam).
- It is generally recommended to take the CCNA exams first or at least study the course materials before proceeding to take the CCNP. The CCNA is however NOT a prerequisite required by Cisco before writing the CCNP.
- The CCNP 350-401 is a much more difficult exam, Your Study approach for it should be different from that of the CCNA.
- It is strongly recommended you study far and wide, making use of different study materials from trusted diverse sources.
- You may have to pay for Lab Simulation software for your Lab Demo, the free Packet tracer software is NOT good enough for the CCNP.
- Allow yourself ample time to study for the CCNP 350-401 Exam. It can take between 6 -12 months to prepare for the CCNP.
- Having some work or industry experience can be very beneficial to your study
Salary of CCNP Certification And Career Progression
According to talent.com, the average salary for CCNP in the US is 110,490/yr or about $53 per hour. By the same metric, that of the CCNA certification is $85,000/year or $40 per hour. That is about a 30 percent increase in salary on average. It should be noted that part of this may also be due to the level of experience someone with a CCNP certification may have compared to a CCNA certificate holder.
The CCNP will typically avail you of more opportunities to explore different niches that require deeper knowledge and experience. It is also a step toward acquiring the Expert level validation of the CCIE a chosen concentration.
The Enterprise Core Exam ENCOR 350-401 is an advancement over the CCNA foundational concepts. The recommendation for the CCNP Exam is that you use a combination of materials from different sources. The books include Official Cert Guide from Cisco and Exam Cram by Donald Bacha, Complete Free YouTube courses by Jeremy IT Labs and by David Bombal, Paid Online Courses from Cisco Training partners and by CBT Nuggets, Practice Exams by Boson Exsim and CCNP CCIE Enterprise ENCOR 350-401 Practice Exams by Anthony Sequeira. It is helpful to follow a study plan in order to better prepare and pass the CCNP ENCOR exam.