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Cisco is releasing new courses and exams that will provide IT professionals with Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) certifications in both voice and security, as well as an updated Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Voice exam.

There are a growing number of IT jobs that are specifically related to voice, security and wireless technologies, according to Fred Weiller, director of marketing for Learning@Cisco. Customers have changing needs when it comes to voice, security and wireless technologies, and one way for IT professionals to stand out is to have certifications that show off their knowledge and skills. Cisco already has a wireless track for the CCNP certification exam, but now the company is introducing CCNP tracks in both voice and security.

“The integration of many new technologies on top of routing and switching has created this situation where we need to double up the talent that our engineers have out there, and that’s why we’re looking at what kind of technical skills that our customers need and we create programs to address that,” Weiller said. “A couple of years ago, we did a study and 40 percent of the hiring managers we interviewed told us that they were starting to dedicate job head counts to voice, security and wireless, and looking five years down to the road, 70 percent to 80 percent of them said they would dedicate staff to voice, security and wireless.”

The Cisco CCNP Security program builds off the Cisco Certified Security Professional (CCSP) certification. IT professionals who complete the courses and exams for CCNP Security will have demonstrated their ability to enforce cyber-security performance, maintain critical security service levels, manage essential security protocols and technologies, as well as be able to meet industry and government compliance needs.

“One of the things that we’ve noticed in the industry is when we talk to our customers big and small, everything from five-person shops up to 500,000-people companies, what we’re seeing is the same set of concerns,” said Tejas Vashi, senior manager for product manager at Learning@Cisco. “First of all, they are being mandated by government regulations and compliance, regardless of what vertical they exist in.”

Additionally, there are growing concerns around data protection, particularly as more and more people connect to corporate data remotely from hot spots and mobile devices, Vashi said. Everything is being done electronically and remotely, and that’s driving new devices into the enterprise on a frequent basis. With sensitive data and corporate network connection capabilities ending up on those devices, it’s increasingly important to be able to limit corporate network and data access only to those who should have such access.

Compliance, business continuity and data protection are top-of-mind issues that are raised often because of new technologies winding their way into all business environments, he said. IT professionals have to secure the devices, and there are new job skills related to security in demand because of it.

“Our customers understand that having the right people with the right talent is going to make the difference between whether they stay in compliance and have the right productivity or not. Getting out of compliance means very tough consequences for them,” Weiller said. Businesses want a way to identify the right skills in the marketplace, and that’s where certifications like CCNP Security are important, he said.

With the launch of CCNP Security, Cisco is making four new exams available for network security engineers. Although many security-focused channel partners will be expected to have a certain number of CCNP Security-certified professionals on staff, Vashi said there is also a lot of interest from channel partners (and customers) without focused security practices because of customer demand.