According to Palo Alto Networks, 80% of individuals certify for competitive advantage and 75% of individuals, for credibility—both factors that greatly help cloud security engineers secure high-paying cybersecurity jobs. 

And, for cybersecurity engineers seeking a professional advantage, the Prisma Cloud Certification Security Engineer (PCCSE) certification (a recent addition to the  Palo Alto Networks Certifications collection) is a popular choice.

Targeting security engineers looking to specialize in cloud security—primarily, Palo Alto’s own Prisma Cloud solutions—the PCCSE certification assesses an individual’s theoretical knowledge and practical capabilities in using Prisma Cloud for cloud security management. 

If you’ve enrolled for a PCCSE certification, then you must have an idea of how challenging it can get—not only is the syllabus quite all-encompassing, but you’ll also be tested on how you can apply Prisma Cloud in real-world scenarios.  

In this blog, we’ll be covering the various aspects of PCCSE exams like the general guidelines provided by Palo Alto, the blueprint, and how to prepare for the exam—plus, extra resources like training programs, sample questions, and more.

The PCCSE certification: At a glance

Let’s start with the basics—registering for the exam, the fee structure, and more.

PCCSE registration process

Registering for the PCCSE examination is pretty simple—simply create an account with Palo Alto on the Pearson Vue website—their online examination partner. You can register and pay for the exam in advance or on the day as well, as long as there’s an available slot in the Pearson Vue testing center.

If you’re looking for flexibility, then you can take the exams through Online Proctored (OP)—which can be accessed at any time and any place. 

Also, Palo Alto recommends that you use your business email address to register for the exam, especially if the process is initiated by your company as this affects the company’s partner status

PCCSE exam fees

The exam fee for the PCCSE examination is USD 175. Individuals can pay the fees directly when registering for the examination or buy pre-paid PCCSE exam vouchers for better convenience. These vouchers are valid for 12 months from the date of purchase.

However, they’re non-returnable and the minimum number of vouchers per purchase order is 10. 

PCCSE exam format

The examination duration is 75 minutes and includes around 75 to 85 multiple-choice questions. However, the identification process and signing an NDA can take an extra 5-10 minutes. 

The examination is scored out of 100 and the passing score is 70. As Palo Alto uses computerized scoring, it doesn’t provide a rescoring service. 

Studying for the PCCSE Certification: Best practices

When it comes to preparing for the PCCSE examinations, Palo Alto’s own resources for exam participants–the blueprint, study guide, and free training—are a good place to start. 

However, if you’re looking for extra help, then Palo Alto’s training partners, online communities, and study groups are other paths to explore.

 Let’s look at each of these options in detail.

Palo Alto’s free resources

At the moment, Palo Alto provides three main resources to support cybersecurity professionals as they prepare for the examinations.

The PCCSE blueprint

A downloadable PDF, the PCCSE blueprint, gives you a detailed curriculum of the topics covered for the certification along with the weightage for each. At the time of writing this blog, here’s how the blueprint prioritizes the various topics:

PCCSE exam weightage

As the blueprint outlines the exact exam topics, you can focus your study efforts on the most relevant ones, without wasting time on areas not covered in the exam. Plus, the blueprint can also act as the foundation for your study plan.

PCCSE Study Guide

A companion resource to the blueprint, PCCSE’s Study Guide is a 300+ page digital textbook on using Prisma Cloud. The study guide is designed to be a one-stop shop, covering all the exam objectives outlined in the blueprint in detail.

However, while the study guide is extensive, with all sorts of important details and resources, it’s only a starting point. Only memorizing the study guide will not guarantee a passing score. 

PCCSE-related training courses

A great resource to prepare for the PCCSE examination is the digital learning courses offered by Palo Alto. The study guide recommends the following training programs:

However, you can also try out their other cloud security courses or watch on-demand webinars, to be extra prepared.

Third-party resources

Self-learning might not be the best option for some people—especially those who lack intrinsic motivation or prefer collaborative learning styles. If that’s you, then here are some additional options to consider.

Authorized training partners

Palo Alto has a large, global network of training partners with accredited instructors and a variety of training programs—in-person, online, and even private coaching. These courses provide a structured learning environment with a qualified instructor who can explain complex topics, answer your questions in real time, and clarify any doubts you may have.

Plus, you can also get access to extra resources like a detailed coursebook or unlimited lab access. 

For example—Datacipher, provides two courses related to PCCSE exams:

These courses are offered both online and in physical classrooms at select Datacipher centers and come with printable resources and practical labs. The latter even includes simulations or real-world network issues so you can get some hands-on practice. 

Private study groups

This can be a great option for people just starting their cloud security careers or university students. Simply search for a public study group—either online or near you—and see if you can join them. Most study groups are welcoming towards newcomers. 

One way to find study groups is via online cloud security forums and communities. You can also try searching on social platforms like LinkedIn or X. If you can’t find a study group you like, the next option is starting your own—either at your company or university. 

With more and more people enrolling for PCCSE certifications every year, you’ll definitely be able to find people in your circle. 

Other tips to prepare for your PCCSE exam

What to expect—before, during, and after the PCCSE exam

Let’s explore what the actual examination process looks like and what you need to keep in mind so you aren’t thrown by any unexpected curveballs.

Before the exam

  • For in-person exams, check if you’ve got a valid government ID. Some of the accepted IDs include your driver’s license and passport
  • For online exams, review the technical requirements, and other online proctoring guidelines
  • Palo Alto (via Pearson VUE) offers some testing accommodations like extra time or breaks, when required. You can apply for one by writing to certification@paloaltonetworks.com describing your needs

Exam day

  • Get to the examination center on time, or choose a quiet room, if you’re doing it online
  • Be prepared for additional inspections like being asked to empty pockets (onsite) or doing a 360-degree room scan (online)

After the exam

Sample score report

  • You’ll receive your score report as soon as you complete your exam. It’ll show you your score for each domain along with a pass/fail status. (Here’s a sample score report)
  • If you’ve passed the exam, you can go over to the Credly website to download your digital certificate
  • If you’ve failed, you can retake the exam after a set waiting period. This is 15 days for the first failed attempt, 30 days for the second, and 90 days for others

Also, if you’ve received a low score and want to bump it up, you can sit for the same exam again after 18 months (545 days). 

Ace your PCCSE Certification exam with Datacipher

The PCCSE exam can do a lot for your career from taking your salary to the coveted 6-figures to getting you placed in top tech companies. So, it’s important to arm yourself with the best support. 

At Datacipher, we provide learners with access to pretty much everything you need to not just pass the exam but get the highest score—experienced instructors, supplemental resources, unlimited access to virtual labs that simulate real-world cyber security scenarios, and more.

Check out our PCCSE courses or get in touch to plan a custom study program.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What is the passing score for the PCCSE certification exam?

The minimum score to pass your PCCSE examination is 70%.

2. How to claim the PCCSE digital badge?

You can claim your PCCSE digital badge through Credly. Once you complete the PCCSE exam, you’ll receive an email invitation to access Credly, Palo Alto, certification management system. 

Simply log into your Credly account and download your badge. 

3. How many questions are there in the PCCSE certification exam?

There are 75-85 multiple-choice questions in the PCCSE examination. 

4. Are there any Palo Alto authorized training providers offering PCCSE exam preparation courses?

Yes, Palo Alto has a robust network of Authorized Training Partners (ATPs) that deliver courses and specialized training for the PCCSE certification. You can find a list of courses and training partners on the Palo Alto Networks website. 

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