PCCSE, PCNSA or PCNSE Which Certification You Should Go For in 2024

Earning a Palo Alto certification shows you really know your stuff when it comes to using their security tools. It’s great for anyone looking to move up in IT security.

The whole idea of the Palo Alto certification path is to prove that IT professionals can keep the internet safe. The certifications they offer are all about building secure systems, cutting down risks, and blocking cyber-attacks.

There are three levels of certification you can go through, starting from beginner all the way to expert:

  1. Prisma Certified Cloud Security Engineer (PCCSE)
  2. Palo Alto Networks Certified Network Security Administrator (PCNSA)
  3. Palo Alto Networks Certified Network Security Engineer (PCNSE)

Getting these certifications can set you up for roles like network security engineer, network security administrator, or cybersecurity associate. 

It’s important to mention that Datacipher, an authorized training partner (ATP) of Palo Alto Networks, provides these extensive certifications.

Exploring the Three Levels of Palo Alto Certifications 

Let’s break down the certifications: PCCSE, PCNSA, and PCNSE. We’ll check out what each exam involves, who can take them, and why getting a Palo Alto certification is a great move.

Prisma Certified Cloud Security Engineer (PCCSE)

The Prisma Certified Cloud Security Engineer (PCCSE) certification shows you are good at using and looking after ‘Prisma Cloud.’ People with this certification are aware of their stuff about Palo Alto Networks Prisma Cloud tools and tech. 

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To get ready for the PCCSE certification, you need to know about containers, cloud setups, and computing stuff. Knowing these basics really helps you grasp cloud security better when you’re taking the exam.

Moreover, recommended trainings include Prisma Cloud Monitoring and Securing (EDU-150) and Prisma Cloud: Onboarding and Operationalizing (EDU-152).

Target audience

Anyone who wants to show what they know about Prisma Cloud, like cloud security, customer success, DevOps, cloud support, and professional services, can join. This includes engineers in Appsec, cybersecurity architects, and team leads.

Topics covered

The examination covers a diverse range of topics, such as,

  • Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) – 21%
  • Cloud Workload Protection (CWP) – 21%
  • Install, Upgrade, and Backup / Prisma Cloud – 19%
  • Cloud Network Security and Identity-Based Micro-segmentation Enterprise Edition – 11%
  • Prisma Cloud Code Security (PCCS) – 12%
  • Identity and Access Management (IAM) / Prisma Cloud Data Security (PCDS) – 16%

Exam details

The PCCSE test has many questions with multiple choices. You answer 75-85 questions and it costs $175 USD. You have 90 minutes for the test, but the exam itself is 80 minutes. Remember, it’s only in English.

Certification objectives

The PCCSE certification tests your knowledge and skills for using Prisma Cloud. It covers deploying, onboarding, and managing all aspects of Prisma Cloud. This includes Prisma Cloud, Prisma Cloud Enterprise, and Prisma Cloud Compute.

Prisma Cloud Platform provides a safe and compliant space for apps, data, and cloud-native tech in hybrid clouds. It also handles cloud security posture management (CWPP).

PCNSA (Palo Alto Networks Certified Network Security Administrator)

The Palo Alto Networks Certified Network Security Administrator (PCNSA) certification checks if someone knows how to use and manage Palo Alto Networks’ advanced firewalls. It’s all about learning how to set up, run, and keep these firewalls working. Such practices keep networks safe from new cyber threats. 

This certificate proves that an individual can plan and install these security tools effectively. They’ll know how to adjust the firewall settings to control user access, handle apps, enforce time-based rules, and filter content. If set up right, these firewalls help stop cyber-attacks before they happen.

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This certification doesn’t require any prerequisites. But, it is recommended to take the Firewall Essentials: Configuration and Management (EDU-210) course.

Target audience 

The PCNSA certification is designed for security administrators who manage and operate Palo Alto Networks’ security tools. It’s also great for people who’ve completed the Firewall 8.1 Essentials: Configuration and Management (EDU-210) courses. If you’re a network security administrator, engineer, or a network administrator, this certification can really benefit you.

Topics covered

The PCNSA exam covers a few main areas: Device Management and Services, Managing Objects, Policy Evaluation and Management, and Securing Traffic. Each of these big topics breaks down into more specific subjects:

  • Next-Generation Security Platform and Architecture
  • Firewall Configuration
  • Security and NAT Policies
  • App-ID
  • Content-ID
  • User-ID
  • URL Filtering
  • Monitoring and Reporting
  • Security Best Practices

The PCNSA study guide provides details on the above exam topics.

Exam details

The PCNSA exam includes multiple-choice questions, scenarios with graphics, and matching types. It has 60 to 75 questions and costs $140 USD. The exam takes 80 minutes to complete. You can take it in English or Japanese language.

Here’s how the exam will cover the key topics:

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Certification objectives

Palo Alto Networks’ tech is super connected and automatic. Their products include a set of different technologies that all work together to stop cyberattacks. The PCNSA is all about finding people who know how to use Palo Alto Networks’ Next-Generation Firewalls to keep networks safe from the latest cyber threats.

Palo Alto Networks Certified Network Security Engineer (PCNSE)

The Palo Alto Networks Certified Network Security Engineer (PCNSE) certification offers individuals with in-depth knowledge and skills to design, setup, manage, and fix Palo Alto Networks systems. Security Engineers usually need 6-12 months of hands-on experience deploying and configuring the NGFW before taking this exam.

This credential shows that the holder can successfully set up and manage Palo Alto Networks Next-Generation Firewalls along with other specific technologies. It’s an important proof of skill in blocking cyber threats and maintaining strong network security.

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There are no prerequisites for this certification. It’s recommended to take a few courses to prepare. The first course is Firewall Essentials: Configuration and Management, also known as EDU-210. Then there’s the Panorama: Managing Firewalls at Scale, or EDU-220. You should also consider the Firewall: Troubleshooting, which is course 330. 

It’s a good idea to go through the PCNSE Study Guide too. Plus, having six months of hands-on experience with the product in deployment will really help.

Target audience 

The PCNSE certification is great for anyone working with Palo Alto Networks products. It’s ideal for network security engineers, system engineers, systems integrators, and support engineers.

Topics covered

The key topics covered by PCNSE certification exam include broad topics of Core Concepts, Deploy and Configure Core Components, Deploy and Configure Features and Subscriptions, Deploy and Configure Firewalls Using Panorama, Manage and Operate, and Troubleshooting. These broad areas can be further divided into following subjects:

  • Identifying how the Palo Alto Networks products work together to detect and prevent threats
  • Identifying strategies for retaining logs using Distributed Log Collection
  • Identifying planning considerations unique to deploying Palo Alto Networks firewalls in a hybrid cloud
  • Identifying various methods for authentication, authorization, and device administration within PAN-OS software for connecting to the firewall
  • Identify the settings related to critical HA functions (link monitoring; path monitoring; HA1, HA2, and HA3 functionality; HA backup links; and differences between A/A and A/P)

Exam details

The PCNSE certification exam is a scenarios with graphics, and matching examination. It is administered by Pearson Vue. The exam consists of 70 questions. The duration of the PCNSE exam is 80 minutes, and a candidate needs to score 70-80 marks out of 100 approx. to become PCNSE. The price of the exam is $160$175. The exam is answerable in English and Japanese.

The coverage of key topics in the exam is as follows:

DomainWeight (%)
Core Concepts12%
Deploy and Configure Core Components20%
Deploy and Configure Features and Subscriptions17%
Deploy and Configure Firewalls Using Panorama17%
Manage and Operate16%

Certification objectives

The Palo Alto Networks product line includes various technologies that work together to stop cyberattacks. The PCNSE certification shows that engineers know how to set up Palo Alto Networks Next-Generation Firewalls and use the rest of their technology effectively.

Career Implications and Opportunities 

The Palo Alto Networks certifications – PCCSE, PCNSA, and PCNSE, offer distinct career implications and opportunities:

PCCSE Certification

  • Career growth: PCCSE certification falls in the expert category. This implies you are a highly-skilled and professional cybersecurity expert. You can earn a salary around $98,000 USD with this certification.

  • Job opportunities: With PCCSE, you can be an AppSec Engineer, Cybersecurity Architects, Cortex XSOAR administrators, Analysts, Administrators, System Engineers, or even Team Leads. There are several other job opportunities for PCCSE certified people.

PCNSA Certification

  • Career growth: Having a PCNSA certification means you’re skilled with Palo Alto Networks firewalls, which can really bump up your salary. On average, people with this certification make $100,000 a year.

  • Job opportunities: The PCNSA helps you succeed as a Network Security Administrator, Network Engineer, or Senior Network Administrator.

PCNSE Certification

  • Career growth: Those with a PCNSE certification can easily setup and fix Palo Alto Networks systems. They also earn pretty well, averaging about $101,787 a year.

  • Job opportunities: PCNSE opens doors to roles like Network Security Engineers, Cybersecurity Consultants, or Firewall Administrators.

Thus, each Palo Alto Networks certification – PCCSE, PCNSA, and PCNSE, provides a solid foundation for a rewarding career in cybersecurity. These certifications can help speed up your career growth, open up various job opportunities, and come with good salaries. So, getting these certifications boosts your skills and moves you forward in the fast-paced world of network security.  

Credibility of PCCSE, PCNSA, and PCNSE Certifications in the IT and Cybersecurity Industry

The PCCSE, PCNSA, and PCNSE certifications from Palo Alto Networks are really respected in IT and cybersecurity industry. They help professionals specialize and move up in their careers. Holding one of these certifications shows you’re skilled in handling Palo Alto Networks’ cybersecurity solutions and marks you as competent in network security.

These certifications are offered through various partnerships with educational institutions and industries. Some of the examples ae as mentioned below:

Educational partnerships

Palo Alto Networks recently teamed up with schools to help students build careers in cybersecurity. Their Cybersecurity Academy program gives free courses to eligible universities, colleges, and high schools. This educational service helps students get real-world skills by working with virtual firewalls and also includes training for teachers.

Collaborative programs 

Palo Alto Networks has teamed up with colleges to provide key certification programs. For example, the ANZ PCNSE Bootcamp, in collaboration with Palo Alto Networks, offers great study chances and perks for those who join.

Testimonials or Case Studies of Professionals Who Have Pursued These Certifications

Palo Alto Networks certifications are highly valued by both industries and the individuals who take them. Here’s what some of the participants had to say after completing one of these certifications:

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Datacipher – Palo Alto Networks ATP

Earlier, we talked about how Datacipher, an ATP for Palo Alto Networks, is super important for these certifications. They focus on building Palo Alto Networks certification programs, like PCCSE, PCNSA, and PCNSE, to grow the number of certified engineers. They offer certified instructors, original course materials, and always stick to Palo Alto Networks’ official guidelines.

The goal of these certification programs is to keep students updated on the latest cybersecurity threats that might affect businesses. They test knowledge about Palo Alto Networks tools such as the Next-Generation Firewall, Panorama, Prisma Cloud, and CoreText.


If you’re thinking about a career in cybersecurity, the PCCSE, PCNSA, and PCNSE certifications from Palo Alto are really important. They show that you know how to use Palo Alto Networks technology, which is a big deal in the cybersecurity world.

Cybersecurity keeps changing, so it’s crucial to keep learning. About 91% of cybersecurity experts say it’s vital to keep updating your skills to handle new threats. If you want to do well, think about how these certifications fit with your personal and career goals.

Getting practical experience is also key. It’s a good idea to use labs and simulation tools to build real skills. This hands-on practice will prepare you to tackle today’s cyber threats better. Going for these certifications not only improves your job prospects but also keeps you relevant and skilled in this competitive field.