During Accelerate 2023, Fortinet has introduced the new Fortinet NSE Certification Program which will come into effect on October 1st 2023. Let’s summarize what will change and what is important to know:
Update – 08/08/2023: The Fortinet Certified Engineer level will now be known as Fortinet Certified Solution Specialist.
Update – 09/01/2023: There is a nice website from Fortinet that gives a lot of information regarding the transition from the NSE- to the new certification level.
First of all, in the future there will no longer be eight different NSE levels but only five proficiency levels. Each proficiency level will have one or more certifications that align with different professional career paths. The following picture shows the assignment of the old NSE levels to the new proficiency levels and also the new certifications.
What do I have to do to earn the respective certifications?
As before you do not have to join any official training classes – you just have to pass specific exams. However, attending the appropriate training for the exam is helpful and recommended. Let’s have a closer look to the different levels:
Fortinet Certified Fundamentals – Cybersecurity
This is the Cybersecurity entry-level and correspond to the former NSE 1 and 2 level. To achieve this certification you have to pass the “Introduction to the Threat Landscape” exam and one of the two elective exams “Getting Started in Cybersecurity” or “Technical Introduction to Cybersecurity”. The first course addresses the sales-oriented people, the second the technicians. There are corresponding self-paced trainings on Fortinets training portal and you can take the exams web-based and for free.
Fortinet Certified Associate – Cybersecurity
This level addresses cybersecurity professionals who need to execute high-level configuration and monitoring tasks on FortiGate devices. This level aligns to the former NSE-3 level. To gain this certification, you have to complete the self-paced “FortiGate Operator” course and pass the “FortiGate Operator” exam.
Fortinet Certified Professional – “Network Security”, “Public Cloud Security”, “Security Operations”
Now it’s getting technical 😉 – the “Professional” level comes in three different “flavors” and combines the former NSE 4, 5 and 6 levels. You will find the necessary exams in the picture below.
Fortinet Certified Engineer – “Zero Trust Access”, “Network Security”, “Public Cloud Security”, “Security Operations”, “OT Security”
The former NSE 7 level comes with no fewer than five different “flavors”. The following exams are required:
Fortinet Certified Expert
Last but not least we will find the old NSE 8 level with the new name “Fortinet Certified Expert”. Except the name, nothing changes here.
Exam and Certification Badges
With the new program, there is a lot of talk about exams, certifications and badges. So what does that mean:
Exam badges are issued for successfully passed exams. They show the exam name and the version on it. Once you have have collected all the necessary exam badges for a proficency level, you will be issued the corresponding certification badge. Example: you pass the “NSE 4 FortiOS” and “NSE 5 FortiManager” exam and receive the the corresponding two exam badges. These two exam badges together do meet the requirements for the “FCP – Network Security” certification, so you will be issued with this certification badge. (Please note that the two exams cannot be more than 2 years apart.)
Ok, after we have that – what about the validity period and recertification?
Certification badges have a validity of two years (only the Fortinet Certified Expert stays active for three years). So you have to recertify every two years if you do not want your certification badges to expire.
And how to recertify? There are two ways: pass the necessary exam(s) again, or complete a higer-level exam while the current certification is still active. Here you have to make sure that you stay within the same “flavor”: if you want to recertify the “FCP – Network Security”, you can do this by completing the “FCE – Network Security”.
And again – there is a special rule for the “Fortinet Certified Expert”: the FCX recertifies all active certifications for three years!
What happens to your existing certifications?
First of all, your current certification will remain active until it expires – you are not losing anything! Until October 1st, Fortinet will gradually convert the existing exams into your digital exam badges. Have a look – maybe you will already see some of them in your Fortinet Trainingportal (look for “Achievements”). But there is a catch – Fortinet will only convert your current certification if you have done the corresponding exam within the last 24 months (Oct. 1st, 2021 or later). So if you have passed the NSE-4 exam in 2020 and recertify this exam with the NSE-7 exam in 2022, then you are only getting the FCE badge, but not the FCP (because the NSE-4 exam is older than 24 months).