PCNSE Exam- A Complete Pathway

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Pcnse exam pathway

Palo Alto Networks Certified Network Security Engineer (PCNSE) certification is one of the best-sought certifications. Only a few vendors offer network engineer expert certifications and Palo Alto Networks is one of them. Palo Alto Network technology plays a pivotal role in the integration of multiple security technologies to reduce the risk of cyberattacks. The PCNSE-certified engineers use the Palo Alto Network Next-Generation Firewalls to protect the IT environment. Hence, you need to strive to learn the Palo Alto Firewalls.

This blog provides a complete overview of the PCNSE exam so that it gets easier for you to get all the details relevant to the exam under one roof. You will learn about the exam details, cost, worth, salary, difficulty, skills learned, and pathway to obtain the PCNSE certification. After learning all the details, you will be able to determine whether this exam is fit for your career goals and learning skills.

About the PCNSE Exam

The PCNSE exam offered by Palo Alto Networks is an expert-level certification that is designed for network security engineers. The exam tests a candidate’s ability to design, deploy, operate, manage, and troubleshoot. The candidate must be able to use the Palo Alto Networks Next-Generation Firewall efficiently. 

Exam Format of PCNSE Exam

Certification name: Palo Alto Networks Certified Network Security Engineer 

Exam series: PCNSE 

Seat time: 80 minutes 

Number of items: 70-80 items 

Format: multiple choice, multiple select multiple choice (more than one correct answer), and drag-and-drop items.

Languages: English 

Skills Required to Take the Exam

    • Ability to plan, deploy, configure, operate, and troubleshoot Palo Alto Networks product portfolio components. 
    • Ability to have product expertise and understand the unique aspects of the Palo Alto Networks product portfolio and how to deploy appropriately. 
  • A clear understanding of networking and security policies used by PAN-OS software.

Intended Audience of the PCNSE Exam

The Palo Alto Networks Certified Network Security Engineer (PCNSE) exam is designed for students who are interested in learning advanced networking skills. This exam targets the audience who is interested in making their career as: 

  • Network Security Engineers
  • System Engineers
  • Systems Integrators
  • Support Engineers

What Topics Must be Prepared for the Exam?

Domain 1: Core Concepts 

1.2Identify how Palo Alto Networks products work together to improve PAN-OS services

1.2 Determine and assess appropriate interfaces or zone types for various environments

1.3 Identify decryption deployment strategies

1.4 Enforce User-ID

1.5 Determine how and when to use the Authentication policy

1.6 Differentiate between the fundamental functions that reside on the management plane and data plane

1.7 Define multiple virtual systems (multi-vsys) environment

1.8 Sample Questions

Domain 2: Deploy and Configure Core Components 

2.1 Configure Management Profiles

2.2 Deploy and configure Security Profiles

2.3 Configure zone protections, packet buffer protection, and DoS protection

2.4 Design the deployment configuration of a Palo Alto Networks firewall

2.5 Configure authorization, authentication, and device access

2.6 Configure and manage certificates

2.7 Configure routing

2.8 Configure NAT

2.9 Configure site-to-site tunnels

2.10 Configure service routes

2.11 Configure application-based QoS

Domain 3: Deploy and Configure Features and Subscriptions 

3.1 Configure App-ID

3.2 Configure GlobalProtect

3.3 Configure decryption

3.4 Configure User-ID

3.5 Configure WildFire

3.6 Configure Web Proxy

3.7 Sample Questions

Domain 4: Deploy and Configure Firewalls Using Panorama 

4.1 Configure templates and template stacks

4.2 Configure device groups

4.3 Manage firewall configurations within Panorama

4.4 Sample Questions

Domain 5: Manage and Operate 

5.1 Manage and configure log forwarding

5.2 Plan and execute the process to upgrade a Palo Alto Networks system

5.3 Manage HA functions

Domain 6: Troubleshooting 

6.1 Troubleshoot site-to-site tunnels

6.2 Troubleshoot interfaces

6.3 Troubleshoot Decryption

6.3 Troubleshoot Decryption

6.4 Troubleshoot routing

6.5 General Troubleshooting

6.6 Troubleshoot resource protections

6.7 Troubleshoot GlobalProtect

6.8 Troubleshoot policies

6.9 Troubleshoot HA functions

Read more: Palo Alto Network Certification Exam Guide

Recommended Courses and Experience for the Exam

There are no prerequisites to take the exam. Anyone can take the exam. 

Recommended training includes the Firewall Essentials: 

  • Configuration and Management (EDU-210) course and the 
  • Panorama: Managing Firewalls at Scale (EDU-220) course
  • The Firewall: Troubleshooting (EDU-330) course is optional but helpful as well. 
  • Candidates are recommended to have the equivalent of 6 to 12 months of hands-on experience deploying and configuring the product.

Cost of the PCNSE Exam

The cost of the PCNSE exam is fixed. You need to buy the certification voucher for the exam. The cost of the PCNSE exam voucher is USD 175. The cost varies from country to country depending on the factors like VTA.  The exam voucher is delivered in 3-4 hours. It is valid for 12 months. Each voucher is only used once. Discount is offered if you buy the bulk vouchers.

1-24 None
25-49 15%
50-74 20%
75-100 25%
100+ 30%

Click here: To get PCNSE Exam Voucher

Study Material for the Preparation of the PCNSE Exam

  1. Study Guide:  Read the detailed and updated study guide. This will help you to form a pathway to prepare for the exam.
  2. Digital Learning: Digital Learning will help you prepare from the pre-set lectures. The experts prepare these lectures to help the students learn the course of PCNSE. 
  3. Instructor-led Learning: Candidates who need the guidance and material of the Authorized Training Partners (ATP) are directed to prepare from the instructor-led course. 
  4. Community Learning: The experts and the students in the Palo Alto community are also helpful in learning the concepts. 
  5. Practice of Concepts: Practice of concepts is a secretive way many candidates use to pass the PCNSE exam. The questions from reliable braindumps help to practice the concepts precisely. 

Steps to Earn the PCNSE Certification Badge

The pathway to obtain the PCNSE exam is given below:

Step 1: Take the Palo Alto Networks Certified Cybersecurity Entry-level Technician (PCCET) Exam. This exam is entry-level for learning fundamental skills. 

Step 2: Take the Palo Alto Networks Certified Security Administrator (PCNSA) Exam. This exam prepares you for taking the expert-level certification. 

Step 3: Take the Palo Alto Networks Certified Security Engineer (PCNSE) Exam. Passing this exam will make you eligible to earn the digital badge

Worth of PCNSE Certification

The PCNSE certification has the following perks and benefits:

Greater Recognition:

Palo Alto certifications are widely recognized certifications in the field of cybersecurity. PCNSE certification has great demand. 

Extended Course:

The course tested in PCNSE certification is advanced and updated. Deployment, management, and troubleshooting of core components as well as configuration of firewalls. 

Higher salary:

Network security engineers earn a handsome salary package. According to the 2023 stats of  ZipRecruiter, the average salary Palo Alto Network Security Engineer is given below: 

Result Size: 668 x 502
Hourly rate Monthly rate HYearly rate
$20 $ 3,428 $41,141

Diverse Lab Sessions:

The lab sessions included in the PCNSE course outline are instrumental in learning the deployment of the Palo Alto Firewall. It helps you to learn how to deploy security techniques. 

Guaranteed Job:

Various job roles are open to the Palo Alto Certified Network Engineers. Major job roles offered to them are:

  1. Cybersecurity Engineer
  2. Malware Analyst 
  3. Chief Information Security Officer – CISO
  4. Security Architect
  5. Penetration Tester
  6. Computer Forensics Analyst 
  7. Cloud Security Specialist
  8. Application Security Engineer

Read more: Is PCNSA Certification worth it

Difficulty Level of PCNSE Exam

PCNSE exam is an expert-level exam designed for engineers. It is hard to crack, which is determined by the fact that the passing percentage of the exam is 60%. This means that only 60 percent of the candidates are able to pass the exam. 

Tips to pass the PCNSE Exam

We will discuss the tips and tricks to pass the PCNSE exam. 

  • Study the official exam guide. 
  • Understand the audience of the exam. 
  • Make sure that you fit the eligibility criteria of the exam. 
  • Learn the exam course from either a seld-paced or instructor-led course. 
  • Practice the exam questions from reliable past exam questions. 
  • Take a mock test to mark the level of preparation. 
  • Revise before you take the exam. 

Your Final Move!

The Palo Alto Network Security Engineer (PCNSE) exam is the road to success for security professionals. Every IT organization needs a security professional to omit any vulnerability of penetration into the system of the organization. The security of the candidate’s future is why thousands of candidates opt for the PCNSE certification. You must decide on a pathway to obtain the certification to make sure that the exam is cleared in a single attempt. The exam difficulty is much reduced through the suitable course material.


  • 15-day waiting period between the 1st failed attempt and the 2nd attempt
  • 30-day waiting period between the 2nd failed attempt and the 3rd attempt
  • 90-day waiting period between the 3rd failed attempt and any subsequent attempt thereafter


The certification is valid for 2 years.

You must keep your PCNSA and/or PCCET certification to keep the PCNSE certification valid.

To take the PCNSE exam, you must register to create an account and sign in to PearsonVUE.

Yes, you can take the online exam at home or office. Otherwise, you can choose to take the exam at the exam center.



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