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Cisco Announce Certification Changes

4 min read

Cisco has announced a major certification shake-up to streamline and revitalise their CCENT, CCNA, CCNP, and CCIE offerings for the upcoming decade. As of February 24th 2020 the current exams will no longer be available, and new exams come into force. Those in the middle of studying for current exams have the option of sitting it before the February cut-off, or in some cases to map existing achievements over for partial credit.

The wide-ranging changes also see the addition of a new “DevNet” track which is focused on automation, API integration and development for the Cisco platform. Cisco has long been criticised for not keeping their exams in line with new technology…frame relay anyone? Implementing training for an emerging frontier of networking ahead of many of its rivals will no doubt attract significant attention.

Prerequisites : None

One surprising change is that prerequisites for Associate and Professional level certifications have been removed. Students confident in tackling the CCNP with no prior CCNA certification can now do so – which may prove tempting for experienced networkers who aren’t necessarily focused on Cisco. This move also takes pressure off those struggling to fit re-certification study around a busy life. With the barrier to entry taken away, allowing a certification to lapse is no longer a huge deal.

Although this may reduce the cost of certification for a few, I’d suggest caution for network newcomers hoping to go straight for a CCNP. The learning curve will be steep and could end up costing more in re-sit fees than would be saved by taking the CCNA first.

What other changes are Cisco making to CCNA certifications?

The many disparate CCNA tracks have been massively consolidated into just one exam. The CCNA Route & Switch, Cloud, Security, Datacenter, and several others have merged under the new policy. It will become apparent in February whether sacrifices have been made to the depth of the examination, or whether we have a new uber-CCNA on our hands.

How about the CCNP?

There are now just two exams required to earn a CCNP under the “next level certification” system. The “Core” exam, which is likely to be similar to the existing ROUTE/SWITCH we are familiar with, and  a second “concentration” exam – a specialist topic which can be taken an a certification in its own right should you wish. Despite being called the “Core” exam, Cisco don’t demand that it be taken before the specialist exam, that is left up to the student.

Some of the available concentration exams are:

  • Advanced Routing and Switching
  • Implementing Cisco SD-WAN
  • Designing Enterprise Wireless

You get the picture. Where there used to be a curriculum dedicated to wireless for example, it’s now an add-on exam for the CCNP.

In more minor news, the much-loved “Route & Switch” track has been renamed the “Enterprise” track, the certifications still only lasts three years, and the design certs have been rolled up into other certifications.

What!?! The CCDA and CCDP have disappeared?

Yes, I’m sorry to say that the CCDA and CCDP design certifications will be discontinued in the new world. The idea behind this is to increase exposure to planning and design as part of the CCNA and CCNP. I can see what Cisco are trying to do; empowering engineers to be more accountable for solutions that they are implementing, but I think there will be some push back from the community on this. If Game of Thrones gets a petition then why shouldn’t this?

I’m a masochist, CCIE me

This is a bit of a strange one to be honest. The CCIE now only really consists of the lab exam, as the 300-401 written exam is also required to attain the CCNP. However if I know Cisco like I think I know Cisco, that new lab exam will be a doozy to make up for it.

If self-flagellating with rusty fish hooks interests you then Cisco has also noted that holding the CCIE for twenty consecutive years gains you “Emeritus” status so you don’t have to take it again! Yay.

Hopefully this has given you some insight into the changes Cisco will be making in February. To find out more, check out Cisco’s certification landing page.