14 March 2020 | Produced by Kandy Shaw
For the first time in 26 years, Cisco have made major updates to their certification pathway and there are some exciting changes. The most significant change is a new CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate). Whereas with the old pathway, you had to take multiple exams in order to gain your CCNA certification, now there is only one course and one exam. This new exam covers networking and security fundamentals, as well as automation and programmability. The idea behind the update is to bring networkers and developers together. Network programmability is very much a part of the new design.
So, let’s firstly have a quick look at the old Cisco pathway and then we can discuss the changes…
Old Cisco Certification Pathway
Image Source: https://www.cbtnuggets.com/
As shown in the image above, the old CCNA consisted of:
- 9 individual CCNA certifications and the CCDA (Cisco Certified Design Associate)
- CCNA certification + 4 additional exams required for each Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) Certification
- Cisco Certified Design Professional (CCDP) required 3 exams in addition to the Cisco Certified Design Associate (CCDA) certification
Now, let’s look at the new pathway.
New Cisco Certification Pathway
Image Source: https://www.cbtnuggets.com/
The first thing you might have noticed with the new pathway is that CCENT (Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician) has been abolished. Now there are no prerequisites to the new CCNA as prerequisites have been removed at both associate and professional levels.
Even though there are no prerequisites for the CCNA 200-301 exam, Cisco recommends at least one years’ experience of implementing and administering Cisco solutions, knowledge of basic IP addressing, and a solid understanding of networking basics. So, what does the new CCNA consist of?
- A single, consolidated CCNA course and exam
- Focus on route/switch but also includes basic knowledge of other technology areas such as security, automation and programmability
- Once you have earned the new CCNA certification, each CCNP Concentration Exam you take will reward you with a CCNA Specialist Certification
- CCNA certification is no longer required for CCNP certification
Because it has been designed to prepare professionals for associate-level IT job roles, as I said earlier, the new CCNA will validate a broad range of knowledge and skills that include security, automation and programmability. You used to have to take multiple exams in order to earn a CCNA certification, but you now only take one. Based on the latest networking technologies, software development skills, and job roles, both the new CCNA course and exam will give you solid foundations for a career in IT.
The new CCNA will replace the following certifications:
- CCNA Cloud
- CCNA Collaboration
- CCNA Data Center
- CCDA (Cisco Certified Design Associate)
- CCNA Industrial
- CCNA Routing and Switching
- CCNA Security
- CCNA Service Provider
- CCNA Wireless
Topics now covered in CCNA include:
- Network fundamentals
- Network access
- IP connectivity
- IP services
- Security fundamentals
- Automation and programmability
To make such big changes to the foundation of their certification structure, means that Cisco are also making changes higher up the certification ladder. Most Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) certifications have been retired now, so whereas with the old pathway you would have begun a specialist track at CCNA level, now CCNA 200-301 will cover networking basics and once completed you will then specialise at CCNP level. As well as this, there are now no formal prerequisites for the CCNP exams, although structurally they remain similar. You are, however, still required to pass a core exam and one of three to eight concentration exams if you wish to achieve your CCNP certification.
Another change is to the Cisco certified Internet Expert (CCIE). There are now 6 areas to choose from as ‘Enterprise’ has been added. You must pass the CCNP core exam and then take the 8-hour lab in order to achieve CCIE certification. There are two options with regards to the Enterprise pathway: CCIE Enterprise Wireless and CCIE Enterprise Infrastructure. The CCNP Enterprise exam (ENCOR 300-401) is the core exam for both, but they each then have their own specific lab requirement; CCIE Enterprise Wireless v1.0 or CCIE Enterprise Infrastructure v1.0.
Finally, there is also a brand new DevNet Associate certification which is similar to CCNA in terms of first level understanding of software. Then there is the DevNet Professional, which has the same level of rigor as CCNP but is again geared more towards software. There are also plans to release a new DevNet Expert soon, and future plans include more specialist technological concentrations.
So, all-in-all these new Cisco updates make for a more stream-lined pathway to building on your skills and strengths for a career in IT. It is believed that it will help networkers and the IT community to feel confident in their career choices for the next 25 years. You now get to ‘choose your own filling’, so to speak, with only one CCNA exam, after which you decide which specialism (or specialisms) you want to pursue. These are exciting changes and there are more on the Cisco horizon, so watch this space as we will keep you updated.