It’s finally here. The Cisco certification program, as we know it, has changed. It’s difficult to keep track of all the information. Every level of Cisco certification has been affected, but the CCNA level is the most significant.
These changes are being implemented by Cisco based on employer and industry demand. They are streamlining the process of getting certified, which should be good news for learners. Here are some ways the changes could impact you.
CCENT is no more
CCENT (Cisco Certified Entrance Networking Technician) certification has been eliminated. This is one of the biggest changes. Many IT professionals referred to the CCENT as the certification they received when they first started using Cisco products. It was a respected entry-level cert that everyone was familiar with.
Many people find the CCENT’s demise shocking. The CCT (Cisco Certified Technician), is the only entry-level Cisco certification below the CCNA. Although it is useful if your goal is to work in field support, the CCT does not replace the CCENT. CCT is geared towards service providers and does not dive into network theory as the CCENT.
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Training began. Getting your CCENT was an easy first step. To receive credit for either of the CCNA exams, you could take the CCENT exam. This was a natural progression.
This may seem disappointing to those who are just starting their Cisco journey. It seems like a good idea to have a stepping-stone for the CCNA. It makes sense when you think about how and why Cisco restructured their cert programs.
The new CCNA provides the foundational knowledge necessary to work in modern environments. It consists of one exam (200-301). There is less need for certifications like the CCENT.
The New CCNA
Cisco’s biggest announcement in 2018 was the plans for changes to their CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate). Cisco listened to employers’ needs for a CCNA professional. They listened to employers and made changes to their CCNA pathways to make them simpler and more accessible.
The result is a set certifications that meet industry expectations at the “associate” level. The new CCNA does not encourage overspecialization. The idea is that you don’t need to spend time learning specialized skills at this stage.
Previously, there were many paths that you could take to become a CCNA. These were the 10 CCNAs in the pre-February 2020 certification program.
CCNA Data Center
CCNA Routing & Switching
CCNA Service Provider
CCNA Cyber Ops* – Retire in May 2020
These options allow you to move on to more advanced certifications in the same direction as the CCNP, Cisco Certified Network Professional, and finally the CCIE, Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert. This structure had a problem.
These specialty roles were not likely to be offered by employers at the associate level. They are looking for someone who is able to understand the basics and have a solid foundation. You can use this knowledge in any direction that suits the company’s needs. With more experience, career focus should be later.
Nine of the CCNA paths have been retired and replaced with a single CCNA certification. The new CCNA will cover a broad range of topics in security and networking. The new CCNA will place a greater emphasis on the validation of associate-level skills. Cisco can streamline the exam process by removing the specializations. The 200-301 CCNA exam is all that is required for the new CCNA. This certification is more relevant to industry needs. This cert makes it easier to follow the Cisco certification path.
*A note on CCNA Cyber Ops. This section has covered nine of the 10 CCNA certificates so far. The tenth and most notable cer