Cisco certifications are some of the most respected and sought-after certifications in the IT industry. To adapt to modern changes in networking and cybersecurity, Cisco is launching new and improved certifications on February 24, 2020.
Whether you already hold a Cisco certification or are considering earning your first, getting up to speed on the changes will help you determine where you need to start on the certification path.
Cisco Certification Structure Changes
The new Cisco certifications are meant to help network administrators and engineers become well-rounded in development, automation, networking and security. IT professionals can no longer afford to stick to routing or security or wireless networking because the modern-day network is intertwined.
As a result, there have been a few structural changes to the certification tracks. You will still be able to achieve a CCNA, CCIE or CCNP certification. But now, you can earn the Cisco Certified Specialist credential by taking any exam except for the new CCNA exam. The new Cisco Certified Specialist exam will act as a mid-point for people who want to gain a CCNP.
After achieving professional status, you can move on toward your Expert (CCIE) and Architect (CCAr) certifications.
CCNA Track Updates
As noted above, the CCNA gives you access to all of the security and networking fundamentals and will include programmability and automation. The new, consolidated CCNA will replace all of the current CCNA specialty certifications, from CCNA Cloud to CCNA Wireless. It also replaces the CCDA.
The new CCNA will not require any prerequisites. However, Cisco does recommend that you have at least one year of experience managing Cisco solutions, an understanding of general IP addressing and knowledge of networking basics.
Lastly, you will only need to complete one exam to earn the CCNA, rather than taking multiple exams to achieve the associate status.
Note: If you’ve already started working toward a CCNA certification, keep going. You’ll have until February 23, 2020, to finish your current CCNA. If you complete it by that date, you’ll receive the new CCNA certification and training badge in your corresponding focus area.
CCNP Track Updates
Most of the CCNP certifications are also retiring. Instead of starting your specialization track at the CCNA level, you’ll now take the one CCNA and then specialize with the CCNP.
There are currently eight professional-level certifications ranging from CCDP to CCNP Routing & Switching to CCNP Wireless. Here are the five tracks replacing them:
Like the CCNA, you will no longer have formal prerequisites for the CCNP certifications. And instead of taking three or four exams to pass, you only need to take two — one core exam and one concentration exam of your choosing.
CCIE Track Updates
The Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert and Cisco Certified Design Expert certifications are changing as well. There will soon be just six CCIE tracks:
Rather than taking a dedicated CCIE written exam, you only have to pass the CCNP concentration exam and then participate in an eight-hour lab. Except for the two CCIE Enterprise options, every CCNP certification matches up with a CCIE to create a seamless transition from Professional to Expert.
With Enterprise, you have two tracks you can follow: CCIE Enterprise Infrastructure and CCIE Enterprise Wireless. After taking the CCNP Enterprise exam, you can take a lab requirement for Wireless or Infrastructure based on your job role and interests.
New DevNet Certification Track
On top of the new Cisco certification paths, Cisco will also introduce a new certification track called DevNet. This certification program is meant to enhance software developers, automation specialists, DevOps engineers and other software-based professions.
The certification track will allow you to strengthen your skills in applications, automation, infrastructure development and design within the cloud, network, Internet of Things (IoT) and DevOps.
It will follow the same track structure as the others, moving from DevNet Associate to Specialist to Professional. As a result, DevNet will also support the same guidelines: you can take an associate-level exam at the CCNA level, become a Specialist after passing one test or take two exams to become a Professional.
New Recertification Policy
Beyond the tracks you follow, Cisco will also update its recertification policy across the board. Recertification requirements previously ranged from two to five years, depending on your level of expertise. Now, all certifications will have a three-year recertification deadline, except for the Architect level, which is still five years.
Certification holders will be able to recertify by completing continuing education activities, taking exams or a combination of both within the three-year period. Continuing education activities include attending Cisco Live sessions, completing instructor-led training and taking online courses.
As a heads up, you must meet all recertification requirements before your credential expires. Once it expires, you’ll have to repeat the track to regain your certified status.
Prepare for Cisco Certifications With New Horizons
Cisco's status as a leading enterprise networking solution positions it as one of the premier companies for earning IT certifications. But transitioning from Associate to Professional to Expert isn’t easy — and you might need additional help as you navigate the new Cisco certifications.
New Horizons’ team of experts can help you gain the training you need to prepare for Cisco’s new certifications before 2020 starts.
Ready to begin? Take a look at our existing Cisco courses now. And don’t forget to keep New Horizons top of mind when the new Cisco certifications and training courses become available in 2020!