Cisco announced a couple of months ago the most significant changes in its certification program in 25 years. The new tracks are set to be released on February 24, 2020. These changes will address the needs of the modern network, requiring both infrastructure and software expertise. In this article, we explain more about the changes and what Cisco professionals can expect in the upcoming months.
Summary of the Main Changes
- New DevNet track of certification across all levels
- CCENT entry-level cert is being retired
- CCNA will be consolidated to one certification, requiring one exam
- CCNP will have only five concentration areas, requiring TWO exams
- Specialist Level is earned after the first exam in a CCNP track
- CCIE will require 2 exams, the first being a CCNP exam, the other a CCIE lab exam
- Recertification requirement will now be every 3 years
The New Cisco 2020 Certification Map
CCNA – Cisco Certified Network Associate
The CCNA is probably the most impacted of the exams. The current Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT) will be retired. At the Associate level will be the new CCNA, which will validate a broad range of foundational knowledge and skills. It will have just one exam covering networking and security fundamentals, as well as automation and programmability. The new CCNA exam (#200-301) is scheduled to go live Feb. 24, 2020. The new CCNA will replace these current certifications:
- CCNA Cloud
- CCNA Collaboration
- CCNA Cyber Ops
- CCNA Data Centre
- CCDA Design
- CCNA Industrial
- CCNA Routing and Switching
- CCNA Security
- CCNA Service Provider
- CCNA Wireless
CCNP – Cisco Certified Network Professional
Most CCNP certifications will also be retiring. At the current model, networking professionals start a specialization track at the CCNA level. For example, CCNA Security leads to CCNP Security. However, after February 24, 2020, the one CCNA exam (200-301 CCNA) will cover networking basics and then the professionals specialize at the CCNP level. You will be required to pass 2 exams: a core exam and one concentration exam. Below the complete list of the new CCNPs:
- CCNP Enterprise
- CCNP Security
- CCNP Service Provider
- CCNP Collaboration
- CCNP Data Centre
- Cisco Certified DevNet Professional
Passing any one of these exams will earn you the Cisco Certified Specialist title in that concentration. Passing the second exam will earn you the CCNP in that focus area.
CCIE – Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert
The maximum level of a Cisco career will also change. There will be six CCIE tracks, and they no longer have dedicated CCIE written exams. Instead, candidates must pass the CCNP core exam and then take the 8-hour CCIE lab in the concentration of choice.
For example, to earn the CCIE Security the candidate must pass the CCNP Security core exam (SCOR 300-701) and then sit for the 8-hour lab, CCIE Security v6.0. That’s consistent across all the new CCIEs apart from CCIE Enterprise.
In the case of the Enterprise track, there are two options: CCIE Enterprise Wireless and CCIE Enterprise Infrastructure. Both tracks adopt the CCNP Enterprise exam (ENCOR 300-401) as their written exam and then diverge at the lab requirement.
They each have a dedicated lab requirement specific to the track: CCIE Enterprise Wireless v1.0 and CCIE Enterprise Infrastructure v1.0.
Below the complete list of the new CCIEs:
- CCIE Enterprise Wireless
- CCIE Enterprise Infrastructure
- CCIE Security
- CCIE Service Provider
- CCIE Collaboration
- CCIE Data Centre
DevNet - New Certification Track
Besides the changes and updates, Cisco also announced a new certification track — DevNet. The DevNet track will combine programming (primarily with Python) and infrastructure to be more aligned with the market requirements for network and infrastructure professionals. There will be four levels to the DevNet track:
- Cisco Certified DevNet Associate (CCNA-level)
- Cisco Certified DevNet Specialist
- Cisco Certified DevNet Professional (CCNP-level)
- Cisco Certified DevNet Expert (CCIE-level) – Coming soon
These tracks follow the same conventions as the other five tracks. You can either take the associate-level core exam to get certified at the CCNA level, pass one exam to become a Specialist, or take two exams to earn the professional-level certification.
DevNet Certification Track
Benefits of the New Cisco Certification Tracks
- The ability to start where you want according to your current level of expertise - no prerequisites to start earning your associate, specialist, professional or expert level certification.
- Continuing education credits for recertification and ongoing development are available for CCNA, Cisco Certified Specialist, CCNP and CCIE.
- Easier path to CCIE status.
- New Emeritus lifetime tenure for CCIE certifications maintained continuously for 20 years.
- Badging for completing training courses.
- The recertification period for all certifications will be 3 years.
Frequently Asked Questions – FAQ’s
Q: With fewer technology tracks, how can I get certified in a technology that relates to my work?
A: Cisco designed the new training and certification program to be customizable. For example, CCNP includes more options than ever before, with a concentration exam of your choice, and you can earn training badges for completing training and Specialist certifications for passing written, proctored exams in technologies and skills that relate directly to your job, interests, and aspirations.
Q: What will happen to my existing certification when the new program goes into effect on February 24, 2020?
A: For CCNA, Specialist, and CCNP: Your current certification is still valid and will be active until its expiration date. When the new program goes into effect February 24, 2020, your current
certification will be transitioned to an equivalent in the new program.
For CCIE: If you are an active CCIE, your suspended year will be converted to an active year. For example, if your active CCIE would have been suspended beginning April 21, 2020, you will
sustain active status until April 21, 2021.
Q: Will the CCNA certification still be required as a prerequisite for professional certifications?
A: The CCNA certification will no longer be required as a prerequisite for professional certifications, giving learners the ability to start where they choose in their learning journey.
Q: What is a technology core exam?
A: A technology core exam is one of the two exams required for CCNP, CCIE, and Cisco Certified
DevNet Professional certifications. For CCNP and CCIE, there are five technology core exams available, focused on Enterprise, Security, Service Provider, Collaboration and Data Centre. Technology core exams cover the foundational and common concepts that are required for a candidate to be proficient in technology architecture. For Cisco Certified DevNet Professional, there is one DevNet core exam.
Q: What is a concentration exam?
A: A concentration exam is one of the two exams required for professional-level certification (CCNP). Concentration exams take a deeper dive into a relevant and related technology to the core, allowing the candidate to choose a topic that is either of interest or related to his or her chosen technology area of focus. For CCNP, there are concentration exams for all five technology tracks, Enterprise, Security, Service Provider, Collaboration, and Data Centre. There are also multiple concentration exams available for Cisco Certified DevNet Professional.
Q: Am I required to pass the technology core exam before I can take a concentration exam within the same track?
A: No, you may take the exams in any order you choose.
Q: How is the CCIE lab exam format changing?
A: The CCIE lab format is changing to assess candidates’ skills through the entire adoption lifecycle of designing, deploying, operating and optimizing complex network scenarios. The lab exam will consist of 2 modules that are fixed in time and will be delivered in a fixed sequence:
- Module 1: Design (3 hours)
- Module 2: Deploy, Operate and Optimize (5 hours)
- Automation and Network Programmability skills are an integral part of both modules.
Q: Why is Cisco now offering DevNet certifications?
A: Cisco is announcing new DevNet certifications focused on validating the skill sets of software developers, DevOps engineers, automation specialists, and other software professionals. The new offering will help unleash the full capabilities of the new network by educating network infrastructure engineers and software developers in application development, automation, DevOps, Cloud, and IoT.
Q: How do I recertify as of February 24, 2020?
A: As of February 24, 2020, certified individuals, including CCNA, Cisco Certified Specialist, CCNP and CCIE, will be able to recertify by either taking exams, earning Continuing Education credits or a mix of both. Continuing education activities include things like attending Cisco Live training sessions, authoring content, completing online training courses, completing instructor-led training courses and more. Recertification will be required every 3 years.
Q: If my certification is being retired, how long do I have before my current certification expires?
A: Your current certification will be active until its current expiration date. If your certification is retired, any time remaining in your current certification lifecycle will remain unchanged.
*The information above is based on the data provided by New Horizons Corporate and Cisco.
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