Cisco is Revolutionizing it’s Certifications

UPDATED 6/13/2019

Today in the opening keynote at Cisco Live 2019 in San Diego, CA – Chuck Robbins, Cisco CEO, announced some exciting news about changes to the company’s certifications program.

The driver of this change is undoubtedly the evolution of networking. Configuring, deploying, maintaining, and troubleshooting networks has evolved far beyond our beloved CLI. With so much literally riding on networks these days it’s imperative that network engineers become fluent in more than just the CLI. We’ll still need to know the in’s and out’s of OSPF, EIGRP, and Spanning Tree of course – but how we deploy it – if we wish to keep up with the speed of business – has to fundamentally change.

In addition to the aforementioned changes there’s also a new lineup of Cisco Certified Devnet Certifications. I’ll dive into both the changes to the existing certification program as well as these new Devnet Certs.

Refresher: The Current Program

So, as a quick refresher, today there are many different paths that you can choose as a focus, like Routing and Switching, Wireless, Design, Security, Data Center, Service Provider, etc., etc.

Curren Certification program overview – screenshot from Cisco.com

To achieve these certifications you need to sit for one or more exams. For example, I’m currently going for my CCNP Routing and Switching and that certification requires three exams, the Route 300-101, the Switch 300-115, and the TSHOOT 300-135 exams.

Then of course if you’re pursing the coveted CCIE you need to sit for a written exam and then do corresponding lab depending upon the flavor of CCIE you’re going for.

Currently, all certifications except the CCIE and CCDE are valid for three years. Expert level certs are valid for two years. To re-certify under the current program you need to take a current exam towards the certification you currently hold, or a new exam of the same or higher level. So, I’ve achieved my CCNA Route Switch and my CCDA. Every time I take an NP level exam that re-certifies my Associate level certs and extends there expiration dates. After I achieve my Professional level in order to maintain them I’ll need to take a Professional level exam or pass an Expert level written.

It’s important to note what while you’re passing these exams that work towards your Professional level certs there is no “recognition” of your advanced knowledge in that topic. So, you may be 2/3 the way to CCNP but only your CCNA is “acknowledged.”

Once you’re at the Expert level you need to take the same or new written exam, additional you can also earn continuing education credits that can be applied to re-certifying an expert level cert by attending approved trainings online, or in person.

So what’s changing?

A lot in fact! The first major thing you’ll notice is that Cisco is collapsing down the program to just CCNA, Specialist, CCNP, and CCIE. The will no longer be a CCENT, the CCNA is now the Entry level exam. ALL certifications will now be valid for three years – including Expert Level. Additionally, continuing education credits will be a re-certification option at all levels! This means you can earn credits to re-certification just for attending Cisco Live!

Summary of program changes. Image provided by Learning at Cisco.

The new CCNA will be all encompassing. It will better prepare someone to have foundational knowledge across all of the previous broken out tracks. You’ll be familiar with Routing and Switching, Wireless networks, Design basics, and so much more. This will make it so that people are far more functional in an enterprise environment because they’ll know a little bit about everything. And, it’ll be covered all on a single exam, the new 200-301.

The new 200-301! Image Courtesy of the Cisco Learning team.

Specializations will now happen at the Professional level. After completing your CCNA and embarking on your CCNP you’ll decide at that point what you’d like your technology core to be. The technology cores are: Enterprise, Security, Service Provider, Collaboration, and Data Center.

New Cisco Certification Program Focus Areas.

For each core there will be a competency exam and then a concentration which will be a deeper dive within that core technology.

Overview of the Enterprise Certification Track. Image courtesy of Cisco Learning

And for every exam you take you’ll earn a new certification or badge that recognizes the training you’ve accomplished, the hard work you’ve put in, and the knowledge you’ve obtained.

Did somebody say Cisco DevNet Certifications?

That’s right! With the new changes to the program Cisco is also introducing Cisco DevNet Certifications!

New Cisco DevNet Certifications! Image courtesy of Learning at Cisco.

The new Cisco DevNet certifications will focus on learning how to develop applications, work with APIs, automation, DevOps, and more! The new DevNet Certs will work very similarly to the Networking Certifications. There will be an Associate Level entry exam, core technologies and focus areas at the Professional Level, and in the future Cisco is planning on offering a DevNet Expert level certification.

The new Cisco DevNet Certification Track. Courtesy of Learning at Cisco.

There is so much more to what we do as network engineers that these new additional DevNet Certifications have become a necessary addition to the program. With these new certifications will also come more formalized training. So, now you’ll have a place to go and start learning and then a path to follow based on your technology needs.

One of the biggest things I keep hearing when I talk to people is that they want to learn to code and to develop but they don’t know where to start. Well, now we do!

The new DevNet Exam blueprints are already available too! With this you can begin research and self study towards the new DevNet certifications, at least until Cisco – and other vendors – release official content.

When do these new changes kick in, and what happens to my current Certs?

These new programs begin on February 24th, 2020. As long as your current certifications are still valid at that time your current completed certifications, and certifications “in flight” with additional exams you’ve taken and passed – will all be translated over to the new program. You’ll be automatically converted and recognized for what you’ve accomplished. To re-certify your currently held certifications you need only follow the new re-certification guidelines.

Translating current to future. Courtesy of Learning at Cisco.

Should I still keep going on my current certifications?

In my opinion, yes absolutely! My plan before the announcement this week was to complete my CCNP Routing and Switching and then take the ARCH exam to complete my CCDP. Now, post announcement my plans remain the same. Those two certifications will translate over to CCNP Enterprise with Advanced Routing and Switching and Enterprise Design add-ons.

Have more questions?

Of course you do! You’ve worked hard for your certifications and these are big changes. Don’t worry. For more info on these changes and new announcements to the Cisco Certification Program go to cisco.com/go/nextlevel.

And, if you’re like me and currently working towards your CCNP you can take a look at this CCNP Migration tool. It takes what you’ve earned (or will have earned by February 23, 2020) and converts it to the new program.

And, if you’re at Cisco Live 2019 in San Diego – first, find me and say hi! Then go over to the Cisco Certifications Lounge in the World of Solution or stop by the DevNet zone to learn more!

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