New Cisco Certifications 2019
By Maren Mahoney and Vick Tagawa | 4 Min Read
Technical Level: Beginner
This week, Cisco announced changes to its professional certification program that streamlines paths toward certification for individuals. Accompanying the new certifications will be a new training curriculum and updated exams. The industry impact should be a significant increase in Cisco certifications held by individuals. But maybe you don’t care. There are many folks who think, “what do certifications do for anyone other than help their egos?”
Benefits of Certification
Throughout my career, I have watched professional certifications enable students to launch, change and advance their careers across a vast array of IT opportunities. Certifications provide an objective metric that recruiters, hiring managers, and anyone that supervises IT staff can use. It can help them evaluate a candidate’s knowledge, skills, and aptitude when considering them for employment, advancement or for project assignments. From a personal perspective, certifications provide individuals with the motivation to learn and master new technologies; providing a reward for their efforts and increased confidence to continue learning and challenging themselves. So, what is new?
Past career certifications, regardless of the vendor, looked pretty much the same. There would be a blueprint of recommended courses, study materials and a raft of exams that the candidate would take and pass to achieve their certification. The problem with this approach is that these blueprints are very generic and driven by the vendor’s idea of what professionals need to know vs. the individual’s job or career requirements. Cisco’s new program changes this paradigm, by awarding certifications based on achievements in a more granular fashion that enables individuals to tailor their certifications to specific goals or job requirements.
Under its newly announced certification program, Cisco-oriented IT professionals can focus on the technologies they need to learn and achieve specialist, professional and expert certifications in those specific areas without the distraction of having to learn irrelevant content. So how does it work?
First, let’s look at the current certifications. Some things to focus on include:
- There are 10 individual CCNA certifications
- Each CCNP Certification requires a CCNA certification in addition to 4 additional exams
- CCDP requires 3 exams in addition to the CCDA certification
Current Cisco Career Certifications
Figure 1. Current Cisco Certifications
Routing & Switching
Under the new Cisco Certification program that goes into effect on February 24, 2020, let’s look at Figure 2.
CCNA Certifications and CCNA Specialist Certifications:
- A single, consolidated CCNA course and exam will replace the 10 existing CCNA courses and exams
- The new exam will still focus on route/switch but will require basic knowledge of the other technology areas as well.
- Once you earn the new CCNA certification, each CCNP Concentration Exam gives you a CCNA Specialist Certification in that topic/technology area. (See below for more information on the Concentration Exams)
- CCNA certification is no longer required for CCNP certification
- The number of CCNP Technology areas have been reduced from 8 to 5
- The new CCNP Technology areas are Enterprise, Security, Service Provider, Collaboration and Data Center
- Each CCNP Technology Area has areas of concentration under them – for example under the CCNP Enterprise technology are there are 6 different CCNP certifications that can be earned
- CCNP certifications only require 2 exams
- Core exam for the technology area
- One Concentration exam for an industry-specific topic e.g. wireless or SD WAN, etc.
- The CCNP Technology Core exam is now also the written exam for CCIE qualification in that technology
- Continuing Education credits can now be used for recertification for CCNA, CCNP, and CCIE certifications
- A new DevNet certification area has been added that includes its own Associate, Specialist, and professional level certification. A CCIE certification in DevNet is expected in the future
Figure 2. Cisco Professional Certification Exam Summary
What is going to happen to my current certifications? What about progress towards new certifications?
All current certifications are still valid and will be valid to their expiration date. When the new program goes into effect, current certifications will be transitioned to the new system. Cisco is providing “Migration Tools” to help you figure out how that migration will happen. As an example, there is no CCNP Cloud certification in the new system. The migration tool (not yet active) will help you understand how that certification will be reflected in the new system.
As for progress towards new certifications, Cisco is being very specific about making sure that existing progress is recognized in the new system. If you are unable to complete the entire certification track before February 24, 2020, that same migration tool will help you understand how the exams you have already passed will be ‘grandfathered’ into the new system. Cisco wants to make sure your hard work is recognized!
Vick has over 30 years of training and IT industry experience. He has a degree in Electrical Engineering and has earned technology vendor certifications on Unix, Novell Netware, Microsoft, and Cisco. He certified as a Certified Cisco Systems Instructor in 1997 and has maintained his CCIE certification since 2001.
Maren has over 20 years in the IT industry with training (formal and ad hoc) always a part of every job. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree with concentrations in Mathematics and Russian Studies and is a US Army Veteran. Maren earned the CCIE Collaboration in 2015, and in addition to Collaboration, she holds certification in Route/Switch, Data Center and Design. Maren has also held (and taught!) Microsoft and CompTIA+ certifications.Tags: Certification, Cisco