Big CCNA Changes Are Coming: What This Means for You
Posted by: Troy McMillan
Published: July 30, 2019
When technology changes significantly, tools are upgraded, and the associated certifications needed to demonstrate proficiency in the new tasks are realigned. In the very near future, Cisco will be rolling out new requirements and new assessments for the Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification. In this article, we cover the key changes and what they mean for you and future candidates.
What are the changes in CCNA?
Here are the upcoming changes to CCNA certification:
- The prerequisites at the Associate and Professional Level are being removed to enable greater flexibility and offer more choices for candidates.
- Continuing Education for all will enable the opportunity to earn some extra credits for recertification.
- Candidates will get recognition for completing training courses even after clearing one out of two modules.
- CCNA Training and Certifications will be updated and consolidated, combining various domains to form a module which will provide fundamental knowledge.
- Concentration exams at the Professional Level will enable candidates to specialize in the domain of their interest, making more changes available.
- A new, single exam for CCNA 200-301.
Why are they making these changes?
Cisco researched its target audience and the value of the CCNA program and found evidence that CCNA Certification (for entry-level associates) should focus on candidates who are starting their careers in networking. They might be recent graduates or coming from a new industry, software developers, or current IT industry employees. They might also be from a non-IT background like marketing, finance, or sales.
The primary goal for the training and certification is to give these candidates fundamental knowledge about all the concepts and components of networking. However, upon completion of their research, Cisco observed a gap in the knowledge due to so many different domains. Now they have a concise model that will bridge this gap. As a result, in February 2020 Cisco will launch only one brief examination, which will result in retiring all the CCNA domains that focus on the fundamentals of networking.
What do these changes mean for me?
If you are preparing for the CCNA you should consider two options:
- Complete your current exam path by February 24, 2020 by passing the 100-105 and 200-105 or by passing the 200-125.
- Take and pass the new CCNA exam (300-101) after February 24, 2020.
What if I am currently studying for an existing exam?
While each person’s situation is different:
- If you have already passed 100-105, then perhaps you should consider continuing to 200-105 and taking it before February 24, 2020.
- If you have not passed or taken an exam yet, then consider waiting and taking the new exam.
Is there a benefit to waiting for the new exam instead of taking the existing exam?
Here are some issues to consider. First, the new exam does not include many topics that are required for the current exam, such as:
- OSI model
- Ethernet frame
- Switch stack
- Inter-vlan routing
- WAN access
Second, the new exam has some new topics:
- How automation impacts network management
- Traditional networks vs. controller-based networking
- Controller-based and software-defined architectures (overlay, underlay, and fabric)
- Control plane and data plane separation
- Northbound and southbound APIs
- Traditional campus device management vs. Cisco DNA Center-enabled device management
- Characteristics of REST-based APIs (CRUD, HTTP verbs, and data encoding)
- Configuration management mechanisms, Puppet, Chef, and Ansible, and their capabilities
- Interpretation of JSON-encoded data
When do these changes go into effect?
The date for the rollout of the new exam is February 24, 2020.
What if I already have a Cisco certification?
If you complete any current CCNA/CCDA certification before February 24, then you’ll receive the new CCNA certification and a training badge in the corresponding technology area.
If you already have Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT) certification and would like to earn CCNA, you have until February 23 to complete your CCNA certification in the current program. As of February 24, you will need to take the new exam to complete CCNA certification.
What value does this change offer employers?
The new CCNA bridges the gap in basic knowledge that is caused by all the different domains in the CCNA, providing a concise model for the future. So, starting in February 2020, the new CCNA can help employers better match candidates to specific job roles. In essence, paired with the new Cisco certification model, technicians can concentrate on and pass CCNA specialization exams based on specific products, enabling employers to get the exact skill sets they need.
For more information about what a Cisco certification is, see our article on Frequently Asked Certifications about Cisco Certification.
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