The Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) exam encompasses a wide range of technical specializations. These certifications, which are offered worldwide, are industry standards that are in demand year after year. Throughout the IT industry, the CCNA certification is valued by organizations for its ability to verify a job candidate's competency in technical work.
The Updated CCNA
Cisco is now updating the CCNA exam for 2020 so that test takers need only take one exam: the Cisco Certified Network Associated (200-301 CCNA). Candidates have been taking several exams to earn the certification.
This change will go into Feb. 24, 2020. It is designed to prove technical acumen and competency in a wide range of skills and expertise. The new exam tests for competency in security and networking fundamentals, as well as programmability and automation.
Exam takers from your organization will not need prerequisites for the 200-301 test, but Cisco does recommend that they have at least a year of experience in Cisco solutions, as well as knowledge of basic IP addressing. They should also be competent in networking basics.
Remember all those CCNA certifications your employees have had to take in the past? The new exam will replace all of these:
- CCNA Collaboration
- CCNA Cloud
- CCNA Industrial
- CCNA Wireless
- CCNA Security
- CCNA Industrial
- CCNA Data Center
- CCNA Wireless
- CCNA Service Provider
- CCNA Routing and Switching
On launch day, these associate-level certifications will all be enfolded into the new CCNA and will go away, except CCNA Routing and Switching, which becomes simply CCNA. There has also been word about "badges" that will be issued related to courses taken or exams passed. The information on this is as yet somewhat vague, but will be explained more in detail closer to the launch date for the new exam.
Why the Changes?
Cisco explains these changes as a way of "revolutionizing the role of network professionals and software developers to drive technology innovation and accelerate business."
For example DevNet, Cisco's developer program, will encompass software developers and certified network professionals in one community. Cisco's promotional literature touts this collaboration as a way to share best practices and expand automation capabilities.
While preparing IT professionals for associate-level IT jobs, the new exam will encompass more skills and knowledge. Cisco sees the changes as incorporating software practices into networking, creating one community by having developers and networkers work together solving network problems.
Cisco will release new software certifications to guarantee IT professionals can meet the demands for automation and programming. These innovations will further Cisco's goal of bringing development and network professionals' work closer together. This move reflects changes in the industry where automation and network careers are becoming closer aligned, with more companies demanding this ability from IT pros.
The new exam will be broken down in these proportions:
- IP Connectivity -- 25 percent
- Network Access -- 20 percent
- Network Fundamentals -- 20 percent
- IP Services -- 10 percent
- Security Fundamentals -- 15 percent
- Automation and Programmability -- 10 percent
After exam takers earn a CCNA, they can pursue different specialization paths among the Cisco Certified Specialist careers. Specialization in job roles will replace multiple tracks in the Cisco career path. IT professionals may obtain various skills needed after earning the CCNA.
Cisco hopes that the changes will inspire more agility for those seeking careers in IT, as the market constantly changes and the certification processes try to keep up.
For those who are currently studying for existing certification for CCNA, it's probably a good idea to proceed, as the changes are many months away. The old exams will not go away until Feb. 24 of next year.
In other words, if you keep studying, take and pass existing exams, and you get your CCNA prior to February 2020, your certification will still be good after the transition.
As with any certification, those seeking a CCNA can improve their chances for success by enrolling in formal training that prepares them for the test. With such significant changes on the way, you can ensure your employees are well prepared for the 2020 test by enrolling them in the right program. Some other good reasons to seek formal training for the CCNA exam:
- By enrolling your IT team in a quality program, you can ensure they stay abreast of industry changes.
- Formal training will help your team get certified much quicker.
- Foundational knowledge will serve your employees well throughout their careers as the industry changes, and new skills and competencies arise.
- A structured learning program helps students advance at a reasonable pace, as many founder when trying to progress in their competencies on their own.
- Formal training makes students more accountable.