CCNA Program Changes and Your Reaction: Keep Studying!

 In 200-301 V1 CCC No Category on Purpose, News

Cisco announced a complete revision to the entire career certification program on June 10th, 2019, with exams (lots and lots of exams) and new certifications and new rules and new everything with planned availability by February 2020. Yikes!

It took me a month to get over the shock when I first heard, and it will take you time as well. But after I had time to digest all the program changes, and the impact to all you CCNA R&S candidates out there, the conclusion was simple:

Studying for CCNA R&S? Don’t Worry about the Changes and Keep Studying!

In this post, I’ll tell you why I reached that conclusion, and in a similar post, I’ll tell you my thoughts based on the content of the new CCNA certification.

Quick Context

Were you pursuing CCNA R&S (or CCENT) when Cisco announced their sweeping redesign of Cisco career certifications on June 10, 2019? Then this post is for you. This post hits the big ideas, without too much detail, focusing on program changes that impact CCNA R&S.

I will revisit all of these topics over the coming weeks!

Also, I’m posting a similar blog post about the CCNA content rather than the certification program:

CCNA Content Changes and Your Reaction: Keep Studying!


Don’t Worry: 8.5 Month Transition

You have 8.5 months from the date of the announcements to complete your CCNA with the existing/old exams. That’s long enough for many of you to start now and finish before the current exams go away. The new exams (per pre-announce info) release Feb 24, 2020, with the old exams also going away that day.

In the past, Cisco has given as short as three months from the announce until the old exam went away. 8.5 months should not be a problem.

And if you do need more than 8.5 months, much of what’s in the current CCNA R&S survives to either the new CCNA or the new CCNP Core exam.


Don’t Worry: Credentials if You Pass w/ Old Exams

Keep studying, pass the existing exams (100-105, 200-105, 200-125), get your CCNA R&S before Feb 2020, and you will still have a Cisco CCNA Certification after the transition. Cisco will have a transition app to walk you through what you’ll have in terms of certifications after the transition. However, if you have CCNA R&S before Feb 2020, you will have a CCNA certification afterward.

Additionally, you will also potentially get something new called badges related to courses you might have taken and/or exams passed. (The pre-announce details on this point were fuzzy, and the website says the info about badges will be out neared the transition date.) Point is that you lose nothing by passing the old CCNA R&S (from a credentials perspective) and shouldn’t lose out on new credentials.


Don’t Worry: New CCNA as Good as Old CCNA Routing and Switching

On announce day, Cisco had 10 Associate-level certifications: nine CCNA certifications and one CCDA (same level, but about Design). All go poof in February 2020 per the June 2019 announcements, except CCNA Routing and Switching, which morphs into simply CCNA.

In the past, every time Cisco revved CCNA, CCNP, and so on, people wondered if Cisco had improved the real value and perceived value of that Cisco certification. I think it’s pretty clear this time, thinking solely about CCNA R&S vs the new CCNA, that the perceived value will be improved, is at least the same, and probably much more. As mentioned in my first 5 facts post this week, even though CCNA certification is not a prerequisite, CCNA sets the foundation for the other CCNP certifications, in particular, CCNP Enterprise (which replaces CCNP Route/Switch).



Don’t Worry: More Exam Options Today vs. Future CCNA

The announcement does make this noticeable change to CCNA R&S: The 2-exam path to CCNA R&S will disappear. (Currently, you can take/pass the ICND1 100-105 and ICND2 200-105 exams to get your CCNA R&S certification, or pass the CCNA 200-125 exam, either way.) So, for those of you pursuing CCNA R&S now, you actually have more options today. Pick the one that suits your preference.

Note that having a one-exam path only for the new CCNA should not be a big barrier: the new CCNA is roughly 25% smaller than the old CCNA R&S by the best objective measurements I can make (course lengths, book page count, that sort of thing.)


CCNA R&S (or CCNA) as an End Goal

Were you pursuing CCNA R&S certification as the goal itself? If so, you can pass either the old exams or new. No reason to wait – just keep working. You’ll have three years then to receertify, with the new rules beginning Feb 24, 2020, which give you many more recertification options compared to today.


CCNA R&S (or CCNA) as a Means to an End

Were you pursuing CCNA R&S certification as a means to an end, for instance, because it is a prerequisite for CCNP R&S? There is a change that matters to you:

  • CCNA certification is no longer a prerequisite for CCNP Enterprise (which replaces CCNP R&S) with the new program.
  • CCNA knowledge is definitely required for CCNP Enterprise (and parts of CCNA are needed for some other CCNP certifications.)

If your real goal is CCNP R&S, you may decide to not take the CCNA R&S exam. But you still need the CCNA R&S knowledge before you can learn about CCNP R&S (or in the future, CCNP Enterprise). So from the perspective of what to do in the short term, keep studying!


Your Choice: Pass Now or Wait

You can choose to keep marching towards CCNA R&S, planning to pass by February 2020. You can study now with an eye towards passing the new exam. But I don’t see any downside related to the Cisco program changes for studying for the existing CCNA. Maybe you see the changes differently, so feel free to comment or tweet me about it.

And stay tuned – I’ll post a few more of these here in announcement week, and keep blogging about it for a few more months, and again as the 8-month transition moves along!

Cisco Cert Redesign: Next 5 Facts
CCNA Content Changes and Your Reaction: Keep Studying!
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Adam Snetiker

Hi Wendell!

My only concern is about real-world employment.

Do you think the new content will be used heavily in any job I may get? The content on automation and programmability is obviously NOT on the current exam, so even though I’d receive the NEW CCNA credential I feel like I’d be lying if I said I knew everything it covers. Wouldn’t that be somewhat of a disadvantage compared to people who actually pass the new one after February 24th?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.


Would it be worth it to try and get ccnp route and ccnp switch before the deadline as that will give you the core cert? I actually prefer the old tests for the subject matter. I understand that SD-WAN is what Cisco is pushing but until you have mass adoption of it at the Enterprise level, there’s no marketability in dedicating 15% of the exam to things like JavaScript and python

Adam Snetiker

That’s a great idea. I’m considering it but I have a background in web development and knowledge of several programming languages – C++, Java, Python, C# fundamentals. Though self-taught and not a professional developer I’d love to stick with the dev side, especially with DevOps and DevSecOps becoming a thing now.

Either way I’ll be following the DevNet certification track, whether I go old or new CCNA, so maybe I should just go after the new version. Ansible, Chef, and Puppet are all tools I’ve wanted to learn anyway but started and stopped because I felt I was losing focus and there was no real reason to know them.

I actually found and enrolled in the Python Institute PCAP course on NetAcad so I’m hoping I can get certified in the basics before getting into network programming.

Do you think the automation and programmability will be in high demand? Is that why they’re making those changes?

Marlon Manswell

My plan is to keep studying your CCENT/CCNA and take the two part option to get my CCNA,then i plan on studying for CCNP Enterprise in 2020 when the new exam comes out. I’m excited about announcement about the new exams and now interested in the Devnet certification coming out as well in 2020.


Hi Wendell – I noticed the new books for CCNP Enterprise were announced by Cisco Press. How does the library book differ from the core and advanced routing book?


What if you hold 3 different CCNAs like R&S, WiFi and Security?

btw big fan! Love your books

Himanish Lekhi

Hi Wendell,
Hope you well.

I am intending to attain CCENT 100 – 105 and CCNA 200-105 before February. However, if I change my plan owing to the preparation or something like that and would like to attain the certification after February.

Do I need to purchase new books to attain that new CCNA cert or the old books would be fine to attain the new CCNA cert?

I am not aiming to attain after February but just thinking the other way as well. In a case if something happens.

Moreover, let’s assume I want to attain CCNA after February but I already have your 100-105 and 200-105 books.
So can I prepare from these two books after February or these books would be considered as worthless then?

Please let me know.
I look forward to hearing from you!

Himanish from India


Hi Wendell

I was just about to start with CCENT as that was a prerequisite for CCNA. With these changes what do you suggest? Wait?




Hello Wendell, I’m a big fan, love your books!

I’m currently studying for CCNA and plan on having it by October. Then I want to go for CCNP Enterprise. Once I get CCNP Enterprise, if I want to then get my CCNP Security, do I need to take CCNP Security core and 1 extra exam, or just the extra exams?





I’m taking ICND 1 next week and was planning on taking ICND 2 to complete the CCNA certification but doubt I’d be ready for the ICND 2 before Feb. 2020 because I take extensive notes and it takes a while. It sounds like I will be left with only one option of taking the full CCNA after Feb. 2020 but wondering if there is any reason to start getting into your ICND 2 book while I’m waiting for your new material in September. I’d like to be making progress in July and August and not just be sitting around waiting on a new book to come out. I assume much of the ICND 2 material will be in the new CCNA so at least I’ll have a head start. Your material is the best I’ve read on these topics.


Danny d


I have your CCENT/CCNA books that came in a week before the announcement of the new exams. I only have my A+ and no practical experience in IT.

Should I study for current CCENT/CCNA and try to get it done before 2/24/20 or wait until new material comes out in a bit and use that to study?

I’m guessing it wouldn’t set me back that much time-wise if i wait for the new exam?

Brian ONeill


Thank you for all for all of this. I will have virtually no direct work experience with the day to day of switch and router tasks as our Network team does. As a Systems Administrator, my “coin flipping” thoughts, (from reading this; thank you), will be to proceed and attempt the current CCENT and then CCNA in R&S. After 02/2020; I would hope to use CCNA R&S and pursue a CCNP in DC. As we have a significant investment in UCS B-Series Model 3,4 and soon 5. Having books for CCNA DC; I may just read them where I can but test for CCNA R&S. Because the CCNA Data Center poofs away and ultimately, I would love to achieve CCNP of UCS Data Center (with a bit of Python) as a skill set. Suggestions?


Tyler Rayborn

I agree with you regarding the new ccna. I think it makes sense to combine all the existing tests into one and cover some material from each. This way studying for one test will teach a lot more technologies than just what a specific CCNA test currently covers. I’m glad to see Cisco restructure their certifications. I am also ready to start studying for the CCNP Enterprise!


Does passing CCNP Ent core exam renew your existing CCNA certification?

Say I have CCNA cert with expiry on Sept 2020 and if take the core exam for the new CCNP Ent and pass it, will it automatically renew my CCNA?

Ariel Vergani

Hello, I am going to try to get CISCO certified in 2020. You recommend to start by preparing and taking the exam for CCNA ? Are the new book and resources for the CCNA certification already available? thank you


Hello Wendell , i already got my CCNA cert last year on 23rd feb 2019 and i recently passed my CCNP ROUTE exam going for the SWITCH one at the end of this month and i’m afraid i won’t have much time to prepare for the T-SHOOT exam before the Deadline and i have been wondering after the Deadline will i have to retake the Encor plus the Enterprise advanced infrastructure Implementation to get a full CCNP R&S cert?

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