CCNA Program Changes and Your Reaction: Keep Studying!

By certskills June 11, 2019 09:35

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!
By certskills June 11, 2019 09:35
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  1. Adam Snetiker June 11, 17:36

    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.

    Reply to this comment
    • Yk June 12, 19:04

      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

      Reply to this comment
    • certskills Author June 12, 21:39

      Yeah, I get it. “are you an old CCNA or a new CCNA” kind of thing. You could also turn it around – the new CCNA is LESS content than the old, so who knows, it’s different but less. Then there’s the effect of someone with say CCNA data center will become a “CCNA” – so what’s that person’s claim compared to you?

      I think for anyone who’s reading about you that reads “CCNA” – resume’, bio, etc – that has any knowledge of Cisco certs – when they read that post-Feb-2020, they ought to think “that’s ambiguous – I’ll ask if it matters”. “I’m a CCNA” could mean a lot of different things come next year. So it’ll have to be qualified. I personally wouldn’t think you’d be acting deceptively or dishonestly by just saying “CCNA certified” if that’s true.

      On the “but you don’t have the newer skills bit – why not just learn a few of the new topics, like the automation topics, using Cisco DevNet? It’s a free site, lots of free learning content. Then you have a reasonable answer when someone does inquire.
      My $.02.

      Reply to this comment
      • Adam Snetiker June 13, 00:14

        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?

        Reply to this comment
        • certskills Author June 14, 12:20

          Your final question was THE question in and around the DevNet zone at the show. complex on the business side. I believe 100% that the skills will be needed, but I think the certs are fairly broad as listed in the DevNet certs. It’ll be interesting to see how the cert progresses.

          Reply to this comment
  2. Marlon Manswell June 11, 20:38

    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.

    Reply to this comment
    • certskills Author June 12, 21:43

      Love it! Thought about which CCNP Ent concentration exam? Maybe go big and go for the “Automating and Programming Cisco Enterprise Solutions (ENAUTO)” – the one that counts for both DevNet Professional and CCNP Enterprise?

      Reply to this comment
  3. Bav June 12, 02:57

    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?

    Reply to this comment
    • certskills Author June 12, 21:45

      It’s a lingo thing.
      Titles with “Library” in the title = package of multiple items. In that case, it’s a cardboard box with the two books inside. It’s packageed as a library so they can give it a lower list price. EG, my two CCNA books are sold together as a “CCNA Official Cert Guide Library”.

      Reply to this comment
  4. Mutahir June 12, 14:42

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

    btw big fan! Love your books

    Reply to this comment
    • certskills Author June 12, 21:47

      If you’re still within your 3 years before you require recertification, then come Feb 24th, you will have:
      CCNA certification
      security training badge (that’s a description, not the formal title – I don’t know the formal/literal phrase)
      Wireless training badge (again a description)

      Reply to this comment
  5. Himanish Lekhi June 14, 01:17

    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

    Reply to this comment
  6. certskills Author June 14, 12:23

    I’ll blog more about “how to use the old books to prepare for the new exam” in the coming weeks. Short answer for now is this: the old/current books cover probably 2/3 of what’s in the new exams. So you’d need something to use to learn the new. That could be just a purchase of the new books, but it could be other sources. That’s 8 months out, so I just haven’t gotten to that topic in the blog yet. 🙂

    Reply to this comment
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