I have been a Cisco certified professional since 2001 where I first passed my CCNA exam. A few months after that I managed to acquire also CCNP Routing and Switching and then CCSP (Security Professional certification which is not available anymore).
During all these years I have experienced many changes in Cisco Certifications, some of them minor (like changes in exams within the track, changes in names etc) and some of them major (like the one we will see in February 2020).
All certification levels (CCNA, CCNP, CCIE) will be affected by the new updates and the aim of Cisco is to create modern certifications reflecting the newer technologies and also to remove complexity from existing certification tracks (by consolidating fields into less exams etc).
The changes will take effect on Feb 24, 2020 and the last day to test under the current certification programs is Feb 23, 2020.
Moreover, the entry level CCENT and CCT will be retired after Feb24, 2020
Let’s see the changes that are planned for each certification level.
All CCNA tracks (specializations) such as CCNA Routing&Switching, Security, Wireless, Cloud, Data Center, Industrial, Service Provider etc will not exist anymore.
All of these tracks will be consolidated into a single exam (200-301) which will lead to a single certification called simply CCNA. So the new CCNA 200-301 exam will test candidates for knowledge in a diverse range of fields (taken from the previous CCNA tracks) plus automation and programmability.
If you take a current exam now (i.e before Feb24,2020) and you receive one of the current CCNA certifications, you will still be considered as CCNA certified after Feb24. However, the 3-year recertification rule still applies, so you will need to recertify after 3 years by taking the new consolidated CCNA exam.
As a side note, the new changes will also bring a new certification under the Associate level, called the “Cisco Certified DevNet Associate” which will focus on DevOps fields.
In the current situation with the existing CCNA paths, professionals had to choose a specialization in the CCNA level (e.g Routing&Switching, Security etc).
However, with the new updates, the CCNP level is where professionals will be able to concentrate in one area of technology that interests them the most.
In the current CCNP level, there are already several specialization tracks such as Routing&Switching, Security, Service Provider, Cloud, Wireless, Data Center etc.
The new updated CCNP level will also be consolidated into less specializations and will include the following:
- CCNP Enterprise (wired and wireless fields)
- CCNP Security
- CCNP Service Provider
- CCNP Data Center
- CCNP Collaboration
- Cisco Certified DevNet Professional
Currently, you have to take 3 or 4 exams in order to earn a CCNP (depending on which specialization you are looking at). With the new CCNP level, you will only need 2 exams:
- A Core Exam covering foundational concepts.
- A Concentration Exam depending on which specialization you want (see above).
Moreover, there is no pre-requisite exam for the new CCNP.
Just like the CCNA, if you receive a CCNP certification now then you will be automatically “upgraded” to the new equivalent CCNP after Feb24,2020. The 3-year expiration still applies and thus you will need to recertify with the new exams later on.
Just like CCNA and CCNP, the current CCIE level contains several sub-categories such as CCIE Routing and Switcing, Security, Collaboration, Service Provider, Data Center, Wireless etc.
The new updated CCIE level will also be consolidated into less specializations and will include the following:
- CCIE Enterprise Infrastructure (wired networks)
- CCIE Enterprise Wireless
- CCIE Security
- CCIE Service Provider
- CCIE Data Center
- CCIE Collaboration
Currently, you have to take a written exam and also a lab exam in order to earn a CCIE.
With the new CCIE level, you will need 2 exams for each track as following:
- A Technology Core Exam (same as CCNP core exam).
- A Lab Exam with 2 modules (Design Module and “Deploy, Operate, Optimize” Module).
Again, if you receive a CCIE now, it will still be valid after Feb24 (for a period of 3-years from passing the cert.)
New Recertification Requirements
After Feb24,2020 there are also new requirements in place for recertifying which provide some more flexible options. In summary, here are the new recertification requirements:
- All certifications will have a 3-year expiration period (CCNA, CCNP, CCIE).
- You can recertify by taking a valid recertification exam (see link in Resources below).
- You can also recertify by using Continuing Education and earn credits such as by attending Cisco-Live events, complete online or in-class training courses etc.