Breaking News- New Changes to the Cisco Certification Programs

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Over the past several years, Cisco has developed a new networking portfolio featuring Multi-Domain Solutions, Mobile Ability, and APIs, therefore changing Network Business and how networking works. To leverage this networking and software skills are the keys. Cisco is taking networking to the next level in-line with this technology shift by adding new certifications for software development and evolving its traditional certification program. All new Certified Associates, Certified Specialists and Certified Professionals Certifications provide Software skills for professionals for Network Engineers and Software Developers currently working for Software Technologies that maintain high-quality standards to the industry yet have been streamlining based on market demands and learner preferences. The program provides agility, value, and leadership. People choose the skills they want to learn, which in turn results in life-long learning.

Why was this change necessary in Cisco Certification?

Yusuf Bhaiji, the Portfolio Strategy Leader at Cisco, states that Industry expectation was one of the most important reasons of why this change in Cisco Certifications. One theme observed by technocrats and everyone in the Industry is that it is a fast growth technology change happening around, and we are experiencing this fast growth change around us. That has resulted in Job role expectation and demand for new skills. Certification Program aligns on two fundamental pillars, which are relevancy and integrity. Integrity includes protecting the organization from threats while relevancy is when a product is designed, it is made sure it aligns to the customer. Technology is changing rapidly, thus are job roles for high-end managers, customers, peers. All the above has led to the modification of the certification program to make it agile, simple, and flexible in terms of providing choices.

What are these changes?

In one sentence, the entire portfolio of CCNA, CCNP, and CCIE has been changed. The hierarchy model is not changing, and it remains intact with the entry-level certification, associate level certifications, professional level certifications, and expert level certifications but what has changed is the way it is delivered, and the policies and rules put up to obtain that level of certification.

Let us have a look at all the changes individually.

Introduction of Cisco Certified DevNet Associate, Cisco Certified DevNet Specialist and Cisco Certified DevNet Professional Certifications

This is recognised to be a holistic restructuring of the entire portfolio from Associate to Expert Level Training Programs and Certification Exams. It forms a critical and key component of the transitioning program.

There are two types of target audiences, one being the Network Engineers who are into the core networking domain while others are Software Developers and Application Developers. Whereas some belong on both sides. Hence the program is evolved for both communities. Other than CCNA, CCNP, and CCIE, now there is Software Automation. Now DevNet will mimic the traditional hierarchical level; thus there will be DevNet Associate and DevNet Professional Program similar to CCNA and CCNP with one and two exam models respectively. Again at the Professional Level, there will be a pool of options available for specialization.

Hence people from the Software and Programming Industry can make maximum use of the DevNet Certifications.

Removal of Pre-requisites at the Associate and Professional Level

Previously if the candidate wanted to pursue the CCNP Certification, the pre-requisite for the same was the CCNA Certification. Cisco believes that they need to bring in flexibility and choices; hence, they are putting the choice in the candidate’s hand they where are they in their journey. For example, a professional already working for five years in the Networking Industry may not go back to the Associate level for Certification as it becomes trivial. Hence candidates can start at the CCNP level itself. Similarly, with CCIE, the candidate may directly opt to take the CCIE Certification Exam instead of taking up the CCNP as a pre-requisite.

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Continuing Education for all

Continuing Education is re-certification, where candidates need to re-take an examination to validate themselves as certain level professionals. Re-certification is a combination of training, Cisco Live, Collecting continuing Exam Credits. Thus the Continuing Education will be applicable across all i.e. CCNA, CCNP, CCIE and Specialist Level Exams.

Recognition for Completing Training Courses

In the past it was observed that pursuing the CCNA Certification took about 3 to 6 months on average depending on your abilities and same applies to CCNP (1 to 2 years) and CCIE (3 to 4 years). The Certification team observed an absence of reward mechanism within levels. But now Cisco will provide instant recognition as the candidates pursue certifications. Let us consider an example of the same.

In the CCNP Certification Program, today if candidates are pursuing CCNP Routing and Switching, they may take up 3-4 examinations. After clearing every exam, they get only a scorecard with marks scored printed on it. At the end of the 4th exam, the candidate will get recognized as a CCNP Professional. While now at every level, Cisco will provide recognition after every examination within the level which can be showcased to employers, social media, and resumes.

Consolidation and Updating of CCNA Training and Certifications

Today there are a lot of domains within the CCNA level itself like Routing and Switching, Security, Collaboration, Data Center, and so on. But now all these domains have collapsed, and there is a single CCNA Certification available. It has not merged different technologies into one CCNA Certification as that dissolves the purpose, but instead, it shows CCNA focuses on fundamental IT skills, and it also focuses on basic IP Fundamentals, Network Access including infrastructure which is both wired and wireless, IP Connectivity, Automation, and Security. Hence CCNA focuses on beginners who have just begun their journey in networking. Thus CCNA is a foundation program for networking.

Choice available for concentration exams at the Professional Level

Post creating a base at the CCNA level by gaining knowledge and skills about the fundamentals of networking, the branching out into technologies takes place at the CCNP Level. Specialization in a particular technologies like Security, Data Center, Collaboration, etc. takes place here.

Another change at the CCNP level is that Cisco is now providing a granular and flexible model at the CCNP Certification Level. Cisco will continue to segregate according to domains, unlike CCNA. The five areas it will be divided into are Enterprise, Service Provider, Collaboration, Data Center, and Security. The new examination pattern says that the candidate has to take two exams, which are The Technology Core Exam and Technology Specific Exam. The Technology Core Exam is the foundation of the particular technology in which the candidate wants to specialize. The Technology-Specific Exam contains plenty of choices depending on Job Requirements, Technology of Interest, thus making the certifications relevant. Therefore one Technology Core Exam plus one Technology Specific Exam, i.e., candidates need to appear only for two exams to be a CCNP Certified Professional. And after every exam, the candidate will get Certifications.

Streamlined Certification Paths

Let us take the example of the Professional Level Certification. Initially, to become a Networking Professional, Candidates needed to take up 3-4 Exams post which he/she would be coined as a Certified Professional. But now the same is happening just with 2 Exams. Streamlining makes this possible including two things.

  • Removal of the Pre-requisite required for the CCNP Level Examination
  • Converting the CCNP Examination only in a 2 step exam consisting of Technology Core Exam and Technology Specific Exam

Thus streamlining of Certification paths has not only helped to reduce the time consumed to gain certification status but also helped the candidates with the relevant syllabus.

Lifetime Tenure for CCIE Certification maintained for 20 years and other changes in CCIE

New Emeritus lifetime tenure for CCIE certifications maintained continuously for 20 years. A CCIE or CCIE Emeritus that maintains their active or Emeritus status for 20 years will have the option to choose a lifetime Emeritus status with no fee.

CCIE initially focused on post-sales, which includes implementing the solution, deploying technology, and configuration of technology. CCIE never focused on design, but CCDE took care of the designing. But now the 8-hour CCIE Practical Exam will include planning, designing, deploying, operating, and optimizing the technology. For example, CCIE Enterprise will consist of everything like planning of the network, routing planning, layer two switches planning to automation as it is a critical skill for every engineer to know.


Candidates who are yet to begin with the Certification Training or are at the CCNA Level could now opt for the brand new revised certification model. But what should the candidates at the CCNP Level do? From the time perspective, the candidates have plenty of time as the exams will go live only on and after 24th February 2020. The current training programs and certifications are still available while New Programs and Certifications will also be available from now onwards. The Program Framework is changing, for example, a four exam model will now turn into a two-exam model i.e. CCNA is now a one exam model, and CCNP is now a two-exam model. Cisco has made sure that the candidates migrate smoothly from the previous framework to the new framework. Check Cisco Official Notification about Cisco  Next Level Certifications.

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