Cisco CCNA Certification: Redesigned

Say goodbye to the base Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification and the role it's played as the doorway to CCNA specialty credentials. Going forward the plain vanilla CCNA will be transformed into specialty concentration: CCNA Routing & Switching; in other words, it will line up right alongside CCNA Wireless, CCNA Security, and other CCNA specializations. It will be on equal footing with them, level-wise, and no longer serve as a prerequisite.

You no longer have to earn base CCNA certification before you can step up to a specialty such as CCNA Security.

Cisco's ICND1 exam, which leads to the Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT), will take over the base station role in the Cisco certification program going forward. ICND1 (a.k.a. CCENT) will also be added as a prerequisite to the current Cisco Certified Design Associate (CCDA) credential in October, making that a 2-exam certification as well.

In fact, with these changes, all of Cisco's associate-level certifications can be earned by passing two required exams. For example, you no longer have to earn the CCNA certification before you can earn the CCNA Security certification. The new structure works like this:

CCNA Certifications Requiring CCENT

Certification Requirements
CCNA Routing and Switching CCENT + ICND2
CCNA Security CCENT + IINS
CCNA Voice CCENT + ICOMM
CCNA Wireless CCENT + IUWNE
CCNA SP Ops CCENT + SSPO
CCDA CCENT (starting Oct 1) + DESGN

Most of Cisco's associate-level credentials now start with the CCENT, but not all. Some of the newer CCNA specializations already follow the 2-exam model, and the required exams for those haven't changed, even though they don't start with ICND1.

CCNA Certifications Not Requiring CCENT

Certification Requirements
CCNA Data Center DCICN + DCICT
CCNA Video VIVND + ICOMM
CCNA SP SPNGN1 + SPNGN2

According to Cisco, these changes are intended to meet predicted employer needs for specialists in key areas and go far beyond rearranging which exams lead to which credentials. Cisco has completely updated the training curricula and created corresponding new versions of the ICND1 (CCENT), ICND2, and the CCNA Composite exams. The updates include comprehensive troubleshooting, technologies such as IPV6, and updated software on Cisco routers and switches. The new exams and training are available as of March 26, 2013.

If you're already the proud owner of a base CCNA credential, you may notice it's been renamed to CCNA R&S in Cisco's database. There won't be any other changes for current CCNA credential holders.

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About the Author

Anne Martinez is a certification industry veteran and the founder of GoCertify.com. She has been observing the industry and writing about IT certification since 1998.