You’ve decided to get that first Cisco certification you’ve always wanted. You were among the numerous applicants who set their sights on becoming a Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA). You investigated your choices and concluded that you wanted to take a risk, so you paid the fee to take the Cisco Networking Devices Part 1 (ICND1) exam and earned your Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT) certification. After achieving that certification, you will be able to utilize it as a stepping stone to getting your CCNA by passing the ICND2 exam later, probably after devoting some time to preparing for it.
You are likely aware that the CCENT certificate will no longer be available after February 24, 2020. Because Cisco will no longer be providing the ICND1 test, there will be no new candidates for the CCENT certification after that date. Moreover, ICND2 will no longer be accessible to clients who desire to move up to CCNA. This means there will no longer be an alternative route for current CCENTs to step up to CCNA. After February 24, you will be required to take the new test with the number 200-301 in order to get the CCNA certification.
As a candidate for the CCENT right now, your first attitude could be one of hopelessness. Have you been studying for a certificate that is no longer valid, thereby wasting both your time and money? The quick answer to this question is no; you have not wasted any time as long as you continue moving ahead, pass the ICND1 test, and acquire your CCENT by Cisco’s deadline in February of 2020. If we assume that you will take the ICND1 test, pass it, and get your CCENT credential within the following month, you will still have more than six months to prepare for, take, and give the ICND2 exam, which is required to achieve your CCNA certification.
You may question yourself why you should bother moving ahead if the tests on which you earn your credentials are going to be discontinued a few months after you get them. If this is the case, then you could wonder why you should bother moving forward. Wouldn’t it be preferable to get your certification based on the most recent iteration of a credential? The simple answer to that question is no. Even if Cisco updates the test numbers or the pathways to credentials, the CCENT and the CCNA certifications you earn will remain valid for a full three years from the day you obtained them. In other words, CCENTs who receive their certificate on February 23, 2020, will continue to be CCENTs until February 23, 2023, and they will be able to market themselves to potential employers in that capacity.
A candidate who earns their CCNA credential by passing Exam 200-301 on or after February 24, 2020, is not considered to have a lower level of Cisco certification than a candidate who earned their CCNA credential by passing prior versions of the examinations. Cisco provides certificate holders with a program called the Cisco Continuing Education Program to emphasize this idea. Rather than retaking examinations to maintain their certificates, Cisco-certified people who participate in this program may instead renew their credentials by accumulating continuing education credits. Therefore, even Cisco does not anticipate that you would re-certify on the most recent version of an exam to keep your credential.
Because you have already put so much effort into your present studies, it is reasonable for you to be annoyed by the choice that Cisco made, apparently out of the blue, to change the routes that lead to certification. However, now that you know that you don’t need to beat your head against your existing Cisco certification study guides or shake your fist at the certification gods, you can move forward in your current certification journey as long as you don’t trip over the February 2020 deadline. This is good news because it means that you won’t have to spend time doing either of those things.
You still have enough time. Keep going and never give up.