Changes to Cisco's Routing and Switching certification program will impact IT pros

As the IT industry continues to evolve, so too must IT certification programs—and Cisco has joined the cert update trend. Learn what's changing in the Cisco Routing and Switching Certification program.

First Microsoft, now Cisco. Just when you think you’ve earned certification and your work is over, the rules change. This time, the popular Cisco certification program is undergoing an update.

The Cisco Routing and Switching certifications are among the most recognized and well-respected certifications in the industry, and Cisco wants to keep them that way. In order to keep pace with new products and technologies, Cisco has revamped the Routing and Switching courses and exams. The changes to the Routing and Switching certifications reflect Cisco’s desire to keep its certification program relevant.

What’s changing, what's not?
Let’s begin with what’s not changing. The certification titles and the number of exams you must pass to obtain these titles remains unchanged. Additionally, there are still two paths within the Routing and Switching track.

These paths are the Network Support path and the Network Design path. The Network Support path begins at the associate level with the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA), progresses to the professional level with the Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP), and culminates at the expert level with the much-coveted Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert (CCIE).

The Network Design path begins at the associate level with the Cisco Certified Design Associate (CCDA). It culminates at the professional level with the Cisco Certified Design Professional (CCDP).

The most notable item that did not change is the difficulty of the exams. Cisco has continued its tradition of providing exams that measure real-world skills and verify these skills with challenging exam scenarios.

Now for what has changed. The most significant changes are the names of the courses and the names of the exams. While the names have changed, much of the content has not.

There are minor changes to each of the exams and courses that reflect new Cisco products and popular technologies, such as DSL and BGP, but the meat of the topics remains the same. This is due primarily to Cisco’s commitment to teaching real-world, industry-standard technologies.

While the new curriculum recognizes the growth in technologies, such as layer 3 switching, DSL, cable modems, and Internet routing protocols, the vast majority in the industry is not yet using these technologies. Therefore, these new technologies and the hardware that supports them are covered in the new curriculum, but the bulk of the material remains the same.

When will the 1.0 track retire?
With the exception of the Routing and Switching Foundation exam (#640-509), the new 2.0 exams are currently available from Sylvan Prometric. Cisco will retire the 1.0 exam track on July 31, 2000.

Cisco has stated that the CCNA 1.0 will be grandfathered into the new Routing and Switching 2.0 track. However, people who currently hold the CCNP 1.0 or CCDP 1.0 will be required to upgrade in the future. Details of when and how the upgrade will occur have not been released, but Cisco recommends checking "What's new in Cisco career certifications" for program updates.

Warren Heaton CCDA, CCNA, MCSE+I is the Cisco Program Manager for A Technological Advantage in Louisville, KY.

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