CCNA Certification Exam: What Has Changed and How to Prepare For It


Cisco Systems is an American technological corporate company. This company, which is integral to the development of Silicon Valley in the US, has designed, developed, and provided hardware, software, and various other technological equipment for sale in the market. Also, this prestigious and well-recognized company offers Cisco certification for information technology called CCNA. CCNA is an abbreviation for Cisco Certified Network Associate.

Candidates having CCNA Certification will stand out in the crowd of ordinary job seekers in the IT field since they will have a basic understanding of applications at Cisco and the CCNA Cisco certification is an acknowledgment of their knowledge, quality, and expertise. Moreover, the employer will also have the means to mold that candidate into what is required by the company. Hence this certificate helps in significant career advancements and professional growth.

Last year in February 2020, Cisco Systems made a major revamp and announced essential changes in the certification processes, particularly at the CCNA level. Before these changes, it had been a long time since amendments were made to the certification process. But these modifications do come at the right time since they align with the changing climate in the IT field.

CCNA Certification process: BEFORE FEBRUARY 24TH:

Earlier, a candidate could choose from the following list of specializations for CCNA.

  • Cloud
  • Data Centre
  • Collaboration
  • Industrial
  • Switching and Routing
  • Service Provider
  • Wireless

And a minimum of two exams were a must-be to receive certification by Cisco. Also, the number of exams to be attempted may be more than two in some specializations and paths mentioned above. And if any aspect has changed while working for a CCNA Certification, then the next step wasn’t as elementary as just altering the path which was being taken. 

CCNA Certification process: AFTER FEBRUARY 24th:

Individual exams tied to each specialization or path are no longer held under the new guidelines for the CCNA Certification exam. There has been a revamp; hence, only one CCNA certificate is binding. Hence, there aren’t any separate certificates for different specializations. And now, the candidate needs to take only one exam for the Cisco certification, the 200-301 CCNA. The specializations come later in the process, thus giving candidates who are newcomers to Cisco certifications some flexibility and time in choosing their specializations. When the time comes, the candidate will be able to pick up a Cisco specialization that will help in knowledge enhancement in the field required by their employing organization.

The latest CCNA has proven to be more challenging than the older version. Still, more information regarding the difficulty level and challenges the candidates face can only be provided by the statistics in the years to come. In the latest CCNA, focus areas haven’t been removed; instead, they have been replaced with specialist certifications. The latest CCNA is expected to be more complex since it pores deeper into topics and demands profound knowledge in the subjects. Hence high levels of complex work input and knowledge amassing are required on the part of the candidate. Therefore, it is recommended that candidates opt for some type of online Cisco CCNA exam training. The latest CCNA also includes modern network basics from start to end. Programmability along with Automation may prove to be tedious for intermediate networking pros. Information on these topics and other topics with higher levels of importance in the exam will be provided by CCNA courses or CCNA training programs.

These amendments to CCNA Certifications laws come at the time of changing IT professional requirements. The requirements in an associate-level IT professional have changed over the years. Hence, this change in CCNA certification is highly welcome in the IT field. An individual can choose a different specialization down the career line if it takes a different turn. In addition, it provides flexibility and customizability to the candidate. Though clearly defined eligibility criteria for the 200-301 CCNA examination are not present, Cisco recommends the below-mentioned qualities, which will be desirable in a prospective candidate.

  • 1+ years of experience deploying and managing Cisco solutions
  • Complete insights of preliminary IP addressing
  • A thorough grasp of network basics

The exam is 2 hours long. It tests the candidates’ knowledge of the fundamentals which are most required in today’s IT career. Vast knowledge in the below-mentioned topics would be required, and hence specialized CCNA training in these areas is essential.

  • Network Basics
  • Networking Devices
  • Access of Network
  • IP connectivity
  • IP related services
  • Security basics
  • Automation and ability to create a program 

The 200-301 CCNA exams provide a certificate that caps all the associate-level certificates. This one certification by the CCNA will rule all the others. It is valid for 3 years before recertification. 

After receiving the basic CCNA Certification, the candidate can explore various Specialist Certifications options available to them. Earning a specialist certification will give networking knowledge in the path chosen by the candidate. Specialist certifications are prerequisites for CCNP. 

When a candidate receives a CCNA Specialist certification, then a badge is also endowed to them in the certificate. These Cisco specialist certificates are valid for 2 years before recertification becomes necessary. 

The latest CCNA is, of course, more demanding than the old one because it demands more profound knowledge and focuses on different fields and paths as compared to the older one. But the silver lining of this cloud is that it gives a first-hand experience of what is required in today’s IT field CCNA certification course fees may be pretty insignificant compared to the vast benefits on the candidates’ part upon having received the certification. The latest CCNA certification is relevant, and that makes it a certificate worth investing time and hard work into. Cisco is a highly respected company, and its CCNA certification will undoubtedly make the candidate’s prospect of landing a dream job easily achievable.

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About the Author: Peter Beaumont

Peter Beaumont is a senior reporter on Daily Mid Time Global Development desk. He has reported extensively from conflict zones including Africa, the Balkans and the Middle East and is the author of The Secret Life of War: Journeys Through Modern Conflict. Email: