It has been three years since Cisco updated their CCNA certification track. While Cisco has not formally introduced an update to their CCNA track for 2012, based on their previous schedule of certification revisions, it should not be that much longer before the CCNA 2012 update is announced. For many candidates, this uncertainty is unsettling because they do not want to prepare for an exam that will be changed right before they have to take it. This article addresses these concerns providing advice to aspiring CCNA candidates on whether they should take the current CCNA exam or wait for the new one.
Cisco's Certification Revision Process
One thing that history has taught veteran candidates is that Cisco rarely if ever leaves us in a scenario where test preparation is completed and then not able to be used for future testing. The typical process seems to be that Cisco will give candidates at least 4-6 months of time once a certification update has been announced to shift the focus of test preparation. This typically allows enough time for candidates to figure out which version of the exam is best to prepare for, based on both the test preparation schedule and the anticipated test date. As long as you take the time to learn the specific dates that Cisco is following, you won't run into any major issues.
Preparing for the CCNA in 2012
Another thing you should take into consideration is what is the best plan to follow when getting on the path to CCNA should an update be expected. This is precisely the situation we're in today, the CCNA will likely be updated this year, so how should you prepare?
One thing that every potential CCNA candidate has to understand is that the majority of the material from one version of the CCNA exam to another is the same with very minor changes. Much of the introductory level networking knowledge that is being tested at the CCNA level has been the same for the last 10+ years. What this translates to is that no major amount of study time will be wasted, should an update be announced this month or in December. The vast majority of the content that currently exists on the CCNA will also be tested on the next version of the CCNA exam. Any potential topics that make up the very small percentage of material that may be changed could potentially have just moved onto a next level test. This can be helpful should the candidate keep going up the Cisco certification ladder.
So what is the core message that is being stated here? Keep studying for your CCNA! Very little of your preparation time will be wasted should an update to the CCNA happen. Do not let the expectation of a change halt your progress and advancement of your career.
Will a new CCNA certification be announced in 2012? Historically the CCNA has been updated every three years, so 2012 looks like a prime candidate for a CCNA update. However, this should not discourage any potential CCNA candidates from not studying and preparing for the exam.
For one thing, Cisco will give you ample time once an update has been announced to figure out if the old or new exam is right for you. Typically, this phase takes 4-6 months, so you'll have plenty of time to either complete the current CCNA exam or study the new CCNA objectives in preparation for the updated CCNA. More importantly, the new exam will likely change only by 15-20% percent, so even if you decide to go with the updated CCNA certification, you won't be wasting time and effort studying for the current CCNA objectives. Cisco's networking fundamentals haven't changed drastically in the last decade and they're not expected to dramatically change now. When a CCNA update is finally announced you will see new content and changes to the objectives, but it won't be an entirely new exam, that's what you have to keep in mind.
Hopefully this article will allow those potential CCNA candidates who are worried about future changes to relax and just focus on the material. Anything that you'll learn about networking will be useful to you, and this is coming from someone who has run thin and thicknet Ethernet cabling.