Alright, let me make sure everyone knows this fact straight away: No matter how lofty your personal goals may be, the first hurdle we’ve all got to jump on our way to networking stardom is to conquer the all-important Cisco® CCNA test and get that certification. And all should agree that this must be achieved prior to talking the other professional level certifications, like CCNP, CCNP Wireless, CCSP and CCVP. But is it really? Is it actually the gatekeeper it’s believed to be?
It is true that the CCNA exam is a notoriously difficult test that can present a serious road block for some, but once you’ve nailed it, you can then get to work collecting all those other valuable certifications. And of course, we all know that Cisco certifications are the industry standard for networking professionals, but don’t you just sometimes wonder what Cisco is actually up to when it comes to all those different certification tracks? I know I do!
I blogged regarding the CCNA Concentrations (CCNA Wireless, Security & Voice) in an earlier post, and most of that information is still definitely valid, however, there have been some slight changes that I need to tell you about to clarify some increasingly common misconceptions. I get asked questions about this subject nearly every day, so here’s your intel…
Ubiquitous question 1: Do I need to take the CCNA Wireless, CCNA Security, and CCNA Voice before I can achieve my professional level certifications?
Equally ubiquitous answer 1: Yes, and in only one case, no— for now anyway, which leads to…
Ubiquitous question 2: Todd, are you absolutely sure I need my Routing and Switching CCNA first?
The answer to that is again, yes—for now, you do. I know this sounds like a non-answer, but just hang with me for a minute!
Now, we know that the stepping-stone approach to picking up your upper-level certifications looks like this right now:
This is basic, common knowledge, and it’s a good bet that you’re up on it, but with Cisco’s new Enterprise Voice track, it could also look something like the next figure for someone that’s trying to attain an upper-level Voice certification:
Nice. Okay, so this means that you must take the CCNA and then go for our prospective CCNA Concentrations in order to achieve our professional level certification—unless you happen to be going for the Enterprise Voice track, which means you take the CVoice test instead of the CCNA Voice at this point in time.
These questions and answers are exactly why I have now started teaching the CCNA Security class as well as the CCNA Voice class as 5-day bootcamps, and I have been teaching the CCNA Wireless class for at least a year now. In addition to these, I am working on a four-book CCNA Concentration series that will be out in Spring of 2010.
These tests are no joke, in fact they can be downright nasty—they are very difficult exams. I usually advise people to go through the CCSP and CCVP before they even attempt the associated CCNA Concentration because there’s just so much info covered, but for those who want to achieve their goals blazingly fast, I’ve compiled the meat of the CCNA Concentration information into a specialized, 5-day hands-on instructor led training (ILT) format.
You’re probably wondering why I’m just starting to teach these other CCNA Concentrations and why I haven’t been interested in doing this before now, right? The answer to that one lies in this next figure that I’m completely making up—seriously, I’m really just throwing out an idea here. Take a look and see what you think:
As a token disclaimer, I’ve got to make it clear to you that I do not know for sure that these four tracks will ever materialize in this way, and I do not have some cool information from Cisco that says that they will. Understanding Cisco and how they work, doesn’t this just seem so very plausible? It sure does to me! Cisco has already announced a new CCNP 3-test method so that’s changing real soon. So why couldn’t my figure be correct? It could, but no one is talking. Oh, and I’ve also heard that they want to change the CCNA course so it won’t include such items as wireless because that’s covered in it’s own concentration. Hummm…
So maybe it really does make sense for me to be writing four CCNA books and teaching four CCNA classes, now doesn’t it? Anyway, that’s my answer based upon what I see coming and I’m sticking with it—even if it’s just a really good guess! 🙂