What happened to CCENT? And Where do I go from here?

You finally made the decision to get your first Cisco certification. You had your sights set on becoming a Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) like many other candidates. After weighing your options, you decided to take the Cisco Networking Devices Part 1 exam (ICND1) and obtain your Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician credential (CCENT). You can then use this credential to get your CCNA credential by taking ICND2 after you have spent some time studying.

You’ve probably heard that the CCENT credential will be ending as of February 24, 2020. Cisco will no longer offer ICND1 exams, so there won’t be any new CCENTs after that date. CCENTs who wish to move up to CCNA will no longer have access to ICND2. Existing CCENTs cannot also take ICND2. To obtain the CCNA credential, you will need to take the 200-301 exam after February 24, 2019.

As a CCENT candidate, your first reaction might be to despair. Do you feel like you have wasted your time and money studying for a dead credential. The short answer is that you have not wasted your time studying for a dead credential. You can still pass the ICND1 exam and get your CCENT before Cisco’s February 2020 deadline. If you pass the ICND1 exam and get your CCENT credential in the next month, you still have over half a year to study and pass ICND2 and earn the CCNA credential.

You might wonder why you should keep pressing ahead when the exams that you take to earn your credentials are no longer available a few months later. Is it not better to be certified on a newer version of a credential than the old one? The short answer is no. The CCNA and the CCENT are valid for three year from the date they were obtained. This includes any changes in exam numbers or pathways to certifications. CCENTs who have earned their credential by February 23, 2020 are still valid for three years and can present themselves to employers in this manner.

Moreover, a candidate who has obtained their CCNA credential on older versions of the exams is not less Cisco certified than a candidate who has taken 200-301 on or after February 24, 2020. Cisco offers the Cisco Continuing Education Program to credential holders. Cisco-certified individuals can use this program to earn continuing education credits instead of taking exams to renew their certifications. Cisco does not require you to recertify on the most current version of an exam in order to keep your credential.

Cisco’s sudden decision to change the certification paths may make you frustrated, especially if you have already invested so much time in your studies. You now know that you can continue your certification journey without resigning to banging your head on your Cisco certification study guides or shaking your fist at certification gods.

You have plenty of time. Keep going.