Cisco Introduces Entry-Level Cert, Makes Changes

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Cisco has announced the addition of an entry-level certification, Cisco Certified Entry Network Technician (CCENT), along with revisions to its CCNA associate-level certification.


The required exam for CCENT is ICND1 640-822, and the Interconnecting Cisco Networking Devices, Part 1, course is recommended.


The required exams for CCNA are either ICND1 640-822 and ICND2 640-816 or the CCNA 640-802 composite exam. Interconnecting Cisco Networking Devices, Parts 1 and 2, are recommended courses for CCNA.


The CCNA curriculum has been revised to include more networking topics and focus on performance-based skills.


This new level of investment is in recognition of the speed at which networking is growing, said Jeanne Beliveau-Dunn, Cisco senior director of product and technology marketing.


“As we look at the talent pool that’s out there to support the growth of the networking industry, we’re definitely running into some constraints,” Beliveau-Dunn said. “We have partners and customers out there trying to hire talent, and they’re not able to fulfill all their needs, and of course, it only gets worse as the market keeps growing. So, what we’re trying to do is make some major investments to reshape the whole learning environment and get it thinking forward not just to what today’s careers and jobs are but hopefully setting them up for the future.”


Toward that end, with the introduction of CCENT and the latest revamp of the CCNA program, Cisco intends to develop IT professionals who are in their first three years of learning and job experience, Beliveau-Dunn said.


“CCENT in particular is really for a person who is either getting trained to enter their first job, like a network operations job, or is assisting another CCNA to configure a small network,” she said. “CCENT is really about finding a way to recognize those people who have developed some skills, learned the fundamentals of networking and want to eventually move forward into the other career certification tracks but want to get into that first job and have some kind of proof of their talent.”


Cisco sees CCNA as its flagship curriculum, so it wants to be sure it’s in step with technological advances as they occur.


“As advanced technologies become mature technologies, we want to make sure that we’re upgrading our certifications with that [shift],” said Lora O’Haver, Cisco product portfolio manager.


Changes to CCNA include upgraded coverage of security, additional wireless concepts and technology and increased coverage in the exam, as well as in the training of performance-based skills.


“We’ve learned that people learn best by doing, and so we’ve included many more lab exercises and practice materials in the course and more simulation-type questions in our exam,” O’Haver said. “We’ve also moved from just verification of networks to more ‘Day 2’-type maintenance, so we have bumped up the troubleshooting, as well.”

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