I thought I would bring to light something that has been in the back of my mind for quite some time, but never really to the end of my tongue. That, the fact that Cisco does and awesome job with their certifications, but my main focus here with this is the CCNA.
Cisco is a terrific company no doubt. They pioneered networking’s landscape and still set the precedent for much hardware that transports our info and protects our data. Who would have thought that their excellence would also be displayed in the certification that is seen as the basic need for a network technician?? It’s certain that not every certification vendor has taken the same pride in their certifications…
Cisco has made the CCNA something very well respected for a long time now. The CCNA has not been devalued by an over-population of achievers, it hasn’t fallen to a level of unimportance and it hasn’t become obsolete. Even as Cisco faces greater competition on selling networking hardware, their certification is still the one to have if you work in networking.
I’ve identified four main reasons why/how I believe Cisco has done a great job in keeping the value of the CCNA certification:
1) The Difficulty of the Test
The CCNA exam is tough by all standards. I’ve seen hot shot IT guy (or gal) time after time fail the CCNA exam and be shocked at it’s difficulty. I see more IT hot shots fail the CCNA exam more times than most any other exam, in fact, I cannot name any other exam that accumulates more casualties, both first timers and repeat casualties. I have seen long time networking people come in and get pounded by the CCNA’s difficulty. People fail all exams, but the CCNA takes them down more consistently and with greater force. Plus, people know about this and the reputation is out there.
2) Beat the Braindumps
So how do you make a test that beats the braindumps and trumps the cheater who buys the test answers on the Internet and studies them? You make it the test more application based. With the new 640-802 Cisco has done just that. The questions are much more geared toward application and the test even now includes actual simulator questions. The simulator questions are substantial and what more, if you don’t really know your stuff and move through the simulator questions quickly, you will fail the exam by running out of time – it happens all the time. So, for the CCNA nowadays, you need to know your routers.
3) The Addition of a Lower Level Certification
This was definitely the right move. So many people were looking to add Cisco certification to their resume. It is something that’s basically essential for someone looking to get into networking. Plus, many sys admins wanted the knowledge base that came along with entry level Cisco. The problem was starting to creep up that you had too many people trying for the CCNA when they had no prior networking experience. Now you don’t need to have routing and switching experience to do well on the CCNA, but you definitely need to have a handle on things like sub netting, tcp/ip and other things that are basic to networking. So for those that wanted the basics of networking as it applies to Cisco, they created the CCENT. Now the CCNA is no longer the lowest level Cisco cert, as it shouldn’t be. The CCENT is the option for people who don’t quite have what they need for CCNA. This is entirely appropriate given the demand.
4) You Must Re-Certify
This basically speaks for itself. To stay current Cisco demands that you re-up your certification every three years. The technology changes, so that’s a way to keep you on your toes with that, but it also keeps the stagnant tech from devaluing the certification.
Some may argue that this makes the CCNA less attractive to the cert-seeker, having to re-up is costly and annoying. However, those people are kept quite by the supply and demand strength of the CCNA certification.
Overall, the CCNA is a winner of a certification and I congratulate Cisco for making all the right moves here.