Cisco Certification Trends in 2024

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  • March 13, 2024
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Introduction

Cisco certifications are widely acknowledged as the gold standard in the IT industry, demonstrating a professional’s expertise across a diverse range of networking domains. These credentials span several levels of expertise: Entry, Associate, Professional, and Expert, with each professional-level exam additionally conferring a Specialist certification. This structure allows professionals to demonstrate their knowledge progression, from foundational networking skills at the Entry level to strategic network solutions at the Expert level.

Crucially, Cisco certifications validate IT professionals’ capabilities in designing, implementing, configuring, and managing intricate network solutions. Given the IT sector’s constant evolution, it naturally prompts Cisco certifications to evolve in response. By 2024, significant shifts in certification trends are clearly evident, reflecting the industry’s rapid progression towards AI integration and enhanced security measures. Furthermore, frequent updates to certification pathways, including the introduction of new exams such as “Designing and Implementing Enterprise Network Assurance v1.0,” underscore a sustained emphasis on automation and the importance of teamwork skills. Therefore, IT professionals who keep abreast of these developments and seek out pertinent certifications strategically position themselves to excel in the ever-changing technological landscape.

Explore the pivotal trends driving Cisco certifications in 2024, examine the substantial updates these credentials undergo, analyze the details of the new exams being launched this year, and assess how these evolving Cisco certification trends will influence IT career opportunities and advancement.

Emerging Trends in Cisco Certifications for 2024: A Focus on AI, Cloud, and Cybersecurity

Cisco remains a leading force in providing top-tier networking and IT solutions worldwide, with its certifications recognized as standards of excellence by both employers and professionals alike. These credentials demonstrate a candidate’s expertise in a broad range of domains, including routing and switching, security, wireless, data center, service provider, DevNet, and more. In step with the latest technological innovations and industry benchmarks, Cisco’s certifications undergo regular updates. The year 2024 is set to witness further significant progressions. Let’s explore the crucial trends shaping Cisco certifications in 2024, anticipated to significantly influence the IT sector.

Firstly, a significant trend is the intensified focus on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) within the networking and IT sectors. Cisco’s substantial investment in AI/ML research and development has led to the introduction of pioneering solutions like Cisco DNA Center, Cisco Webex, Cisco Intersight, and Cisco ThousandEyes, all of which leverage AI/ML technologies. In response to the increasing demand for professionals skilled in AI/ML, Cisco has enhanced its certification offerings to include pertinent content. For example, the DevNet Professional and Expert certifications now encompass exams and topics dedicated to AI/ML principles, technologies, and applications. Similarly, the DevNet Associate certification has been updated to feature a more comprehensive AI/ML curriculum.

Secondly, the continuous evolution of cloud and service provider technologies represents another significant trend, with Cisco expanding its portfolio to include solutions such as Cisco Cloud ACI, Cisco SD-WAN, Cisco Meraki, Cisco Umbrella, and Cisco Webex Cloud. Cisco’s dedication to cloud innovation is further demonstrated through its support for major cloud platforms, including AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, and Alibaba Cloud, enabling hybrid and multi-cloud strategies. In line with these developments, Cisco has updated its certification tracks to prepare individuals with the skills needed to design, implement, and manage advanced cloud and service provider solutions. For instance, the CCNP Service Provider track has been enriched with a new exam, Designing and Implementing Cisco Service Provider Cloud Network Infrastructure (SPCNI 300-540). This exam emphasizes critical areas such as designing and implementing virtualized architectures, cloud interconnects, ensuring high availability, enforcing security measures, service assurance, and applying optimization best practices. Likewise, the Data Center certification track has integrated new topics that cover cloud and service provider technologies.

Cybersecurity and network assurance constitute a third trend that is shaping Cisco’s certification landscape in 2024, driven by the escalating need for robust security and network reliability. Cisco’s portfolio in this domain, featuring solutions like Cisco SecureX, Cisco Stealthwatch, Cisco Firepower, Cisco Tetration, and Cisco DNA Assurance, has been augmented through collaborations with other cybersecurity leaders. The certification curriculum has been accordingly updated to prepare candidates for emerging challenges and opportunities in cybersecurity and network assurance. For instance, the CCNP Enterprise track now includes a new exam, Designing and Implementing Enterprise Network Assurance (ENNA 300-445), on validating skills in developing and applying Network Assurance solutions, including system architecture, data collection and use, as well as data analysis for insights and alerts.

In summary, Cisco’s certifications are continually evolving to align with the dynamic landscape of the IT industry. In 2024, these certifications are set to highlight the growing importance of AI/ML, the advancement of cloud and service provider technologies, and the increasing need for cybersecurity and network assurance expertise. As a result, Cisco’s credentials serve as valuable indicators of a professional’s capabilities and commitment, facilitating career progression and the attainment of professional objectives.

2024 Cisco Certification Updates: Navigating New Frontiers

Having investigated the primary trends affecting Cisco certifications, it becomes essential to closely inspect the changes anticipated in 2024.

Cisco Exam Safeguard

Cisco introduces the Exam Safeguard for CCNA and Professional-level core exams, offering candidates a second chance without additional cost if they don’t pass on their first attempt. Moreover, an upgrade to Safeguard Plus provides access to official Exam Review practice tests, exclusively available through Cisco.

DevNet

The DevNet Expert v1.1 Practical Exam topics have been updated, focusing on network automation, programmability, and secure automation tools. Highlighting an expert-level proficiency in these critical areas, the revised exam is scheduled to be accessible from August 20, 2024.

Collaboration

Revisions to the core and concentration exam topics for the CCNP Collaboration have been unveiled, with the exams set to debut on April 22, 2024. The updates encompass:

– Implementing Cisco Collaboration Core Technologies v1.2 (CLCOR 350-801)
– Implementing Cisco Collaboration Applications v1.2 (CLICA 300-810)
– Implementing Cisco Advanced Call Control and Mobility Services v1.2 (CLACCM 300-815)
– Implementing Cisco Collaboration Cloud and Edge Solutions v1.2 (CLCEI 300-820)
– Automating and Programming Cisco Collaboration Solutions v1.2 (CLAUTO 300-835)

Data Center

The topics for the CCIE Data Center v3.1 lab exam have been slightly revised, with new exam content set to be implemented starting April 20, 2024. Meanwhile, no updates are anticipated for the CCNP and CCIE Data Center core and concentration exam topics.

Enterprise

The exam topics for the Designing and Implementing Enterprise Network Assurance v1.0 (300-445 ENNA) are now released, centering on the design and implementation of Network Assurance. This exam, becoming available to candidates from the 20th of May, 2024, will culminate in the awarding of the Network Assurance Specialist Certification, augmenting the CCNP Enterprise certification portfolio.

Security

The Designing and Implementing Secure Cloud Access for Users and Endpoints v1.0 (SCAZT 300-740) exam is now open for candidates, focusing on their understanding of designing and implementing cloud security architecture, securing users and devices, network and cloud security measures, protecting applications and data, ensuring visibility and assurance, and managing threat response. Successful completion of this exam awards the Specialist Certification in Cisco Secure Cloud Access.

Service Provider

The Designing and Implementing Cisco Service Provider Cloud Network Infrastructure v1.0 (SPCNI 300-540) exam is currently available. It aims to certify candidates’ expertise in foundational aspects of network design and management, emphasizing the integration of cloud technologies, ensuring system reliability and security, and optimizing performance and service delivery. Successfully completing this exam grants the Specialist Certification in Cloud Network Infrastructure.

In summary, these revisions demonstrate Cisco’s ongoing commitment to leading the field in IT certifications, making certain that professionals possess the up-to-date knowledge and skills essential for addressing the challenges of the rapidly changing technology sector.

Impact of 2024 Cisco Certification Trends on IT Career Opportunities and Advancement

The impact of Cisco certifications on career opportunities and advancement is significant, as these credentials are highly regarded across the IT industry. They serve not only as a benchmark of technical expertise but also as a testament to a professional’s commitment to their career development. Here’s an expanded view on how Cisco certifications, especially with the latest trends for 2024, influence career trajectories, job market trends, and salary prospects:

Enhanced Job Marketability

Globally recognized, Cisco certifications enhance a professional’s marketability dramatically. Holding a current certification, particularly in areas aligned with emerging technologies like AI, ML, cloud computing, and cybersecurity, can make professionals much more attractive to employers. These employers often use certifications as a filter in hiring processes, seeing them as a sign of a candidate’s dedication and capability.

Access to New Opportunities

A focus on AI, ML, and cloud technologies by professionals can position them well to take advantage of new opportunities. These areas reflect the industry’s shift towards sectors that are early adopters of these technologies, such as finance, healthcare, and tech startups. Consequently, specializing in high-demand areas through the new certification tracks and updates to existing ones makes professionals more appealing to employers seeking scarce skills in 2024 and beyond.

Salary Prospects

Holding Cisco professional certifications has been shown to lead to higher salaries. Indeed, the specialized skills validated by these certifications are in high demand, which can naturally lead to a premium on earning potential. Furthermore, certifications can also provide significant leverage during salary negotiations, both for new positions and when seeking raises or promotions within an existing role. This offers tangible proof of a professional’s skills and commitment.

Industry Demand

The demand for skilled professionals in IT infrastructure and cybersecurity is on the rise, underscored by the growing value of certifications that authenticate a professional’s proficiency in designing, implementing, and securing complex networks. Simultaneously, as businesses increasingly transition their services to the cloud, there emerges a heightened need for experts in cloud infrastructure and services. This is particularly true for those capable of navigating multiple cloud platforms, further emphasizing the importance of versatile skill sets in today’s technological landscape.

Career Advancement

Pursuing Cisco certifications encourages continuous learning and professional development, crucial for staying relevant in the fast-evolving IT industry. This commitment to growth can lead to accelerated career advancement. Additionally, participation in Cisco’s community and events opens doors to invaluable networking opportunities with peers, industry leaders, and potential employers. Such interactions can prove instrumental in uncovering new job prospects and propelling one’s career forward.

To sum up, for individuals in the IT field, acquiring and keeping up-to-date with Cisco certifications can markedly influence their professional prospects, ensuring they stay ahead in the competitive job market, achieve greater earning potential, and unlock pathways to more advanced roles. As the sector progresses, the value of holding such certifications, as a means to showcase one’s skills and foster professional development, is expected to grow even more.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the trajectory of Cisco certifications in 2024 reflects a crucial adaptation to the swift transformations within the IT sector, emphasizing the increasing significance of artificial intelligence, machine learning, cloud services, and cybersecurity. These credentials represent more than just technical proficiency; they symbolize a professional’s evolving journey through the intricate landscape of modern networking and IT solutions. As technology advances, Cisco consistently steers the course, providing professionals with revised and novel certification routes that are crafted to tackle the emerging challenges of the future. Furthermore, these updates not only prepare individuals for the current demands of the IT world but also position them strategically for future advancements and opportunities. Consequently, for IT professionals, staying informed and obtaining these certifications is a strategic move towards securing a competitive edge in the job market, advancing their careers, and navigating the future of technology with confidence. In essence, the evolution of Cisco certifications in 2024 is a clear indicator of the ongoing need for continuous learning, adaptability, and a commitment to excellence in the ever-changing IT landscape.

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