The CCNP program is changing in July 2010, and in this article I'll fill you in on everything you need to know about these changes, including how to turn these changes to your advantage - even if you haven't started to work on your CCNP!
As someone who's lived through plenty of certification program changes as both a student and instructor, I have two valuable tips I want to offer you before we get to the details of the upcoming changes.
The first tip: Do Not Panic.
I say that only half-kiddingly, since I know from firsthand experience the anxiety that these changes can cause.
Cisco's always been great about giving certification candidates plenty of time to adapt to upcoming changes, and this CCNP change is no different. You can still take the current CCNP exams through July 31, 2010, and that's plenty of notice for all of us.
That leads to my second tip: Keep your study momentum and your success momentum.
Anyone who's read any of my books or watched my videos knows I'm a big believer in momentum. Once you've completed your CCNA, it's a natural next step to tackle the CCNP. What you *don't* want to do is take this approach:
"Well, I hear they're changing the CCNP, so I'll just wait a couple of
months and then I'll take it on..."
Once you lose your momentum, it's very difficult to get it back. I've seen plenty of well-meaning individuals earn their CCNA and then for some reason or another put off further studies - and they never come back. That's just human nature, and the best way to avoid a loss of momentum is to keep it in the first place!
The current exams are:
BSCI, an advanced routing exam
BCMSN, an advanced switching exam
ISCW, which concentrates greatly on network security
There is also a Composite exam that combines the BSCI and BCMSN. My hat's off to all of you who have passed that one - I always felt the BSCI was more than enough for one exam!
The next CCNP track is actually a three-exam track, and the names are indeed the recipe:
There will also be a Composite exam that combines the CCNP Routing and CCNP Switching exams.
If the current CCNP is a four-exam certification, and the next track is
a three-exam path, it stands to reason that some exams will not carry over from one track to the next.
So.... which current exams carry over to the new track? Here's your
CCNP Cutover Chart:
BSCI = CCNP Routing
BCMSN = CCNP Switching
Composite = CCNP Routing AND CCNP Switching
The ISCW and ONT exams do NOT carry over to the new track, so all candidates finishing their CCNP after the July 31, 2010 deadline must take the new Troubleshooting exam.
I do want to make it clear that you can certainly still take the ISCW and ONT before July 31, but they don't carry over - so you're best served by taking the BSCI and BCMSN first, just in case real life intrudes as it often does.
It's great news to all of us that the BSCI and BCMSN carry over; that means that there is no reason to slow your momentum while waiting for your favorite Cisco training company (ahem) to come out with CCNP study materials for the new track.
Just keep going and get that BSCI and BCMSN taken care of, and even
if real life throws you a curveball or if you just take some time off in the summer, you can always finish up with the new CCNP Troubleshooting exam - and if you start right now, you can always get all four exams taken care of before the end of July!
And speaking of that, here's one more important tip: If you're planning on taking a CCNP exam in June or July, do NOT wait until the last minute to reserve your seat.
Why? Because plenty of other candidates will reserve early... and it's common for all seats at a testing center to fill up early when a major certification such as the CCNP reaches an exam deadline.
A good friend of mine once had to travel 300 miles to a testing center that had an open seat when he was trying to finish a certification before such a deadline. Remember, there are fewer overall testing centers offering Cisco exams than there were a few years ago.. so it's a good idea to reserve your seat early!
Now you know all about the upcoming July 2010 CCNP changes, and even better, you know how to take advantage of the situation by getting the BSCI and BCMSN taken care of.