Cisco Certification Program + CCNA Cyber Ops Update

I have received tons of questions about the recent changes to the Cisco certification program. In particular, I’ve been asked if the CCNA Cyber Ops will be killed or continued as well as how it fits into the overall certification program. I’m asked because I authored two study guides for this certification program. There are many articles posted on Cisco about these changes however, here are a few quick key points and personal thoughts on where the program is going.

First, the Cisco certification program has broken things into two major focuses with a third focus spin-off. One new focus is Dev Net. Essentially, these learning paths focus on programming skills. If this is your cut of tea, check out the Dev Net program at https://developer.cisco.com/learning/tracks. It’s a new and exciting set of certifications based on the fact that programming skills continue to increase in demand as technology like software-defined networking and APIs grow in popularity.

The other big focus is the traditional certification program targeting Cisco solutions. There used to be a bunch of association level exams aka “CCNA” options however they all have been killed allowing for one CCNA certification. Think of the new CCNA program as the entry point into Cisco technology meaning it covers a broad range of topics.

Once you pass the CCNA, you can focus on a specific field such as Security or Data Center by following the professional-level program. For the security program, you must take a core exam and pick one of a few focus exam options being tagged as “concentration exams”. I’m working on releasing the book for the VPN option, which again, is one option you can take along with the core exam to obtain a professional (CCNP) certification. You can learn more about this program at https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/training-events/training-certifications/certifications.html?carousel=1#~certifications. The next image shows a high-level layout of the Cisco product-based exams.

The third spin-off is exams that are not Cisco product-focused and not programming based. This brings us to the CCNA Cyber Ops short for Cyber Operations. The concept behind this exam has always been to represent a “analyst” in a real-world security operation center. This means the skillset should include reading logs, making firewall changes, responding to events, understanding threat behavior, understanding encryption concepts and so on which many of these skills are not product-focused. The certification has been renamed to the Certified CyberOps Associate with plans to eventually publish more exams that deliver this type of training (but don’t quote me on this … personal thoughts here). I will say however the rebranding of the certification means this exam is not going anywhere … for those that were concerned about the Cyber Ops program being discontinued this year. Rest assured that your hard work is still valid through the active certification program.

I received this email from Cisco a few days ago that summarises many of the changes to the program. I hope this all helps answer questions about the changes to the CCNA Cyber ops and other exam changes.


The new Cisco certification program is here! As of today, all new associate, specialist, and professional-level certification exams are available at Pearson VUE testing centers. As legacy exams retire, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the program’s updated training recommendations, exam requirements and policies.


As always, our certifications still validate your network engineering skills with the same high standards we’ve always set. Now we offer the all new DevNet track to validate your software development skills, too. As you start planning for your next certification, keep these updates in mind:

  • Updated CCNA, Specialist, CCNP and CCIE written exams and training courses are available now.
  • New Cisco Certified DevNet Associate, Cisco Certified DevNet Specialist and Cisco Certified DevNet Professional exams are here.
  • Join the DevNet community and begin building your software development and programming skills.
  • Make history by joining the elite ranks of the DevNet 500. The DevNet 500 will recognize the first 500 individuals who earn one of the new DevNet certifications. Learn more.
  • We’ve renamed our CCNA Cyber Ops program the Cisco Certified CyberOps Associate to reflect its focus on cybersecurity operations.
  • New training badges for completing certification training courses are available now. Visit our web page to learn more.
  • Continuing education is now open to our entire certified community. Visit our continuing education page to get started.

Whether or not you hold a certification, we have options that can take your career to the next level. And even though all active certifications will remain valid through their recertification deadline, it’s never too early to start preparing for your next certification.


We wish you every success on your journey.
Regards, [email protected]

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