So, you finally decided to obtain your first Cisco certification. Like many candidates, you had your eye on getting a Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA). You explored your options and decided you wanted to test the waters by plunking down the money for the Cisco Networking Devices Part 1 (ICND1) exam and obtaining your Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT) credential. Then you can use that credential as a stepping stone to your CCNA by taking ICND2 later, presumably after you spent some time studying for it.
Now you’ve heard that as of Feb. 24, 2020, the CCENT credential is going away. Cisco will no longer offer the ICND1 exam, so there will be no new CCENTs from that date forward. More than that, ICND2 will no longer be available to CCENTs who want to step up to CCNA, so there’s no longer an alternate path for existing CCENTs to step up to CCNA. After Feb. 24, you’ll need to take the new exam numbered 200-301 to obtain the CCNA credential.
Your first reaction as a current CCENT candidate might be despair. Have you wasted your time (not to mention your money) studying for a dead credential? The short answer is no; you have not lost your time as long as you press forward, pass the ICND1 exam, and obtain your CCENT before Cisco's February 2020 deadline. Assuming you take and pass the ICND1 and obtain your CCENT credential within the next month, you still have more than half a year to study for and pass the ICND2 exam and earn the CCNA credential.
You might ask yourself why you should bother pressing forward, given that the exams on which you obtain your credentials are going away a few months after you achieve them. Isn’t it better to be certified on the newest version of a credential? The short answer is no. Both the CCENT and the CCNA are valid for three years from the date you obtain them, even when Cisco changes exam numbers or paths to credentials. In other words, CCENTs who earn their credential on Feb. 23, 2020, are still CCENTs until Feb. 23, 2023, and can present themselves to employers as such.
Besides, having obtained your CCNA on older versions of the exams does not make you less Cisco certified than a candidate who gets the CCNA credential by taking 200-301 on or after Feb. 24, 2020. To underscore this point, Cisco offers credential holders the Cisco Continuing Education Program. This program allows Cisco-certified individuals to use continuing education credits to renew their certifications as an alternative to taking exams. Therefore, not even Cisco expects you re-certify on the latest version of an exam to maintain your credential.
Yes, you might be frustrated by Cisco's seemingly from nowhere decision to modify the paths to certification because you've already invested so much in your current studies. However, now you know that instead of banging your forehead on your existing Cisco certification study guides and shaking your fist at the certification gods, you can move forward in your current certification journey as long as you don't trip over the February 2020 deadline.
You have time. Keep going.