I was teaching a SIP Essentials class for Alta3 Research and Global Knowledge the other day, and I had a student mention that he would be unable to attend class for a few hours after lunch, because he needed to go take one of the entry-level Juniper network exams. He went on to explain that he had been studying for his Cisco CCNP, but when he went to schedule the exam, Cisco informed him that he had allowed his CCNA to expire, therefore, if he wished to take his CCNP exam, he would have to take his CCNA exam for a second-time. Brutal.

Who could blame him for turning his back on Cisco and taking a Juniper exam instead?

Without TLC, a CCNA lives for three years.

As of the time of this writing, the CCNA exam is valid for three (3) years. To renew your CCNA certification with Cisco, you need to achieve one of the the following within those three years (taken from CCNA – Career Certifications & Paths). Failure to do so will result in the expiration of your CCNA certification.

Ways to re-certify your CCNA

* Re-certify with a passing grade on the ICND2 exam (the ICND1 & ICND2 exams are the CCNA exam broken into two tests)
* Re-certify with a passing grade on the CCNA exam (same exam with new questions)
* Pass the Cisco Certified Design Associate (CCDA DESGN) exam
* Pass a CCNA Concentration exam (wireless / security / voice / SP Ops)
* Pass a 642-XXX Professional level exam (
* Pass a Cisco Specialist exam (excluding Sales Specialist exams or MeetingPlace Specialist exams, Implementing Cisco Telepresence Installations (ITI) exams, Cisco Leading Virtual Classroom Instruction exams, or any 650 online exams)
* Pass a CCIE written exam (a CCIE involves a 2 hour written exam, and an 8 hour lab portion)
* Pass the current CCDE Written Exam OR current CCDE Practical Exam, or Pass the Cisco Certified Architect (CCAr) interview AND the CCAr board review to extend lower certifications

If you are struggling with how to renew your CCNA, I’d recommend studying for one of the CCNA Concentration exams, such as the CCNA Voice (ICOMM v8.0). The concentration exams are concise; in my certification studies, I’ve always found having a narrow topic of focus seems to result in a much quicker learning curve.

Just don’t wait till 6 months before your CCNA expires, regardless of how you decide to re-certify your CCNA. Even the concentration exams require a fair amount of study & hands on experience, so don’t wait till the last minute. If you do, I promise you’ll stress, and struggle to understand the material.

Bottom-line, once you get on the Cisco train, continually set goals for pursuing your next Cisco certification, otherwise, you too might end up testing with Juniper.