Cisco positions the Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT) as Cisco’s entry level certification. However, its place in Cisco’s certification pyramid can be confusing. Cisco does not make CCENT a prerequisite for other certs, but Cisco does make CCNA – the next cert going up the pyramid – a prerequisite for many certs.
A look at the history of CCNA reveals some of the reasons for where we are today. From 1998 until 2003, CCNA was Cisco’s entry level certification, and it was indeed a prerequisite for most other certifications, including CCNP. CCENT did not exist. Also, during this time, you had one option to get CCNA: pass the CCNA exam.
In the 2003 revision to CCNA, Cisco added a 2-exam option to CCNA, with the exam names matching the two associated Cisco authorized courses (INTRO and ICND at the time). You didn’t get a cert per exam – CCNA was still the only goal - but you got another exam option that matched the courses. But still no CCENT.
When Cisco revised CCNA in 2007, Cisco added CCENT, which is obtained by passing the first of the exams in the 2-exam path. But Cisco didn’t change the pre-requisite structure, so CCNA is still the pre-requisite for most every other Cisco cert. So, the entry level of Cisco certs in reality has two levels: CCENT and CCNA. The graphic to the right lists the exam numbers and certifications.