Cisco CCAr: What’s the Point?

The CCAr, Cisco Certified Architect, credential commands a high level of respect. As a matter of fact, there is no other certificate that has the same reverence. It is one of those professional certifications that many people want to attain. The good news is that CCAr is attainable. Practically anyone can become a network design guru. It only requires serious hard work and the right quality of experience. Although this credential is totally achievable, the question that should be asked is whether it is really worth all the efforts.

Prior to this period, many people have once argued about the relevance and worth of CCIE. There are close to sixty thousand Cisco experts who have earned the Cisco credential. This is absolutely disproportionate to the number of professionals with CCAr in the industry. According to the CCIE Hall of Fame, there are just about ten Cisco Certified Architects throughout the IT field. For good reasons, a lot of people stopped their certification pursuit at the CCDE level. One of the reasons is the grueling testing prerequisites for the CCAr certificate. To top it off, the certification process is highly expensive. In spite of this, this Cisco credential is still in existence and is open to everyone. In this blog article, we’ll explore the world of the CCAr certificate, including the reason for its existence, its prerequisites, and why anyone would like to obtain this Cisco architect-level certification.

Main Reasons for Cisco CCAr Existence

As you know, there are various certificate levels and knowledge areas under the Cisco certification program. There is CCENT, which is the Entry level for the Cisco credentials. There are also CCNA (Associate) with a lot of paths and CCNP (Professional). The Cisco track also comes with CCIE (Expert), which covers different skill areas as well. CCAr is the apex of design path knowledge. It is solely dedicated to the design of LAN and WAN networks. It starts with CCDA where you will explore different concepts involved in network design for building fault tolerant and scalable networks. To earn CCDA, the candidates are required to first earn CCENT or CCNA. This means you have to develop some technical knowledge before you pursue Cisco Certified Design Associate. After this, you can go further and earn CCDP, and then CCDE. It is essential to mention that there are no prerequisites for these two credentials. After Cisco Certified Design Expert, the next is the apex level, which is CCAr.

As mentioned above, Cisco Certified Architect is the pinnacle of certifications in the Design path. However, the thing about it is that it is beyond technical work. In the words of Cisco itself, CCAr is focused on “understanding the business strategy & translating it to technical infrastructure requirements.” To be able to meet the requirements of this certificate, the professional engineers must work through the multifaceted networking problem and the business requirements to develop design solutions that satisfy both prerequisites. Now, this is some gruesome work. No doubt, the need to highlight the best of the best in the world of network design has birthed CCAr.

How Can You Earn Cisco CCAr?

Before you can earn the CCAr credential, you must first attain the CCDE certification, which is quite a lot of work on its own. To obtain Cisco Certified Design Expert, you have to go through the tasking exam, which consists of a written and practical test. The written exam takes two hours to complete and it covers evolving technologies, L2 and L3 control planes, design considerations, and network virtualization. You must first pass the written test before you attempt the practical aspect.

The practical exam requires eight hours of your time, where you are required to work through four different complex real-world scenarios. You will have about a hundred plus pages of technical and compressed materials to read. After this, you will need to answer some questions focusing on the problems and requirements entailed in the material. Each scenario requires two hours of your time. This translates to around five minutes for each question. This is no doubt a herculean task but the fact is that it is achievable. After getting CCDE, you are closer to the Cisco CCAr certificate. However, this doesn’t mean you have less work to focus on.

When you have obtained this level and you are ready to concentrate on CCAr, the first step is to submit a non-refundable application fee of $3,750. Apart from the fee, you are required to submit your resume and an application that summarizes your other qualifications and experience. After this, you will go through a phone interview. If you are good enough and you go through this stage, you will be invited to schedule a Board test, which requires you to pay the exam fee of $11,250 making it a total of $15,000 to earn the CCAr credential. The Board test will evaluate your knowledge on a given scenario, which you have three weeks to create and defend before three judges.

Why Should a Professional Pursue Cisco CCAr?

The best way to describe this is to use the company hierarchy where the biggest high-level decision maker is a CEO. For this position, you don’t need many people. You need only one excellent head that can make strategic choices for the growth of the company and handle all the decision making processes while providing the managers with the business objectives and a master plan for implementation. Here, the CEO is a certified CCAr specialist while the managers have the CCDE certificates.

In general, a CCAr certified manager leaves the technical hands-on jobs to the CCDE and CCIE certificate holders while focusing on the bigger picture. The majority of them actually work with Cisco driving projects for the biggest Cisco customers. Thus, anyone with a huge dream will want to be in such a position.