There is no doubt that obtaining CCNA certification is an important first step for anyone aspiring to create a career in IP networking. In this post I describe how to get CCNA certified and boost your earnings as you climb the ladder.
All it takes is a little planning and commitment. Commitment is the motivation to keep going after the initial rush of enthusiasm wears off.
When I first passed the CCNA exam in 1999 it was a test that proved a basic understanding of IP networks, subnet addressing, the OSI Reference Model and several other core subjects. In the years since the CCNA has evolved to reflect the rapid changes in technology and there are now nine different types of CCNA.
Unless you are already certain of your path you will probably choose the CCNA Routing and Switching exam. This is the original CCNA updated for modern times.
Passing the CCNA exam takes effort, time, and expense, so why bother?
The CCNA certification is an industry recognised benchmark. It demonstrates an appreciation of the fundamentals of IP networking and proves to any prospective employer that you have the necessary knowledge in this area.
Not everyone who passes the CCNA becomes a Network Engineer who configures and troubleshoots Cisco devices on a daily basis. It is also the certification that opens doors for Network Administrators, Customer Managers, and many other roles.
Obtaining this certification is an assurance to the employer, the company’s customers, and yourself that you have reached a level of understanding that will enable you to do your job.
It gives you an advantage if you’re competing with others for a position. It is also leverage for a pay rise if you’re already employed.
Let’s assume you’ve elected to go down the Routing and Switching route. There are no prerequisites and you can take the exam whenever you feel ready.
Alternatively you can take two entry level exams which combine to give you the certification.
Cisco themselves offer several e-learning options. There is free content to get you started but to view the full courses and all the videos you will need to pay one-off fees or subscriptions. It’s high quality training material straight from the people who provide the certification path so you know you’ll be getting the best tuition.
Independent online training is available from companies like INE.com. They have online courses for most Cisco certifications right up to CCIE. However, I see that another long standing provider has gone out of business. IP Expert is now offline.
Global Knowledge provide classroom courses all over the UK and in many other countries.
Personally, I find there is nothing better than the tried and trusted method of having a book in my hands. Let’s assume I was about to take the CCNA Routing and Switching exam again (I last did so in January 2014).
The above method works if you are renewing your certification or if you already have plenty of experience on Cisco IOS devices but you might be approaching the CCNA exam for the first time with little experience. In that case you will probably benefit from some training. I’ve listed a few options above.
You can self-sponsor or you might be able to persuade your employer to pay for a course, either external or online. External courses are the most expensive option. As well as the course fee there may be accommodation and travel costs as well. However, there are advantage to classroom study that cannot be obtained from e-learning. Being able to put questions to an instructor and have things explained until you fully understand them is invaluable.
Everybody loves taking an exam, right? OK, maybe not but there are some ways in which you can reduce the stress levels.
I know the feeling. Been there, done that, got several t-shirts. Over the past 17 years or I’ve taken many Cisco exams. I don’t like to count how many I’ve failed. The important thing is that eventually I’ve gone back and taking the exam again and passed it.
That’s true of most of them. There are a few that I didn’t re-take due to changes in funding, position, and other circumstances.
Failure is disappointing. There is no way of sugar-coating it but as the old saying goes, it’s not how many times you fall down, it’s how many times you get up again that counts.
If you fail your Cisco exam take break from the studies and do something you enjoy. Don’t be too hard on yourself and don’t give up, but take time to relax and have some fun. Forget about studies for a little while but don’t leave it too long. Take a short break but not so long that you lose momentum.
When you’re ready, pick up the score sheet and go over the feedback you received. It will give you some idea of where your knowledge was weak and you will probably know yourself which questions and what subjects you found difficult.
Work on those areas while checking that you are still comfortable with all the other subjects. Eventually you will feel ready for another attempt at the exam.
Passing the CCNA exam could be the first step in an IT career that lasts decades. With the evolution of networking technology there’s never been a better time to achieve this goal.
Please share this post with anyone you think might benefit from it and leave your experiences, feedback, and study tips in the comments section below.
Good luck with your exams!
You may be aware that wars were fought and lost. Treaties were signed and broken. Friends were made and betrayed. The accounts of the massacres will make your blood run cold. The injustices and maltreatment of survivors will make your blood boil.
Perhaps you’ve read nothing but you’ve seen films that give you some idea of the tragedy and betrayal. Dances With Wolves is one such film. For once the cinema had managed to capture something of what we had read in the history books.
So you might think that with the Indian Wars receding into history and Native Americans taking their place in American society, politics, business, and culture all is well.
Except it isn’t. In fact, the brutal treatment didn’t end with Wounded Knee.
Once the tribes were defeated militarily they were confined to reservations on what was then regarded as worthless land. The intention was to to provide them with the means to survive but suppliers and middle men ripped them off.
Their remaining children were forced through a schooling system designed to turn them into Americans. They were beaten for speaking their own languages. Their culture, stories, and prayers were forbidden.
Despite all of this the tribes and their cultures endured and survived, though not without many casualties along the way. Alcoholism and suicide on reservations is all too common.
Once again American politics and business is riding roughshod over the Native Americans. The Dakota Access Pipeline is being driven like a lance through the heart of the land. With comes a high risk of pollution through leaks and spills into the water supply.
They are driving bulldozers through ancient and sacred tribal burial grounds. Can you imagine the outcry if they did that through Arlington Cemetery?
Those who protest are being treated like criminals and private security firms are setting their dogs on them.
However, this outrage has had an unexpected effect. it has united the tribes of the USA in a way that hasn’t been seen for centuries. They are coming from all over the USA and beyond to show their support.
Social media has spread the message far and wide, and the world is watching. Video footage of the protest and the reaction of those paid to guard the construction sites is there for all to see.
Supporters of the pipeline are well funded. They are exploiting social media to spread their message too. They have pointed out that the intended route of the pipeline doesn’t actually traverse any Indian reservations. Thus they demonstrate their failure to understand how all things are connected.
From an ecological point of view what is over there is connected to what is here. Fences and lines on a map don’t mean a thing.
On the one hand this this may seem like yet another example of the US government looking the other way while the Indians are abused by a powerful corporation.
But it’s much more than that and it has rallied tribal people and others from all over the USA and beyond. There is no political agenda. All people want to do is safeguard their access to clean water.
When I hear the President of the United States referred to as the ‘Leader of the free world’ I can’t help but wonder, “Free from what? Free for whom?”
Would it be too much to ask that the USA sets an example to the rest of the world?
Give the tribes a break. Demonstrate to the watching world that you can live up to the principles and ideals that you boast are your bedrock.