Certified Cisco Network Associate (CCNA) is a certification course offered by Cisco. Cisco is a leading vendor of IT network equipment, which is designed and manufactured in-house. As the largest OEM in their field, Cisco has the highest market capture of any IT vendor, and Cisco products are used almost universally in business and industry.

What is the CCNA Certification?

A CCNA certification validates the skill, ability and expertise of an individual to fix, configure and troubleshoot networks. CCNA is the basic course that lays the foundation for Network Engineers, and once the basics are in place, after doing the CCNA, even other vendors consider it reputed, like Juniper, HP and Dell, to name few.

Read more: 5 Study Tips to Pass the CCNA Certification Exam

As businesses around the world rely on IT services to operate efficiently and profitably, CCNA professionals operate at the technical end, ensuring adequate performance of Network devices such as routers, switches and firewalls.

Roadmap to CCNA Certification Infographic

The CCNA certification has evolved through the years. Originally, there was only one CCNA certification. In 2013, the areas of the certification were expanded, to serve the growing demand for Cisco-certified professionals that has accompanied the growth in ecommerce and increasing reliance upon data centers.

Currently, there are certifications within the CCNA focusing on such areas as:

  • Security
  • Routing and Switching
  • Service providers
  • Data centers
  • Video
  • Voice
  • Collaboration
  • Wireless

The CCNA gives you an insight into all flavors of the set of Cisco certifications, and once a person has completed CCNA, they would be in a better position to decide further which domain to choose for the next level, based on industry requirements and interest. Generally, CCNA Routing and Switching is the basic credential to obtain, after which one can proceed with the others mentioned below:

  • Security
  • Service providers
  • Data centers
  • Video
  • Voice
  • Collaboration
  • Wireless

What Is The Accreditation Body For The CCNA Certification?

A certification is only as good as the accreditation behind it, lending it credibility, and CCNA has among the best organizations in the businesses backing it. A world leader in networking, Cisco’s business operates with the aim of transforming how people communicate and collaborate, manufacturing the vast majority of IT communication equipment in use, today. The CCNA certification is thus globally-recognized and well respected.

Who Is Eligible For The CCNA?

Interestingly, there are no formal requirements for a person to meet to be eligible to take the CCNA exams. CCNA certifications thus are a very attractive option for a fresh graduate to pursue, since companies also hire Network Engineers who are CCNA certified, irrespective of level of experience.

How To Get Certified

In order to get certified, a person must pass specific exams related to the CCNA certification. They can obtain the passing grades on either:

  • ICDN1 (100-101) or the ICDN2 (200-101) Exams
  • Combined CCNA (200-120) Exam

Registration for these exams can be done through Cisco directly or with the help of a qualified CCNA training partner like Simplilearn.

Pearson Vue is the authorized testing partner to conduct CCNA certification exams. They recommend registering for the test at least 2 days prior to the date that is planned for the test as the slots are limited and are booked on a first-come, first-served basis. The registration can be done by phone or online. Payment for the tests are due when registering for them. It is recommended to arrive at the testing location for the test at least 45 minutes ahead of time.

In order to pass the exams, the candidate will need to score 80% or above.

Getting The Right Training For The Certification

Attempting to take the exam, regardless of level of experience, with no prior training would be ill-advised. Aspirants who undergo certified training with experienced training providers such as Simplilearn stand a better chance of clearing the exam first time out.

Simplilearn’s CCNA training course offers 20 hours of high-quality eLearning content, 2 CCNA simulation exams, a comprehensive glossary, and assistance with scheduling your exam with Pearson Vue.

There are plenty of different programs that vary in mode of delivery, length, and effectiveness. It is up to the individual to make sure that they choose a program that will work for them.

Make sure to consider these factors when choosing a training program for the CCNA certification.

  • Location – It is important to choose a location for the training that is convenient. Community colleges and other technical schools offer these types of classes. They can also be found online.
  • Program Length - The length of the program can be anywhere from a few days to as long as a person needs to prepare for the exam. There is no specific length that is best, as long as all of the necessary material is covered.

Important information – A good training program will cover the following areas:

  • WAN and LAN design
  • OSI models
  • IP addressing and Subnetting
  • VLAN and WLAN
  • Routing protocol
  • Switching Concepts
  • Network Address Translation
  • Network Security and management (ACL included)
  • VOIP Basics
  • Wireless Essentials
  • Routers, Switches, Firewall and Data center Introduction.

Is Training Enough, Or Is Post-Training Preparation Necessary?

Although training sheds light on what is expected of the candidate in preparation for a particular exam, it cannot possibly cover all topics that may be asked on the exam. A candidate should therefore work on enhancing their knowledge on the outlined topics listed above to ensure all areas of CCNA are covered through self-study.
A single source or method of study is not always sufficient to pass the exams as the technology domain is complex, dynamic, and continually advancing. Therefore, the candidate should always endeavor to keep up-to-date with the technological advancement in the environment as they look to expand their knowledge. For more information about what people are doing to prepare for the CCNA certification exams, consider participating on various CCNA forums on the internet to see what’s new and what’s hot.

Exam Structure

In order to prepare well for the exam, it is essential to know what to expect. Each CCNA exam is a little different from the one before, and is usually delivered in one of the following formats:

  • ICDN1 – This exam consists of between 40 to 50 questions and a person has 90 minutes to complete it
  • ICDN2 – This exam consists of 40 to 50 questions with a time limit of between 75 and 90 minutes
  • Combined CCNA – This exam consists of 45 to 55 questions and has a 90 minute time limit

The tests are designed to assess the individual’s ability when it comes to installing, configuring, and troubleshooting network systems. The certification is valid for 3 years once the exams have been passed with a score of 80% or above.

Post Examination Requirement

Once a person has obtained the CCNA certification, they need to ensure that they put the acquired skill to test in day-to-day activities. Being recognized as a part of the Cisco certified Network is something that a person should be proud of. Seeking out other like professionals and networking is also a good way to continue learning about Cisco Network systems.

As the technology involved changes rapidly, networking with other IT professionals can help a person stay up to date as they work to maintain their certification standard and prepare for their next steps that could include other associate level certifications from Cisco.

Taking the CCNA exams requires knowledge and commitment, but the rewards are worth the effort. Given the intense competition in the IT networking field, the only way to stand out from the crowd and get your resume noticed is with a professional certification that validates your skills and goes a long way toward demonstrating commitment to the employer.

What if one fails to pass the exam in one go?

Like any other certification exams, not everyone will pass on their first try. Statistics show that it takes people an average of 3 times to pass the test. There are no limits on the number of times that a person can take the test. Hence, it is important to practice with a good partner like Simplilearn. The other thing to consider is the cost of taking the test. At nearly $300 per test, retaking it multiple times can be a problem for some.

How does the CCNA Certification Help Career Growth?

The CCNA certification is among the most respected certifications in the industry. It can open up new opportunities for higher positions and more money. As per statistics, the average salary hike upon obtaining a CCNA certification is about 20%.

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