IT technologies might be one of the sectors you are considering when starting your career. The first step toward this career is usually different for different individuals. Well, if you are interested in computer networking, then the best initial step you can take is to pursue the CCNA certification. Many people have a question in mind – ‘What is CCNA certification?’. For starters, CCNA is a credential offered by Cisco, a multi-national corporation and the worldwide leader in networking for the internet. CCNA stands for Cisco Certified Network Associate. In the highly competitive IT industry, a CCNA certification can open your doors to a number of entry-level job opportunities.
This article gives you a complete overview of the CCNA certification and why you should achieve it for a flourishing IT career.
CCNA Certification – An Introduction
According to Cisco, the CCNA certification validates that you possess the skills that are required to navigate the ever-changing IT landscape. It encompasses a number of important concepts like networking fundamentals, security fundamentals, IP services, automation, and programmability. As a CCNA-certified professional, you will have a clear understanding of how to manage and optimize modern-day advanced networks. The credential is best suited for entry-level network engineers, network administrators, help desk technicians, and network support technicians.
Aspirants willing to achieve this certification need to pass the 200-301 CCNA certification exam. Although there are no prerequisites for this certification, it is better to have a working knowledge of implementing and administering Cisco solutions. This 120-minute exam tests your knowledge in the following areas (along with their weight in the exam):
- Network fundamentals – 20%
- Network Access – 20%
- IP Connectivity – 25%
- IP Services – 10%
- Security Fundamentals – 15%
- Automation and Programmability – 10%
Regarding the exam questions, you will face multiple-choice, multiple response, drag and drop, and lablets (where tasks are performed on virtual machines) kinds of questions. Note that there are no labs associated with the exam. You need to log in to the Pearson VUE website, register for the Cisco 200-301 exam, and pick a suitable location and time. When appearing for the exam on the scheduled date, you will know the pass or fail status immediately. Passing the exam makes you CCNA certified. Note that the certification is valid for 3 years and you need to recertify post this duration by retaking the exam or completing the continuing education requirements.
In Feb 2020, Cisco made certain changes to its exam structure so as to make them simplified and more flexible. An attempt was also made to align the exam with the current industry needs. The latest update consolidates the previous CCNAs credentials into one CCNA certification, which is considered the foundation for all Cisco-based job paths.
Preparing for the CCNA Exam
Fortunately, you don’t have to search for the CCNA study materials here and there as Cisco itself offers it. There are training modules as well as self-paced online courses to help you gain a clear understanding of the topics covered in the exam. Apart from the official resources, you can also try a free course offered by Simplilearn under its SkillUp initiative. Here are its details:
Simplilearn is a leading online Bootcamp and certification, training provider. It offers free courses under a recently launched initiative called SkillUp. The name of the course is CCNA 200-301 Network Fundamentals (Learn CCNA 200-301 Network Fundamentals Online). It is a beginner-level course that is up-to-date on the latest requirements to pass the Cisco CCNA 200-301 exam. The program involves 5 hours of in-depth learning modules that will help you gain a clear understanding of networking fundamentals. Upon enrolling, you can access the course for 90 days.
The top skills covered in the program are routing protocols, network engineering, SAN networking knowledge, OSI model, unified communications, operational support, virtual networking, multicasting IPv4 and IPv6, and Cisco ASA firewalls. The training program is suitable for network security engineer, network security analyst, and any one who wishes to pass the Cisco CCNA 200-301 certification exam. In the end, you will also receive a course completion certificate.
Job Opportunities after Getting CCNA Certified
CCNA is a highly recognized credential in the IT landscape. Though it is a vendor-specific certification, Cisco products have a huge share in the networking market and their knowledge is required for many job roles. In fact, professionals who have worked with Cisco products find it easy to switch into networking products from other vendors. This is the reason people are trying to add this valuable certification to their resumes. Once they get certified, they can explore various career opportunities like IT support specialist, network administrator, network specialist, network engineer, senior network engineer, and so on.
So, what are you waiting for? Prepare for the CCNA certification today and take your career to new heights.