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What is CCNA?
Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) is the first step to a career for professionals aiming to enter network management. The Cisco certification aims to help expand the professional’s skill set related to network system administration and optimization knowledge.
With the growing and emerging use of information and communication technologies (ICT) around the world, the need for professionals with the needed knowledge is increasing in various organizations. The list includes networking concepts like social networking, e-commerce, cloud computing, desktop virtualization, web conferencing, etc. These types of work profiles are popular with CCNA graduates.
What is CCNA? It is a certification by Cisco Systems. This computer and network professional certification is administered by Pearson VUE for internetworking experts.
Note: The CCNA exam number 640-801 has however retired since November 6, 2007. The exam consisted of 55-65 questions with a duration 90 minutes to complete.The CCNA exam number 640-802, instead, is the composite exam associated with the Cisco Certified Network Associate certification.
Purpose: CCNA certification enables certified candidates to establish, fix, configure, function, operate, and troubleshoot networks.
About CCNA: The course is comprehensive and integrated and allows the professional to be completely trained in networking. From basic to advanced applications and services, the CCNA certification ensures that the certified person will be trained in all aspects of the subject. In addition to technical knowledge, it also imparts practical experience and basic soft-skill advancement. CCNA candidates will learn related problem solving and analytical skills by studying a comprehensive syllabus in a mix of theoretical, interacting, and practical learning environments.
Who is the CCNA meant for? The CCNA is designed for those who want to master both network routing and switching; in short, become internetworking experts. This means they want to have the training and ability to implement and verify network connections, carry out basic networking tasks, and apply mitigation techniques to network security threats, etc.
Here are all the levels of Cisco certifications available:
The CCNA syllabus revolves around seven subjects, which are:
- Routing and Switching
- Network Security
- Service Provider
- Storage Networking
Image credit: Cisco Systems, Inc.
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CCNA Examination Information
To get the CCNA certificate, the candidate has to either:
- Complete a single exam that includes #640-802, or,
- Complete a two-exam path exam that includes #640-821 (Introduction to Cisco Networking Technologies) and #640-811 (Interconnecting Cisco Network Devices).
Note: There are no prerequisites for the CCNA #640-802 certification. The CCNA exam can be conducted in the following languages: English, Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, Russian, Korean, French, and Portuguese.
Other CCNA certification exams, include: CCNA Voice, CCNA Wireless, CCNA SP Operations, and CCNA Security. For information on these certification exams, interested candidates should visit the official Cisco Web site: http://www.cisco.com.
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Where to Get CCNA Training?
Many institutions have certified CCNA teachers and trainers who train students on CCNA. This type of school is known as Cisco Networking Academy. The courses are also taught at many collegiate institutions, Cisco 360 Learning Programs, Cisco Learning Partners, and Cisco Learning Network. The CCNA certification is valid for three years and re-certification requires re-taking of exams that were previously completed. Many organizations get trainers from these institutions to help train their staff. Such organizations encourage their staff to follow a study at home routine with occasional lectures and support from professionals. Consequently, many individuals like to study on their own and then register for the exam. Exam centers are located in almost all parts of the world.
Advice: Try the Cisco Learning Network. The Web site (see the reference section) provides Test Prep and Info.
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CCNA Salary and Job Prospects
The average salary of the CCNA professional in 2004 was $60,000. 
Of course, salaries range differently as per years of experience, the company itself, and city of work. The most common job titles held by CCNA professionals are network engineer, systems administrator, senior network engineer, network operations, consulting systems engineer, systems engineer, trainer, management, and IT engineer. CCNA professionals have been reported to have great future career prospects, rewarding opportunities and are considered greats assets for any organization.
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Resource and Reference Section
 TCPmag.com's 2004 Cisco Professional Salary Survey: http://tcpmag.com/salarysurveys/article.asp?editorialsid=253
Cisco Testing: http://www.vue.com/cisco/
Cisco Learning Network: https://learningnetwork.cisco.com/index.jspa?ciscoHome=true