Information Technology has been shown to be one of those careers in which growth will continue, despite downfalls in our economy or employment status. The reason is obvious – society is continually finding new ways in which to use the technical tools that are being innovated by businesses, corporations, and individuals. Current trends include the rise in mobile technology, such as smartphones, tablets, and netbooks, to that of cloud computing, in which documents, files, music, video, and pictures are stored in data warehouses on the Internet with the ability to be accessed from anywhere.
These new emerging technologies will have plenty of users. Where there are users, there will also be those who are behind the scenes fixing, designing, repairing, and helping us stay connected. Certifications like those from CompTIA, Microsoft, and Cisco are granted to those individuals who wish to use their knowledge of computers, networks, and applications to support businesses or individuals, opening up new opportunities for them to utilize their knowledge and skills.
Cisco certifications are important to those who wish to use their skills towards computer networks and that of their security and we'll take a look at one of those certifications that are available.
Who is Cisco? What Are Their Exams For?
When businesses or corporations look to equipment in regards to their computer networks, the one name many will go with is that of Cisco. Cisco has been a leader in terms of networking, electronics, and communication technology products for years, being the first to sell a network router successfully in the commercial market. Businesses aren't the only ones who are users of Cisco's routers – many home users of Linksys routers and modems are backed by Cisco technology.
Because Cisco is widely used within businesses, the Cisco certifications are aimed at students and other individuals who wish to learn and develop their knowledge of Cisco technology and Cisco products. For students who go into the networking aspect of IT, these certifications are usually the next in line after they have achieved the CompTIA A+ certification.
What is the CCNA?
CCNA stands for the Cisco Certified Network Associate and is given to those students who have demonstrated their understanding
and skill in the ability of installing, configuring, operating, and troubleshooting routed and switched networks, which also includes how to implement and verify connections of remotes sites in wide area networks (WANS).
This certification also introduces the basics of understanding security threats, as well as the introduction to wireless networking, wireless terminology, and Internet protocol such as IP, gateway routing, VLANS, Ethernet, and access control lists. There are three different tests that students can take –
- 640-802 CCNA Exam – The full exam, which includes both parts of interconnecting Cisco networking devices.
- 640-802 ICND 1 Exam – The first half of the complete CCNA exams that students will take in regards to learning about the interconnecting devices for Cisco networking
- 640-802 ICND 2 Exam – The second half of the complete CCNA exams that students take in regards to Cisco networking devices.
Students can either take the entire CCNA exam or split them in to the first and second halves of the ICND. There are no Cisco prerequisites for individuals to take this exam, however basic knowledge of computers and the internet is a must.
To further this knowledge, receivers of the CCNA can go on to test for the CCNA Security certification, which tests the knowledge and skills of students in dealing with the security of Cisco networks. Students who continue their Cisco knowledge with this certificate will learn how to secure Cisco networks, as well as being able to identify security vulnerabilities, and keeping those vulnerabilities from hitting their networks. Only the 640-553-IINS is required for testing. Requirements to receive this certification are that you have already obtained your CCNA.
Where Can I Get Training?
Because Cisco is a recognized entity for businesses and individuals, there are many different places that offer training and testing for the various Cisco exams.
- Cisco Networking Academy – The best place is probably Cisco's own Networking Academy, which goes over the basics for networking. Not only does this give a good summary overview, but the academy also offers a glossary of terms, plus practice tests to make sure that you understand the concepts.
- Work/Employment – For most who go into CCNA, it is for their current business or employment setting. Sometimes courses offered to employees are paid in full by the company or there is an initiative for employees to pay the partial exam amount in order to receive a promotion.
- Online Training – Online training is probably the most popular, especially for those that work full time jobs. There is a wide variety of free and paid online training that is offered for those going for the CCNA or other Cisco certifications. Pass Guaranteed, for example, offers many training tools and the test itself for $69, while SemSim also offers some basic tutorials for free.
- Mobile Apps – Mobile technology is growing and what better way to study while on the go than with a CCNA mobile app. Both Android and iPhone users can find a variety of flash cards, notes, and other training by way of their smartphone. iPhone users can find the official app on Cisco's webiste, while Android users can find different apps within the Android Market.
- Local Training – Sometimes being in a classroom with others can be helpful. Don't overlook checking your local area listings for certification training centers; while these will most likely require a fee, but usually that fee includes lessons, books and the exam.
Facts and Information from Cisco Systems, https://www.cisco.com/web/about/facts_info/index.html
Courses & Certifications from Cisco Systems, https://www.cisco.com/web/learning/netacad/course_catalog/index.html
CCNA certification from Cisco Systems, https://www.cisco.com/web/learning/le3/le2/le0/le9/learning_certification_type_home.html
CCNA Security certification from Cisco Systems, https://www.cisco.com/web/learning/le3/le2/le0/le1/learning_certification_type_home.html
Cisco Network Academy, https://www.cisco.com/web/learning/netacad/demos/FNSDemo1_1/ch1/1_1_1/index.html
Image Credit: Cisco/author