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The Definitive Guide To The CCNA Certification

The Definitive Guide To The CCNA Certification

The Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification is an entry-level IT certification issued by Cisco, a leading networking hardware company. The CCNA certification is designed to validate your knowledge of fundamental networking concepts, which are crucial for various IT networking roles. By obtaining your CCNA, you demonstrate your ability to understand and manage network infrastructures, making it a valuable asset for your professional career in IT.

Your Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification is valid for three years after the issue date. You must successfully fulfill some recertification conditions to recertify before your certificate’s expiration date. You are not required to take any action to maintain your CCNA certification valid.

Before your CCNA certificate expires, you must finish recertification exercises. The CCNA is a network-security certification that can be renewed in two ways. Recertifying with a conventional exam is the first choice. Obtaining CE (Continuing Education) credits is the second alternative.

To renew their certified status, CCNA holders must follow one of two methods. These include sitting for either a written exam or an instructor-led online course and passing it with 80% correct answers. The Cisco Learning Network is a Cisco learning portal that all CCNA holders are eligible to use. Candidates can participate in webinars, view video training, and download learning guides.

MyComputerCareer also includes the Cisco Certified Network Associate certification in its cybersecurity specialist program. If you want to learn more about the entire CCNA series of certifications, or are interested in knowing more about Information Technology certification best practices, feel free to contact us directly

CCNA certified professionals are highly sought after by top companies and can make six figures with only a bachelor’s degree. This article will serve as your definitive guide to obtaining this certificate, including what it entails, how to maintain it, and more.

What Are The Benefits of CCNA Certification?

There are many benefits to earning the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification. The first and most obvious is that it will help you gain a better job prospect as employers prefer employees with certifications. In addition, having this type of credential can also lead to more promotions within your current company or higher salaries at other companies where you may be employed.

It can also help to give you a better understanding of the industry and increase your networking knowledge in general, which could lead to further certifications such as CCIE (Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert). Some other benefits include:

  • The ability to work from home or remotely with an increasing number of companies that offer telecommuting positions.
  • Having the ability to travel and work in different countries as more companies are looking for Cisco Certified Network Associates (CCNA) with global experience.
  • Being able to learn new technologies such as wireless networking and cloud computing faster than your competitors who may not have a certification or lack this type of credential.
  • Having the ability to validate your knowledge and skills in this area.

The list could go on, but you get the idea, there are many benefits of earning a Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification.

The networking landscape is rapidly changing. SDN (Software-defined networking) and the cloud are two new technologies that are generating a sensation. These innovations have revolutionized the networking industry by allowing for a wide range of job responsibilities. As a result, the CCNA certification allows you to address the needs created by these shifts in your industry.

Jobs and Salary Expectations

The Cisco Certified Network Associate certification opens a lot of doors to different job opportunities. Because Cisco systems and technologies have established themselves as the industry standard, certified experts are always in great demand. After earning the CCNA credential, you may apply for various specialist roles such as information technology management, information technology director, system engineer, network administrator, system administrator, senior system engineer, network security engineer, cyber security analyst, senior systems engineer, and more.

The salary expectations also tend to be relatively high for those who have earned the Cisco Certified Network Associate certification, especially in comparison with other entry-level positions on a national scale. The average annual salary is around $87,000, while some top earners earn $111,000 plus per year. Those who obtain this type of credential can increase their pay by 20% or more.

Several people are searching for Cisco-certified experts since they have shown significant competence with Cisco routers and switches. The majority of Fortune 500 businesses use Cisco networking hardware.

Based on the information collected from Indeed.com, the following are the expected average annual compensation for professionals with the CCNA certificate, according to projections from September 2021:

Position Salary (average US):

  • IT support specialist – Over $53,000
  • Network specialist – Over $64,000
  • Network administrator – Over $69,000
  • Network engineer – Over $85,000
  • Senior network engineer – Over $116,000

The top cities for those with the CCNA certification are:

  • San Jose: $94,500
  • Washington D.C.: $75,500
  • New York City: $75,000
  • Chicago: $72,500
  • Houston: $72,000
  • Dallas: $71,500
  • Atlanta: $68,500

What’s Included In The CCNA Exam?

The Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) credential is one of Cisco’s most sought-after IT badges. The Cisco CCNA exam has two major sections that assess network fundamentals and LAN switching, IP routing technologies, WAN protocols, and configuration standards required in a large organization utilizing Cisco equipment.

Cisco CCNA certified experts can set up, administer, and troubleshoot Cisco routers and switches in small, medium, and large enterprises. The Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) credential is a certificate awarded to IT specialists wanting to advance their careers as network technicians or engineers with abilities applicable across many types of equipment used in networks worldwide.

Cisco has certified over one million people as CCNA professionals, and Cisco continues to be the leading networking brand across the globe. The demand for skilled network engineers with a solid understanding of how networks work grows daily, especially in large enterprises that rely on cutting-edge technologies such as cloud computing and virtual servers running 24×365. As a CCNA certified expert, you can set up, administer and troubleshoot Cisco routers and switches in small to large enterprises.

The Cisco Certified Network Associate certification is a milestone that many IT professionals aspire to obtain as it opens the door for career advancement opportunities within their field of expertise. In addition, having the CCNA credential enhances job security because most companies prefer to hire network engineers that have demonstrated a high level of competency and expertise with Cisco networking systems.

The  Cisco 200-301 exam is a 120-minute examination that may be taken in English or Japanese. The following components make it up:

  • IP connectivity (25%): The exam will test your understanding and abilities to set up, validate, and troubleshoot basic routing using a variety of routing protocols, including static IP/VPN/DMZ routing. It will cover topics such as: BGP; vRouter; dynamic routing protocols (RIPv1 and RIPv2); OSPF V3; EIGRP vNext; PBR; redistribution (of IGPs into EIGRP and RIP, of static routes into OSPF); path control via policy-based routing (PBR)
  • Network access (20%): Students will be tested on their knowledge of the following topics in this exam: VLANs, Interswitch connectivity, Layer 2 discovery protocols, and EtherChannel; Rapid Spanning Tree Protocol operations; Cisco wireless architectures, AP modes, physical WLAN components, AP and WLC management access connections, and wireless LAN access.
  • Network fundamentals (20%): End-point devices, including firewalls and security appliances; network architectures with different physical connections and media connectivity; IP address assignment; IP configuration settings such as MTU, TCP options, packet fragmentation (IP fragmentation), routing tables.
  • Security fundamentals (15%): The following are some of the main security levels, which IT professionals might use to separate assets and users: identity management and access control, data center security policies, physical access controls, password rules, access control lists, Layer 2 security features, wireless transmission protocols.
  • IP services (10%): Understanding and testing the elements of a VPN connection; locating public DNS servers to resolve hostnames with incorrect or no addresses; understanding NTP, NAT, and NTP configuration; analyzing DHCP, DNS, SNMP, and Syslog functionality; per-hop behavior; using SSH; TFTP/FTP description.
  • Automation and programmability (10%): How to compare conventional networks with controller-based ones; discusses automation ideas; and teaches you how to interpret JSON data.

CompTIA Network+ vs. CCNA Certifications

The CompTIA Network+ is another Cisco certification that tests your network skills and is often earned by professionals seeking to enhance their networking abilities. There are a few key distinctions between them.

  • The CompTIA Network+ credential is vendor-neutral, like the CCNA. This implies that it teaches you how to operate with any network device or system, regardless of who makes it. The CCNA focuses on Cisco solutions and technologies exclusively.
  • The Network+ credential is considered more fundamental than the CCNA by many people. The CCNA generally covers more topics and goes into greater detail than the Network+. 

Which should you choose? Because Cisco products dominate the networking market, many individuals opt to take the CCNA even though it is vendor-specific. In Ethernet switches, Cisco has 47 percent market share and 33% of the combined SP and enterprise router industry. Because Cisco solutions are so popular, it can be beneficial to understand them well. Many people discover that the CCNA is more than enough for their needs, but several people decide to take both exams.

But, in light of that, the Network+ may be beneficial to those who are just beginning to network or who find the CCNA too challenging or thorough for their needs. It’s entirely feasible to obtain both the Network+ and the CCNA after gaining more expertise.

How can one become CCNA certified?

If you’re aiming to become CCNA certified, the journey begins with passing the 200-301 CCNA exam administered by Cisco. This foundational step is crucial as there are no prerequisites required to sit for the exam. However, it’s recommended that candidates come prepared with at least one year of experience using and implementing Cisco products and solutions, a fundamental understanding of IP addressing, and a solid grasp of network fundamentals.

Once you have achieved your CCNA certification, maintaining it is the next step. Before your CCNA certificate expires, you must finish recertification exercises. The CCNA is a network-security certification that can be renewed in two ways. Recertifying with a conventional exam is the first choice. Obtaining CE (Continuing Education) credits is the second alternative.

Cisco Learning Partners offer Continuing Education credits. These credits can be earned through various activities, including passing Cisco professional-level job certifications, completing relevant Cisco authorized courses, developing exam questions for Cisco, and/or participating in local Cisco user group meetings and Live technical sessions. To successfully recertify your CCNA, you must earn 40 CE credits.

By understanding both the initial certification process and the requirements for recertification, you can effectively plan your career path in network security with Cisco’s certifications.

The Cost of Taking The CCNA Exam

Cisco does not directly provide the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) credential. Instead, they collaborate with Cisco Learning Partners, such as MyComputerCareer, to offer training and testing for CCNA certification tests.

When considering the pursuit of a CCNA certification, it’s important to understand the financial commitment involved. The cost of taking and passing a CCNA exam is determined by the Cisco Learning Partner that will support your learning experience. For Cisco CCNA certificates, an individual might anticipate paying anything from $300 to $500 USD.

It’s worth noting that the base cost for the CCNA exam itself is $300, plus any applicable taxes. Additionally, for those who have access to them, Cisco Learning Credits can be utilized to cover the exam fee. These credits are often available through employers who invest in their employees’ professional development on the Cisco platform.

If you believe a CCNA certification is important for your career advancement, it might be beneficial to discuss this investment with your employer. They may even support your certification journey financially. If the test is not a requirement for your current role, consider how much it is worth spending based on your professional growth objectives and the potential return on investment.

What topics are covered in the CCNA exam?

The domains of the Cisco 200-301 exam should be your starting point for studying. We’ve previously said that you should study based on the Cisco 200-305 test domains. Visit the CCNA website and download the official test blueprint to see exactly what to anticipate in the certification examination. Cisco’s own publications, including the most recent editions of Cisco CCENT/CCNA ICND1 and CCNA Routing and Switching ICND2, are the most acceptable study materials for the CCNA exam.

To give you a clearer idea of what to expect, the 200-301 CCNA exam covers a broad range of topics distributed across different domains, each with a specific weightage. Here’s how the exam content is structured:

  • Network Fundamentals (20%): This includes understanding network components such as routers, switches, and access points; network topology architectures; physical interfaces and cabling types; IPv4 and IPv6 configuration; IP parameters for clients (DHCP, DNS, and gateway settings); wireless principles; and basics of virtualization and switching.
  • Network Access (20%): Key topics include configuring and verifying VLANs and interswitch connectivity; understanding Layer 2 discovery protocols and EtherChannel; and grasping the operations of Rapid Spanning Tree Protocol. It also covers Cisco wireless architectures, AP modes, the components of a physical WLAN, and methods for managing AP and WLC access connections.
  • IP Connectivity (25%): This domain focuses on routing tables; router decision-making processes; configuring and verifying both IPv4 and IPv6 static routing; understanding single area OSPFv2 operations; and the essentials of first hop redundancy protocols.
  • IP Services (10%): Candidates need to be familiar with configuring and verifying services like NAT and NTP; understanding DHCP, DNS, SNMP, and syslog; recognizing per-hop behaviors; and using SSH and TFTP/FTP.
  • Security Fundamentals (15%): This covers security concepts including threats and their mitigation; physical access controls; establishing and maintaining secure password policies; understanding access control lists; Layer 2 security features; and wireless security protocols.
  • Automation and Programmability (10%): Here, you should understand the differences between traditional networks and controller-based networks; recognize basic automation concepts; and be able to interpret JSON encoded data.

Armed with this detailed breakdown, you can effectively allocate your study time and resources to better prepare for the CCNA exam.

How Long Does the CCNA Certificate Last?

Your Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification is valid for three years after the issue date. You must successfully fulfill some recertification conditions to recertify before your certificate’s expiration date. You are not required to take any action to maintain your CCNA certification valid.

CCNA Certification Renewal Requirements

Before your CCNA certificate expires, you must finish recertification exercises. The CCNA is a network-security certification that can be renewed in two ways. Recertifying with a conventional exam is the first choice. Obtaining CE (Continuing Education) credits is the second alternative.

Cisco Learning Partners offers Continuing Education credits. The credits are given for events such as passing Cisco professional-level job certifications, completing relevant Cisco authorized courses, developing exam questions for Cisco, and/or participating in local Cisco user group meetings and Live technical sessions. If you want to recertify for the CCNA, you must earn 40 CE credits.

Recertifying If Your CCNA Expired

To renew their certified status, CCNA holders must follow one of two methods. These include sitting for either a written exam or an instructor-led online course and passing it with 80% correct answers. The Cisco Learning Network is a Cisco learning portal that all CCNA holders are eligible to use. Candidates can participate in webinars, view video training, and download learning guides.

It’s a good idea to recertify before your certification expires. If your certificate expires, you must retake the CCNA exam to renew it. If you want to advance to the next level of certifications or use CE credits to recertify, you must recertify before your CCNA certification runs out.

Keep in mind that Cisco does not offer an extension on the certification waiting period. You are responsible for recertifying on time. Also, be aware of Cisco’s five-day retake policy before scheduling your recertification exam. If you schedule your recertification exam three days before your certification’s expiration date and then fail it, you won’t be able to schedule another exam for five days.

Cisco Learning Partners offer the CCNA certification renewal at a significantly lower cost than conventional recertification exams. You can earn CE credits in Live Cisco events or by participating in webinars hosted by Cisco Learning Partners. All you have to do is make sure that your chosen activity/event is Cisco compliant.

CCNA Exam Study Guide

The Cisco 200-301 certification is a difficult exam to pass. Given this, we’ve compiled a list of study recommendations to assist you in obtaining an excellent score on the test.

Experts these days have complicated work schedules, and they may not be able to attend class in a conventional manner. This implies that they are enthusiastic about self-study to prepare for the exam. Video lessons, hands-on lab training, and practice exams are all examples of self-study alternatives. Because you can’t apply them, you must choose a study guide to complement your self-study.

Before diving into these self-study methods, it’s crucial to understand the foundational knowledge and experience Cisco recommends for CCNA candidates. According to Cisco, ideal candidates should have:

  • At least one year of experience using and implementing Cisco products and solutions
  • Basic knowledge of IP addressing
  • An understanding of network fundamentals

Equipped with this background, candidates can better utilize the resources mentioned for self-study. Many individuals do not follow a study regimen, and as a result, they squander their time. You should create one as soon as feasible. A good CCNA exam preparation strategy for novices would include reading Cisco Press books on the subject matter and other learning resources such as official Cisco webinars, practice exams, and lab simulations.

It would be best to allocate a specific time for each task in preparation for the CCNA exam. As part of your daily schedule, figure out when you can dedicate some study hours throughout the week. A good idea would be to set aside an hour every day after work or school before going home from the office or campus. This way, you have a regular study habit that will increase your chances of success on the CCNA exam.

Developing Your Study Schedule

Experts these days have complicated work schedules, and they may not be able to attend class in a conventional manner. This implies that they are enthusiastic about self-study to prepare for the exam. Video lessons, hands-on lab training, and practice exams are all examples of self-study alternatives. Because you can’t apply them, you must choose a study guide to complement your self-study.

Many individuals do not follow a study regimen, and as a result, they squander their time. You should create one as soon as feasible. A good CCNA exam preparation strategy for novices would include reading Cisco Press books on the subject matter and other learning resources such as official Cisco webinars, practice exams, and lab simulations.

It would be best to allocate a specific time for each task in preparation for the CCNA exam. As part of your daily schedule, figure out when you can dedicate some study hours throughout the week. A good idea would be to set aside an hour every day after work or school before going home from the office or campus. This way, you have a regular study habit that will increase your chances of success on the CCNA exam.

The CCNA Exam Syllabus

The domains of the Cisco 200-301 exam should be your starting point for studying. We’ve previously said that you should study based on the Cisco 200-301 test domains. Visit the CCNA website and download the official test blueprint to see exactly what to anticipate in the certification examination.

Cisco’s own publications, including the most recent editions of Cisco CCENT/CCNA ICND1 and CCNA Routing and Switching ICND2., are the most acceptable study materials for the CCNA exam.

The “31 Days Before” series, also published by Cisco Press, is another excellent option. Make sure to go over all of the practice questions and lab assignments. However, if you want to pass the test, learn how to work with binary arithmetic before reading any of the books mentioned above; you should do it on your own in your spare time.

While studying, take notes on all of the vital information and concepts to make it easier for yourself when going over them again before the test date.

Participating in the Cisco Training Program

The quickest and most effective way to get certified for the CCNA exam is to enroll in Cisco’s “Implementing and Administering Cisco Solutions (CCNA)” training program. It’s a mix of various study tools, such as lectures, hands-on labs, and self-study materials covering the CCNA curriculum.

While many people turn to online options because it’s cheaper, it does not guarantee success; in fact, most students who fail their certification tests never use such resources and study guides. The only way to pass the exam is to get proper certification training.

Enrolling In A Boot Camp

The surest way of passing the CCNA exam is taking part in a boot camp. A group of experienced instructors will offer you various study options and help with your training program to make sure that you pass on your first attempt.

Since Cisco’s certification programs are top-rated, many reputable providers design their own curricula for students before providing them with different learning resources. Boot camps are a great choice if you don’t have the time or money to participate in a full-fledged training program but want to learn as much as possible from Cisco’s instructors before taking your certification exam.

Cisco has partnered up with a variety of specialized educational institutions to offer CCNA training, including MyComputerCareer. You may gain practical experience by participating in Cisco’s authorized boot camps, which are designed to provide you with all the information you’ll need for a successful interview and certification.

In a nutshell, networking schools will educate you on the foundations and fundamentals of network technologies, protocols, topologies, installation processes, Cisco device troubleshooting manuals, and much more. Students who enroll in MyComputerCareer can also ask for assistance with resumes, job applications, cover letters, and networking. They can also get help with writing resumes and job interviews from the company’s Career Services team. Financial Aid and Veteran Assistance is available to those who require it through the company.

MyComputerCareer offers certification programs that also include the CCNA exam. Reach out to us if you’re interested in getting CCNA-certified and advancing your IT career. We would be happy to answer any questions that you might have.

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