Cisco Certification for Beginners
- 11th April 2016
- Posted by: Juan van Niekerk
- Category: Networking
If you have made the decision to gain a Cisco certification, you may be left with a few questions as to where the best place is to start and which Cisco certification to undertake first. Then there are questions about the exams, the cost of those the exams and the tools that you will need when getting started.
Below we will discuss how to go about it and endeavour to provide you with advice on Cisco certifications for beginners.
Beginners Should Learn Routing and Switching
When you are just starting out on the road to your Cisco certification, you will start off with learning IP routing and LAN switching. When Cisco first started out, they were mainly focussed on routing and later added switching to their repertoire.
There are many other areas of certification available for Cisco certification (such as Service Provider, Security, Data Center etc, but when starting out, routing and switching is where you should be focussing.
In order to receive your official Cisco qualification, you will need to pass the relevant exams or exams associated with each course. These exams are sat at Pearson VUE test centers and you will need to have a thorough knowledge of the technology and tools involved I order to pass the exam.
The Recognised Cisco CCNA Certification
This Cisco certification (Cisco Certified Network Associate) will be a prerequisite to all other specialised Cisco certifications and, therefore, further study through Cisco will see you needing to gain your CCNA first.
There are two different options when looking to achieve your CCNA. The first is by passing the CCNA 640-802 exam alone. Your second option is to pass two separate exams named ICND1 640-822 and ICND2 640-816. During the exam(s) you will be asked to demonstrate the skills and knowledge required to install, operate and troubleshoot a small to medium sized enterprise network.
The topics covered during these exams include the following:
- Connecting to a WAN
- Implementing network security
- Network types
- Network media
- Routing and switching fundamentals
- TCP/IP and OSI models
- IP addressing
- WAN technologies
- Operating and configuring IOS devices
- Extending switched networks with VLANs
- Determining IP routes
- Managing IP traffic with access lists
- Establishing point-to-point connections
- Establishing Frame Relay connections
Cisco CCENT Certification is for Beginners
CCENT (Cisco Certified Entry Network Technician) is a Cisco certification that is perfect for those just starting out in the field of networking and also forms a part of the CCNA certification. With CCENT you will learn to install, manage and troubleshoot small enterprise branch networks and to manage their basic security.
During the CCENT course and it’s accompanying exam, you will learn the following:
- Networking fundamentals
- WAN technologies
- Basic security concepts
- Basic wireless concepts
- Routing and switching fundamentals
- Configuring simple networks
There are no prerequisites to the CCENT course.
Should I study my Cisco CCENT or CCNA?
You may now be in doubt as to which Cisco certification to start with – CCNA or CCENT. Ultimately, the decision lies with the student. Consider the fact that CCENT is geared toward entry-level individuals who would like to gain a fundamental understanding of networking or who would like to take an incremental step toward their CCNA certification.
The CCNA certification is considered an associate level Cisco qualification and will provide a broader and deeper understanding of networking. It lays a solid foundation on which you will be able to build a career in networking. In the end, what it comes down to is your career path and the speed at which you want to advance in networking.
Choosing to study the CCNA level certificate will see you qualify for positions such as:
- Network Engineer
- Network Administrator
- Systems Engineer
- Telecoms Engineer
The CCENT level certification will ready you to take on job roles like:
- Network Technician
- Support Technician
- Support Engineer
- Telecoms Support Engineer
CCNA will ready you to work in an active networking role alongside other networking professionals, whereas CCENT will see you more likely to start in a support role.
Is it better to write 1 or 2 Cisco Certification exams?
The all-important question is whether to bite the bullet and write one, all-encompassing exam, or to split the exams into two parts. There are a few factors to consider here:
Will you be able to cope with the amount of material associated with taking the single exam? If you have a firm grasp on the information you have learned during your studies, this should not be a problem, but be sure that you are well prepared.
Are you looking to delve deeply into networking or are you just adding a few networking skills to your repertoire? CCNA is a Cisco certification that will cover more skills and knowledge than CCENT and, thus, will be more intensive as far as studies and the exams are concerned.
Will the fact that you need to cover the material thoroughly and the prospect of writing two exams keep you motivated? Some people work better under pressure and feel that they have achieved more when they have pushed themselves harder.
Do you feel that the experience that you have gained during your studies in networking is enough to see you through the single exam and to gain your Cisco certification? This depends on how good your memory retention is and whether any experience that you may have gained is relevant to the exam.
Motivation is a major factor here. Not only your level of motivation, but what you are motivated towards achieving. A basic understanding (CCENT) or a deeper knowledge of networking (CCNA).
Cisco Exam Costs
The final deciding factor as to which Cisco certification to pursue will be the cost of each of the exams. Also keep in mind that it will cost you a little more to retake the exam if you were to fail the first time around.
The cost for the Cisco certification exams are as follows:
- Exam CCNA 640-802 is priced at around $150 (This will see you gaining the CCNA certification).
- Exam ICND1 640-822 is priced at around $150 (This will see you gaining the CCENT certification).
- Exam ICND2 640-816 is priced at around $150 (This will see you upgrading your CCENT certification to CCNA).
Gaining your Cisco certification will guide you towards a lucrative and rewarding career in networking, regardless of whether you choose to study the CCENT certification or go straight for the CCNA level qualification. Everyone is different and some people are more comfortable with taking a more guarded, slower approach, while others feel that they can accomplish more by taking on a bigger task.
The CCNA certification has proven to be more popular among individuals that have gained at least some networking experience, while the CCENT certification has proven to be more popular with those that wish to start learning about the world of networking and those that may be switching careers from an area where they were unfamiliar with networking.
Take all of these factors into consideration when making your choice between these two Cisco certifications. This will ensure that you choose the study path that is right for you and that you feel ready to take on. Once you have completed your studies and passed your exams, you will be ready to start working as a networking professional.
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