Cisco Certifications – Part 2: CCENT to CCNA
Welcome to part 2 of the Cisco certification posts where we’ll be highlighting the next step in your certification path – the CCNA certification.
If you’ve taken the ICND1 exam and passed then congratulations, you’re now Cisco certified! But now it’s time to take on the slightly more challenging ICND2 exam, which will no doubt be a tougher test of your knowledge.
The topics covered in ICDN2 (and ICDN1 too) changed in 2013, dropping areas of study like RIP and adding material that was previously only found in CCNP exams, such as layer 3 redundancy protocols or GRE tunneling. While a lot of topics are covered in the older issues of CCNA books, you will need to make sure that you are up to date on the current course material, the full list of which can be found here.
The ICND2 exam not only examines your theoretical knowledge, but also serves up interactive simulations, where the examinee must know the correct commands to troubleshoot an issue. This is on top of the other standard multiple/single choice questions which are more in depth and the answers less clear than in the CCENT exam. To prepare for this exam, you should of course be reading the official CCNA books (preferrably the most recent issue) and completing the practice labs that Cisco provide. I can’t stress how important it is that you utilise PacketTracer to it’s fullest extent to make sure that you’re comfortable configuring the technologies covered in the CCNA material. It just isn’t enough to read the books and go into the exam. Prepare well and don’t leave the results down to chance. You may also be aware of “training sites” that provide answers to questions found in the actual exam. I would strongly advise against this route as you’ll end up with a certification but with none of the knowledge to back it up. If you find yourself in an interview being asked about the technology you’ve supposedly studied and you know little about it then you’re going to have a bad time.
On a slightly more positive note, passing the CCNA exam is a genuine achievement! You’ll gain an industry standard certification and learn a lot about exciting technology. You’ll be well prepared to start searching for a job in networking, or advance past your current role. Once you’ve done routing and switching, why not look at some other technologies like voice, wireless or security? Read more about these specialisations in the next post!