What is CCNA (Cisco Certified Networking Associate)? | The Ultimate Guide to CCNA Certification

What is CCNA (Cisco Certified Networking Associate)? | The Ultimate Guide to CCNA Certification

Network administrators, system engineers, network architects, and others in the sector can all benefit from the in-depth information and skillset the CCNA certification curriculum imparts.

The CCNA certification is a certification program offered by Cisco and is globally recognized. It teaches fundamental knowledge and skills in network management, enabling network professionals to do their jobs better and advance in their careers. This certification provides knowledge in network management, installation, configuration, security, IP addressing, and other primary network topics.

It is an essential qualification for employers who prioritize candidates with experience and knowledge in network management. This certification enables employers to verify that a candidate has sufficient knowledge of network management. It allows a knowledgeable and experienced professional to stand out in hiring. Several businesses see this certification as a requirement for promotion and pay raises for network specialists with competence and experience in network management.

History and Development

The original CCNA certification test came out in 1998. The goal of the test at the time was to assess students’ ability to understand the fundamentals of network management. However, today it has a more comprehensive range of topics and requires a deeper understanding of network management.

The content and format of this test have evolved, with significant alterations occurring in 2013. The new rules increased the difficulty of the test. It has since become one of Cisco’s most sought-after certifications and is the go-to option for many network professionals worldwide.

Exam dates vary yearly and are available on Cisco’s official website. Examinees can sign up for the test and take it at several testing locations worldwide.

How to Take the CCNA Exam and What Topics Does It Cover?

Most people choose to take the CCNA exam at a Pearson VUE or Prometric accredited testing center. There are 90 minutes to answer the multiple-choice questions on the exam. A registration fee and government-issued photo ID are required to sit for the test.

The CCNA exam covers various topics encompassing the fundamentals of Cisco networking technologies. These topics include network configuration, management, security, IP addressing, subnetting, routing, switching, and VLANs. Also, the exam covers topics including IPv6, WLAN, WAN technologies, network protocols, and network troubleshooting.

The exam tests your practical application skills, such as identifying and troubleshooting network issues and configuring network installations. The CCNA exam requires a broad range of knowledge in network technologies and the ability to think solution-oriented using this knowledge.

The CCNA exam is updated every year. The content and scope of the exam are updated and may change with technological developments and innovations. Therefore, studying according to the latest updates is essential when preparing for the exam. Utilizing the educational materials and practical exercises provided by Cisco can also help prepare for the CCNA exam.

What Are the Requirements?

To become certified as a network specialist, one must fulfill some criteria. These requirements include:

  1. Basic knowledge of computer networking: Candidates must show they have a firm grasp of computer networking fundamentals during the certification process. It includes IP addressing, subnetting, subnet masks, network topology, and device configuration.
  2. Exam preparation: Successful completion of exams administered by Cisco is required. You can study for Cisco certification examinations using the approved training resources and practical experience. Exams are typically multiple-choice and computer-based.
  3. Exam registration: To register for exams, candidates must apply to a test center such as Pearson VUE or Prometric. Exams usually last several hours, and exam fees may vary.
  4. Valid photo ID: Candidates must present proper photos when taking exams. This ID can be an official document such as a passport or driver’s license.
  5. Participation in preparation programs: Participation in preparation programs can help candidates better prepare for exams. Cisco’s official education partners offer these programs.

How to Obtain CCNA Certification and What is its Validity Period?

To obtain CCNA certification, you first need to pass the relevant exams. A testing center administers CCNA exams called Pearson VUE. Attending the CCNA training classes offered by Cisco is highly advised before taking the exam, as this will equip you with the foundational knowledge you need to succeed.

The CCNA exams cover various networking topics, including network management, network installation and configuration, network security, IP addressing, LAN and WAN technologies, network protocols, and other fundamental networking topics. The exam includes multiple-choice questions, simulations, and other testing methods. If you take the exams and do well, you can earn your CCNA certification. To pass the exams, you must score above a certain threshold.

CCNA is a valid certification recognized worldwide but generally current for three years. If the certificate expires, you must retake the exam to renew the certification. It would help if you reclaimed the exams at a certified Cisco training partner or a Pearson VUE testing center to continue the certification.

There are two tests required to earn your CCNA credential: ICND1 (which covers basic networking concepts) and ICND2 (which covers more advanced topics) (ICND2). To obtain CCNA certification, you need to pass both exams.

The ICND1 exam covers networking fundamentals, LANs, IPv4 and IPv6 addressing, basic router configuration, VLANs, OSPF, EIGRP, and ACLs. The ICND1 exam provides you with the basic knowledge and skills for network management.

The ICND2 exam covers more advanced network management topics. This exam includes LAN and WAN technologies, IPv4 and IPv6 routing, HSRP, VRRP, and GLBP. Additionally, you need to have experience in network management to pass the exam. By bypassing the ICND2 exam, you can obtain the Cisco certification.

The CCNA exam code depends on the exam stage and type. The code for the ICND1 exam is 100-105 (CCENT), the code for the ICND2 exam is 200-105, and the code for the single exam is 200-125. A passing score on the exam is 800 or above out of a possible 1000. The exam lasts for 90 minutes and contains 50-60 questions. The exam consists of multiple-choice questions and measures the candidates’ basic knowledge and skills in network management.

The score ratios are related to the score obtained in the exam, and candidates who score 800 or above are eligible to receive the certification. In contrast, those who score between 700-799 receive a “Valid, but Limited Knowledge” certification. Candidates who score 699 or below must retake the exam.

How Much Can You Earn with a Certification?

The salaries earned by users with a CCNA certification can vary depending on location, experience level, industry, and other variables. However, many sources indicate that individuals with this certification earn higher salaries than other network management professionals.

PayScale.com reports that the average yearly income for a network administrator in the USA is between $77,000 and $118,000. However, these figures can vary based on the network administrator’s experience level, location, employer, and other factors.

Nevertheless, having experience in network management can help increase a professional’s salary. Furthermore, this certification confirms to employers that candidates possess adequate knowledge and skills in network management, providing an essential advantage for those looking to pursue a career in this field. However, gaining experience in network management, staying up-to-date on technology and market trends, and obtaining other certifications are also crucial for building a successful career in network management.

Example Question

Select the correct answer based on the following scenario:

A centralized network is a backbone for a system that links multiple branch offices. The routers and switches in the 10.10.10.0/24 subnet can communicate with the rest of the network. 192.168.1.0/24 is a subnet that connects the remote offices’ networks. The company wants each remote office to be connected to its subnet and be able to communicate with each other without using VPN or other solutions. Which of the following solutions best conforms to this statement?

A) 802.1X
B) VLSM
C) VLAN
D) RIP

Answer: C) VLAN.

Description: Each branch office should have its own VLAN to connect to its subnet. VLANs allow different network segments to be managed independently on the same physical infrastructure. By doing so, remote offices and the leading network can easily link up. The alternatives are not suitable for meeting the requirements of the problem.

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