How to Become a Cisco Certified Network Associate


How to Become a Cisco Certified Network Associate

Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) is an IT certification offered by Cisco. CCNA is amongst a range of Certifications offered by Cisco and is classified as an associate-level Cisco Career Certification. It is a tier-two certification among Cisco’s five-tiered Career Certification process. A CCNA certification validates an IT professional’s ability to set up, configure, troubleshoot and operate a small to medium-sized computer networks. There are a couple of ways of attaining a CCNA Certification. A CCNA is a three-year certification and an IT professional could either obtain the Certification by passing Cisco Exam No. 640-802 or attempt two other exams, ICND1 No. 640-822, and ICND2 No.640-816. The institutes that offer Cisco certifications are considered to be part of the Cisco Networking Academy.

CCNA Certification is a gateway for professionals to further specialize in other CCNA fields such as CCNA Routing & Switching, CCNA Cloud, CCNA Cyber Ops, CCNA Security, CCNA Service provider etc. A CCNA certification stays valid for 3 years, after which certified professionals are required to either re-take the previous exam or a more advanced exam.

What is the job description of a Cisco Certified Network Associate?

A CCNA Certified professional is required to manage Local Area Networks (LAN) and Wide Area Networks (WAN) that use Cisco routers and Switches. The scope for a CCNA certified professional is vast as a wide range of industries uses networking technologies. Some of them are telecommunication providers, manufacturing companies, colleges and universities, IT firms, corporate businesses. Delving into details, A CCNA usually acts as a network technician and performs the duties of installing, configuring, managing and troubleshooting the Networking Machinery and equipment being used in the workplace. Moreover, as a certified Network Associate, these professionals are expected to create relays and link up hardware with the software, which means they are required to have at least the front-end know-how of software such as Cisco IOS so that they can type commands that allow equipment to communicate with the system being installed.

An important part of a CCNA-certified's job is troubleshooting. In SMEs, the scale of Networking systems can vary, and the more complex the system the higher its chances of errors. A networking System is needed to work 24/7 without hiccups at all times. Faults that occur in the Network need to be addressed to immediately, which means that CCNA is often required to work overtime and unusual office hours. Apart from having the expertise to maintain a Network, CCNA needs to have connections and strong networking skills as often times the complex Networks in place develop a fault that needs communication with outside vendors, with a unique set of skills or experience. Having expertise in the running of Network System and managing different aspects of dealing with issues that arise are few of the main aspects of this career path.

Responsibilities of a Cisco Certified Network Associate

A CCNA is likely to be hired by a range of industries that use Networking Systems. These could include corporations such as Cisco Systems Inc. itself, Amazon, AT&TT Inc., or even government departments such as the United States Air Force (USAF). A CCNA Certification makes an IT professional eligible for a Network Engineer post. Network Engineer, Sr. Network Engineer, and Network Administrator are few of the jobs that a basic CCNA Certification can get an IT professional. Apart from maintenance and administration of Intranet, Extranet, WAN and LAN systems, there are a few other responsibilities of a Cisco Certified Network Engineer. These are preventive and proactive measures that keep the Networks running smoothly and effectively. Moreover, they are also required to take measures to minimize the potential damage to data in a disaster situation and create contingency plans of recovery operations. Furthermore, they are required to work with the users of networks to fix potential issues, as well as replace hardware where necessary.

Apart from protecting hardware, software, and dealing with the various aspects of troubleshooting, CCNA should also be able to monitor and optimize network performance. This could be done by solving existing problems, monitoring the demanding aspects of the network and streamlining them, finding efficient ways of using the network bandwidth/potential, prototyping and deploying new software to improve the network's performance or expand its scope. CCNA is an essential beginner level certification for anyone aiming to gain expertise in network administration. According to Tech Target, “Preparing for and attaining basic network credentials, such as the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) accreditation, can provide essential foundational knowledge to build and maintain critical network infrastructures. These certification courses outline the necessary elements to support an optimally performing network.”

Knowledge and expertise are key factors for a CCNA. In-depth insights about network infrastructure and network hardware as well as application transport and network infrastructure protocols are highly desired.  A CCNA can choose from a range of fields to specialize in order to advance their careers, such a Networking, Security, and Routing & Switching etc. These specializations test the knowledge of a candidate in the chosen field and further validate their capability as advanced Network Technicians.

Why CCNA should be obtained

A CCNA is one of the most recognizable certifications of its class. It is offered by a renowned organization and opens up various specialization opportunities for IT professionals. Furthermore, owing to its reputation and affiliation with Cisco, it is considered to be a highly credible certification. Because of its high, various organizations are offering CCNA exam training programs. These training programs can be availed online, which is an added convenience for IT professionals. CCNA is a recipe for success for anyone entering the field of Networking, but what further improves an IT practitioners’ potential is their willingness to advance their qualifications as well as knowledge. CCNA and, subsequently, advanced Cisco certifications coupled with a candidate’s dedication to learning more about the related field such as cloud computing for enterprises and staying up to date with the latest technological advances and their technological advances determines their success as a Network Technician.

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