The Cisco CCNA certification is the principal technical qualification for anyone wishing to work in the hardware side of computer networking - specifically routers and network data switches. CCNA stands for Cisco Certified Network Associate. Cisco certification is both globally recognised and widely respected in industry.
Routers or data switches are units of computer hardware. They 'route' and control the flow of data traffic that speeds around networks and the internet. Gaining a Cisco certification will enable you to install, maintain and troubleshoot routed and switched networks. Cisco routers dominate world-wide, accounting for more than two-thirds of the total routers on the web (Cisco's claim to fame is that the internet couldn't reliably function without their hardware).
As well as connecting up the internet, routers are also used by many major companies. With multiple locations and a wide geographical spread, large organisations use routers to connect their individual networks together and maintain secure internal data communications.
Network Security becomes an important aspect for all Cisco engineers. As you might expect, gaining your Cisco CCNA certification means you can often command a fairly generous salary. The specialist skills you'll develop are very much in demand, and will usually lead to working for a major corporation or other large establishment. Alternatively, many Cisco qualified professionals are employed by Internet Service Providers (ISP's) and Telecoms companies.
If you're new to the industry, it's essential that you get a good grounding in how networks operate first, before attempting the Cisco certification. Without this, your training will be unnecessarily complicated, and your CV could be a little 'light' when it comes to employment time. TheCompTIA A+ and Network+ training programs are a great place to start, and will equip you with basic to intermediate networking skills. Then once you've qualified and start making job applications, you'll be able to satisfy employers that you have those networking skills outside of your CCNA.
CCNP (Cisco Certified Networking Professional)
Cisco also have a more advanced level qualification - the CCNP (Cisco Certified Networking Professional). We strongly advise against attempting this certification until you've gained at least eighteen months to two years experience in industry first. Some training providers may urge you to train to this level at the start, but in our opinion that's not the best advice. The CCNP is a LOT more technical, and you'll generally struggle with many of the advanced concepts if you have no 'frame of reference' from personal experience.
Also, it's unlikely employers would be interested in offering you such a senior position without any real-world industrial or commercial experience. And finally, you may not need it! Start doing the job first - it's likely that you'll discover you don't need a CCNP to do the job you want to do. And then if you do decide it's worth pursuing, you'll be in a far stronger position to take it on when you're that much further down the line.
Combining Microsoft & Cisco Certifications
Some students also choose to combine their CCNA with one of the Microsoft Networking qualifications, such as the MCSA or MCSE for a more 'rounded' skill-set. The Microsoft qualifications are more operating-system and software directed - as compared to the more hardware oriented Cisco certification. This can often save on overall training fees, as generally there are discounts for purchasing both together as a package - plus it gives you the opportunity to move between the two programs at the same time and benefit from the synergy of two networking based programs coming from different angles.
Either way, with strong CompTIA network skills and the Cisco CCNA certification, you'll be in a great position to build a successful & well-paid career. Read on to investigate the best training routes...
Cisco Certification Programs(12 Related Products : 9 Shown)
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