Are you are a BE, BTech, BSc Comp Sci or BCA graduate, and feel like these days apart from software programming there is nowhere else to go?
Well, you are not alone!
We are fast witnessing an era where a growing number of talented graduates are realizing that coding is not their calling and it is not something that they are really good at anyways. They are fast seeking alternative career streams in IT that do not have steep learning curves such as software programming.
In this quick post, I intend to comprehensively answer all questions you may be having inside your head relating to one such timeless option – IT Infrastructure in general and Computer Networking in specific!
I can already hear you asking –
- What is Computer Networking?
- What exactly is CCNA Certification?
- Will it give me a job in the real world?
To Begin With – What is CCNA?
IT Infrastructure consists of both software and hardware assets that deliver value in the form of useful utilities and applications. But the true power of computing is realized when you are able to get diverse computers to connect across the world and communicate with each other.
This is the domain of Computer Networking.
It is all about interconnecting computers together and getting them to talk to each other using a common language (also called protocol).
The CCNA (abbreviation for Cisco Certified Network Associate) is an internationally recognized Certification Exam for those interested in growing themselves careers in the field of Computer Networking.
Founded in 1984 when the internet was unheard of, Cisco Systems Inc today runs the majority of the internet hardware and infrastructure. It’s Computer Networking training and certification programs such as the CCNA are recognized worldwide by employers and their HR teams.
Simply put, the internet as we know it today, exists because of Cisco.
What Topics will I master through CCNA?
The CCNA Certification Exam is a fundamental learning step that takes you from scratch (you are not expected to know anything about Computer Networking, to begin with) all the way to making you knowledgeable about common connectivity technologies used today to connect today’s Small (LAN), Medium (MAN) and Big (WAN) networks.
Some of the major topics you will learn in depth include below:
- Introduction to Common Networking and Internetworking Devices such as Routers, Switches, Wireless Access Points, Firewalls.
- Network Topologies
- Connectivity Technologies & PoE
- IPv4 Addressing & Subnetting
- IPv6 Addressing
- Virtualization Fundamentals
- Virtual LANs (VLANs), STP, RSTP, PVSTP
- Layer 2 & Layer 3 Switches – Basic & Advanced Features
- Advanced Routing – NAT, ACL (Security), DHCP, SNMP
- Introduction to Wifi & Wireless Security
- Automation and Programmability
If all of the above sounds like a lot to take in, understand that you are NOT preparing for a subject anymore.
As a matter of fact, you are preparing yourself with real-world skills that will give you employment.
Remember this: Businesses do not pay for degrees, only Skills!
Full Form of CCNA
In case you are ever asked this in a quiz, remember my name and split the prize money – CCNA stands for Cisco Certified Network Associate.
Jokes apart, the CCNA is the recommended 1st step on your journey into the world of computer networking.
Consider below Cisco Certification Stack.
The CCENT is more recognized in western economies such as the USA and Europe.
In India, you almost always start out with the CCNA.
As a matter of fact, I recommend my American and European students to start with CCNA only as it saves them considerable time and effort.
What is the Scope of CCNA? What after CCNA?
Of course not.
Most CCNA training institutes will sell you the CCNA as a networking certification, making quick money in the process. While the value of the CCNA remains, it is important to do it with a long term plan in mind.
You should have a clear idea as to what will you be doing next after the CCNA to continue progressing.
A stop gap IT Certification never benefits you. It should be part of a strategy.
IT Infrastructure refers to all the hardware and software components that an organization owns and operates to deliver services and value to its internal employees (for e.g. file servers, Computers & Laptops, Servers) and external customers (for e.g. websites).
The CCNA Certification builds you a strong foundation for you to be able to manage installation, maintenance and troubleshooting of all forms of network connectivity for IT Infrastructure.
The CCNA also acts as an all-important bridge for you to acquire expertise in below related aspects of IT Infrastructure:
- Systems Administration – you learn all about Windows & Linux Servers here.
- Cyber & Network Security – to secure any IT assets you first need to understand how to configure and operate them don’t you? This includes networks.
Simply put, you can choose to gain expertise in computer networking as a specialty through the CCNP and CCIE programs OR continue to broaden your skills across systems configuration and management through the MCSA and MCSE programs.
Those interested in security as a niche, take up the Certified Ethical Hacking (CEH) course after a solid foundation in networks and systems.
All said and done, your networking certification is only the start of a long journey. If someone is selling you their CCNA program as a quick fix for career growth – run as fast as you can! Think of it as a plant that takes time to grow.
About the CCNA Certification Exam
I shall be penning down a separate post detailing all common queries that I get about the official exam. Understanding the answers will make it so much more easier for you to decide, plan and act on your career goals.
Quickly put, the CCNA test is an online exam conducted at authorized testing centers by Pearson Vue.
Questions are objective in nature – Multiple choice (90%) and Simulations (10%).
And yes, you pay per attempt. If you do not clear, you buy another try and so on so forth.
Is the CCNA Exam Easy to Clear?
The whole point is not even the exam, which some people unscrupulously clear with simply 1-2 days preparation with the help of dumps (past question papers).
I recommend a wholehearted approach where you not only learn fundamental concepts well but also learn deeper by doing.
What is the point of copying or cheating if you eventually land a job that requires you do know the subject matter well for you to get paid?
Most of our students from the online CCNA training batches are able to clear it in the first attempt. But more importantly feel like they have learnt something of value, something the world will may them for.
Like I said, its a skill not just another course!
Is getting the CCNA worth it?
Upskilling is the mantra of this decade. Businesses – both Corporates and Startups, are keen in invest in skilled manpower. IT Certifications are the biggest opportunity to get your foot inside the door.
1 in 3 HR Professionals indicate they definitely include IT Certification Requirements in Job Postings.CompTIA HR Professionals Survey covering over 400+ International HR representative.
The way we teach and highly recommend that everyone learn this practical skill is – LEARN BY DOING. With a practice-driven approach, your confidence to answer those interviews will come booming through. So will the interview calls when you update your resume after clearing the prestigious examination.
All said and done, the CCNA Certification is far from over. We are only getting started with connecting computing devices together – laptops, mobile phones, smart wearables and more!
We need strong and faster computer networks and high-quality computer networking personnel to plan, install, maintain, configure and troubleshoot these high-value investments made by Governments, Corporates and Internet Service Providers (ISP).