How To Get A CCNA Certification: A Step-By-Step Guide

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 30 September 2022

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Many IT professionals who are at the beginning of their careers choose to pursue entry-level IT certifications. These certifications often help professionals gain foundational knowledge regarding computer networking. If you are considering a career in computer networking or a related field, you may benefit from learning about the CCNA certification. In this article, we discuss what a Certified Cisco Network Associate certification is, how to get one and what benefits it offers.

What Is A CCNA Certification?

A Certified Cisco Network Associate (CCNA) certification, attests to professionals' fundamental network expertise. The certification classes cover subjects including automation, programmability, core security knowledge and IP services. The CCNA certification is available in many forms and has a variety of specialisations. Many CCNA-certified individuals hold positions such as help desk technicians, network engineers, network administrators or network support specialists.

Although there are no formal requirements for this certification, Cisco advises having at least a year of experience using their solutions before enrolling in a course. Additionally, the organisation advises applicants to develop a basic understanding of network principles, including the functioning of IP addresses. Every three years, it's necessary for professionals who hold this credential to renew their certification. To renew a certification, professionals may either pass a qualifying exam or accrue 30 continuing education credits.

Related: 7 Frequently Asked CCNA Interview Questions (With Answers)

How To Get A CCNA Certification

Here is a list of steps you can follow as a guide on how to get a CCNA certification:

1. Gain experience

It is ideal to learn about computer networking before pursuing this certification. Some professionals decide to get a degree in information technology or computer science before pursuing this credential. If you want to pursue this credential without a degree, some institutions may provide quick introduction courses on computer networking and IT-related subjects. Because technology-related degrees typically provide students with some core understanding of these subjects, having a relevant academic background may assist you in preparing for this exam.

Employment in ‌computer networking can also give you practical experience. Working as a network administrator, computer systems analyst or technical support professional may fall under this category. Students and fresh graduates can also benefit from pursuing internships and gaining real-world experience in the industry. If there is scope for potential internships or other work prospects as part of an academic course, consider approaching academic advisors for guidance. You may also be able to find employment opportunities by browsing social media platforms, career fairs, local community groups and online job boards.

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2. Review exam topics

Review crucial exam topics before you begin training for this certification to get a better idea of what subjects to study. Each exam comprises six fundamental principles, even if exam subjects may vary. The CCNA certification exams cover the following set of topics with the corresponding weightage:

  • Network fundamentals (20%)

  • Network access (20%)

  • IP connectivity (25%)

  • IP services (10%)

  • Security fundamentals (15%)

  • Automation and programmability (10%)

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3. Prepare for the test

You can take specialised training classes online to prepare for the CCNA exam. Cisco provides many training programmes, courses and resources which may help you prepare for this exam. For instance, a year's worth of online lectures, laboratories, webinars and assignments are accessible to subscribers of the Cisco Digital Learning service. The certifying authority also provides access to a community network where students can interact with each other and qualified instructors. If you wish to attend classes in person, you may consider joining technical institutions in your area.

Consider the programme's duration, location and cost before enrolling. If you wish to attend classes in person, ‌it is best to find out in advance where the programme is taking place to ensure that a regular commute is feasible. While self-guided programmes may give access to training materials for a year, instructor-guided training programmes usually range ‌from a few days to one or two months. Depending on the resources that the programme offers, the cost of training sessions may also vary. This is a list of topics and resources that most training programmes include in their courses:

  • OSI models

  • WAN and LAN design

  • Wireless essentials

  • Switching concepts

  • Introduction to data centres, firewalls and routers

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4. Take a practice exam

One of the final steps in preparing for the certification test is to take a practice exam. After completing other training courses, many people decide to take practice examinations. Because you can respond to similar questions within the same time constraints, taking numerous practice examinations can help you prepare for the actual test. They can also assist you in determining the areas of study that require additional practice or review. Cisco offers a practice exam package that includes lab exercises and 300 sample questions for a fixed fee.

Try to discover specialised practice examinations that concentrate on your speciality since the CCNA certification offers several concentrations. These practice tests typically contain content that goes further into your area of interest. A standard practice test is adequate if you want to prepare for the generic CCNA exam. Take your practice tests at least a week or two before the actual exam so you can reflect on your performance and use experiential insights to prepare effectively.

5. Schedule and take the official exam

Schedule your exam on the Cisco or Pearson VUE website if you are ready to appear for the official CCNA exam. You can schedule your exam up to six weeks in advance. To finish the exam, go to a physical Pearson VUE testing location or take a proctored online exam. You are required to have a dependable internet connection and a calm environment before taking an online test. You require a computer with a webcam, Pearson VUE proctoring software and government identification for gaining eligibility. Professionals conduct exams in-person at accredited testing facilities across the nation.

The 120-minute generic CCNA certification exam has a passing grade requirement of at least 80%. There are no restrictions on how many times you can take this test. You can check the status of your certification after passing your test by logging into your Cisco account.

6. Recertify every three years

A CCNA certification is valid for three years. After three years, you can take a recertification exam or submit continuing education credits to maintain the certification. You can earn continuing education credits by completing certain activities, like additional training courses. Locate the complete recertification catalogue guide by visiting the Cisco website. You are responsible for tracking your certification status and completing recertification activities on time. Track this information by signing into your Cisco account.

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What Are The Benefits Of Earning A CCNA Certification?

A CCNA certification, like many other credentials, shows prospective employers that you have the knowledge, abilities and expertise in computer networking. Professionals with relevant certifications may get priority in hiring situations. Other advantages of obtaining this certification include the following:

Accelerated career growth

If you are an experienced applicant, earning a CCNA certification can improve your prospects of career advancement. The networking sector offers a variety of professional development opportunities, whether you are a beginner or looking to shift industries. Governments and other businesses look for qualified network engineers to oversee network operations due to the rapid development of operations in this domain.

Related: 5 Tips To Boost Your Career Growth For Professional Success

Better salary and perks

This certification can prepare you to succeed if you are seeking a higher position in a firm or if you expect an appraisal shortly. Completing this certification can make you eligible for administrative positions, higher pay and extended benefits. A CCNA certification on your resume has the potential to improve your employability as it is in high demand.

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Increased prominence in a team of professionals

Getting a Cisco certification can help you gain a competitive advantage, in comparison to non-certified professionals working in similar roles. It can help you earn admiration and respect in the professional domain of IT and networking. A combination of these factors can encourage business leaders and managers to consider you for leadership positions, especially within a team of IT professionals, programmers, developers and testers.

Tips For Pursuing A CCNA Certification

Here are a few tips that can help you earn this credential:

  • Make notes and flashcards. You may prepare for the test by creating flashcards and taking note of frequently asked questions and terms. Regardless of the testing site, these portable resources typically make it simple to study before the test.

  • Use multiple study resources. Use a variety of study aids, including practice exams, training sessions and lab tests.

  • Arrive at your test location early. If you decide to take the test in person, reach the venue early to ensure that you are settled in and comfortable before the examination starts. You can utilise this time to quickly review personalised study resources such as flashcards and notes.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are associated with Indeed.

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