I want to know where I can get training in Cisco CCNA. I am contemplating doing this in either India or China. How long does it take to go through?—Toju
From your question, I am going to assume that you have little applicable knowledge and experience, so you should plan on spending one to four weeks preparing for your exam, depending on the amount of experience that you have, as well as the amount of time you can devote to your training and study on a daily basis. Your first step should be to go out and find some study resources in the form of a review book. Schedule and take a class. Start your review. Schedule your exam.
One of the things unique to pursuing the CCNA is that it concentrates on relatively low-level networking devices for which most people are ill prepared to review on actual routers. Here you have two options to work on building your practical experience: finding a simulator that will run on your PC or using an online service that provides access to a set of real routers. Which one will be more helpful to you is probably a function of your experience. If you anticipate needing to work on the practical side for longer than a few days, I would encourage you to work on getting the simulation software, as most router rentals are going to be a few days in length because they are oriented almost exclusively on a short-term review scenario.
Ken Wagner: I am going to break down and answer your question in three parts:
Where can I get CCNA training from?:You have a few choices in front of you. You can self-study by buying various learning material such as computer-based training (CBTs) from vendors such as LearnKey, CBT Planet and CBT Nuggets; books from vendors such as Cisco Press and Sybex; practice exams from Transcender or PrepLogic; and Cisco networking kits from places such as www.ciscokits.com. Then buy the test voucher and book your exam at a Pearson Vue testing center of your choice.
You can take a boot camp, which is an intensive course during a five- to seven-day period that covers the CCNA syllabus. Normally, you will go away for a week and take your exam at the end of the period. Or you can take evening classes, spread out anywhere from three months to one academic year (approximately nine months), depending on what syllabus and how much practice time they incorporate into the class.
I am contemplating doing this in either India or China: To be honest, you don’t have to travel to another country to get cheap, affordable and great training. If you self-study, you can study from home. And whatever country you’re in, chances are there are private as well as academic institutes (schools, colleges, universities) that offer the CCNA.
How long does it take to go through?:This is what is known as a “fuzzy” question. There is no set time to attain the certificate. While the various different CCNA courses are structured anywhere from a week (boot camp) to an academic year (nine months), you should only take the exam when you feel ready for it. I’ve known people who just read the books and then took the exam within a week and passed because they had the experience with the product in a working environment and worked with the equipment for years. On the other hand, I’ve known people with no experience; they do the course, get the practice in before they do the exam and it takes them two years to pass.
If you have no experience in networking, I would not recommend doing an intensive course, especially one that specializes in one vendors’ products. I would recommend doing the CompTIA Network+ before you do the CCNA, as that will give you a good basis to build upon.
Make sure you do not use brain dumps (this is whether or not you self-study or go with a course provider), as if you’re found out you can be decertified and banned from taking any other professional certs from that vendor. They violate the nondisclosure agreement of the exams and devalue your hard-earned certificates. And brain dumps will not help you do your job properly.
Wayne Anderson is a highly certified instructional consultant and the certification lead for Avanade, a global Microsoft consultancy. Ken Wagner is an IT network manager and part-time IT lecturer in the United Kingdom. He has lived in the United States, Asia and Europe. To pose a question to Ken and Wayne, send an e-mail to DearTechie@certmag.com.