How To Become A Great Cisco Networking Consultant – 2 Skills You Should Need

If you are reading this post you probably want to begin a career in Cisco computer networking. Perhaps you have just graduated from college or have many years of experience in the computer industry and are looking to specialize. It usually takes a few years of experience before you can become good at your network job.

There are certainly a few things you can do to help speed up the learning process and show to any future firms that wish to employ you that you have the pre-requisite experience and networking skills to perform effectively at the job. I will try to share with you some of them here.

Here are 2 things you need to have which should help speed up the learning process and help you become good more quickly:

1. Obtain the CCNA – The CCNA certification is one of the most respected IT certifications today, and is highly recognized by the networking industry as a whole. Getting the CCNA certification is a great way to begin your career in networking.

And because Cisco is the biggest player in the enterprise networking market, having a CCNA certification will demonstrate to a future employer that you have the pre-requisite networking skills to be able to troubleshoot and configure small to medium-sized enterprise networks.

2. Configuration Experience – There are many people who will resort to cheating in order to get their certification. In order to stop this, Cisco has made the certification exam more difficult. Many companies also conduct their own internal test to determine which candidate has real skills and experience and who actually obtained their CCNA certification in an dishonest manner.

Because of this, you should obtain some hands-on configuration and troubleshooting skills and this will prove to your future company that you have the relevant networking skills. Such skills will also prove to be very useful once you’ve got the networks job, as you will be able to contribute more effectively as soon as you are hired.

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How To Become A Good Cisco Network Engineer – 2 Things To Note

What should you do once you’ve obtained your CCNA certification? For most people, the logical next step is to get a job as a basic networks engineer either designing or supporting the network infrastructure of a small to medium sized corporation. Many people might also be looking to switch career paths from a more general role in technology to a networking specialization. In either case, you should note these 2 things to improve your chances of success:

1. Practical Knowledge – The CCNA, being the entry level Cisco networking certification, is possibly the most common network certification these days. Just having the CCNA does not guarantee you a job as employers are getting more demanding. The one thing that will really set you apart from the other applicants is your experience with the configuration and troubleshooting of real Cisco networks, rather than something you read out of a book and only know how to do in theory.

You should aim to obtain such configuration and troubleshooting skills. A good way to do this is to build your own Cisco lab either at home or if you employer allows it, in the office. This will allow you to practice in the lab before doing it for real on a production network.

A good alternative to using real Cisco devices, is to use Cisco simulators such as the dynamips simulator or buy other Cisco simulator packages. However, one downside of these simulators is that you will only be able to practice your configuration skills but not problems like patch cord faults and other physical layer issues.

2. Networking Technology – It’s important to keep yourself apprised of the latest networking technology. In particular, if you know what your future company uses, this will help a lot when it comes to being interviewed because they will tend to focus on those areas.

Please note, however, that some companies consider this information to be a business secret. If you obtain the information unethically, you will not only not get the job but word will probably get around pretty quickly. Please only do this if the information is freely available and they are OK to tell you what technologies are being used. If you have this, do take the opportunity to brush up on the relevant technologies before going for the interview.

Cisco Associate Level Certifications – CCDA, CCNA

Cisco Certified network engineers are among the most prestigious and sought after employees for any company. Taking into consideration that every company has an IT network and that Cisco Systems is the networking vendor with the biggest market share, you can easily figure out why Cisco engineers are so popular. Just an indicative salary figure, a LAN/WAN network administrator in USA earns between 40,000 to 70,000 USD (depending on the location).

Cisco offers three levels of Career Certifications, starting with lowest to highest:

  • Associate
  • Professional
  • Expert

To start your certification path, you need to earn the Associate level first. There are currently 6 Associate level certification areas, as shown below:

CCDA Cisco Certified Design Associate. CCDA certified professionals can design routed and switched network infrastructures and services involving LAN, WAN, and broadband access for businesses and organizations.
CCNA Cisco Certified Network Associate. The Cisco CCNA network associate certification validates the ability to install, configure, operate, and troubleshoot medium-size routed and switched networks, including implementation and verification of connections to remote sites in a WAN.
CCENT Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician. CCENT certification is the first step toward achieving CCNA. The Cisco CCENT certification validates the skills required for entry-level network support positions, the starting point for many successful careers in networking.
CCNA Security CCNA Security Certification meets the needs of IT professionals who are responsible for network security. It confirms an individual’s skills for job roles such as Network Security Specialists, Security Administrators, and Network Security Support Engineers.
CCNA Voice The Cisco CCNA Voice certification confirms that you have the required skill set for specialized job roles in voice technologies such as voice technologies administrator, voice engineer, and voice manager. It validates skills in VoIP technologies such as IP PBX, IP telephony, handset, call control, and voicemail solutions.
CCNA Wireless CCNA Wireless recognizes the critical importance of professionals supporting wireless LANS including Networking Associates/Administrators, Wireless Support Specialists and WLAN project managers. The CCNA Wireless Certification validates candidate’s skills in the configuration, implementation and support of wireless LANs, specifically those networks using Cisco equipment.

Cisco Certifications – How to recertify

Because my CCNP certification was going to expire recently, I made some research to find out how to recertify. It was a pleasure to discover that by passing any 642-xxx exam, this recertifies you ALL Professional Level certifications (CCNP, CCDP, CCIP, CCSP, CCVP). Of course, the 642-xxx exam has to be a part of the professional level curriculum. Another way to recertify is by passing any current CCIE written exam.

Since I also have the security professional certification (CCSP) in addition to the network CCNP certification, I decided to take the 642-523 exam (Securing Networks with Cisco PIX and ASA Firewalls). As I have successfully passed it a few days ago, I have managed to recertify both CCNP and CCSP for 3 more years….. Continue reading “Cisco Certifications – How to recertify”