What Is a Certified Cisco Network Administrator?
Do you enjoy working with computers? Are you curious about how networks function or a networking professional looking to stand out? You might want to consider gaining certification to become a network administrator. Read on to learn about the options offered by Cisco. Schools offering Computer Networking degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
What Is a Cisco Certified Network Administrator?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that a network administrator is an individual with specialized training who is responsible for building and maintaining computer networks (www.bls.gov). In this role, you are responsible for ensuring that networks run smoothly--from monitoring physical machinery to troubleshooting software programs--so that others can use the system with minimal gaffes.
A Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) is an administrator who has completed one or more specialized certification programs and exams. Cisco offers several levels of certification, from introductory to expert. In addition to the general CCNA credential, Cisco offers certification for network administrators who specialize in security, voice networks or wireless networks. You must have a valid Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) credential to proceed to advanced or specialized levels of certification.
What Skills Are Tested?
To earn the CCNA credential, you must pass a test that includes tasks related to routing and switching, Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, managing traffic with IP lists and point-to-point or frame relay connections. The company offers two training classes to prepare you for the certification test. The exam tests your ability to install and run small and medium branch networks; it also tests your problem-solving ability. This certification is valid for three years before you must recertify. Exams are proctored in an approved setting.
How Is Training Offered?
Cisco recommends that you take specific courses prior to certification testing. Training is available from learning partners or organizations that contract with Cisco to offer the training over a 5-day period.
The company also offers training through the Cisco Networking Academy, including two curricula related specifically to the CCNA credential: the CCNA Exploration program or the CCNA Discovery program. The Exploration program is a wide-ranging overview of networking concepts at many levels. The curriculum emphasizes practical application of theoretical concepts. If you're interested in developing your skills, consider the CCNA Discovery program. This curriculum includes career exploration, networking theory and chances to learn through practical experience.
What Are My Next Steps?
Your upper-tier certification options include the Professional and Specialist designations. Each of these titles is an umbrella for subfield specialties. For example, if you're a network administrator, you may be interested in the Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) title with additional testing available in voice, wireless, security or service providers. At the Specialist level, you can become a Cisco Network Admission Control Specialist or someone who specializes in the design, support, sales or structure of network data centers. You can proceed to the next-highest level only by completing lower-level tests.
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