Image of Jeremy L. Gaddis, CCNA, CCNP (and Cortney, in case you were wondering)

About the CCNA

by Jeremy L. Gaddis

According to the Cisco web site, the CCNA certification “validates the ability to install, configure, operate, and troubleshoot medium-size route and switched networks, including implementation and verification of connections to remote sites in a WAN.”

The CCNA certification has long been the entry point for a career in the computer networking industry. While it’s possible to immediately jump in and “go for the gold” (the highly coveted CCIE certification), nearly everyone starts out by earning the CCNA certification first.

By earning the CCNA, as Cisco mentions, you have proven that you have the ability to manage small- and medium-sized networks. Besides basic networking, the CCNA tests other topics as well, such as security, wireless networking, and IPv6. You won’t be an expert, but you will have a great foundation to build upon.

One Exam or Two?

Historically, one earned the CCNA certification by passing a single exam. A while back, however, Cisco changed things up a bit and gave us another option: the two-exam path.

In effect, the CCNA 640-802 exam was split in half. If you have experience in networking or working with Cisco equipment, you may want to simply take this exam. For those just getting started in networking, however, the recommended approach is to prepare for and take the two exams independently.

If you enroll in Cisco Academy, for example, the material is broken up into four different sections. The first two prepare you for the ICND1 640-822 exam and the last two prepare you for the ICND2 640-816 exam.

Note: By passing the ICND1 exam, you will also earn the new Cisco Certified Entry Network Technician (CCENT), though the value of the CCENT certification is debatable.

Recertifying the CCNA

Your CCNA certification is valid for a period of three years. Before the three years is up, you’ll want to recertify so that it doesn’t expire. Fortunately, you have a number of options to recertify the CCNA and keep your certification current.