Title: Cisco Certification: Becoming A Truly Valuable CCNA
Author: Chris Bryant, CCIE #12933
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Cisco Certification: Becoming A Truly Valuable CCNA
by Chris Bryant, CCIE #12933

I've been active in the Cisco Certification track for four years,
working my way from the CCNA to the coveted Cisco Certified
Internetwork Expert title, and during that time I've conducted
job interviews and casual conversations with hundreds of CCNAs
and CCNA candidates.

The CCNA is an exciting beginning to your Cisco career, but just
having the certification simply isn't enough. A recruiter or
interviewer isn't going to be impressed just with the cert you've
got to have some real-world knowledge to back it up.

I've been down that road myself, and sat on both sides of the
CCNA job interview table. With that in mind, I'd like to offer to
you some tips on becoming a truly valuable and employable CCNA.

Get some hands-on experience. I know the trap well. You can't get
experience until you get a CCNA, and you can't get a CCNA without
real experience. Well, actually, you can, but do you want to?
Working on simulators is fine to a certain extent, but don't make
the classic mistake of depending on them. I've seen plenty of
CCNAs who were put in front of a set of routers and really didn't
know what to do or how to put together a simple configuration,
and had NO idea how to begin troubleshooting.

There are CCNA classes that offer you the chance to work with
industry experts on real Cisco equipment. Beyond that, you can
put together your own CCNA rack for less than $1000 by buying
used routers. Some people think that's a lot of money, but this
is the foundation of your career. Treat it that way. The work you
do now is the most important work you'll ever do. Do it on real
Cisco equipment. The skills I learned as a CCNA helped me all the
way up to the CCIE.

Besides, after you get your CCNA (and after that, hopefully
you'll choose to pursue the CCNP), you can always get some of
your money back by selling the equipment. The hands-on experience
you gain this way is invaluable.

Know binary math. Do NOT go the easy route of memorizing a subnet
mask chart for the CCNA exam. I know some people brag about being
able to pass the CCNA exam without really understanding binary
math. I've seen those people on the other side of the interview
table, and they're not laughing when I ask them to do a
subnetting question. They're not laughing when they can't explain
or create a VLSM scheme. That chart does nothing to help you
understand what's going on.

If you can add and know the difference between a one and a zero,
you can do binary math. Don't let the name intimidate you. Become
a REAL CCNA -- learn binary math!

Run "show" and "debug" commands. No commands help you truly
understand how things work in a Cisco network than show and debug
commands. As you progress through the Cisco certification ranks,
you'll be glad you started using these at the CCNA level.

Do you need to know these commands for the exam? Probably not. Do
you need them to be successul in the real world? Absolutely.

The Cisco certification track has been great to me, and it can
boost your career as well, whether you stop at the CCNA, CCNP, or
go all the way to the CCIE. It's the skills you develop today
that will truly make you a networking engineer. Don't take
shortcuts or get the attitude of "just passing the exam".

It's what you achieve after the exam that counts, and it's the
work you put in before passing the exam that makes those
achievements possible.

Good luck!

Copyright © 2005 Chris Bryant, CCIE #12933

About Chris: Chris Bryant, CCIE #12933, is the owner of The
Bryant Advantage. The Bryant Advantage offers dozens of FREE CCNA
and CCNP tutorials and articles. The Bryant Advantage sells the
world's most comprehensive CCNA Study Guide, and Chris' exclusive
Binary Math and Subnetting Mastery book. Chris' $299 CCNA Online
Fast Track is the world's fastest-growing CCNA course. Visit
http://www.thebryantadvantage.com today!


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