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What is a CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate)?

A CCNA certified network associate checking servier performance


Posted by: Troy McMillan
Published: May 29, 2018

CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate) is a group of professional certifications that demonstrate an individual is equipped to work in the computer networking field. These certifications are most often acquired by individuals who are at the introductory levels of network certifications. 

When network technicians make the decision to enter the Cisco routing and switching world, the first certification they will encounter is the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA). This validates that the holder possesses the skills required to support and manage a small- to medium-size network. 

But what do routers and switches do? Think of routers as the traffic directors of your network. These devices know how to send information from one network to another. Switches on the other hand transmit information within a network. The graphic below shows how devices reside in networks connected to switches while networks are connected by routers. 

Image depicting how networks work


About the CCNA Exam

The CCNA exam assumes candidates have several years of experience working in a network environment. A candidate can substitute work experience by studying for and passing exams such as the CompTIA A+ exam and Network+ exams. The concepts tested in these exams form a base of knowledge required to understand and succeed at the CCNA program.  

Successful CCNA candidates typically start their careers under the guidance of a more senior Cisco professional. 

How to Earn CCNA Certification

To achieve CCNA certification, it is possible to take one of two exam approaches:  

Option A is to take two exams. The more basic material is tested on the first exam, the 100-105; and the more advanced topics are covered on the second exam, the 200-105. When this approach is taken, the candidate will receive the Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT) certification upon passing the first exam, and the full CCNA after passing the second exam. 

Option B involves taking a single exam, the 200-125, which covers all topics discussed.

Whichever path one chooses, earning CCNA certification is a great stepping stone to advancing an IT career. 



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