Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Overview

The Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification is designed to validate the holder’s ability to install, configure, operate and troubleshoot medium-sized router and switched networks. The certification also includes validation for implementation and connection to remote sites within a Wide Area Network (WAN). The curriculum includes basic countering of security threats, introducing concepts underlaying wireless networking, terminology and skills geared towards performance. CCNA also includes the protocols

  • Ethernet
  • Routing Information Protocol Version 2
  • Access control lists
  • Enhanced Interior Gateway Routing Protocol
  • Virtual Local Area Networka
  • IP
  • Serial Line Interface Protocol Frame Relay

Network administrators can take advantage of a CCNA certification to advance their careers and technical expertise. CCNA holders earn an expanded salary range with this certification. Network Administrators and Systems Engineers can earn between $30,000 and $90,000. Managerial positions like a Senior Network Engineer or an IT Manager can earn over $100,000. The U.S. Department of Labor forecasts strong growth in this job market for network administrators. Job growth of 20 percent is forecast between 2008 and 2018, with prospects likely to be plentiful.

The CCNA is an associate level certification. It is a more specialized certification in relation to its sibling, the Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT) certification. CCNA is a prerequisite for many other certifications in a variety of different fields. CCNA provides a greater level of technical detail than CCENT, and it gives the holder the ability to seek certifications in multiple fields. CCENT, on the other hand, is accepted as a prerequisite for CCNA, although it is not officially required as such.

Cisco offered the CCNA certification for the first time in 1998. CCNA has remained one of the most popular Cisco certifications since it was introduced. CCNA has been revised four times since 1998, in 2000, 2002, 2003 and 2007.

There are no prerequisites required for CCNA. Re-certification options are widespread, but all of them fall under a three-year time limit. The CCNA certification expires after three years, and one of the re-certification examinations must be taken before the three-year limit is up.

CCNA applicants have the option of taking a one-exam or two-exam path to obtain it. The one-exam path has the applicant take the 640-802 CCNA composite exam. Two courses, Interconnecting Cisco Networking Devices Part 1 (ICND1) and Interconnecting Cisco Networking Devices Part 2 (ICND2), provide all the training that the composite exam requires.

ICND1 provides the student with the ability to install, configure and troubleshoot a small network, whether router-based or switched. For the purposes of the course, the definition of a small network is one to 20 hosts connected to a single VLAN switch. The switch is connected to a router using Router Information Protocol. The router, in turn, links to a simulated Internet and corporate office. ICND1 works by layering foundational knowledge from simple to advanced concepts. Students are expected to have basic literacy in using a computer, the Internet, email and programs like Microsoft Word.

ICND2 follows on from ICND1 and takes the student to the next level. Lasting five days, ICND2 trains end-users in using Cisco Catalyst switches and routers. By the end of the course, a CCNA technician will be competent in the configuration, verification and and troubleshooting of a range of Cisco networking devices in a small network environment.

The two-exam path offers the applicant the opportunity to take the 640-822 ICND1 exam, followed by the 640-816 ICND2 test. The courses offered for these exams are the same as those required by the 640-802 CCNA composite.