Cisco speaks on CCNA - responses from Don Field, Director of Certifications at Cisco
Cisco's CCNA certification (Cisco Certified Network Associate), the most popular
Cisco certification is an entry-level certification.
1. What led to the development of the Cisco Certified Network
Associate (CCNA) program and who is the target audience? What level of
experience and knowledge should prospective candidates have?
CCNA was developed as a result of a need felt in
the industry for Cisco to offer stepping-stones for candidates to
work towards the CCIE certification. As the entry-level
certification of the Cisco Career Certifications Program, CCNA
represents a strong foundation and understanding of IP networking and
troubleshooting. The CCNA Certification can be challenging, as it is
typically an entry point for those individuals new to IP networking. No
preliminary knowledge or experience is expected for the certification;
however, candidates should be prepared with hands-on networking
skills and networking know-how according to the exam requirements.
2. What is the exam focus of the CCNA certification? What
capabilities should one expect of a CCNA certified professional in terms
of specific knowledge and skills?
The CCNA certification (Cisco Certified Network
Associate) indicates a foundation in and apprentice knowledge of
networking. CCNA certified professionals can install, configure, and
operate LAN, WAN, and dial access services for small networks (100 nodes
or fewer), including but not limited to use of these protocols: IP, IGRP,
Serial, Frame Relay, IP RIP, VLANs, RIP, Ethernet, Access Lists.
3. Cisco made major changes in the CCNA when it
introduced the CCNA 640-801 exam as well as the new approach including
the INTRO and ICND exams. Can elaborate more on how to presently get
CCNA certified and the essence of these changes?
The enhancements were based on customer feedback,
the need for an accessible entry path into the certifications and
upgrades to the exam for addressing emerging networking technologies.
The revised CCNA 640-801 exam is designed to better assess the
networking skills needs in today's industry of
The two-step approach introduced in the CCNA
program offers candidates the ability to certify at their own pace and
skill levels. The two step approach does not replace the existing one
exam option, but enables candidates to achieve the certification in two
stages by passing a new Introduction to Cisco Networking Technologies
(INTRO) exam and a new Interconnecting Cisco Network Devices (ICND) exam
to achieve CCNA certification.
4. Can candidates use 640-607 materials to study
and pass latest CCNA exam versions?
Cisco recommends pursuing training that is
relevant to the exam. Although no specific training is a requirement,
however, candidates should ensure that they are preparing according to
the current exam objectives and not past ones.
5. Why does Cisco incorporate hands-on labs and
simulations in the CCNA exams even though it is still regarded as a
foundation level certification?
For all its certifications, Cisco ensures
that candidates possess the ability to perform on the job. Having
hands-on tasks and simulations on the exam reflects more accurately what the
candidate knows. So having those hands-on items on the exam serves
to strengthen the reliability of the certifications.
6. "Cisco's tests are extremely difficult,
even the "entry-level". To Cisco difficulty seems to mean
competence and desirability." How fair are these comments?
The purpose of creating exams is not to make
them "difficult" or "easy" but to test skills that
are needed in the marketplace. It may be said that the industry demands more
complex and diverse skills today than ever before and the Cisco
certification exams reflect that complexity and diversity of
7. Sometimes the latest dumps contain over 65%
CCNA questions. What is Cisco's policy towards brain dumps?
Securing certification exams is an issue faced by all of the
organizations that offer such exams.
We're actively working independently and with others in the
industry in efforts to assure exam integrity.
As a result, we're confident that our exams do a very good job of
separating those who have the requisite knowledge, skills, and
understanding from those who may still have a way to go.
8. Cisco is acknowledged for its strong official
press but candidates complain that certain CCNA exams topics such as
OSPF are not well treated in Cisco press books.
Sometimes the publishing schedule lags behind an
exam release. Cisco attempts to bridge the learning gap of all course
and curriculum changes through associated websites, links, or
documentation on an ongoing basis.
9. What is the essence of the CCNA
recertification policy since it is a foundation level certification?
A sound recertification policy allows Cisco
to recognize those who have committed to the networking industry for
education and development versus those who have quit the industry
altogether and moved on to another profession. Without a
recertification program, it is hard to determine whether someone is
still practicing in the networking industry and current with the
technical skills and knowledge.
10. Why is the CCNA credential so highly
respected and popular in the Cisco and Networking fields? How many
people have achieved the Cisco CCNA certification?
What is your current estimate of number of people attempting the
CCNA exam every month?
Overall, more than 700,000 certifications have
been issued by Cisco since the inception of its program.
11. How does the career opportunity landscape
look for CCNA certified individuals? Can you give examples of possible
12. In view of the uncertain economic climate and
rising unemployment numbers, many are investing in IT certifications to
create opportunity for themselves. Quite a few in this category are
unemployed graduates with no work experience. What's your advice for
people with such backgrounds? Will CCNA provide opportunity for them?
As in any field, training and development comprise
a major component of an individual's development effort. However,
experience and interpersonal skills are also key components of career
13. After getting CCNA certified, what is Cisco's
relationship in terms of professional development with the certified
Cisco Systems has put together a lifelong learning
or knowledge sharing community: Cisco Certifications Community (http://www.cisco.com/go/certcommunity).
The purpose of the community is exclusive access to certified
individuals to offer them free advice, guidance, information, and input
in the area of Cisco networking. Cisco certified individuals may benefit
from the expert advice, web casts, games, discussion forums, learning
samples, and technology exposure offered free of cost for further career
development free of cost.
14. What trends do you see in networking with
regards to skills, products and services? And does CCNA fit in?
CCNA will continue to reflect the need of the
networking marketplace and offer relevant exam topics to meet today's emerging
needs in the networking industry.
15. What plans does Cisco have for CCNA? What
does the future hold in terms of updates and related issues?
CCNA is continually being reviewed by experts and
developers to stay current with the market needs.
16. Last word: What other tips and
advice would you have for students, who are working to get their Cisco
CCNA certification? What
would you encourage them to do?
We would encourage them to visit our newly created CCNA Prep Center. This web site can be accessed free of charge by visiting: www.cisco.com/go/prepcenter
site has been created for those candidates who are not currently
certified and seeking to pursue the CCNA certification. It offers free
sample questions, expert advice, practice items, tutoring and other
engaging content for the benefit of CCNA candidates.
thanks Don Field, Director of Certification at Cisco Systems for
his time as well as for the great work he is
doing with Cisco certifications.
We also thank Gary Bryd of Cisco Systems and Cara Sloman of Nadel Phelan
for making this
We also thank Gary Bryd of Cisco Systems and Cara Sloman of Nadel Phelan for making this possible.
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