IT certifications can boost your career opportunities if you choose them wisely. They can also be a great way of changing from another career into the IT field if you’re looking for new opportunities and challenges for your life. One certification that’s popular among some of my colleagues in the IT profession is the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification offered by Cisco, a leading vendor that manufactures and sells networking and telecommunications hardware around the world. But how valuable is it really to become a CCNA? To answer this question I reached out recently to Neil Anderson, a senior instructor and technical consultant with iTLS, part of the Fast Lane Group of companies. And to try something different, instead of interviewing him directly, I asked Neil to frame his own questions and then answer them for us. But first here is some information about Neil in his own words:
For the last nine years, my main focus has been delivery of technical training and development of course content for large enterprise and service provider customers such as NetApp, Cisco, Verizon, and IBM. I train the engineers who design and implement the largest cloud and datacenter deployments throughout the Asia Pacific region and the rest of the world. I also provide consultancy to clients and mentoring for the systems engineers in the company I work for. Prior to focusing on training, I worked in the field for over 10 years in a variety of systems and network engineering and IT management roles.
For more about Neil (for example if you want to hire him to deliver training for your company), he has provided us with links for his website, his LinkedIn profile, his YouTube channel, his Facebook page, and his Twitter stream. As you can see, Neil is all over the place! And be sure to check out the discount code for the offer at the end of this article.
Now let’s listen to Neil as he poses and answers some questions regarding the CCNA certification, starting off with some basic concepts:
What is a network?
In simple words, a network is basically a lot of devices connected to exchange information and data.
Why do I need to know that?
Because by using your cell phone you are using a network and everything around you depends on a network.
Who is Cisco Systems?
Cisco Systems is a pioneer company in network-related hardware and software.
Why are you talking about this?
Because you can change your life by becoming a Cisco Certified Network Associate!
I have seen many people who changed their professional lives by migrating from different fields and job positions and becoming an IT professional. Everyone knows that the IT field is the fastest-growing employment area this century. Every retail enterprise, every hospital, every school, and nearly every other workplace needs a network.
Cisco has created a lot of training paths and you do not need any previous knowledge to start. Sure, knowing how to operate a computer and basic knowledge regarding networking concepts helps, but it is not a requirement.
If you look into a CCNA Routing and Switching course or any manuals you can see that they start from the very beginning. Many people who never went to college take the Cisco career path and succeed.
Why not take the chance? Maybe you love what you do and do not need a career change, even though you should consider learning — your surroundings and your home network would make so much more sense to you. Yes, Cisco studies will help with your home network too.
Do you have a network in your house? Almost certainly you do, and from now on you will just increase the number of devices connected to your home network. This is the concept of IoT — the Internet of Things. Everything is getting connected so it really helps to at least know the basics. For example, an IP address is the address your devices use to talk to each other, such as when you send something to your printer at home using a wireless network.
Why am I explaining all this?
To show you how dependent you already are on networks and how you need to know at least the basics so you will not be left out of the new generation.
What about our kids?
They are growing in a fast-paced environment and children are learning quickly that they are surrounded by connected devices. We should be aware of the dangerous side of all these things to properly guide them and teach how they should use technology and how this whole thing works.
You may not need a career change, but if that is the case you would be amazed at how many offers are out there for IT professionals and how many of those offers are looking for someone who knows networks.
Do I need to get certified to be a professional?
It’s not absolutely necessary to be qualified to break into your first job in information technology, but certification proves you have the knowledge and hands-on skills to work on real-world networks. A certification gives you the power to show your future employer that you are capable of managing, configuring, and troubleshooting a network.
Do I need to have a college degree?
College degrees are of course important in general, but for networking roles certification is typically preferred by employers as it shows you have the practical skills to hit the ground running and begin work straight away. Certification helps you to get knowledge in a specific area and technology and gives you a faster path to get a job and start your career.
Cisco has many certification paths as you can see from their website. Every year, as tech changes, there are new technologies and new career paths. Routing and switching is an important part of almost all the paths. You would be well advised to choose a routing and switching certification as your first IT qualification. The Cisco CCNA is by far the most in-demand certification from employers.
Do you want to change your life?
Just make a quick search on the web and see how IT is growing and how networks are needed, and most importantly how network professionals are needed by a variety of companies. See, this is your chance, they are looking for you — you just need to take the first step. Maybe you are in a dead-end job and did not know how to get out of it, or maybe you just want to stop feeling lost regarding this new world, so start now.
How can I get a CCNA certification?
Check out my course Cisco CCNA 200-125 — The Complete Guide to Getting Certified [Video] from Packt. The course features more than 36 hours of on-demand video and lab exercises. Use the code ORTGA10 at checkout to get recommended video retail price for $10 only (valid until June 15, 2018).