What path you decide to take to earn your Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Routing and Switching certification will depend on a number of factors including your availability, willingness to work long hours and your ability to absorb a lot of information in a short period of time. This white paper includes self-assessments and training recommendations to help you figure out if taking the CCNAX Routing and Switching Boot Camp or taking two separate ICND1 and ICND2 courses is the best fit for you.
In the spring of 2013, Cisco announced major updates to their Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) routing and switching curricula and exams. The new versions of the CCNA Routing and Switching exams are: Interconnecting Cisco Networking Devices: Accelerated (CCNAX) exam 200-120, Interconnecting Cisco Networking Devices Part 1 (ICND1) exam 100-101, and Interconnecting Cisco Networking Devices Part 2 (ICND2) exam 200-101. Passing either the CCNAX exam or both of the ICND1 and ICND2 exams will result in a CCNA Routing and Switching certification. (Note that passing only the ICND1 exam will result in a Cisco Certified Entry Network Technician (CCENT) certification; this certification is detailed on Cisco's website but not discussed further in this white paper.
Global Knowledge offers two preparation paths to the CCNA Routing and Switching certification: (1) a traditional track, with separate ICND1 and ICND2 courses and (2) an accelerated track with the CCNAX Routing and Switching Boot Camp, which contains a merge of the ICND1 and ICND2 course material. All three of these courses are at version 2.0.
This document first examines what you should already know before embarking on either of these paths, and then details the CCNA Routing and Switching certification requirements and recommended training. The exclusive resources included in the Global Knowledge courses are then described, including the extensive hands-on labs on real equipment.
Are You Ready to Pursue the CCNA Routing and Switching Certification?
While the CCNA Routing and Switching certification is one of Cisco's associate certifications, it is not an entry-level certification. Candidates are expected to have some previous knowledge and experience with networking.
What Should You Already Know?
Network administrators, network support engineers, and network support technicians with one to three years of experience are ideal candidates to embark on this certification path, because they would be familiar with basic installation, operation, and verification, of local area networks (LANs). In particular, to get the most out of the CCNA Routing and Switching-level curriculum, you should have familiarity with the following concepts:
- The differences between LANs and wide area networks (WANs)
- The layers of the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) model and the Transmission Control Protocol / Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) protocol suite
- Ethernet cables, frames, and Media Access Control (MAC) addresses
- What switches are used for, and how they use MAC address tables
- What routers are used for, how they use routing tables, and what a routing protocol is
- Binary, decimal, and hexadecimal, numbering schemes, and how to convert between them
- The format of an IP version 4 (IPv4) address
- What an IPv4 subnet mask is used for
- What the Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) is used for
- What the Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) is used for
- What IP version 6 (IPv6) is
These topics are all reviewed in the CCNA Routing and Switching-level curriculum, but if you are not familiar with or don't understand them, or you are new to networking, then it may be best for you to start your learning with a basic networking course. The following are recommended Global Knowledge courses:
- Understanding Networking Fundamentals (UNF): Gain real-world, practical skills by moving step-by-step through the basics of data networking, practicing with leading-edge technologies from Cisco, Juniper, ADTRAN, HP, Dell, and Microsoft. Course topics include: how switches and routers interconnect; IPv4 addressing and subnetting; how TCP/IP works; using a protocol analyzer; how Ethernet and various copper and fiber cables work; protocols including Network Address Translation (NAT), Routing Information Protocol (RIP), Enhanced Interior Gateway Routing Protocol (EIGRP), and Open Shortest Path First (OSPF); and WAN technologies.
- TCP/IP Networking: Gain the essential knowledge and skills required to set up, configure, support, and troubleshoot your TCP/IP-based network. Course topics include: IPv4 addressing and subnetting; protocols including ARP, IPv4, IPv6, ICMP, TCP, User Datagram Protocol (UDP), Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP), Dynamic Domain Name Servers (DDNS), File Transfer Protocol (FTP), Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), and Telnet; routing protocols RIP and OSPF; and use of a protocol analyzer.
- Network+ Prep Course: Master essential data networking skills while preparing for the CompTIA Network+ certification exam, and gain essential networking skills in labs that feature networking equipment from Cisco, Linksys, Netgear, ZyXel, and others. Course topics include: Networking communication methods, media, hardware, and models; IPv4 and IPv6 addressing and services; LAN and WAN infrastructure; routing; security; management; and troubleshooting.