Multiple certifications for information technology professionals are available, however not many carry as much prestige and name recognition as Cisco does. Becoming a Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert is a difficult task that requires a great deal of work, but it is something that can be obtained by taking the right path and training.
Cisco certifications are definitely a hands on-test that examines someone's ability to solve actual problems encountered when dealing with Cisco networking devices. While there are books that can help learn the subject material, it is essential that anyone working to obtain this certification receive some sort of training through a college or specialized computer instructional facility. The best training centers will have actual Cisco equipment to work on, but they will also have Cisco simulation software that allows the student the opportunity to work with multiple devices at one time, in different networking scenarios.
Once the initial training is completed, the individual should be ready to take the first of many exams. Keep in mind that to obtain the CCIE, Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert, many different classes may need to be taken.
For entry level, and even some of the more advanced certifications, job-related experience may substitute for training. For instance, someone who has been working with Cisco routers in the workplace for a number of years may find that formal training would do little to help prepare them for the exam. In such cases, the person should spend time studying the type of questions that will be asked on the exam.
To obtain the highest level of Cisco certification, the CCIE, there are a number of exams that may be taken first. For each exam successfully passed, a new certification is earned. The first step along the path to the CCIE is the Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician, or CCENT that consists of one exam. Once this is passed, the next step is usually the CCNA, or Cisco Certified Network Associate. The CCNA allows the person a choice of certification exams to coincide with the test-taker's individual preferences and goals. Like the CCENT, there are no prerequisites for taking this exam.
The third step along the way is the Cisco Certified Networking Professional. The CCNP is another exam where the individual can choose an area of specialization in which to test. This certification requires that candidates have a CCNA or a CCIE as a prerequisite. Someone can obtain multiple CCNP certifications.
The CCIE is the expert level exam and consists of two parts, the written test and the lab test. Candidates must pass both to obtain the CCIE. There are no prerequisites for taking the CCIE exam, however obtaining the preceding certifications helps prepare for this exam.
Cisco requires that candidates who have earned their certifications re-certify through exams every three years.
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