Choosing Your IT Career Path-2


Ahmed-5Now, to the certification semantics. Let’s start from networking because I am a Cisco trained network engineer. The CCNA is a very good entry level certification and if you study for it properly you will have a very solid understanding of lower level networking which is essential to do any admin job.

The nice part about doing the Cisco certification is that the information from there can be applied to so many other certifications. Even though it’s a vendor specific cert, the skills you gain will serve you well in thousands of situations. CCNA training allows you the ability for installations and operation of LAN, WAN, and dialup access services for small networks with 100 nodes or less.

The CCNA course includes, but not limited to use the different networking protocols such as Ethernet, Access Lists, Serial, IP, IGRP, Frame Relay, IP RIP, and VLANs. Cisco’s CCNA Prep Center Pilot offers simulations and sample questions, besides the e-learning modules and laboratories. Computer training includes also valuable tips from CCNA professionals, in addition to expert advice, and encouragement through CCNA certification success stories.

 CCNA training does not require any prerequisite and makes available many other resources to help students with the preparation of their CCNA certification exams. CCNA course, exams and recommended training include the Introduction to Cisco Networking Technologies (INTRO), the Interconnecting Cisco Networking Devices (ICND) or both. CCNA training and additional training, probably cover most of your career path expectations.

However, Cisco’s CCNA certifications are valid for 3 years, so it is necessary for additional computer training to re-certify. This is achieved by either passing the current CCNA exam at the moment of the original certification’s expiration, passing the ICND exam, passing the 642 professional levels. Presently, Cisco has introduced CCNA voice, CCNP voice, CCIE voice with also the security and wireless elements to the certification so as to encourage specialization.

After CCNA training your can also re-certify by passing the Cisco Qualified Specialist exam, excluding the Sales Specialist exams, or passing a CCIE written exam, which is a re-certify form valid for individual who had a CCNA certification starting from October 1, 2004. Cisco CCNA online training certification program, offers the same value, knowledge and skill earned on a traditional CCNA course, and it is a nationally recognized certification. With computer training online, you will gain knowledge of switched LAN Emulation networks, which are made up of Cisco original equipment. CCNA training online focuses the coverage of Cisco router configuration procedures, mapped to exam objectives in order to prepare you for Cisco Exam 640-801, in partnership with major universities and colleges offering as well CCNA certification.

I was privileged to under study in a Cisco academy in Zaria(Nigeria) together with some other medical doctors. These days as the voice technology is gaining ground , you can now obtain CCNA voice, CCNP voice or CCIE voice specializing in call centre set and stuffs like IP telephony. The Computer training program online consists of 2 sections; “Introduction to Network Engineering”, allowing the student to understand the world of network engineering, learning fundamental facts of data network theory and current technologies making the Internet tick.

The second section of the online CCNA course, “Practical Network Engineering”, is an approach to some of the most powerful networking technologies, involving extensive work on switches, Cisco routers, and firewalls in a simulated network environment, preparing students to earn the CCNA certification.

The CCNA is a starting point to do the more advanced Cisco courses such as CCNP (more advanced networking), CCSP (security, i.e. firewalls, VPNs, IDS, etc.), and then you get things like VoIP.

The CCNP exam is highly regarded and consists of 4 (if I remember correctly) exams, covering switching, routing, support and remote access, plus a few more topics. After getting your CCNA then you have to decide whether to major in design, implementation routing and switching which is the CCNP or major in security which is heavily theoretical and analytical like CCSP which I will discuss later or CCVP(voice).

 CCNP new modules will comprise of : 642-901 BSCI: Building Scalable Cisco Inter-networks ISR routers, updates to Cisco IOS? Software 12.4 routing protocol, routing authentication security, multicast routing, IPv6 642-812 BCMSN Building Cisco Multilayer Switched Networks High availability, new wireless LAN fundamentals for Airspace thin-client, voice, and Cisco IOS switch security 642-825 ISCW Implementing Secure Converged Wide-Area Networks Cable and DSL broadband access, Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS)/MPLS VPN fundamentals Cisco IOS Security featuring S2S VPN (IPsec and generic routing encapsulation/IPsec [GRE/IPSEC]), Cisco Easy VPN, Cisco IOS Firewall, Cisco IOS Intrusion Prevention System (IPS), Cisco AutoSecure, Role-Based CLI Access, and Cisco Security Device Manager (SDM) 642-845 ONT Optimizing Converged Cisco Networks Voice over IP (VoIP) fundamentals, techniques to address VoIP challenges, concepts and implementation methods for quality of service (QoS), wireless security standards, and Cisco wireless LAN (WLAN) networks Note combining a CCNP and an MSCE will make you a hot cake in the field of IT.

Start your CCNA then follow it up with the MCSE tracks one after the other and then round up with a CCNP. At risk of sounding arrogant, I believe CCIE (Cisco Certified Network Executive) is the mother of all certifications (You know you can’t go wrong with Cisco in networking).

And currently there are just barely over 13000 CCIE holders in the world. CCIE is very expensive and it is only given in selected locations. You pay $300 for the test and $1250 per lab for the lab test which is an 8 hours test .

You also needs a certain amount of experience to take the test and the test is multiple choice and hands on. What they do with the hands on, apparently, is to put you in a room with a bunch of devices and give you a scenario.

You are then supposed to create the network based on this scenario. When you are about half way through, they send you out of the room and then mess up what you have done and you are now supposed to troubleshoot the problem and fix it.

 Also, the certification is only valid for two years. When you are preparing for your CCIE, your neighbors will think you have gone crazy, just don’t let that bother you as you will be talking to yourself a lot. Even your wife may start suspecting something; just hold on- till you get there.

Once again, before taking any certification adventures make sure you are equipped with your COMPTIA A+ and N+ they are very easy to pass, from there anything can happen.

The CCNA tracks are very demanding and practical oriented. When the Cisco academy took off in ABU Zaria a lot of people fought for the forms including some few cute ladies in my batch studying drama. They were under the mistaken impression that since Cisco is a hot cake IT certification, Cisco certified personnel we be working in well ironed presidential suites wearing garish looking neck ties. But to their surprise we were always carrying cables, pliers, LAN tester and dusty patch panels around, and after our first module, two third of the class ran away. When you are working in an open standing switch or an open Linux box you use for routing, your neck tie could get trapped in a rolling fan.

 When I started working with my organization, I had the opportunity of designing and implementing a multi-floor LAN. At the site me and my crew were working parallel with welders, practitioners and some carpenters, you could hardly differentiate us, except if you look closely to figure out my original made washout Armani jeans or my Bruno Mali made shoes or probably if I am answering my black berry from time to time.

Ahmed Aliyu Ahmed
At the tail end of the nineteenth century my grand parents met and my father was born. My father who I didn’t know passed away through a brief fever in a confluence town (Lokoja) in the middle belt part of Nigeria. My upbringing was a bit above middle class and I was lucky to come in terms with mathematics very early in life. When I couldn’t study chemical engineering, I opted for computer science in which I got a diploma from Ahmadu Bello University Zaria. In the same institution I under studied in a Cisco facility and also got a B .Sc in Economics. I got my MCP, MCDST, and LINUX CERT from a Kolkatan (India) software training facility jointly sponsored by a New York based consultancy firm (Hudson Consultancy), Tathya in India and NEPC in Nigeria, and some few other IT certifications. I am also an occasional columnist in Guardian Newspaper, CommunicationsWeek and some other IT magazines. I have worked with Aptech World Wide/STPL-Software Technology Park Limited (Nigeria) as a networking instructor/security admin, working on Cisco equipments, and up to this moment I am working as a network security advisor in Sphinx Interactive Solutions coupled with some five years field experience in network support. My contact email address is ahmeddu2020@gmail.com

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