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What the New CCNA Version 2 Means to Your Career

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Cisco networking expert Anthony Sequeira dives into what is covered on the new ICND1v2 and ICND2v2 exams and explains how those required skills will shape your IT career.

For more information on the new Cisco CCENT/CCNA exams, including special offers and study guides, visit our Cisco Press "About CCNA" page.

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When you look at the new CCNA version 2 courses and exams from Cisco Systems, you realize that this certification track just got a whole lot tougher. This is actually great news! Employers will respect this certification and the skills that you possess as a result of it all the more.

Was the CCNA 1.1 already respected? Well – let’s take a look at some top certification ratings.

The training giant Global Knowledge released a 2013 salary survey for top-paying IT certifications. Where did CCNA fall? Try fifth place with an average salary of $94,799.

JobStock places it third on their list of top IT certifications. According to them, CCNA is more in demand than even VMware-certified individuals.

So we know that the certification is highly respected. We know that once you achieve it, doors should begin to open for you. But what specifically are you proficient at once you achieve this certification? Let us examine that in detail in this article. I will place particular emphasis on the scope of what you learn. You see, it is not just sufficient to provide a list of topics; you can acquire that from the Cisco Certification website. What you really need to know is the depth of your expertise in these various areas. This will allow you to find and excel in the right spot for you within the vast IT world.

ICND1 (CCENT)

Let us start in the most logical place – ICND1. This is the first of two courses for CCNA certification, and this one comes with a bonus. Pass the exam associated with this course and you immediately enter the world of Cisco Certification as a CCENT. Cisco has bolstered this course and exam so dramatically that it now stands as the only prerequisite required for many other certification program tracks (things like Cisco Wireless and Cisco VoIP).

I will break this certification down for you now in major aspects that you will learn. Remember, I will do this in my own way with an emphasis on scope. If you are interested in the official exam objectives and the course outline, just visit the Certification homepage at Cisco.com located here:

http://www.cisco.com/web/learning/certifications/index.html

The Functions of Networking

In this area of ICND1 you will learn all about the importance of networking today. Perhaps most importantly, you learn about the different devices that play an important role in computer networking and what they do. For example, you learn about the important functions of a router and a switch. For my ICND1 book, I created a video regarding the basics of these routers and switches and added it to the Additional Resources section. If you would like to check out this video – visit:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EiVKuwbFGTw&feature=share&list=UUSlW3CAwEX3yoyswZOMCFig

When you understand the functions of networking, you can immediately begin assisting your employer in the important job of selecting the correct devices for the correct role in your organization.

The OSI and TCP/IP Models

Another very important thing that you master in the ICND1 course is the OSI model and the model that actually predated it – the TCP/IP model. Mastering this material is often very difficult for students because it is so abstract, but it can really assist you in many ways once you go through the hard work of it. You see, not only can it help you understand how a network really functions, but it can also help you when it comes to troubleshooting a network that has problems. For a video that I created on this on this topic, visit:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kdFOCleUkVE

After learning about these important models, you can feel confident in your abilities to describe complex internetworks in terms that IT professionals can understand.

The LAN

A critical subcomponent of the network is the Local Area Network (LAN). This is where the office really “hums” with critical data that the company needs being whisked from machine to machine in a highly secure, lighting fast, geographically tight area. As you master this section of content, you learn about Ethernet, the most common media used in Local Area Networks. You also gain a deeper understanding about the Oscar-winning devices here – Cisco Catalyst switches.

The Cisco Internetwork Operating System (IOS)

There is some really good news for CCNA students when it comes to the Operating Systems that power most Cisco devices. That news? Consistency. Cisco has taken great efforts to make the OS as consistent as possible across all of their devices. For example, to enter global configuration mode to make changes that impact the device as a whole on a Cisco switch, router or firewall, we use the command configure terminal. In the CCNA version 2, you learn all about this IOS operating system. This provides you with the opportunity to know the fundamentals of Cisco device configurations.

Configuring the Basics on Routers and Switches

It is important to know the basic configurations required on Cisco routers and switches. Your CCNA ensures this by providing you the exact commands and caveats one needs to be aware of. For switches, this means things like loop prevention mechanisms (STP), and for routers it means things like static and dynamic routing techniques. For dynamic routing protocols, CCNA candidates will have demonstrated their skills in basic OSPF and EIGRP. You will also understand and be able to configure such critical supporting protocols like Network Address Translation (NAT) and Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP).

Securing the Network

One of the biggest areas of emphasis in today’s internetworked world is security. You cannot open any major periodical without reading about successes, or more often, failures in this area. The CCNA provides students with the ability to describe the most common challenges facing networks today in the area of security, and to arm these students with powerful combative mechanisms . Access Control Lists (ALCS), a fundamental element in the configuration of any Cisco device, are explored in great detail.

WAN Technologies

While the LAN is an important pillar of the network, today more and more information needs to be accessed that is not local to the organization. The Internet itself is the greatest example of this Wide Area Networking emphasis. The CCNA teaches the candidate about the vast number of options that are available for sending data over the widest of geographical distances.

IPv6

The future of communications in modern networks is here. TCP/IP Version 6 offers a wide array of improved features, not to mention a solution to the shortage of IP addresses that are assigned to the overwhelming number connected devices today. The CCNA candidate will be well versed in the benefits and new additions to the IP protocol suite.

ICND2 (CCNA)

The ICND2 exam builds upon the strong foundation in computer networking that a candidate achieves in ICND1.

Spanning Tree Protocol Versions

Spanning Tree Protocol (STP) is the technology that protects Layer 2 networks from loops. This topic was detailed in ICND1, but is expanded upon greatly in ICND2. Improved versions of the protocol are expounded upon for students to ensure they are ready for modern computer networking tasks.

System and Networking Management

Ensuring that Cisco networking devices are functioning properly and are adequately backed-up is an essential task of the current network administrator. This topic is greatly expanded upon in ICND2 to ensure you are ready for that next great corporate IT role. Topics you will master include Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP), NetFlow, and syslogging. Management of the OS and configuration files is also completely revealed.

WAN Configurations

Where ICND1 set the stage for the importance of Wide Area Networking (WANs), ICND2 stage teaches you common configurations for this critical component of modern networking.

I hope this high-level look at the importance and details of the version 2 CCNA certification has benefited you greatly, and I want to thank you for reading.

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