So if the title didn't make it obvious enough, I've passed my ICND1 Exam. Yay! What does this mean? Well, it means I'm a Cisco Certified Entry-Level Networking Technician or a CCENT. This is very cool and is a solid first step for me as my very first industry certification
Why The CCENT?
I skipped the Network+ and A+ and went straight for the CCENT. Not that these certifications don't have value, they do definitely but a vendor-specific certificate, especially one from the largest networking vendor in the industry I think says a bit more. BUT DON'T LET THIS DISCOURAGE YOU FROM GETTING A NETWORK+. The Net+ is a solid first step into networking and can definitely make the transition easier than just hopping straight into a Cisco Certification. So, by all means, go for it and don't make anyone make you feel less-than for getting it because you shouldn't and you should be really proud of it because it means that you're taking a step and that's more than sitting down thinking to yourself that "I should get one of those Cisco Certifications one day".
What's your Secret Sauce?
Assuming you're now on your way to get a Cisco Certification, let me tell you what I did to study for my exam and hopefully it can help you in getting your certification. That's what I love about this industry, we're all in this together and there's tons of help available online and I'm happy if I can help at least one person get through this! Of course, it's not a completely selfless act as articles like these help to promote the Cisco certifications, growing the awareness for the qualification among potential employers and making the certification more relevant, so if I'm to be completely transparent that's the not-so-hidden agenda
For the ICND1 exam all I used was Packet Tracer which you can download by signing up on Cisco's Net Academy site. However, I used packet tracer extensively. I constantly reassessed my ability to configure technologies such as RIP, DHCP, ACLs, etc. in order to completely drive it home. To add to that, I used Udemy CCENT lab courses such as Marious Kuriata's Udemy course as well as Keith Gebhardt's course (for Keith Gebhardt's course use this link to get the lab PDF, it's very annoying to jump through the signup hoops and you can just message him for the password). For the ICND1, I don't think it's completely necessary to buy physical equipment just yet but if your employers has some spare old routers or switches that no one is using I think you should go ahead and get the hands-on experience!
To get through the course material I used Chris Bryant's Udemy course and Todd Lammle's ICND1 Study Guide. Other recommendations out there are the CBT Nuggets's ICND1 Course as well as the official Cisco Study Guide by Wendell Odom. Unfortunately, I couldn't afford the Todd Lammle book and used a PDF I found online but I surely would have made the purchase if I could afford it as it is well worth the buy. For the Chris Bryant course, I recommend just typing in on Google "Udemy coupon" and you'll without a doubt find one that decreases your purchase price of any order to $10.
OK so let me be honest with you. I didn't really get much hands-on with the practice exams. The most I used was the Transcender practice exams that you get with CBT Nuggets. HOWEVER I can tell you for sure that Boson's practice exams are industry-recognized and constantly are appraised and, although I haven't had a first-hand experience, I can vouch for them simply from the overwhelming recommendations I've seen. With the Todd Lammle ICND1 Study Guide, I used the review questions available and made sure I knew why I got what I got wrong or right and fortunately, I think that gave me the critical thinking skills I needed for the Cisco Exam
YOU CAN DO IT!!!
Trust me, you can. Just lab,lab, lab and gain a deep appreciation for the theory and how to apply it practically. Dedicate time to your studies as it is very easy to simply tell yourself you'll "do it tomorrow". No. You need to keep at it and keep consistent and without a doubt and a little bit of fairy dust (just kidding) you'll get your certifications with flying colours. Thanks for giving this a read and I hope you follow me along as I gain even more certs in the industry. Next stop: ICND2 for my full-blown CCNA!