CCNA Re-Certification Tips

"I've found throughout my career that the Cisco framework applies really well when you are trying to learn another vendor" ~ David Sheddan

We asked David Sheddan a few questions about how he went about preparing to get his CCNA re-certification which he passed a few months back.

1.) What books, materials did you use to refresh your memory?

"I used the Cisco Press training pack, and the command line reference guide - I've also built up a A5 book of command references throughout my career.  I work with Aruba / Alcatel Data / Riverbed & HP gear a lot (including Cisco), so I tend to ensure I have a quick script for all common tasks for each vendor - example Configure basic OSPF or Password Reset. I've found throughout my career that the Cisco framework applies really well when you are trying to learn another vendor : example, I taught myself a lot of the Alcatel ACFE Omniswitch knowledge by referencing CCNA and then hunting out the relevant knowledge from that vendors documents."

2.) Did you consider taking another Cisco exam (such as CCNA security) to automatically get a CCNA re-certification?

"I had let my CCNA & CCNP lapse.  I sat CCNA when it was in its previous incarnation (CCNA1/2/3/4), and my CCNP was version 4 (BSCI/BCMSN/IC....etc)... I felt that to effectively bring my skills up to date I wanted to start afresh and have firm foundation."

3.) What preparation did you do leading up to your CCNA re-certification? 

"I have a lab in my house, with Frame Relay simulator, 6 routers (2611xm and a couple of 28xx) 4 switches (2 x 3550 and 2 x 3560) plus a few other bits of gear.  Spent quite a bit of time on this. I read through the new books, made a ton of notes and gradually refined these down to a few sheets of paper.  I also created some brain dumps of all my knowledge and gradually distilled this down.  Ahead of the exam I hit sites like yours to keep battering loads of questions at myself, and got my collegues in my team to keep firing me questions out of books."

4.) Has the CCNA exam changed much since you last sat the exam?

"Quite a lot - but mainly for the better.  When I sat it previously there was a lot of legacy crap - ISDN and the like.  Seemed a lot more relevant and a lot more logical than last time.  I like the idea that Cisco have done to add specic add-ons at CCNA level for VOICE/WIRELESS etc.... this makes more sense and allows the CCNA itself to concetrate on the core skills: switching and routing.  I'm planning to do my CCNP then circle back round and maybe do CCNA Wireless (my Aruba background should make this quite easy I think)."
5.) Do you think having a Cisco certification on your CV or resume had boosted your job opportunities or salary?

"I'm already certified by quite a few vendors, so it wasn't really about enhancing my earnings per say, but the CCNA is useful to me as it opens up my CCNP again (which I'm aiming to get completed between now and July).  It's useful for any technical engineer to have, as most vendors rely on this as a benchmark: example: Huwaei who will let me skip the initial HCDA exam and bootcamp straight through to their Professional level exam- same for Riverbed etc."

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