I've worked my way from the CCNA to the CCIE, and along the way I've conducted job interviews and casual conversations with dozens of CCNAs and CCNA candidates. Believe me, people who "sneak by" the CCNA exam by braindumps, memorization, and never touching a router or switch are QUICKLY found out in job interviews and on the job.
The field will always need qualified CCNAs. The key word is "qualified". How can you make sure you're truly qualified? It's actually pretty simple.
1. Use routers and switches in your study, not simulators. Simulators are OK to start with, but when you're in the interview room and you're taken to the network room, that simulator's not going to be there. Real routers and switches are. With all due respect to the simulators on the market, they're not routers and switches. Don't fool yourself.
Attend a CCNA class that gets you plenty of time on real Cisco equipment. Used Cisco equipment is cheaper than ever. Look at it this way -- you can put together a true CCNA lab that you can also use for CCNP study for less than $1000. When you choose to sell it, you can get half of that back. A small investment like that pays huge dividends in your future.
2. Know binary math. Some leading CCNA books tell you to just memorize a chart to get by the exam. I wish I had a nickel for every CCNA that hasn't been able to solve a simple subnetting problem in a job interview. Someone who doesn't know binary math is not going to go far. Who's going to remember that chart they memorized for the exam six months ago?
3. Run plenty of "show" and "debug" commands when running labs. These are the commands that show you what's going on "behind the command". You need to know what is really happening when you put in a command when you get asked about it in an interview.
These three simple points separate the real CCNAs from the ones who got lucky or braindumped their way to success. By constructing a solid foundation of Cisco knowledge at the CCNA level, you build the bridgework for a lifetime of career success. You don't have to have a lot of job experience to get a CCNA job, but you do have to really understand the subject matter.
It worked for me. I went from the CCNA to the CCIE in this manner, and the habits I developed at the CCNA level followed me all the way to the top. It can happen for you, too!
About The Author
TheBryantAdvantage.com is owned and operated by Chris Bryant, CCIE #12933. He has worked his way from the CCNA to the CCIE, has interviewed dozens of CCNAs, and knows what makes the difference between someone who knows how to do the job and who doesn't. He teaches these skills to small groups of five students at a time with his custom-written Study Guide and Lab Workbook. By keeping the groups small, every student gets the attention they deserve. For CCNA and CCNP training at its finest, either in-person or over the Internet, visit him at http://www.thebryantadvantage.com today!