How Long Does it Take to Get Your CCNA?
The CCNA is the single best pre-requisite for a career field in the networking world. Even though it is vendor specific to Cisco, it is the technology where a majority of other network technology is based off of. So it’s no wonder if you want to enter this world wanting to get your CCNA sooner than later. This brings up the question of how long does it take to get your CCNA?
It takes 3 months for someone to get their CCNA with a technology background. For someone less acquainted, it can take as long as six months. The study material will require absorbing content from disparate sources such as videos and books. Once done, it can be reinforced through practice exams and labs. After which, such dedicated person can get their CCNA.
Honestly, the answer to this question is a hard: it depends. But that’s cool. Because anyone can get their CCNA. It’s just going to take time and dedication. But there is a way to move the ball along faster.
Three Months to CCNA
If you’ve worked in a technology field for a year you’ll probably be able to complete your CCNA more quickly. This is especially so for those who have had some passing interest with the network technology world.
For those who haven’t, it is still possible to get the CCNA in 3 months time with extensive dedication and lab time.
For someone with some experience, here is the path I would follow:
Note: Each of the month below will require real dedication. I would budget at least 10 hours per week to achieve this.
- Watch a CCNA video course and take notes. A video course that I like to always begin with is CBT Nuggets. They are really good at making complicated topics more simple. Plus there are quick hands-on labs you can do while watching the videos. This is highly recommended.
- Read a CCNA book and take notes. Cisco Press is a good go to.
- At the end of the month, go back and review your notes
- This month is a good month to just lab, lab and lab.
- For concepts you don’t understand, go back and review it.
- Finally you’ll do your last bit of preparing by taking practice exams.
- Take multiple practice exams from different sources so you can get a broader range of what the CCNA entails.
- As with Month 2, you’ll need to review subjects in the practice exams that you don’t understand
- At the end of the month, you should be ready to take the test.
Above already looks like a bunch of work for someone who has some technology experience. For someone with little to no experience, it’s going to take much more time and dedication.
I would try to budget 15 hours a week for someone without experience to get their CCNA in 3 months. Here’s an idea of what that schedule would look like:
- Watch and take notes on CompTIA A+ videos
- Watch and take notes on CompTIA Network+ videos
- Watch and read a CCNA video course and book
- Review these notes
- Lab and take practice exams
- Take the CCNA
As you can see the 3 month timeline for someone without experience is very condensed. But it is doable. With enough motivation, it’s possible to dedicate the time and effort to achieve the CCNA.
Six Months to CCNA
Okay this part is mostly for someone without CCNA experience. It’ll look a lot like the previously mentioned three month plan of someone with experience with more detailed and expanded out.
I would budget 10 hours a week for this plan. Additionally, it would be ideal to get an entry level technology job during this time. It will help accelerate the CCNA learning as well as jump start a career in Information Technology.
So here it goes:
- Watch and take notes on a CompTIA A+ video course.
- Understand this enough to take the exam. But the exam isn’t required.
- Watch and take notes on a CompTIA Network+ video course
- Understand this enough to take the exam. But the exam is also not a requirement.
- Watch a CCNA video course and take notes.
- Read a CCNA book and take notes.
- Review these notes at the end of the month.
- Here you will review the ideas and concepts that you probably missed. But this will be done in a lab context
- A recommended lab for someone new is Boson. It goes into detail in network setups
- Continue doing labs here in Boson and review concepts you may have missed.
- An extra month is allocated for labs as this is where the real learning takes place.
- Take practice exams from different sources.
- Take these practice exams, but this time have a good understanding of topics you were not sure of.
- Take the CCNA.
Boom. Once you’re able to do these, the CCNA would be a breeze. But not only that you should be able to go through any CCNA interview without experience in an impressive way.
The CCNA is only as good as the opportunities it opens up. Once you’ve done the work of understanding and doing labs, these opportunities will more likely than not find you.
When I frist got my CCNA, I was constantly messaged by recruiters. At first I thought this was a good thing, but over time, I realized I had to say no to more and more options that became available.
I had to actually make my online career presence less visible because of that.
But for you, go ahead and update your LinkedIn profile and your resume with topics you’ve covered on the CCNA. Soon enough recruiters will be able to find you based on the words you’ve updated your profile or resume with. This is when you can start getting leads and an idea of jobs that are available.
You don’t have to take the first job that you interview well for. Make sure to also properly suss the company out. to see if you’d like to work for them. It’s also important to see if the technology you’ll work with can pivot you into something more lucrative as well.
How long does it take to get CCNP?
It takes 6 months to get a CCNP for someone with network experience. Network technology experience can include someone who has had repeated labs from the CCNA as well as additional as created their own lab environments. It is advisable to first get network job before getting a CCNP for the sake of career growth. This will allow a greater understanding of what kind of CCNP is best to move into.