How to Get My CCNA Certificate

studying certs

How to Get My CCNA Certificate

Before I got into I.T., I worked in the food industry making close to minimum wage. I didn’t have a degree or any credentials that would allow me to get a higher paying job. This is largely why I decided to get a CCNA. I now have my CCNA, and have a pretty good idea on the process on the how to get my CCNA certificate for anyone else interested.

To get my CCNA, the best process was to casually watch fundamental videos on YouTube. The next step was to do something more structured like follow a video course or read a book. This would also be a good time to take notes. Finally, the crucial part was to take practice tests and labs until ready.

Altogether this process can take as soon as 3 months. But if you’re casually learning this, it may take longer. Usually you want velocity when learning this topic. Hopefully my journey can help you out in accomplishing this.

“Dollar, dollar bills, y’all” – Wu Tang Clan

Velocity to get into the I.T. field was important for me because I needed to earn more than minimum wage.

But motivation can be hard. That’s why quick wins are important.

First Win: Watch a few Professor Messer videos on YouTube. This will really help you get a grounding of a new topic. This is especially true if you’re coming from a completely different field ie food services industry.

Next Win: Watch videos of successful Network Engineers. Eli the Computer Guy does a great job doing this. Seeing other people climb the ladder of the Network Technology world is a good motivation, because it shows that you can too.

Screenshot of Sr. Network Engineer Interview. Source:

After watching this casually, you can jump straight into a structured way to get the CCNA.

Alternatively, you can take go slow and get enough knowledge to land an entry level IT job.

Coming from the food services industry, an entry level IT job was more than I made. So, that was a huge bonus for me. That was the win that really solidified my attitude that the rumors of technology jobs I’ve heard were legit.

A Casual CCNA Study Approach

If you haven’t looked up Professor Messer on YouTube, I would suggest bookmarking this website and YouTube professor now.

Watch fundamental videos by him first if you have zero experience in the I.T. industry. You’ll get a good understanding of computers in general, and then how they talk with each other.

His videos are really easy to digest for someone newly interested in I.T.

Once you start getting a general understanding of technology, Professor Messer has a playlist for Network Technology. It might be labeled as CompTIA Network+. This would be a great next step.

The Network Technology specific playlist, is a perfect stepping stone to get your feet wet into this world.

You might think, why can’t I just jumps straight into study a specific CCNA playlist at that point? Well, you honestly can. But if you casually browse through these videos will help out later in a more structured CCNA approach.

If you want to find a playlist on the CCNA, there are plenty on YouTube you can choose from. That would also be helpful to casually watch. I personally would suggest Professor Messer 10 times over if I was starting from scratch again.

Once you get a month of casually understanding this Network Technology world, you should start increasing the velocity of your studies. At this point you can start purchasing material like online courses or books.

A Structured CCNA Study Approach

Jump to this section if you already have experience in the I.T. world. Else, be sure to read the previous section, “A Casual CCNA Study Approach.”

At this point you should have a general understanding of technology. To test that make sure you know the understand the below concepts:

If you have a good passive understanding of these concepts, I would definitely start structuring your approach to getting the CCNA certificate.

You’ll want to get multiple resources so you can have multiple points of views of the CCNA.

There are two parts to doing this. The first part is your initial structured study and the second part is your review.

Initial Structured Study – Here you’ll be going through a CCNA video course or courses, as well as reading a CCNA book or books. Some recommendations are listed below:

  • CBT Nuggets
  • Cisco Press Books
  • Bulldog on Udemy

Structured Review Study – Once you’ve finished going through the Initial Structured Study approach, it’s important to begin reviewing what you have learned. This step becomes more hands on. Labs and taking practice exams are involved. For some recommendations, see below:

  • Boson Labs
  • Boson Practice Exams
  • CBT Nuggets Labs and Practice Exams

CCNA Study Tips

When you study, it’s not good enough to read or watch your CCNA videos, you have to interact with it.

Interacting with what your studying allows you to remember what you’ve learned and allow for instant recall for interviews.

Some examples of interacting with your studies:

  • Take notes
  • Create flash cards
  • Rewrite what you’ve learned about a topic
    • For example, let’s say your just read a chapter about network cables. Take out a notebook and write a paragraph on what you just read without looking through the book.

Right now, I’m studying my CCNP and am taking notes in the process. The note taking process I’m doing is helpful for recall as well.

I use a structured note taking process on other things I’m studying also. Here are the steps I usually take:

  1. Type the headings and subheadings of the topics I’m learning.
    1. Ex: In a book, the heading would be the chapter number and title, and the subheadings would be the bolded categories within that chapter.
  2. Occasionally review these notes, and bold key points.
  3. Wait. Review the bold key points, and highlight the more key points. This focuses in on what I think is important.
  4. Wait. Review the highlights, and then write a paragraph on what each heading is about.

Waiting in this structured note taking process helps with memory. Psychologists call it spaced repetition. It helps for the long term processing and remembering of information.

Why should you care about this? Because remembering what you’ve learned as you’re learning, helps you with interviews. Because trust me, these questions do come up in interviews.

Related Question(s)

What is a good CCNA career path?

If you’re absolutely new in I.T., a help desk job based on network technologies is usually the best way to pivot from. Other technology support jobs are good to start out. But make sure you hone in on the network technologies that are available. While in this entry level position, build your knowledge base by studying and getting the CCNA. During this process begin interviewing for jobs that focus more on network technology jobs like Network Technician.

Don’t stay in your first few jobs for very long, as the fastest way to get a high paying CCNA salary allows you to move up quickly especially early on. From a Network Tech, you can continue your studies and jump into become a Network Administrator. From there, the networking world becomes your oyster.

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