Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)
Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) is a popular industry certification program in computer networking developed by Cisco Systems. Cisco created the CCNA to recognize basic competency in installation and support of medium-sized networks.
Types of CCNA Associate Certifications
The CCNA program began in 1998 with one core certification focused on network routing and switching, obtainable by passing a single 75-minute written exam.
Since then, Cisco expanded the program to cover many other facets of computer networking and network administration, offering certifications at five increasingly demanding levels: Entry, Associate, Professional, Expert, and Architect. Currently, the CCNA specialized certifications are:
- CCNA Cloud
- CCNA Collaboration
- CCNA Cyber Ops
- CCNA Data Center
- CCNA Industrial
- CCNA Routing and Switching
- CCNA Security
- CCNA Service Provider
- CCNA Wireless
Among Cisco’s five-tier network certification system, the CCNA family belongs to the Associate tier, which is one step up from the Entry tier.
Studying and Taking CCNA Exams
The CCNA Industrial, Security, and Wireless specializations each require completing a different Cisco certification first, while the others have no prerequisites. Each certification requires passing one or more exams.
Cisco and other companies offer various formal training courses to help students prepare for these exams.
Topics to study vary according to the specialization. For example, topics covered on the CCNA Routing and Switching Exam include
- LAN and WAN design (including the OSI model)
- IP addressing
- Routers and routing protocols (including OSPF, EIGRP, and RIP)
- VLAN (virtual LAN) and WLAN (wireless LAN)
- Network security and management
- Basic functions of the operating system used in Cisco routers (Cisco Internetwork OS)
A CCNA certification remains valid for three years, at which point re-certification is required. Professionals can instead choose to progress to a higher-tier Cisco certification beyond CCNA, including the CCNP and CCIE certifications. Employers sometimes reimburse the exam fees of their employees as part of supporting their career development.