Absolute beginner - where should I start?

Answered Question
Apr 6th, 2007

I've been working in IT for 10 years now, and doing systems administration for the last 3. I've got an MCSE under 2000 and 2003, and have a good handle on windows based networking.

However, I've never done anything on any kind of Cisco product. I don't even know how to connect to or log on to a switch or router to do something on it.

I now have to learn enough to pass the CCNA and I have 2 years to do it. But I'm at a complete loss as to where to start.

Can anyone give me some guidance? What's the most basic form of training I can get my hands on? I'm confident I can learn this stuff, I'm just a bit hesitant to dive into a course on programming switches when I don't even know how to connect to one.

I have this problem too.
0 votes
Correct Answer by scottmac about 9 years 7 months ago

Todd Lammie's book is very good and a frequent recommendation.

I don't think the order is important, but anything you can get (avoid braindumps for now, there are some bad Q&As in those sites)can be helpful.

Everyone learns differently, but what works for me would be to do a section for the Lammie book, then do the same section from the Internetworking Guide.

Sometimes reading / hearing / following several different sources helps to fill in the blanks (i.e., some aspect in the Lammie book might be unclear, but the additional explanation from the IG (or other source) might provide additional insight).

Good Luck

Scott

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srue Fri, 04/06/2007 - 19:21

Do you work in an environment that has a test lab or a few spare cisco devices laying around? or even live equipment that you can log into?

2 years to pass the CCNA should be easy for you. I'd start with the CCNA book by Todd Lammle (published by Sybex www.sybex.com). This is much easier to read for 'beginners' than Cisco Press's books, imho.

Here's something you might find helpful also: http://www.free-labs.com/

good luck.

RyanHopple Sat, 04/07/2007 - 09:47

So far they've given me 1 switch and 1 router to do whatever I want with. So I'll have access to products to work on, yes. Thank you for the tip on the book, I'll look into that.

What I'm really hoping for though is instructor-led training. Book learning is very very difficult for me. I learn by hearing and doing. And having someone right there in front of me to be able to ask questions when something doesn't make sence is invaluable.

So is there some kind of beginners class for getting to know Cisco equipment?

mark.hodge Sun, 04/08/2007 - 03:26

The Cisco begginers class is called INTRO http://www.cisco.com/web/learning/le3/current_exams/640-821.html You should be able to find a local learning partner, assuming you can afford the time and financial cost.

This should give you a good grounding, and with some study enable you to pass the 640-821 INTRO exam, which goes towards the CCNA certification.

The next step is ICND ( Interconnecting Cisco Networking Devices ), passing the associated exam will complete the CCNA certification process.

After that I would suggest you spend some time gaining practical experiance before you go any further.

rodmont74 Mon, 04/09/2007 - 06:25

I've never tried myself Cisco external trainning but I'd like. So far I mixed Cisco Press books with some equipments I have at work. When going to main Cisco page, learning page, you should be able to find learning partners for trainning, usually goes by 5 days, full time. In Brazil they cost about USD2,000.00 give or take. Also, there are Cisco Academies across the globe which goes much slower but allows time to read book chapters of the same topic to improve content learned. If I am not wrong it can take 4 semesters but you'd better see a local program. Whatever instructor led course you go, I find a companion book unvaluable to get more details and for later reference. Wish you good luck on expanding your career.

scottmac Tue, 04/10/2007 - 05:02

Start here:

http://www.cisco.com/univercd/cc/td/doc/cisintwk/ito_doc/index.htm

This is an online (free) version of Cisco's Internetworking Handbook. It provides a good foundational understanding of most of the current and past technologies and protocols.

The hardcover version of this is also available for ~US$50.00.

You're already Microsoft certified, so hopefully you have a decent understanding of the OSI model and the TCP/IP suite.

Two years is a long time for a CCNA, take your time and work at learning & understanding the information; don't just study to pass the test.

If you take the time to truely learn & understand the basic / foundational stuff, the easier it will be to build on that understanding for the future.

If you really understand the material, then there's no curve Cisco can throw at you on a test that you can't handle.

Stay away from places like TestKing, at least in the beginning; there are many incorrect and misleading questions and answers on the brain dump sites ... in the beginning, they'll just confuse you or give you the wrong information.

Good Luck

Scott

RyanHopple Tue, 04/10/2007 - 09:46

Thanks to everyone for your advice, it was alot more than I was expecting. I'm registered for the INTRO class, which somehow I completely missed when I was scanning over Cisco's course offerings. The ability to ask a live knowledgable human questioins or clearifications as they pop into my head is invaluable to me, so I have high hopes for that class.

Looks like I've got a great set of support documentation and study material to go off of after the class as well. I really appreciate it.

I've never resorted to TestKing, but it's comforting to know it exists if anything ever comes down to "You need to just pass the thing to keep your job." Thus far (for MCSE tests) I've relied almost entirely on Transcenders, and they've been a good resource. The info is accurate, and the questions aren't right from the tests. I saw that Transcender offers training and test simulations for the CCNA also. Has anyone used them? Are they of the same calibre as those for the MCSE?

Again, thank you all for the valuable info.

nitinmasters22@... Wed, 04/11/2007 - 14:12

Dear Scott,

I just started my study for CCNA last weak. I'm reading Todd Lammle's book. Is it good book ? or I need to study through Internetworking Technology Handbook (your link) first.

I really got a lot of guidance from your msg.

thanks

Nitin

Correct Answer
scottmac Wed, 04/11/2007 - 15:46

Todd Lammie's book is very good and a frequent recommendation.

I don't think the order is important, but anything you can get (avoid braindumps for now, there are some bad Q&As in those sites)can be helpful.

Everyone learns differently, but what works for me would be to do a section for the Lammie book, then do the same section from the Internetworking Guide.

Sometimes reading / hearing / following several different sources helps to fill in the blanks (i.e., some aspect in the Lammie book might be unclear, but the additional explanation from the IG (or other source) might provide additional insight).

Good Luck

Scott

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