Took 5 day CCNA class, Never worked in Networking...was in over my head.

Unanswered Question
Aug 8th, 2009

Hello everyone, I took the CCNA 5 day class at the local Community College. My friend suggested for me to look into it. The kicker is that I had an eye opener. I have never worked in or around Networking, Routers etc. By the third day I finally understood what was discussed on day one. I have the opportunity to take CCNA over for free. My question to all you experts out there is what should a laymen such as myself do to prepare to take the class and what should I know before I even step foot into the class again. Should I take CCENT certification? I believe I will enjoy and comprehend the material this time around if I am well prepared. Any suggestions would be welcomed regarding my situation. Just to state once again..everyone taking the CCNA class had prior work experience or knowledge in the Networking field working with all the hardware. Is it worth my time to retake the class if I buckle down and put my all into it? I do believe that this was not associated with the Cisco Networking Academy, therefore I only received 5 days of classroom data. Is the Cisco Networking Academy a more detail oriented platform? Sorry for all the questions. Thanks for everyone's time.

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jimmysands73_2 Sat, 08/08/2009 - 08:15

Boot camps, as which they are commonly referred too, are typically geared for people in the industry that need a quick refresher. I would not recommend boot camps to any newbie (and just IMO, to no one). They try to cram too much too fast in hopes of their students passing the cert test (and not retaining information)...but again, thats my opinion.

Does your college have a Cisco Net Academy? Ours out here have a program where you can take all four CCNA classes in 2 semesters (or 4). If it does, I would highly recommend it. For more info you can go to or ask more questions here.

pipemajor Sun, 08/09/2009 - 10:10

I tend to think of knowledge like a fine wine - you don't chug it down.

I know of inexperienced people who have paid $$ thousands to attend a boot camp which "guarantees" certification in Cisco or MS. Sure, they may get past the cert exam but, to me, they've not achieved the value of working with the technology to understand what works and what doesn't.

Think about it - a medical student needs years of residency work before becoming an MD. Would you want to see a doctor who simply got their degree (and license) from a correspondence course?

Andres.J.Martinez Tue, 11/10/2009 - 13:37

+1, boot camps should be considered only if you are familiar on the subject.

The information you gain will be so overwhelming a lot of stuff will probably spill out of your brain and the things you did retain will quickly be forgotten down the road, especially if you don't put the things you have learned to practice or incorporate it in your everyday life.

(Just my 2 cents (-;)

jim_berlow Tue, 08/11/2009 - 08:42

Taking a 5 day class is always a bit of a challenge. The truth is they cannot teach you every nuance in that amount of time. As another poster wrote, these classes are best for those who have experience with the product already and simply need to touch up their knowledge to pass the exam (its basically a good review class).

To learn this stuff, I recommend a slower approach. If you are a person who likes to interact with others and learns better in a classroom environment then you need to look at the Cisco Networking Academy. If you are a good reader and pretty self sufficient, you could go and purchase the books & some equipment and learn it at your own pace. I fell into the second category in that I read books and practiced on my own equipment.

Good luck


gaurav_dixit06 Tue, 08/11/2009 - 20:14

Hi Mark Macauley ,

Nice to see your i would like to strongly recommend for you to read the books completely then do more hands on lab setup to understand better .

Remember none of the training or person (Trainer) make any person Expert in 5 days in subject .Training is just an idea to take action accordingly not make any person Expert.

This is really nice that you are asking this here …as a layman ,person need to go through first the theory and if you do have Cisco boxes to do practice then well & good .

Trust me Cisco Networking is an Interesting Ocean where you need to find yourself complete.

I will suggest you to go through to entire subject and do excersise to understand better, Also keep in touch with Cisco Academy for further guidance .


Gaurav Dixit

*Please rate me if my reply help you .

andrew.fedyszak... Wed, 08/12/2009 - 05:01


What concerns me is whether you really want to study and work in networking or you just followed you friend suggestion?

Assuming you are genuinely interested then you should forget getting "from zero to CCNA hero" in 5 days and consider your options:

Think about finance first.

Formal training courses for CCNA are expensive at £1K+ for each of 5 days courses (there are two: CCENT (ICND1) and ICND2).

If you choose this method do NOT go for 2 courses in quick succession; you just get confused. Study first (see sources below) then take course for CCENT exam and then, at least 3 months later if you are commited and have time to study at least 10-12 hrs a week, repeat for ICND2 exam.

Getting Cisco Press CCNA books (probably self-study track, since you are new to networking), CCNA video mentor and simulation software is much cheaper. But as suggested by others here it depends on your learning style.

Another option (or rather additional source of knowledge) is using something like CBTnuggets video products. I did not use one for CCNA (but one for SNPA exam was great) but many people swear by it.

Get hands on experience on Cisco routers and switches, especially if you self-study. You can either buy gear on ebay (Google for minimum CCNA hardware setup, but I managed with 3 26xx routers and 2 2950 switches 12 months ago) or rent rack time from suppliers. I think Global Knowledge has this option but again Goggle for info.

Learn the basics like routing protocol concepts amd subnetting properly. many people I know failed CCNA even with hands on experience because they can not subnet quickly (and many questions on exam are somehow connected to subnetting).

Good luck with your studies...



Scott Swist Fri, 08/28/2009 - 10:36

Hello all,

I happen to think pipemajor has the right idea you should start a little slower. For example I took my CCENT and CCNA after three years of working in networking (mostly wireless) and after months of studying. You should probrably look at getting into the networking field at an entry level (i.e., IT technician, help desk support, installation technician). The concepts and ideas are much easier to learn and retain when you are using them on a daily basis. And depending on the company you end up working for vendor neutral certifications can also be very helpful (i.e. CWNP, Comptia).

Hope that helps.

billyinkin Sat, 08/29/2009 - 13:18

Beware of the Boot Camps bearing "Gifts". It will take a person who is new to Networking 6 months to 2 years to learn CCNA. Its highly complicated to a fresh mind and the brain needs time for a hell load of information to sink in. Im finding CCNP easier than CCNA because the first steps are always the hardest. My advice to you is to get the four Cisco books and slowly work through them gaining knowledge, also enrol on a year course if you can. Good luck with your future studys, this is the greatest profession;)


jimmysands73_2 Mon, 08/31/2009 - 17:50


Your post made me smile....I start my CCNP courses tomorrow (2 this fall, 2 next spring). I am glad you are finding it easier, because I can tell you, the CCNA test was a rough one for me...still passed.

billyinkin Tue, 09/01/2009 - 04:11

Hi Jim;)

Yeah we are at the same point in our studys;) Well i bow down to anyone fresh to the Cisco world that passes CCNA in 5 days. It took me from Feb to August, with everyday reading and playing around with packet tracer to pass. Its amazing what you can learn throwing packets around on PT;) haha;) I feel CCNP is a bit easier because there is no way more to learn in BSCI than there was in the CCNA. I would say the learning is broken down a lot better. And what you learn in CCNP (Well at least in BSCI) You have covered mostly before, your just building on what you know, tweaks ect.... Anyway there is no fear there mate so good luck Jim;) when i started CCNA i set myself a target to be certified by september, Now i have set myself another target to have the CCNP by Feb 2010;) Its so scary sometimes moving on from the CCNA because you get nervous you might forget;)))


araujojoel Tue, 09/01/2009 - 02:45


bootcamps are geared to prepare people to take the exams, but require previous knowledge and experience.

I would not recommend unexperienced people to take a bootcamp.

Read some of the official certification exams CCENT and ICND2.

Get some lab routers and switches, that would help for the ccna and further exams.

dvaughn02 Tue, 11/10/2009 - 07:15

Well my friend I know your situation purfectly..I am in the same boat, however I did find that there is an easier way, there is a Cisco fundimentals course and that it was the launchpad to understand the basics of Cisco .I too tried the CCNA course and ran into several bumps along the way but this spring the road gets easier. I will be taking a fundimentals course to begin my journey

Into the CCNA world...good luck

jfraasch Wed, 11/11/2009 - 06:56

I know this thread is a bit old but for anyone that does not have access to routers or to hands-on material, I would suggest downloading the free GNS3 simulators. Search for them on that world wide web thingy.

All you have to do is have access to a Cisco IOS for one of the routers supported (I had a network of four 3745 routers) and you can do all the configuration and steps that you want.

The switch stuff left a lot to be desired but for the CCNA that is not terribly important.



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