Validation of skills a potential employer defines in a job description, like “Dynamic Routing Protocols, EIGRP and OSPF”.
Cisco Partner Professional Services certification requirements – Some partners rely on engineers to earn specific certifications (i.e. CCNA) but also require specialist certifications, like Cisco IOS WAN Specialist or Enterprise Wireless Specialist.
In the world of IT certifications, many of them are geared towards a trivial understanding of the topics listed on the blueprints. I mean, how many different ways can you answer a question about EIGRP or OSPF? Well, the truth is there’s plenty of ways if you know them well enough.
But what does it prove to an employer finding a candidate that has CCNA, CCNP, VCP, MCP, NSE4, CCIE, JNCIE, MCSE?
It says a person has spent a lot of time learning about different technologies on different vendors’ equipment. If you were to see my alphabet soup it would like this, CCNA R&S, CCNA Security, CCNA Wireless, CCNP R&S, CCNP SP, CCIE, VCP, NSE1, NSE2, FSNA, FSNP .
And quite frankly, to anyone fresh to IT, no one blames you for asking where the heck to start and wondering which bowl of soup looks the most appetizing to an employer. Don’t stress too heavily on which IT certification you should start with or which one you should get next, that’s why we’re here to help.
Let’s lay out some facts about the certifications themselves and how they matter. We’ll start with perhaps the most common.
Cisco CCNA (200-301)
CCNA is a 100 question, question/answer exam. It’s mostly multiple choice answers to a single question. Clicking on radio buttons or checking boxes to answer the questions. It requires you to be knowledgeable about the topics listed on the blueprint, even the ones that aren’t explicitly defined, like EIGRP, VTP, LISP and VXLAN, still better know them! For additional details on the CCNA 200-301 and the inside scoop on the exam, watch this video. The issue with the CCNA, is it isn’t an exam that looks for the candidate to be “strong” in implementing Cisco IOS networks but mainly knowledgeable on the technologies.
So what does that say about the CCNA, is it worth it?
YES!!!! Even though it doesn’t test you on configuring the topics listed, if you’re not testing the topics out on the CLI, then you’re not doing enough to earn the value that the CCNA grants you when you pass.
The key to earning your CCNA is to find a training course by a reliable provider and spending about 45-90 days (depending on your commitment) learning concepts before scheduling an exam. We’ll revisit this again in a minute.
Cisco CCNP (ENCOR 350-401, ENARSI 300-410)
CCNP is 2 exams, the Core exam and 1 concentration. The Core exam is a 100 question, question/answer exam. Like the CCNA, it’s mostly multiple choice answers to a single question. The ENCOR exam is the CCIE Written exam replacement, which is why it’s 100 questions, it is the equivalent of CCNP Route and Switch from the previous version of the exams. But you’re not required to configure anything.
The ENARSI exam is 90 minutes long and is the replacement for the CCNP TSHOOT exam from the previous version of the exam. This exam does require you to be interactive, resolve issues, answer questions, drag and drop, etc. This is the first exam you have to know how to configure something.
What Are The FSNA and FSNP?
If you’re new to networking, I could assume you skipped past my alphabet soup of certifications I listed earlier instead of reading each letter. But if you’re familiar with these certs, and acknowledged each one, you may have wondered what the FSNA & FSNP certifications are?
Let’s break down the FSNA and FSNP, NexGenT’s certification portfolios so far, with more to come in the future!
Unlike the CCNA and CCNP exams, these exams are very lab focused, so focused in fact that we don’t call them exams, we call them SQCs!
Wait, what? SQC is Skills Qualification Check, in other words, if you don’t know how to configure something that you are being tasked with configuring based on the requirements of the SQC, you’ll lose points for not implementing it.
“Hey! This sounds an awful lot like the CCIE Lab exam.” It is in fact, except we’re not testing any really crazy routing designs to make your head spin.
The goal of the SQC for the FSNA and FSNP isn’t to test your trivia knowledge on a topic, it’s to see if you can get a network built, tested and verified working. At the end of the day, you need to be able to deliver technical solutions to business challenges. The FSNA and FSNP are real-world skills certifications.
Now that you have a general idea of the certifications, let’s discuss how they are delivered. Guess what, they aren’t full of trivia information, you get enough of that in CCNA and CCNP.
These certifications are project focused, meaning we present you with a project that you will be tasked with delivering to a fictitious company.
“Hey! This sounds like what I do in the real world!” Exactly! Welcome to real-world training!
There are currently 3 projects, with more in the pipeline to come. The first one is the Full Stack Networking Project or FSN Project, the second is the Cisco ASA SSL VPN Project and the third is the Colocation Data Center Project.
The SQCs are thebig differences between FSNA/FSNP and CCNA/CCNP. They are Skills checks, meaning you are required to meet a certain standard in order to pass. The FSNA is the Full Stack Network Associate, which is geared towards the entry level understanding of IP enabled networks. The FSNP is the Full Stack Network Professional, which is geared towards more advanced networking at a larger scale for more real world applications.
Both the FSNA and FSNP are hands-on, lab-based tests. The candidate is required to configure a network to a certain set of requirements to meet the needs of the business. The reason why this is a huge differentiator is that you have to know how to get things working AND know what the technologies are.
The Full Stack Network Engineer (FSNE) program is comprised of two stages in which the FSNA and FSNP certifications are awarded.
FSNE Basic Training (FSNA + CCNA certifications)
In FSNE Basic training you learn how networking works starting with the Full Stack Network Associate course. You’ll earn the FSNA certification through doing your Skills Qualification Check (SCQ) in the FSNA Lab and also taking the FSNA Written Exam. During the last half of FSNE Basic Training you’ll learn additional topics and labs related to the CCNA and then study for and knock out that exam.
FSNE Advanced Training (FSNP certification)
You’ll then be promoted to Advanced Training. You’ll go through the 3 projects and the Advanced Training FSNP SQC. (You want real-world experience? We’re giving you the closest thing possible!) The SQC in Advanced Training is much more involved and is broken down into three sections. The goal is to fully test a candidate in all aspects of the network engineering role that they might see.
The first section is troubleshooting, you’ll have 5 tickets to resolve as if you were a consultant or engineer working for an organization where something is not working.
The second section is the deployment, where you’ll be tasked with rolling out a new branch office, router/switch/access point/PCs/phone and server and get it all working from scratch.
The third section is configuration, where you’ll be given a list of tasks to complete. Some of these tasks were started by someone else who was reassigned to another project and other tasks are set up from scratch in the existing network.
After successful completion of the above tasks, the candidate is granted the FSNP. By the time every student is done with Basic and Advanced Training, they will have earned the FSNA, CCNA, and FSNP. They will be job ready and well versed in networking. This will set them up well for follow on training like CCNP or other tracks they might want to dive into.
Although these certifications may be new to the industry, imagine the interview where you sit down in an employers office and explain how you’ve worked on three projects connecting an organization’s sites together! By taking advantage of the program that these projects were built from, you’ll have much more experience building networks than their helpdesk guy, Tom, who’s been waiting to get internally promoted for the last 4 years.
If you want to make yourself the most competitive candidate during your job hunt, you can utilize our real-word skills certifications and training programs to help you truly standout and become job-ready.
Famous among Freakonomics fans, Stephen Dubner once argued against life insurance for a simple reason- you’re betting dollars that you’ll die sooner, whereas the insurance companies win if you live a longer life. In effect, most of us have thrown down odds against our own survival.
Unfortunately, the Student Loan Industrial Complex is now betting against us in much the same way. While not as morbidly positioned against our own existence, it is certainly not aligned with our progression and development as a civilization of higher learning. Let’s look to see where their priorities may actually lie.
Here are some alarming facts:
$31,172– average student loan debt in US per person
$393– average monthly student loan payment
$1.52 Trillion– current US student loan debt
Trillions of dollars are regularly assured as earlier payment through debt restructuring and faux-refinancing schemes that never actually resolve anyone’s goal of shedding debt. Never before has the next generation in America (and indeed the world) been so burdened and without a clear plan towards resolution.
It’s important to note that a full 10% of student loan debt in the US is MORE THAN 90 DAYS PAST DUE. It’s become a cross to bear (thanks to a fiat of deep-pocketed lobbyists representing student loan companies) that can’t even be cast aside by a drastic measure such as bankruptcy. Therefore, student loan debt has reached a peak of unserviceable proportions.
While many think that a student loan allows the flexibility that the overextended higher education market portrays it to have, it is anything but flexible. The reality is that missing student loan payments can hold you back financially- just like missing credit card or car payments will. A student loan is considered delinquent DAY 1 after you miss a payment; if the delinquency lasts longer, the loan servicer will report it to the three major national credit bureaus, which will impact your credit score- potentially for years to come.
In comes the 21st century to a 19th-century problem- how and where do we properly incentivize success rather than enrollment?
What you might find both interesting and adjacent to “What the heck”, is Income Sharing Agreements were first proposed by Milton Friedman in 1955. One of the great minds of 20th century economics firmly believed that educational institutions should make an “equity investment” in “shares” of their earnings prospects.
Basically- YOU, as a student, are an investment in your future ability to earn (LOTS of) money!
And WE are, quite literally, banking on the singular goal of making sure you land a job that earns YOU (lots of) money
Incorporating ISA’s seems like a simple way to tie organizations like NexGenT to your progress as a student, right? Selfishly, we’re rewarded with higher completion rates and even more efficient placement rates. This allows us to better serve YOU (our students) and potential employers
***FULL DISCLOSURE- WE’RE IN THIS FOR YOU TO MAKE MONEY TOO!
So let’s break this down.
What exactly is an ISA?
An Income Sharing Agreement is a way for us to ensure the greatest success to you, while ensuring we’re able to collect tuition based only on our ability to properly educate AND help with job placement.
So you come out of the Full Stack Network Engineering program making, say, $75,000 (pretty average starting point for a network engineer)
You don’t pay a dime for tuition through the entire 6 month program– classes, live instruction, 1 on 1 mentoring, certification, project experience, and job placement
Once you start that job making $75,000, we take 10% of what you’re making monthly
***Spoiler alert- we know you can afford it, because it’s never more than 10% of what you make
From there, you simply pay that percentage monthly until you reach the payment cap.
There you have it- you’ll never pay more than you can afford and we’re entwined with you for at least the next couple years to make sure you’re the most valuable Network Engineer around.
Not only is this a far more efficient method than assigning an arbitrary number to the assumed future value of your earnings (see FedLoan, SallieMae, or NelNet), this is a way to indelibly tie our incentives with your success. This is how NexGenT makes career outcomes more efficient. It isn’t about just finding you a job, but running the scoreboard up! We strive to help find you a job that is a true fit. As we say, the difference between a job and a career is trajectory. We’re focused on the latter.
A closer look at the differences between the old and new CCNA plus CCNA 200-301 specifics
As we all know, several changes are coming to the CCNA as of February 24, 2020. Although CCNA certification has been standard for many years, the exams keep changing to keep up with industry needs and trends. This infographic from Cisco explains the changes that have taken place and how they can affect you. CCENT and CCNA are being consolidated into one single certification.
You have to now know Cisco’s latest tools for building and managing networks. Those who are working for their ICND1 and ICND2 exams should try hard to complete them before February 24, as doing so is only to their advantage. We will discuss the new Cisco CCNA exam in this article and compare it to the old one. We will also talk about why it’s best to get your CCNA certification right away before the changes take place.
Sharing Similar Topics: Someone who has only completed ICND1 will still benefit as several topics between ICND1 and the CCNA 200-301 will be identical. Almost 80% of the exam covers the topics of the previous generation, which means your prior studying won’t go to waste. We’ll discuss the similarities in detail in a later section.
You’ll Get The Same Certification: If you have any current CCNA certificates (CCNA Routing and Switching, CCNA Industrial, etc.), then you will automatically be receiving the new CCNA certificate.
Avoid Unnecessary Stress: It can be stressful to see topics you spent a lot of time learning are no longer relevant. Don’t stress. Just because something is no longer included in the new exam, doesn’t mean it isn’t applicable to the real world. Think of it as extra real-world knowledge!
CCNA Is Valid For Three Years: Exam Versions are rarely taken into consideration by hiring managers. If you take your certification now, you’ll not have to do so for another three years.
Similarities Between The Old CCNA And The New CCNA
Core CCNA topics have traditionally included knowing OSI and its first four layers. The Cisco CCNA 200-301 is also no different:
Physical Layer of OSI
Data Link Layer
Networks 15 years ago were assembled in a similar way to modern ones. Understanding cabling types, uses, Ethernet operation, TCP, UDP, and IP routing is still essential. The new CCNA exam will be testing you on these exact topics. The other things which have changed are those that become different with almost every revision of the test. These are higher layer concepts and networking protocols.
How Are The Old CCNA And The New CCNA Exams Different?
The CCNA 200-125 and the new CCNA 200-301 exam differ in importance given to different modules as well as in some other areas.
Changes in Syllabus: Apart from the shift in weightage of specific modules, some topics have been scrapped for the new CCNA 200-301 exam. These following portions have been removed from the curriculum –
LAN Switching: Frame, VTP, Switch stack
Routing: EIGRP, RIPv2, OSPFv3, multi-area OSPF
WAN: PPP, MLPPP, PPPoE, GRE, BGP, WAN access
Pricing Of The Exams: The pricing of the exam for CCNA 200-301 is $300, slightly less in comparison to the previous exam.
The current standing cost for ICND1 and ICND2 are $165 per exam (totaling $330 if you pass on your first attempts.)
Less To Study: CCNA 200-301 is estimated to be 25% smaller than the old CCNA 200-125 exam.
Interested in kickstarting your career in the IT field? Get hands-on training in just 6 months. Learn How
Features Of The CCNA 200-125 Examination
The CCNA 200-125 consists of two 90-minute exams, ICND 1 & ICND 2. These are meant to be scheduled at separate times. The CCNA 200-125 covers the following topics:
LAN Switching Technologies
IPv4 and IPv6 routing technologies
Features Of The CCNA 300-201 Exam
The new CCNA will be a single exam and will be 120 minutes long. It will start from February 24, 2020, and is more comprehensive. The new CCNA gives a base using which you can scale up with next-level certifications. It covers the following topics:
IP Connectivity: IP routing, OSPFv2
IP Services: NTP, DCHP, SNMP, QoS
Security Fundamentals: VPNs, wireless security, port security
Network Access: VLANs and trunking, EtherChannel
Automation and Programmability: REST APIs, Puppet, Chef, JSON, SDN, etc.
Network Fundamentals: Including routers, switches, cabling, TCP and UDP, IPv4 and IPv6
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. We hope it was helpful in guiding you through your studies this month. We invite any questions or comments about this blog post and welcome you to visit our site www.nexgent.com
Understanding fundamentals is a key part of becoming a skilled Cybersecurity engineer. Our program will teach you how to think like a hacker and help defend against attacks with practical real-world skills you’ll need for the job. In this blog, we’ll give you an overview of each module so you can see the key points you’ll be learning to build a strong foundation.
What Are The Key, Job-Ready Cybersecurity Skills We TeachAt NexGenT?
Identify & Analyze Threats: In the first module of the program, we will do an introduction to a high-level overview of the cybersecurity ecosystem. We will understand the threat actors and the different types of attacks you see in this domain. We will also take a look into the various toolkits and how they fit into various security frameworks.
Cryptography: This module will cover the fundamentals of cryptography along with practical use cases in today’s world. It is an important aspect of security and forms the basis to many protocols that keep us safe. This module will help you understand what happens behind the scenes with these algorithms and how they are useful.
Network Security: Network security is the basis of Cybersecurity operations. In this module we will look at the common security implementations in place and what the common weaknesses are. We will learn about low hanging fruit, which are typically overlooked, and provide a great way to raise threat awareness.
Secure Protocols: This module is meant to help understand basic protocols and best practices needed to create a security-focused organization. The best offense is a defense. We will learn about the different tactics needed to raise the bar.
Symptoms of Compromise: By recognizing the symptoms of an attack, analysts can help stop them much sooner. Here we will cover what to expect in different scenarios so that you can diagnose the problem in an efficient manner. This analysis is key to understanding what went wrong and how to prevent it from happening again in the future.
Cyber toolkits: A successful analyst has a wide arsenal of tools and knows how to effectively use them. In this module, we will teach you which tools are available and how to apply them for all the various security solutions and strategies.
Testing the Infrastructure: In this module, we will take a look at all the practical applications of attacking your own infrastructure to help defend it. We will teach you how to identify your organization’s own weaknesses such that you can help mitigate weaknesses and help define what changes need to be made.
And finally, Incident Response is a crucial approach on what to do in the event of a security breach. An organization needs the security team to have a playbook ready in times of crisis and know how to react to certain events. We will take a look at planning what is needed to be done.
To find out more about our Cyber Security program, click here.
It’s a tired trope to cite the percentage of English majors that are working as a Starbucks barista, but the point is well taken. With 44% of recent college graduates working a job that doesn’t require a degree, higher education must be missing something. And while the question is simple, the answer is less so.
What is it that needs to be gleaned from the months or years between graduation and someone’s first “big-kid” job?
Coming out bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for careers only to be forced into a low-wage position just to make ends meet or start servicing tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of student loans just doesn’t make sense. With colleges offering fast-track degrees, externships, internships, co-ops, etc. why is it that there’s still a gap between education and employment?
You’ll start to find the picture becoming more clear by looking at the most recent trends. There are some previously basic truths that may not be basic nor true anymore in regards to what employers are looking for. The very word “education” may not fully suffice to describe the assortment of knowledge and skills one needs to arm themselves within a professional setting this day in age.
So what are they looking for?
Education has long been about being well-rounded. It’s about developing critical thinking skills, researching to prove out a set of assumptions, and learning how to convey that knowledge to others. These are the soft skills that come as a byproduct rather than a direct or overtly pursued result of education.
In many ways, these soft skills increase in demand in the job market at a faster pace than the particular knowledge base that may be at the heart of someone’s major or degree. These are also a valuable metric for a prospective employee’s flexible skills- to be able to teach is to be able to be taught- a mirror of one’s ability to learn new processes and technologies quickly. These being “intangible” and only able to be proven overtime on the job has necessitated a longer runway in getting a recent grad to where they want to go.
In many ways, it also offloads the cost and risk of a company having to test the waters of new employees onto “sub-degree” employers. In short, education does not mitigate the risk that someone doesn’t have these soft skills.
Education vs. Training
The other side of the coin is training- specifically in a practical rather than theoretical way. The increase in soft skills is only overshadowed by the increase in demand for technical skills. In a recent study by Upwork, the addition of technical skills can fully double the amount of available job offers. We see this all the time without identifying it as such- the unbundling of degrees- a creation of micro-credentials to put together a more comprehensive picture of what applicants can, and, as importantly- can’t do.
The addition of technical skills can fully double the amount of available job offers.
Noted By Upwork
Take an MBA- high level and theoretical skills that are of course invaluable in any business setting. For multiple generations, you’re hard-pressed to find them out of work or anything less than extremely high demand. While this still holds true, it is not the silver bullet that it used to be.
The question you ask an MBA has now become “How do you manage and optimize in a technology-driven workplace if you don’t have the technical skills?”
They may possess 6 years worth of soft skills, but without technical skills, it becomes abstract and even academic. The confluence of these new realities bring us to an inescapable truth- degrees, while valuable, are far less valuable and a far cry from a job guarantee than ever before.
The fact of the matter is that degrees are static- the job market is not. Degrees often collect dust in the staid walls of their owners, but true credentials- skills that are used, augmented and scaled- require constant validation.
The pace at which any industry changes has rendered degrees subject to something entirely new- expiration dates. Today’s most in-demand jobs didn’t even exist a mere decade ago. Your job, duties, roles, and responsibilities are dynamic and constantly changing. A degree shows that you have the knowledge base, whereas the true skills and micro-credentials show you know how to handle them.
Now the key is how will you put together a plan for education, credentialing, and validation?
Check out our real-world job-ready training guaranteed to land you a job in IT at NexGenT.com