Anybody study on there own to get certified, these schools near me are around 3,000. I have two computers I can mess around with too if that helps. Any books or videos you can recommend? Thanks.

"I have two computers I can mess around with too if that helps."

No offense but.... hmmmmm

I'm gonna stay quiet.

What is your background?

get the Cisco CCNA package with a router sim.

learn the fucking shit out of TCP/IP and network transport protocols.

practice on the router sim every day a little bit and do some serious sessions a few times during the week.

rent time from one of the CCNA gear companies so you can get a rented physical router or time using one over a Internet link.. You need real experience with real gear.

if you're looking for a entry level position it'll be nice to have A+ and Security+ as well, CCNA trumps Network+, You might want one of the beginner MS certs.

CCNA will be the hardest to start out with, though.

you can expand in different directions from there.


go to cisco networking academy. that's what i did.

Trainsignal is the way to go if you don't want to spend a lot of money.

That training looks like it is a good price and says it is the best training on the planet, so trainsignal is good eh?

Anyone else heard of them?

If you can get a point 2 point maybe we can configure some different WAN protocols and ping each other.



I would like to get into the Cisco curriculum of classes so that I could in time obtain a CCNA cert. I do have a few models of Cisco routers and also an ASA 5505 to use to assist me with any study material I can use to help me.

What would you network guys suggest to guide me through studying for CCNA?

Maybe I should back up a bit...I have a decent understanding of TCP/IP, but would like to know more. Maybe I should hold up on the CCNA and learn more of TCP/IP. What can you recommend to help me with that?

Thanks again for any assisstance you can provide.

I got my CCNA when I was starting out in '03. my advice is if you are just starting out get A+ or something first because you're not going to be touching a cisco router in the beginning.

Do you want the CCNA, or do you want the skills to not be flounding when you get the job? Obviously a rhetorical question, you want the skills:

First and foremost you need to understand the basics of TCP/IP. Because you'll never leave the basics behind.

Learn subnetting, this is easy. All available on the net. I can do an easy post if you're confused about it at all, very simple.

Learn basic routing. This is also easy. Options and metrics aside, all routing really breaks down to is where is the next hop that I send traffic to. Remember this simple fact and the rest is just how do I tweak it.

Learn about VTP and VLANs. Again a simple concept. Logical LANs is all they are. So ports 1-12 are on this LAN, ports 13-24 are on that LAN. Trunks just carry the VLAN information over to another physical device. The only way they talk is if they go back to something that will route between the networks. This is why I feel you should learn basic TCP/IP and routing before switching.

Learn spanning tree. Not only will it be on the test, but it is the only thing keeping your network from looping itself into oblivion when you are connecting switches in a physical ring. STP just breaks the ring for you by shutting down a port.

Now start learning about TCP and UDP ports. What protocols run over what ports. This will be when having your firewall logs handy will help you out. Set up a server in a DMZ and host something on it. You'll see tons of blocked attempts to port 25 and you'll never forget what smtp is. You'll see port 21, port 23 and never forget what ftp and telnet are. You'll see lots of tcp and sometimes udp 53 and know what DNS is, etc... If you have a question about why it is good or bad to allow something, google it or ask here.

If you feel you have any weakness, you need to attack it. Instead of putting it off because you're uncomfortable with it, set up a lab and do it till its old hat. NOW, with these basic skills you could set up a basic network for anyone regardless of the vendor equipment you're using.

Once you're through this, then you can start the test prep. Get test sims (boson, testking, etc...) and learn the kinds of questions they'll be asking. Since you already understand the WHY of the things involved (why would you only allow telnet access to a router from a few specific hosts) then it is really no big deal to learn HOW to do them.

There will also probably at this point be some things you have to read up on like frame relay, ISDN and the like. Do them now, not earlier because you don't want to muddy up your learning the basics.

As for specific books to read? Its hard for me to give anything because I haven't read anything like that for a long time. The Sybex CCNA book was good and if updated might still be. I'm sure others who have gotten certified recently will come up with stuff.

Big_slacker, thanks so much for your input. It's really valuable information for me. I have been in IT for about 15 years, but spent a majority of it in PC Support and then running our Exchange Server, but other than that I have leaned on others for assistance when it comes to the true networking side of things.

I have always been of the opinion that field experience far outweighs just having a certification. I have seen countless "paper" MCSE's in the past where they received their certs and ended up in just PC Support because they didn't really retain much at all. They either attended the MCSE bootcamps or purchased a TestKing for each exam. Essentially, they memorized things. CIO, he is of the opinion that if you don't have a certification, you don't know your stuff in a particular field. So this is my only reason to follow through after learning TCP/IP, routing, switching and go for certification.

I am going to take your advice and begin my learning path asap. Thanks again.

you'll learn that there's the cisco way and then there's your company's way.


Do you mean that Cisco has their best practices and they aren't necessarily the best practices for your company?

Here at MSU, the central networking department (ACNS) got rid of their Cisco gear and went with Juniper products. In my department (support for medical schools), we went from Checkpoint to a Cisco ASA.

The general consensus on campus is that the Junipers are much nicer products that the Cisco's. What is your opinion and why?


having zero time on the juniper, i have no idea if they're better. read that they are, but cisco has such a monopoly on the network market.


Having worked with both pix/asa and juniper, I can say that juniper makes a better firewall. Everything is policy based so it gets far more granular than cisco. The GUI is better and doesn't crash all the time. The cisco packet tracer is cool but who cares, you can debug flow in CLI on the juniper anyway.

With that said I'm working with extreme switches right now and far prefer cisco. I guess keep your mind open is what stephenl is saying. There is stuff you learn to do a certain way on cisco that might not reflect what the rest of the network world does.

Is there another direction I should look at down the road than CCNA as far as certification when I am ready? Or is it a good idea to go that path as they are so widely used in the field?

Thanks again for your help.