CCNA course in two and a half months for beginner

the_dude7the_dude7 Posts: 31Member ■□□□□□□□□□
So here's my situation. I'll include a bit of background info but it's not necessary; my question is down below.

I'm essentially new to the world of IT... I did take some programming courses in high school and college, like C++, Visual Basic, HTML/JavaScript, and have been trying to learn a bit of Python and CSS on my own recently after a long break from computer related studies. In undergrad I also started off as an Information Science Tech and Cyber-Security/Risk Analysis major but eventually just turned those into a minor and got my major in international affairs, which is liberal arts. Also got a Master's recently in that but I've found I don't quite like the field much, including its job prospects and opps for advancement, and find it doesn't fit my introverted personality well since getting anywhere is highly dependent on your ability to network and kiss up to people. I don't plan on totally abandoning it necessarily, but perhaps one day moving toward a cyber-sec focus within it or integrating IT into it and eventually working on cyber policy someday, but for now I am actually interested in the more technical stuff (and these jobs are more in demand).

Anyway I've decided to come back to the world of IT and cyber-security, as it really does interest me a lot and always has, and I got a few friends in the field too. Was going to consider taking a six month to a year long online degree for a bachelor's cert at Utica (although the school said I'd be eligible for the Master's cert actually). But since my objective is to actually learn some hard skills that will land me at least a decent job as soon as possible, I found a small school near my area providing CCNA classes on the weekends to prepare you for the exam (which they said is a good foundation for further work with security), for a much lower price than the degrees, which teach mostly theory. I know it's not necessarily the same material but from reviewing the syllabus it looked like good stuff. The people there did a good job of selling it to me and said all their students are basically guaranteed to get through it eventually, after which they help you with the job application process and job support for a little while. I was a bit skeptical about this.

So this course is about 2 and a half months, with another two weeks of review and practice test sessions, before the exam itself... what really sucks is that it's at 8:30 or 9 in the morning on Saturdays and Sundays for four hours haha icon_mad.gif... what's good is there's only six people in the class so good personal attention from teacher. Anyway my question is, for someone who is relatively new to the world of routers and switches (I do of course understand how computers work at a decent level), how feasible is this really and how much do I have to study on my own? I'm already three weeks into it, and at first it was quite understandable since it went over basic things I mostly knew, but the learning curve just got steep, in fact almost hit a sheer cliff for me. I'm worried about falling behind, but I am grasping most of each lesson (subnetting was a b**** at first but now not bad). We do do simulated labs, eventually with actual equipment, and were all given the thousand page Todd Lammle book to supplement the lessons. It's just that the pace of the course is so fast, and there's just so much dang information. At first it was manageable but I find it hard to just cram so much new info every day and still retain a lot of the stuff we learned earlier, while also working during the week; you feel burnt out. And we go in a different order than the book's chapters, so it makes it a bit confusing since the teacher and book both reference things that the other hasn't mentioned yet. The teacher actually seems kinda rushed and isn't the most approachable, in addition to having a very heavy accent lol.

I wonder if I should have taken the CompTIA Network+ or CCENT or even A+ (though I know that's quite different and more about comp hardware) first instead of just diving headfirst into this stuff out of nowhere, but they made it sound like this isn't too bad and that those certs are for people who barely know what computers are. My goal is to eventually move to CCNA Security after this. From what I read on here, many people take six to eight months or even a year to prepare for the CCNA exam, and I'm cramming it into basically 3 months!

Also, how does the CompTIA Security+ relate to all these?

By the way, they also told me that with the CCNA you won't need to start at the bottom and work a help desk job... how true is this, given that I have essentially no prior real-world experience?

Sorry for all the info and questions, but just want to get some good opinions on where I stand now, given this sort of career change. Looks like a cool forum!

Comments

  • Mr.Robot255Mr.Robot255 Posts: 181Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    i think this is a person specific question, For some learning new stuff comes very easy and u will hear about people who knock out ccent in 2 weeks and icnd2 in the next 2 weeks, and some others give a year doing CCNA

    for me personally 10 weeks to the full CCNA r&s wouldn't be possible. There is a lot of information you are meant to know for the exam/s

    i took the Icnd1 (ccent) which took me 14 weeks of at least 3-4 hrs a day so personally i would have no hope of doing the full CCNA in 10 weeks, but others could.

    Now as you have a live lesson every saturday and sunday it might be doable. But you will also have to punch in a few hours study during the week each evening i reckon.

    That's just my opinion
  • Welly_59Welly_59 Posts: 431Member
    Are you working? If not then 3 months for ccna should not be a problem.

    I did it in 7 months but that was working 40 hours a week with a 2 hour commute each day
  • clarsonclarson Posts: 897Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    They say the ccent and ccna takes about 200 hrs total for self study. 3 months is about 13 weeks. So, that is about 15 hrs of studying a week. Looks like the course would be 8hrs on the weekend. What resourses would allow you to put in at least 7 hours of studying during the week that isn't duplicating what is being studied on the weekend. although some repetition isn't bad as it will keep you from forgetting topics because you haven't used them recently. But, it looks like you need to plan for at least 2 hrs of studying each weekday.
  • jamesleecolemanjamesleecoleman Posts: 1,899Member ■■■■■□□□□□
    It took me a long time to study for the CCENT and then push on for the CCNA, which I never got to that level. I kept trying to get the ICND2 done until it wasn't worth it anymore. CCENT wasn't helping me get any sort of income or even dealing with networks directly.


    As long as you understand how things work and why, you should be okay. If it takes you six months to get everything then awesome. If it takes longer then it'll take longer. It took me over a year just to learn how to subnet.

    CompTIA Security+ relates because of some overlap. CCNA you'll deal with a few technical security objectives but not a lot but when you get into the CCNA:Security, you'll see a lot more security over lapping for objectives but it'll be hands on as well.
    Booya!!
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  • joshuamurphy75joshuamurphy75 Senior Member Posts: 162Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    10 weeks would be tough. It took me over a year to prepare. If I was in your situation, I'd try to finish the course anyways and not care about the grade. Just learn as much as you can, and keep reviewing once class ends until you feel ready to test. There are a lot of us here on the forums who can help if you run into questions or problems.
  • MitMMitM Posts: 591Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    You're attending the course on the weekend (sat/sun), I'd say go cover the topics that you covered in class, during the week, as many hours as possible.

    I would think just because the class ends in 3 months, doesn't mean you need to take the exam as soon as it's over. You don't want to rush the CCNA topics.
  • trac0detrac0de Posts: 27Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    Hey guys,

    It took me around 3 months to get ready for icnd1.
    Another 2,5 months for icnd2
    I've studied as much as I could. At least 2h every day. I did work that time 50h a week, sometimes more.
    Never worked in IT before but I do learn quick tho.
    That is my story in a short.
  • Danielh22185Danielh22185 Posts: 1,195Member
    I'd say that is a very aggressive pace for anybody coming in fresh to CCNA topics. This almost sounds like a boot camp kind of thing to get people prepped for the exam. Boot camps generally have an open understanding of you know the content and are in need of a cram session to solidify the topics. I would do as others have suggested, ride it out and take in what you can. Most people new to CCNA will spend 6 months to a year obtaining CCNA, all depending on your technical knowledge and experiences of course.
    Currently Studying: IE Stuff...kinda...for now...
    My ultimate career goal: To climb to the top of the computer network industry food chain.
    "Winning means you're willing to go longer, work harder, and give more than anyone else." - Vince Lombardi
  • jibtechjibtech Posts: 377Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    I am one of those people pushing hard. I knocked out ICND1 in two weeks, and am hoping to knock out ICND2 in two weeks, testing on Friday.

    I am also putting in EASILY 60-70 hours/week of study. I have been in IT for 20+ years, but don't have a lot of hands on exposure to Cisco specifically. With that background, I am looking at roughly 150 hours of study time for each test. I also pick up concepts very quickly. With little experience, I can easily see this requiring 200 hours of studying.

    And I would only count hours in class as half time, at best. Classroom hours have a tendency to be quite diluted with regards to the actual content per hour.

    So figure 200 hours as a baseline. 2 days/week @ 4 hours per class. 10 weeks. That's 80 hours of class time. The additional two weeks are good for practice, as long as they are practical labs. That's another 16 hours. At best, you are just about halfway there. Plan on spending an equal amount of time studying each week, that you spend in class. You should also plan to study ahead, so you can make the best use of the class time asking questions about what you need clarified.

    For the record, I just completed a 5 week class for the CISSP. We met 2 days/week for 4 hours each day. At the end of the class, most of us acknowledged that we would have to put at least as many hours into self-study to actually be ready for the exam.

    As a point of reference, Todd Lammle's bootcamps for ICND1 and ICND2 were 6 days. I attended his school for a different certification, and was able to watch those classes in progress. By far, the most intense 6 days you will ever experience.

    So yes, its doable. But it is going to hurt and will take a lot of willpower to get through it.
  • waspe3waspe3 Posts: 18Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    Thanks guys, I'm in a similar position to the OP and the responses have been informative!
  • dontstopdontstop Posts: 578Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    I spent a fair bit of time per day on my ICND1 & 2 and it took me 2 months for each (4 months total)
  • the_dude7the_dude7 Posts: 31Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    Thanks for all the replies and info guys, I appreciate it!

    I actually think it is doable. I was panicking earlier and was probably overly dramatic about how hard it got. I'm actually grasping the concepts rather well now. I found I just have to go back into the book after the in person class and read over the stuff that was discussed in class, and it helps me absorb/ingrain the info much better. Oddly, I find the book's teaching methods to be in some ways better than the teacher's, as it really walks you through everything in a gentle, conversational tone haha.

    I've heard from some people that there's another book aside from the Lammle one that is more essential, but I feel like me taking classes is making up for that.

    Also, one of the reasons I was so nervous was because I thought there would be another month and a half of new info at this pace... but it turns out the actual course is already done now, after a little over a month, so I now have been exposed to essentially all the topics on the exam! The rest of the time we just devote to review, doing labs, and studying at our own pace. A classmate also gave me some very useful information videos done for these topics that are better in presenting them than the class. So now my job is to actually fully integrate this information into my head, get used to doing practical labs, and smooth over any rough parts (which there are many).

    So here's my other question... I'm thinking it may be a good idea to at least go back and review some of the material on the easier CompTIA certs after getting the CCNA, even if I don't necessarily go for the certs, right? I'm worried that me just kind of jumping to this level out of nowhere, even if I pass the CCNA exam, puts me in an awkward place... as in I'd have gained knowledge of some specific networking/routing topics to a decently advanced level, but may lack some of the more basic IT knowledge that employers would expect you to have at that level already, the kind of stuff in the CompTIAs?

    I know there's overlap, and I admit I do have a decent working understanding of computers and information systems, but there may be some gaps, especially as it's been like six years or so since I've worked much with IT topics.

    Also, how much does this by-the-book type knowledge really help when it comes to the real world?
  • hanker21hanker21 Posts: 7Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    im beginner at networking, im from indonesia, sory for my bad english :), i realize that icnd1 is more realistic than ccna, because the price and the preparation for me is more easy than ccna.
  • jibtechjibtech Posts: 377Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    ICND1 is the first half of the CCNA. Once you complete it, consider doing ICND2 to finish the CCNA.
  • hanker21hanker21 Posts: 7Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    jibtech wrote: »
    ICND1 is the first half of the CCNA. Once you complete it, consider doing ICND2 to finish the CCNA.

    any tips to study ICND1 ?
  • jibtechjibtech Posts: 377Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    I used uCertify and Boson.
  • trac0detrac0de Posts: 27Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    hanker21 wrote: »
    any tips to study ICND1?
    I recommend Mr. Odom book. Really good :) All exam topics are covered. Everything is explained in great detail.
  • Hawk321Hawk321 CCNA R+S, CCNA CyberOPS, LPIC-1, LPIC-2 201-450, MS 70-410 and some smaller unknown certs Posts: 49Member ■■□□□□□□□□
    Well, check out the 2 odom books and ask yourself: can you read and understand ~ 2000 pages in that time ? Ask another question: do you have enough money to buy a descent hardware lab ? Than the next question: imagine, you are a company...would you spent money to a person without a real IT foundation ?

    There are 100.000s of paper CCNA's who never ever labbed really, who can't say what kind of models are out there. If you know your ccna stuff in and out, you can almost destroy most admins and docents...even with this entry level cert. But, this needs time !

    Bitter truth: Without a solid foundation, no one will hire you. A pro who knows his stuff will ask you many questions and will laugh about everyone who claims to be a ccna in a period of 2.5 month....there is no zero to hero !

    Even if it's true, that you can lab with PacketTracer etc. it is by far not the same as real hardware.

    Certificates are great...but without college...worthless.
  • Welly_59Welly_59 Posts: 431Member
    Hawk321 wrote: »
    Well, check out the 2 odom books and ask yourself: can you read and understand ~ 2000 pages in that time ? Ask another question: do you have enough money to buy a descent hardware lab ? Than the next question: imagine, you are a company...would you spent money to a person without a real IT foundation ?

    There are 100.000s of paper CCNA's who never ever labbed really, who can't say what kind of models are out there. If you know your ccna stuff in and out, you can almost destroy most admins and docents...even with this entry level cert. But, this needs time !

    Bitter truth: Without a solid foundation, no one will hire you. A pro who knows his stuff will ask you many questions and will laugh about everyone who claims to be a ccna in a period of 2.5 month....there is no zero to hero !

    Even if it's true, that you can lab with PacketTracer etc. it is by far not the same as real hardware.

    Certificates are great...but without college...worthless.

    Biggest load of bollocks I've ever heard regarding college sorry mate
  • jibtechjibtech Posts: 377Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    It isn't about college.

    It is about theoretical knowledge vs practical knowledge. College gives the same kind of theoretical knowledge that a cert does.

    Practical knowledge only comes from doing the job in the real world. If you don't have the practical knowledge, whether you come from a cert background or from a college background, the hiring manager is going to want as much theoretical knowledge as possible, upon which to build.

    Cisco assumes you have that base knowledge already, that is covered by exams like the A+ and Network+. A hiring manager is going to expect you to have that knowledge as well. In IT, there really aren't many shortcuts. Spend the time, get the theory and then do it in the real world.
  • duta74duta74 Posts: 143Member
    hanker21 wrote: »
    any tips to study ICND1 ?
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  • PseudonymPseudonym A+, Net+, Sec+, Linux+, ITIL v3, MCITP:EDST/EDA, CCNA R&S/Cyber Ops, MCSA:2008/2012, MCSE:CP&I Posts: 341Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    Welly_59 wrote: »
    Biggest load of bollocks I've ever heard regarding college sorry mate

    D'you think he's bitter that he paid to go to college then found out you don't have to? icon_redface.gif
    Certifications - A+, Net+, Sec+, Linux+, ITIL v3, MCITP:EDST/EDA, CCNA R&S/Cyber Ops, MCSA:2008/2012, MCSE:CP&I, RHCSA
    Working on - RHCE
  • Welly_59Welly_59 Posts: 431Member
    Look it might be different in USA than UK, which is where I am. But if you go to college and get a computer science related qualification it doesn't mean you can go out and get a network support/admin role. Whereas if you go and get CCNA certification then you WILL find someone willing to take you on in those roles.
  • Hawk321Hawk321 CCNA R+S, CCNA CyberOPS, LPIC-1, LPIC-2 201-450, MS 70-410 and some smaller unknown certs Posts: 49Member ■■□□□□□□□□
    Welly_59
    Look it might be different in USA than UK, which is where I am. But if you go to college and get a computer science related qualification it doesn't mean you can go out and get a network support/admin role. Whereas if you go and get CCNA certification then you WILL find someone willing to take you on in those roles.

    Not the case here in Germany, the maximum you get without any college degree (or at least a good (there are many bad) apprenticeship which is 3.5 years) is temp work for 11.50 - 15 € per hour. But even those temp companies only hire people with a solid foundation.

    And as I wrote above, a certificate (if you really studied it) is extreme valuable. But not in 2.5 months...imagine this:
    you are at a workplace and get a notebook to ssh into the routers and switches...the notebook runs Linux and the employer expects that you can handle the bash.
    Other case, a ccna r&s does not tell you much about network design or how a console cable works nor something about the difference about ascii and utf.

    CCNA is a big plus. A college degree is not enough....a certification is not enough. It is the mixture of both, the will to study and experience. Your chance to get experience without college or a apprenticeship is extreme low here in Germany.

    Regarding to the states...well it differs not so much.

    Just my 2 € Cents, no offense.
  • Welly_59Welly_59 Posts: 431Member
    Hawk321 wrote: »
    Not the case here in Germany, the maximum you get without any college degree (or at least a good (there are many bad) apprenticeship which is 3.5 years) is temp work for 11.50 - 15 € per hour. But even those temp companies only hire people with a solid foundation.

    And as I wrote above, a certificate (if you really studied it) is extreme valuable. But not in 2.5 months...imagine this:
    you are at a workplace and get a notebook to ssh into the routers and switches...the notebook runs Linux and the employer expects that you can handle the bash.
    Other case, a ccna r&s does not tell you much about network design or how a console cable works nor something about the difference about ascii and utf.

    CCNA is a big plus. A college degree is not enough....a certification is not enough. It is the mixture of both, the will to study and experience. Your chance to get experience without college or a apprenticeship is extreme low here in Germany.

    Regarding to the states...well it differs not so much.

    Just my 2 € Cents, no offense.

    Sounds like totally different job market in the UK compared to most countries then. Sure you can get a graduate entry but those are in the minority compared to what certs and experience will bring
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