Congratulations! If you're reading far enough to look at the introduction to this book, then you've probably already decided to go for your Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification. Cisco System's entry-level certification, CCNA, has a reputation as one of the most valuable entry-level certifications in the computing industry. Although getting your CCNA does not guarantee you a first networking job or a new job, it will certainly help convince others that you know what you are talking about.
Cisco's CCNA certification proves that you have a firm foundation in the most important components of the Cisco product line—namely, routers and switches. It also proves that you have a broad knowledge of protocols and networking technologies. CCNA is not an easy certification to get, but it is well worth the effort. In a booming economy, CCNA is the first step toward getting a higher salary than your noncertified peers. In a difficult economy, it could be the difference between whether a prospective employer even looks at your résumé. Regardless of your local economy, CCNA does improve how people in the marketplace view your skill level.
People ask me for career advice from time to time, and my answer is typically the same: If you want to be in the networking industry at all, you need to know Cisco. Cisco has some ridiculous market shares in the router and switch marketplace, with more than 80% market share in some markets. In many geographies and many markets, networking equals Cisco. If you want to be taken seriously as a network engineer, you need a CCNA certification. Frankly, you probably also need to be working toward a more advanced Cisco certification as well—but first things first! CCNA requires some time and effort.
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