How to Prepare for a Cisco Certification Exam

As a young professional, building your career from seemingly out of nothing can be daunting. Doing good at your work is no longer enough when there are other people who can do the same or even better job than you.

In order to stand out from the pack and move closer to the corporate summit, you need to equip yourself with the necessary tools. For IT specialists, one invaluable tool that they can add to their professional toolkit is a Cisco Certification.

Why invest in Cisco Certification

Think of the certification as an investment in yourself — an investment that can pay a handsome dividend over the short and long term.

At the outset, it seems that you are investing too many resources, from your time to your money, just to get certified. However, you won't just recoup that investment. You will be rewarded with the following:

More job opportunities

Between years of experience and actual expertise, which do you think is more appealing to recruiters? If you ask an HR practitioner, he'll likely choose the latter. But there lies the rub: how do you prove your expertise through a resume?

The answer – through certification from an objective third party. In this case, that will be Cisco. Although having a certification is not an instant guarantee that you'll land an interview, the chances of your resume getting noticed can rise substantially.

Earning potential

Apart from an increase in job opportunities, a Cisco Certification can also increase your earning potential, not just over the short term. But more importantly, over the long term.

Visit websites that publish the median salaries for jobs and industries, and you will immediately see that certified professionals earn substantially more than their peers without certifications.

Job security

Having industry confirmation of your abilities makes you a highly desirable talent – and you can
count on your company to want to keep you even during difficult times.

With a Cisco Certification, you do not have to worry about your options in case your current company folds up. When you have a vital tool, you can find multiple employment opportunities or even create your own path by starting your own business.

But apart from individual professionals, companies can also benefit immensely from hiring candidates with Cisco Certification. As such, more and more companies are investing in the training of their own employees.

Getting started

The certifications Cisco offers are scalable, with five levels available for interested professionals.
● Entry
● Associate
● Professional
● Expert
● Architect

Furthermore, these levels can be subdivided into nine more subject tracks.

● Routing & Switching
● Design
● Security
● Service Provider
● Service Provider Operations
● Data Center
● Voice
● Wireless
● Video

Preparing for the certification exam

Before you advance any further, you will need to acquire a Cisco Certified Networking Associate (CCNA) certification.

The exam for this certification lasts for about an hour and a half, covering anywhere between 50 to 60 questions. If you are getting a Cisco Certification for the first time, the preparation can be nerve-racking.

Here are a few helpful tips that will help you approach your training in a more structured manner:

Invest in a formal training course

Taking a Cisco Certification course offers you the advantage of getting a structured approach to your learning. Plus, you will be guided by industry experts.

This allows you to eliminate confusion and guesswork, enabling you to focus your energies toward learning. In turn, this gives you the confidence needed to ace the certification exam.

Practice over theory

During your studies, do not dwell solely on the theories presented by the lecturer. Equally important is to learn how these theories apply in a practical setting.

Take practice exams

Taking practice exams before the actual one allows you to enjoy a few key benefits. For one, you'll be able to identify and rectify your weak points. And the earlier you strengthen your weak areas, the more confident you will become.

Second, you will learn how to pace yourself. Come exam time; you can take your test more comfortably because you know exactly how much time you need, thus eliminating the need to scramble when the period is almost over.

Go over your reference materials

The more time you allot toward reviewing your course and review materials, the easier it will be for your brain to absorb the information you need to pass the exam.

Don't be too hard on yourself

Resting and relaxing is as equally vital as applying yourself toward your studies. Set aside time for relaxation in your study schedule, and make sure that you get enough sleep and rest, especially in the days leading to your actual examination.

Invest in yourself now

Cisco Certified professionals are highly-prized in the job market, with many companies giving priority over them compared to more experienced professionals who lack certification. And with the changes in the job market landscape and many industries, the demand for certified professionals is nowhere near tapering off.

Don't let yourself get behind. Invest in yourself now and get Cisco Certified. You'll thank yourself later for acting fast on this opportunity.


Jerrin Samuel is the Executive Director at Regional Educational Institute (REI) in Abu Dhabi.
Since 1995, REI has been at the forefront of education by delivering quality corporate training
courses in the UAE, helping many businesses and organizations achieve greater productivity
and higher customer satisfaction levels.

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