Your Guide To Get Certified - Part 2: Before You Start
You probably don’t need to be told that Cisco certifications will require dedication of your time in order for you to reach success. Last week I wrote about figuring out a certification goal, and that can be very exciting. But before you cannonball into this journey, it is key to step back and take a look at some important information. There are three crucial steps to take prior to starting. Taking these steps beforehand will ensure that you are a knowledgeable participant and are as ready as you can be before embarking on the time commitment ahead.
The first thing you need to pay attention to as your explore certifications more seriously is what prerequisites exist. Here’s an example of what you might encounter on the Cisco Learning Network for CCNP certification:
Prerequisites tell you exactly what needs to be done prior to starting a certification. If CCNP Routing and Switching is your end goal, it cannot therefore be your initial starting place because, like most certifications, it does have prerequisites. To discover what the prerequisites are for your certification goal, go to the Certification Index and select the certification you desire. Next, select the View Syllabus link, and that is where your answer will reside.
Taking a self-assessment on the Cisco Learning Network is another advised action prior to starting a certification. Without a self-assessment, there is no way to really measure your current level of knowledge in your area of interest. Self-assessments are created by the same individuals who have a hand in exam content. Unfortunately for you all, they do not give away hints and clues about exam questions. However, they are the most accurate way to determine where you are prior to starting your studies. Having that knowledge in hand is useful in terms of answering two main questions:
Will you be facing a mountain or a molehill? Self-assessments let you know exactly where you need to focus and where you're already adequate. They quantify exactly how big the task ahead is.
How will this fit into my schedule? When you know exactly how much work is ahead of you, it is easier to plan out where your time will be spent and exactly how much needs to be spent.
A goal as worthy as earning a certification is always better to attempt after a self-assessment.
Finally, most certifications require passing more than one exam prior to completion. Let's go back to the syllabus, where important exam information can be found. Here’s an example for CCNP Routing and Switching:
Knowing the number of exams between you and your current certification goal shows you how far away from that goal you are, and helps you assess the size of the task ahead.
Armed with these three pieces of information, you can make a more manageable and realistic plan toward your goal–and be more likely to succeed. So, don't forget: 1) check out the prerequisites, 2) take a self-assessment, and 3) become knowledgeable about the exams that you will need to take.