Because wireless networks have quickly become ubiquitous in both public and enterprise settings, demand for IT professionals who know how to plan, implement and maintain wireless networks continues to increase. Wireless network administrators have many of the responsibilities that their traditional wired network counterparts do, with the added challenge of working with a technology that is highly sensitive to the environment it exists in. The role of wireless network admin requires a unique skill set, including foundation-level knowledge of well-established subjects like radio frequency (RF) science, and relatively newer subjects such as IEEE 802.11 protocols and standards.
Overview of CWNA certification
The CWNA Certified Wireless Network Administrator certification is a relevant, industry-recognized designation that offers candidates a way to prove their skills to businesses and governments around the world. Certified Wireless Network Professional has been active since 1999 and is partnered with numerous worldwide groups. The CWNA certification has the additional advantage of being a vendor-neutral certification, which means it is not tied to a specific manufacturer's hardware or proprietary wireless technology. This makes the CWNA a highly desirable certification for any wireless network admin.
CWNP offers a number of vendor-neutral certifications, all of them based around 802.11 wireless LAN technologies. The Certified Wireless Network Administrator certification covers the fundamentals of wireless networking, including the skills required to install, configure and troubleshoot Wi-Fi networks.
The CWNA certification is classified by CWNP as a foundation-level certification, so there is no prerequisite certification which must be taken first. To earn the CWNA certification, candidates must pass the official CWNA exam (exam PW0-105).
The CWNA examination
The PW0-105 exam can be booked and taken through any Pearson VUE testing center. The exam consists of sixty multiple-choice/multiple-answer questions. Exam takers cannot mark questions for later consideration, and once a question has been answered it cannot be revisited. Candidates have ninety minutes to complete the exam, and must achieve a passing score of 70% or higher to get certified.
The full exam objectives are available in a PDF document which can be downloaded from CWNA. Prospective candidates can download a PDF that contains the terminology used throughout all of the CWNP certification exams, a highly recommended study aid.
Below is a list of the six major knowledge domains covered in the PW0-105 exam, with an approximate percentage of how much of the exam is dedicated to each domain:
- Radio Frequency (RF) Technologies (21%)
- IEEE 802.11 Network Implementation (20%)
- IEEE 802.11 Protocols and Devices (17%)
- IEEE 802.11 Regulations and Standards (17%)
- IEEE 802.11 RF Site Surveying (15%)
- IEEE 802.11 Network Security (10%)
If the amount of exam content dedicated to the Network Security domain seems small, there is a good reason. CWNP offers a professional-level certification for wireless network security, the Certified Wireless Security Professional, which covers this discipline in much greater depth.
Renewing the certification
After passing the examination, the CWNA certification is valid for three years. After three years, the CWNA certification can be renewed by successfully passing the currently offered version of the exam, or by passing one of the three professional-level certification exams offered by the CWNP organization.