The Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT) certification is Cisco's entry-level designation for network support professionals. Candidates for the CCENT should ideally have knowledge of networking fundamentals like Wide-Area Network (WAN) technologies, basic security principles for wired and wireless networks, routing and switching best practices and how to build and manage small enterprise networks.
In the Cisco certification tree, the CCENT is the stepping stone to the mid-level Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCENT) designation, which builds on the foundation of the CCENT core subjects.
CCENT training is available in a variety of different formats. Choosing the best option involves both the student's budget, and their ability to learn through different training methods.
The most affordable training typically comes via self-study tools, often in the form of self-paced instruction books. These materials are readily available from the technology section of large bookstores, or from online retailers. Self-study training can be a good option for those who prefer to learn on their own, or who have schedules (and budgets) that don't permit for regularly scheduled classes.
Another self-study training tool is self-paced video courseware, usually offered on DVDs, or as a subscription to an online streaming video sequence. Again, these products can be found in large bookstores, but are more commonly purchased from online vendors. On average, video courseware costs more than instruction books alone, but can be more effective for people who find it easier to learn though visual presentation, rather than static text. Like instruction books, video courseware offers students the ability to learn on their schedule, as the videos can be stopped and resumed at any point.
Virtual instructor courses
For students who want to attend live classes, but have limited options due to their location (or the expense involved), there are instructor-led virtual classes. These classes are delivered online in real-time, using a web browser plug-in or provided client software to create a virtual classroom environment. These courses combine real-time instruction and "homework" lessons that students complete between classes. Many virtual class packages also provide access to online study rooms where students can group together for chat-driven study sessions.
Instructor-led classroom training can be the most expensive training option available, but may also be the most effective method for people who need the discipline of scheduled visits to a dedicated classroom environment in conjunction with live interaction with an instructor and other students. Instructor-led classroom training often also comes with hands-on training with the relevant networking equipment and software, which definitely helps to reinforce course content.
When looking at potential training centers and technical schools that offer instructor-led classroom courses, students should visit the Cisco website and look at the list of official Cisco Learning Partners. At the very least, students should talk to a representative of the training center and ask if it uses authorized Cisco course curriculum, which has been designed with the certification exam in mind.
Students who are taking CCENT training should expect to encounter the following subjects:
- LAN switching and routing technologies
- IP addressing using IPv4 and IPv6
- Using IP services such as DHCP and NAT
- Network device security basics
- Network troubleshooting techniques
CCENT certification exam
The CCENT exam is for candidates who have some degree of experience with networking hardware and software. Cisco's own CCENT resources describe the associated exam as a test of the candidate's ability to manage a small branch office network. That includes installation, operation and troubleshooting. There are no prerequisites required to take the CCENT exam.
The exam can be scheduled via Cisco's training partner, Pearson VUE, and is available in English and Japanese. There are approximately 40-50 questions which candidates are given 90 minutes to complete. Candidates should expect to encounter questions in any if not all of the following formats:
- Simulation questions, where candidates must perform specified tasks in a simulated network environment.
Here's a list of the knowledge domains the current CCENT exam consists of, with an estimated percentage of how much exam content is dedicated to each domain:
- Operation of IP data networks (6 percent)
- LAN switching technologies (21 percent)
- IP addressing IPv4 and IPv6 (11 percent)
- IP routing technologies (26 percent)
- IP services (5 percent)
- Network device security (15 percent)
- Troubleshooting (20 percent)
If necessary, the CCENT exam can be retaken six days after the first failed attempt.
CCENT in the Workplace: Salary Impact and Related Careers
CCENT certification is valid for three years from the day it is received. Renewal requires passing one of the Cisco-approved re-certification exams before the three-year period passes in full. If a CCENT certification expires, the most current version of the CCENT exam must be passed in order to re-attain the designation.
Some of the job roles related to the CCENT certification includes:
- Junior Network Administrator
- Network Support Technician
- Wireless Network Technician
- Junior Network Engineer
According to the 2014 Global Knowledge IT Skills and Salary Report, surveyed professionals with CCENT certification earned a median annual salary of $70,000.
"2014 IT Skills and Salary Report," Global Knowledge, 2014, http://www.globalknowledge.com/training/generic.asp?pageid=3640&country=United+States
"CCENT - IT Certifications and Career Paths," Cisco Systems, November 26, 2014,, http://www.cisco.com/web/learning/certifications/entry/ccent/index.html
"100-101 ICND1 - IT Certifications and Career Paths," Cisco Systems, November 26, 2014, http://www.cisco.com/web/learning/exams/list/icnd1b.html