With classes but no hands-on experience, should I try for CCENT or N+?

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CCENT
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I have a general understanding of networking protocols, infrastructure, etc., after having taken a 400 level university class on networking and telecom. I believe that I have a good foundation to pursue Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT), at minimum. Would you still recommend the Network+ (N+), though? I'm changing careers and have no hands-on experience with routers/switches, corresponding commands or troubleshooting.

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Dear Sir or Madam:

I don’t see much benefit to a both/and approach to Network+ and CCENT. Especially if you’d be interested in going on to get the CCNA, the CCENT is a better bet almost all the way around. Given your background, you should be able to cope wit the material involved. If you can get into a classroom training situation, I’d recommend it: look around in your area for a local community college that teaches a CCENT prep class. This will not only give you access to expert help and insight, more important it should also give you access to a lab where you can work with the gear you’ll need to know and understand to pass the exam. OTOH, if classroom training isn’t an option, serarch online for “build a CCENT home lab” or “build a CCNA home lab” where you can learn how to purchase used gear on eBay to put yourself a home test lab together for a relatively modest outlay.

HTH, and thanks for posting,
–Ed–

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  • BlankReg
    I agree with Ed, go for the CCENT, and then the CCNA. These seem to be well recognised, and accepted, even if you end up somewhere with other vendor's equipment, this still gives a good grounding in the basics of networks. For practice there are several software alternatives, that allow you to build quite complicated networks with virtual Cisco switches and routers. You can also buy some time on NetLab, which is real equipment, remotely accessed, and may work out cheaper than buying on EBay if you only want it for a short time.
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  • Kevin Beaver
    The home-based lab setup is one of the most overlooked/underrated tools for getting hands-on experience with networks & computers. Check out VirtualBox for open source virtual machine software so you can install various OSs and network them together.
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  • Joebrochin
    Agreed, CCENT. Here is an article about buying second hand Cisco equipment to get your lab setup. http://computertrainingknowhow.com/cisco-training/buy-second-hand-cisco-equipments-to-prepare-for-ccna-exam/
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