Cisco CCNA certification

CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate) is an IT certification offered by Cisco Systems, one of the largest digital communications technology companies in the world. It has a general networking focus and is a great certification for entry-level IT practitioners who want to level up their skills and open up new career possibilities.

Professionals working in or towards a cybersecurity career may also earn the Cisco Certified CyberOps Associate, which validates the knowledge and skills necessary to detect and respond to cybersecurity threats. If you find yourself regularly using Cisco products and technology or find value in knowledge like Cisco router and switch configuration, CCNA certification can give you the hands-on experience and foundational knowledge you need to advance your career.

Learn more about Infosec's CCNA certification training.

CCNA exam objectives

To achieve CCNA certification, you must pass the current version of the CCNA 200-301 exam, last updated in February 2020. The exam covers the six objectives, or domains, listed below: 

Why should I get CCNA certification?

As an entry-level IT practitioner, you can branch your career in whichever direction you choose. You may eventually be drawn to systems administration, network architecture, cybersecurity operations or another IT career. Knowledge of switching, routing and networking from obtaining CCNA certification opens doors to these job options. 

Cisco owns nearly 40% of the market share regarding switches and routers, a share expected to grow in the coming years. Learning how these products work with the most advanced networks can put you in a great position for your career. Cisco certifications show future employers you're on the cutting edge of network technology and know how to work with advanced-level networks.

What is the current CCNA version?

200-125 vs. 200-301

The current version of the CCNA's body of knowledge (BoK) and exam is 200-30 and was last updated on February 24, 2020. The most noted development is that it absorbed most associate-level pathways with their own separate CCNA exam, including routing and switching (CCNA R&S), wireless, security and more. CCNA 200-301 is roughly 30-40 questions longer, with an additional 30 minutes to complete the test.

The 200-301 exam reduced the weight of the security fundamentals domain and increased the weight of questions dedicated to automation and programmability, and wireless LANs. Because 200-301 absorbed the previous routing and switching exam, roughly 65% of the material covered on the exam is dedicated to routing and switching.

CCNA certification exam FAQs

The CCNA certification exam is a beginner-skills level certification that tests your knowledge of network access and security, IP connectivity and services, and automation and programmability to provide secure networks and data transfers. Here's what you should know about the current exam:

How much does CCNA certification cost?

Currently, Cisco Associate-level certifications like the CCNA and Cisco CyberOps cost $300 plus taxes for exam registration. This doesn't include the cost of CCNA exam training courses or any additional paid study materials.

Is CCNA certification enough to get a job?

Landing an entry-level IT position with only this Cisco certification is possible, but the odds can vary. While CCNA training helps you learn the material covered on the exam, most people who pass already have at least some basic knowledge. This can be through formal education or working experience, and both are valued by hiring managers when considering candidates.

Your CCNA certification will take you much further if you have additional IT skills and certifications outside of networking. Stretching beyond basic Cisco networking knowledge increases your chances of scoring a job.

How to pass the CCNA certification exam?

To pass the CCNA, you’ll need to complete 100-120 questions of various types, from multiple choice to simulations, in 120 minutes. According to Cisco, the number of CCNA questions varies because of their performance-based testing. Cisco also states, “Exam questions and passing scores are subject to change without notice.” 

Cisco uses a point scaling system on a scale of 300 to 1,000. One way to ensure passing is by taking a reputable CCNA Boot Camp. The Infosec CCNA Boot Camp comes with an Exam Pass Guarantee. Read our CCNA exam overview article for more on passing the exam.

Free and self-study CCNA certification materials

Even for those well-versed in Cisco networking and routing and switching, studying is vital for passing the CCNA exam. Luckily, plenty of free CCNA certification resources are available to help you prepare. Before scouring the internet for training resources, we recommend reviewing the official CCNA 200-301 exam outline. It will shed light on what topics you need to study.

CCNA exam study guides and books

Cisco's official CCNA certification study guide is a book published by Pearson. Cisco Press, a publishing alliance between Cisco and Pearson, also produces study materials. You can find them and more at your local library, bookstore or online stores like Amazon. A few of the most popular are: 

  • Official Cisco exam review: CCNA

  • CCNA Certification Study Guide, Volume 2: Exam 200-301 by Todd Lammle (Sybex)

  • CCNA 200-301 Official Cert Guide, Vol. 1 & 2 by Wendell Odom (Pearson)

  • 31 Days Before your CCNA Exam: A Day-by-Day Review Guide for the CCNA 200-301 Certification Exam by Allan Johnson (Cisco Press)

  • CCNA 200-301 Portable Command Guide, 5th Edition by Scott Empson (Cisco Press) 

Infosec also has several free networking videos on our YouTube channel.

CCNA practice exams and simulations

Practice exams can help you test your knowledge and provide practical test-taking experience while you prepare for the real thing.

A few books mentioned above contain practice tests, but Cisco also offers one of its own: Official CCNA Prep Program Practice Quiz.

In addition to these options, many CCNA training courses  include practice questions. For example, Infosec's Cisco Certified Network Associate training has nearly 38 hours of on-demand exam prep, including a customizable practice exam with more than 230 questions.


Other free CCNA training resources

While official study materials are vital, it helps to have the perspective of people who have taken the exam and others in the community. Some valuable resources include:

  • Forums like TechExams and Reddit allow you to connect directly with others studying for or who have already taken the CCNA exam.

  • YouTube is another great place to connect with networking and IT professionals and learn about Cisco exams. Although most CCNA certification courses cost money, numerous free videos are available.

Podcasts may not help you directly prepare for Cisco certifications like the CCNA, but those like the Cyber Work Podcast are a great way to learn about network administration careers and your peers' career journeys.

CCNA jobs and careers

There are more than 288,000 job openings for network professionals, according to CyberSeek. CCNA-certified professionals are essential to organizations that rely on Cisco systems for day-to-day operations.

What does a CCNA holder do?

The CCNA is for junior-level network and IT practitioners to help them increase their knowledge and open new job opportunities. CCNA certification holders can have a wide range of positions. Some of these include: 

  • Network administrator

  • Network engineer

  • Network technician

  • Infrastructure engineer

  • Cybersecurity analyst

  • Systems administrator

  • IT manager

What is the CCNA average salary?

The average annual salary for professionals with this Cisco certification is $73,824, or $36 an hour. Because people with this certification can hold a wide variety of IT, systems and networking jobs, the salary can differ significantly between them.

How many people have CCNA certifications?

Cisco doesn't release this information by certification. However, they claim to have certified more than 4 million individuals in total, and CCNA has consistently been one of the most in-demand boot camps offered by Infosec.

Where can I find CCNA jobs?

CCNA is a common beginner-level networking certification that applies to many jobs. General job boards like Indeed, Monster, Glassdoor, LinkedIn and CareerBuilder allow you to search by keywords like “CCNA” or relevant job titles for open roles.

There are also cybersecurity-specific job boards, such as ClearedJobs, and others. Another great way to find CCNA networking openings is by joining local and national cybersecurity groups — such as ISSA or Women in Cybersecurity — joining local meetups or engaging in other cybersecurity forums and websites.

To prepare for your job interview, download our free ebook of cybersecurity interview tips, How to stand out, get hired and advance your career.

Paid CCNA certification training and exam prep

When preparing for CCNA exams, you can train yourself with books and free resources or find paid courses. Most CCNA certification programs fall into two categories: live online boot camps or on-demand courses where you go at your own pace. 

CCNA comparisons and alternatives

CCNA is a popular beginner-level networking certification, but other certifications can broaden your knowledge base. Depending on your career goals, you may explore alternative options. Check out these articles to learn more: