There are many networking certs out there, with a lot of IT vendors providing first-class training to help you achieve the goal of passing the exam so that you can indeed get that prestigious certification. According to a recent survey, these are the top five networking certifications in terms of job demand and financial compensation:
The Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE), offered by Cisco Systems
The Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP), offered by Cisco Systems
The Juniper Networks Certified Enterprise Routing and Switching Expert (JNCIE-ENT), offered by Juniper Networks
The CompTIA Network+
The Wireshark Certified Network Analyst (WCNA), offered by Wireshark
In this article, we’ll focus primarily on the CompTIA Network+ cert.
Exam Overview – The Goals
It is important to keep in mind that the Network+ cert is really not considered to be an “advanced cert” per se; it is viewed more as a beginning-to-intermediate cert for a network engineer. Here are some of the key topics a student will learn as they study and practice for the Network+ cert:
1. Design the Various Network Topologies
In this aspect, the student will learn all about the various networking topologies, such as peer-peer networks, client-server networks, bus networks, ring networks, star networks, mesh networks, tree networks and hybrid networks. The latter can be a combination of any of these aforementioned network-based topologies.
2. Configure and Manage the Network Topologies
Once the student has learned how to design some of the abovementioned networks, their next task is to learn how to configure them according to the needs of the business or corporation. Equally important is the management of these networks, where the student will also learn key optimization strategies to make sure that network traffic is flowing consistently and smoothly.
3. Learning How to Use the Various Networking Devices
Once the student has a grasp on how to properly configure and deploy a particular network configuration, he or she will then focus on how to properly place such devices as routers, hubs, switches, firewalls and network intrusion devices, along the network configuration. This will give them experience in learning how to segment data flows, but also help them understand where these devices should be placed in order to provide maximum security for the business or corporation.
4. Learn About the Advantages and Disadvantages of Each Network Configuration
Each network configuration obviously has its own set of pros and cons and the student will learn them for each network configuration listed above. He or she will also learn how each and every network configuration will work best and under what conditions.
5. Implement Network Security and the Related Protocols
The student will also learn how to make the network configurations they have designed safe and secure as possible from a cyberattack. In this regard, they will be taught what common vulnerabilities and weaknesses a typical network configuration will possess and how they can be fixed.
In addition, the student will be taught how to read, analyze and disseminate the log report information that is outputted daily from the networking devices that have been implemented in the configuration. A special focus will be placed on how to identify any network bottlenecks or anomalies from these log reports. Apart from this, they will also learn in great detail about the TCP/IP and IPSecv6 networking protocols.
6. Troubleshoot and Configure Any Network Problems
While it depends on the network configuration’s level of complexity, each configuration will have problems of its own. In this regard, every effort will be made to teach the student about the common network problems which can come into existence and the quickest way to fix them.
7. Learning How to Support Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)
Another critical aspect of any network infrastructure is the deployment and implementation of a Virtual Private Network. In these particular instances, the student will be taught how the network configuration they have designed can be used to support a VPN. Also, the student will be taught how to support and maintain VPNs on a daily basis.
The latest Network+ cert exam is called the “CompTIA Network+ N10-007,” and this was launched on March of 2018. It was updated to reflect the following issues:
Testing for the important security-related concepts which bridge the gap of network engineers working with cybersecurity experts.
The incorporation of the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) as they relate to cloud computing, as well as the coverage of the various cloud deployment and service models
The inclusion of topics surrounding virtualization and how it relates to networking
The latest concepts that are used to keep network configuration robust and optimized.
Common Network+ FAQs
The following matrix reviews some of the more commonly-asked questions about the Network+ cert exam in more detail:
What is the exam like?
90 minutes long
Has 90 multiple choice/drag-drop/performance-based questions;
You need to have a scaled score of at least 720 to pass, on a scaled range from 100-900
How often is the exam offered?
It is offered year-round.
Where do I take my exam?
The Network+ is a Pearson|VUE exam and is administered at Pearson|VUE testing centers throughout the country
You can take your second attempt any time after for your first exam. However, for your third attempt, you must wait at least 14 calendar days from the last attempt.
What are the identification requirements for testing?
You have to provide a valid photo ID. This can include government-issued ID cards, driver’s licenses, or even a passport. The name on your ID must exactly match the name on your Pearson VUE account.
At the testing center, your photograph will also be taken, and you will need to provide your electronic signature.
How soon do I need to arrive to take the test?
You need to arrive at least 30 minutes prior to your appointed test-taking time.
How do I reschedule my exam?
You must contact the PearsonVUE location at which you are taking your exam via telephone, live chat or via an online form which is available in your account. This must be done at least 24 hours before your scheduled exam date/time. If not, you will have to pay another exam fee.
How do I cancel my exam?
You can cancel your exam appointment by logging into your PearsonVUE account. Access your exam appointment details, and to the right of it there will be a “Cancel” button.
What if I arrive late to my exam?
You will not be admitted to take the exam if you are more than 15 minutes late. You will also forfeit the $302.00 that you paid in exam fees.
When should I schedule my exam?
Obviously, this is up to you, but it is highly recommended that you sign up for the exam after you have reviewed all of your study material and can pass the practice exams.
The CompTIA+ has a number of key resources that a student can use to prepare for the Network+ exam. These include the following:
1. The CompTIA CertMaster Practice for Network+
This is an e-learning tool that gauges your learning activity in real time. For example, through a series of practice quizzes, this tool will immediately identify what you already know and those areas in which you need more focus and help. There is a free trial availablehere. You can also purchase this training program for a reasonably-priced $189.00here.
2. The CompTIA+ Study Guides and E-Books
CompTIA+ has an official study guide for this cert, entitled “Official CompTIA Study Guide for Network+.” There are two versions of this, one in hard copy and one eBook version. Both of these versions come with the actual study guide and a classroom labs book. The lab book includes the following:
Hands-on exercise practicals
A detailed/comprehensive glossary of key networking terms
Integrated training videos
Online practice tests
The study guide costs $149.00 in hardcopy and $139.00 in eBook. To purchase a study guide, clickhere.
3. The CompTIA+ Training Strategies Group
This is CompTIA’s version of instructor-led classroom training. To get more information on this and fill out a contact form to request more information, clickhere.
There are other resources available also for getting Network+ cert training. InfoSec Institute also has aboot camp and anonline training course, while another study guide can bepurchased directly from Amazon.
Additional Tools You Need for Training
As mentioned in the last section, the CompTIA+ Study Guides come with hands-on practical labs, so it is also recommended that you have the following pieces of equipment to use as you go through these labs:
Data packet sniffer
Network port scanner
Firewall and router
The latest OS of either Linux or Windows
Network cabling crimpers
A switch and a hub
An unshielded twisted pair (UTP) cable
RJ45 cable connectors
The software components should be free to download, and the hardware accessories can be purchased for a relatively low price from any computer repair store.
Job Prospects for Network+ Cert Holders
The following matrix shows some of the representative job titles that require a Network+ cert and their corresponding salaries:
Upon further examination of this list, the average salary for a Network+ cert holder with at least one to four years of solid work experience is at $62,000.
Overall, this article has reviewed in detail what the Network+ cert is like, along with a list of commonly asked FAQs, various study tools and job prospects.
As mentioned, the Network+ cert is geared towards the networking professional that is just starting out in the field or has a moderate amount of experience. As businesses and corporations rely more on more upon their network infrastructure, especially for remote access situations, the demand for individuals that possess the Network+ cert will only grow stronger.