Getting your Network+ certification is not as much of a long shot as you might think. Although the material is still substantial in its coverage of networking concepts, technologies and best practices, you’ll find that it more than pays for itself afterwards. Employers see this certification as especially important when candidates are required to maintain an organization’s networking systems, infrastructure and network operations and related tasks.
In this article, we will look at some of the reasons why you might consider the globally-recognized CompTIA certification and what the best way to do it would be. We’ll also learn about what is needed to pass the exam and walk away with the CompTIA Network+ certification.
Why Certify With Network+?
We all have to start our IT journey somewhere and for many people, the CompTIA A+ and CompTIA N+ are the best places to jump in. CompTIA has been one of a select few global leaders in the IT training industry for decades, helping IT professionals get the right start to their careers.
Why bother certifying? Now, more than ever, becoming certified is essential if you are going to stand out from the group of candidates when applying for a position. The chances are high that the people that have applied for the same position as you have some kind of CompTIA certification, potentially putting you at a disadvantage.
Or perhaps you’re already employed, and you would like to further your knowledge of networking theory and technologies, but you need to get started with the basics. CompTIA has a comprehensive skills map called the CompTIA Career Pathway which will help you decide which direction you wish to take your IT career, making the Network+ exam an excellent starting point.
What Are the Requirements Necessary to Take the Network+?
The great thing about the Network+ exam is that it does not require any preexisting knowledge or certifications in order for a candidate to take. However, it is beneficial if the candidate has at least six months of IT-related experience prior to taking the exam, especially dealing with networking-related concepts. If you have no experience with information technology at all, then CompTIA’s A+ certification is a better starting point before the Network+. You can take them in parallel if you like, but the A+ is not a prerequisite for the Network+.
How Long Does It Take to Prepare for the Network+ Exam?
Your mileage may vary, but the average Network+ candidate who successfully passes the exam studies for between three and six months. This could be shorter if you are studying full-time. Part-time students could also take longer to get to the point where they are exam-ready, but this will vary from person to person.
Another aspect to consider is how you plan on studying for the exam. Most people just download the Exam Objectives, purchase a study guide and then use online practice tests to get ready for exam day. Other people prefer to take a proper instructor-led class with other students, but this approach is not always practical if there are no institutions close by.
The important thing to remember is that you need to choose the method that works best for you, preferably one that will give you the best results in the shortest amount of time. Even more important is the need for you to understand the content of the study materials you use. Remember, it’s better to take your time and understand everything than it is to rush your exam preparation and end up with an exam score you’re not happy with.
What Are the Steps to Becoming Network+ Certified?
Getting ready to write the Network+ exam requires equal measures of studying, practicing and understanding the material that you are covering. Many of the basic concepts that you will learn in the Network+ will remain with you throughout your career, so understanding your study material is really important.
Candidates that have successfully passed the Network+ exam generally have their own general game plan for preparing for the exam and getting certified. Below are four steps to help you to nail your exam the first time around.
Step 1: Decide If the Network+ Is Right for You
You probably started thinking about this certification for quite a while before you began researching how the exam works, and what the benefits of the certification are. Figure out what it is that you think the Network+ will help you with and decide if you have the requisite knowledge and skills to get started with studying for it. This can also help you to figure out the average salary that you could ask for when you land a job in IT, so it’s a good place to start.
Step 2: Start Studying
Once you are satisfied that the Network+ is the right choice for you, then you will need to decide how to study for the exam. There are a few options out there to choose from.
The first one is self-study. People usually download the exam objectives, purchase a textbook and then start summarizing each chapter of their textbook as it corresponds with the exam objectives. This method can take a little longer than instructor-led courses because self-discipline and resourcefulness are needed, especially if you find yourself falling behind your exam schedule.
Some people take a combination of instructor-led training and self-study, as it allows them to retain the knowledge that they learned in the classes while reinforcing the concepts with additional learning and practice. Others may choose to focus mostly on classes, not being happy with their own self-study habits.
Whatever you decide to do, remember that you will need to understand the concepts in order to pass the exam. Brain-dump-style studying techniques, though helpful when you need to remember a lot of different pieces of information, is not the best way to approach the Network+. Instead, focus on digesting each concept and read about them until you understand everything well enough to explain it properly to somebody else.
Step 3: Study, Practice, Repeat
There is no better way to improve your skills than to practice, and this is as true for IT as it is for sports. As you progress through your syllabus, be sure to take the time and fully explore the practical aspects of the Network+ exam.
Don’t be afraid to test out commands on the command line interface and really get a feel for the material that you are studying. You can create a basic test lab to help you to understand how the practical elements of this certification work, and the experience will help you to perform your core functions as a Network+ certification holder.
Practice isn’t limited to practical tasks: think about practice exams! There are many online resources that you can use to simulate the testing conditions that you will experience on exam day. CompTIA offers free practice questions right here, allowing you to sharpen your skills ahead of time. Practice exams also let you know how you have progressed overall, and the results that you get will let you know which areas need work in your study plan.
Step 4: Register and Take the Exam!
First things first, you need to find a testing center in your area. You can search for a testing center near you through Pearson VUE, which operates the exams. Once you’ve found the testing center of your choice in your area, make a booking or purchase an exam voucher from the CompTIA store.
Getting your Network+ is a great way to show your future employers that you understand general networking concepts and have been able to successfully meet all of CompTIA’s requirements. Once you have completed your certification you will be able to:
Design and implement functional networks
Configure, manage and maintain network equipment
Effectively use switches and routers to segment the network
Understand the pros and cons of different network setups
Implement network security, standards and protocols
Troubleshoot and repair network issues
Offer support for virtualized networks
Once you are certified, you will be able to explain the purpose of a whole host of different network-related concepts, as well as how you could implement them yourself. You will also be able to make recommendations regarding infrastructure like cabling, network types, storage devices and more. These are critical areas for onsite work and will show your future employer and colleagues that you really know your stuff.
Other areas of competence that you will be able to show include network operations (such as best practices), policies and mission-critical systems such as disaster recovery. Network security and troubleshooting tasks will also be a part of your skillset, making you a valuable member of the IT team within the organization.
Now it’s time to get to work! InfoSec Institute offers a great bootcamp initiative that can help get you Network+ certified in no time at all, and which can be found here. Good luck!