New CCNA is “simplified and streamlined,” says Infosec Skills author Ben Jacobson
Coming out of college, Infosec Skills author Ben Jacobson never would have guessed his career would shift from petroleum and natural gas engineering to network engineering. But not long after graduation, he found himself in the world of IT — and he’s never looked back.
Ben’s transition from oil fields to authoring the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Learning Path may be unique, but he followed a tried-and-true career path to get there.
From help desk to networking professional
“One of my friends was working on the help desk of a medical system, and I managed to get a position there,” Ben said. “I got exposure to larger enterprise-scale systems and was interested in going further. So I studied up and went to a small managed service provider. It’s different working for businesses from the consulting perspective rather than just maintaining internal systems.”
That exposure led to discovering a passion for networking. The information clicked and Ben knew it was an area in which he could excel, so he began pursuing deeper knowledge and certifications.
“I got my CCNA and CCNP and watched a lot of study videos,” Ben said. “I discovered top networking instructors like Jeremy Chara and really appreciated how they shared their knowledge. The whole idea of teaching and helping other people get further in their career and becoming successful — it became very appealing to me.”
The positive feedback from his initial networking training drove him to tackle a subject with a wider scope and depth of knowledge: the CCNA certification.
“I have a knack for seeing things from other people’s perspective and explaining it so it makes sense for them,” Ben said. “It feels great to know you’re helping others.”
Updated CCNA certification training
Cisco made a variety of certification updates in early 2020, including consolidating many of their entry-level variants one standard CCNA certification.
The update makes the CCNA more approachable, simplified and streamlined, Ben said, although it does cover a broader range of material, including network automation tools, a general understanding of network security, and the available features and roles they play in your network.
“They’ve made the exam much more practical for today’s networks and jobs,” Ben said. “If you earn your CCNA, you will be a well-rounded network engineer with the abilities necessary for a junior position at an average company.”
The CCNA Learning Path prepares you for the wide range of job duties you’ll have to perform as a networking professional.
“Today, you rarely find someone who is strictly a network engineer. You’re going to be a jack of all trades,” Ben said. “The new CCNA training ensures you understand how it all works together. It also provides the building blocks needed to pursue the next step: continued training to support the individual systems your company uses.”
Transitioning into a career in IT and security
Ben encourages students to follow in his footsteps and transition into a career in IT and security, especially if they have a passion for problem solving.
He recommends starting by pursuing key certifications like the CCNA, but don’t study just to pass the test, Ben said. Instead, focus on developing a strong understanding of the material and knowing how you’re going to put that knowledge into practice.
That, Ben said, is the ultimate goal for anyone looking to take his new CCNA training and advance their career.
About Ben Jacobson
Ben Jacobson has seven years of experience in the IT industry, with three years focused on network engineering. He’s always had a passion for networking and a desire to learn what makes devices talk to each other — and how those communications are appropriately routed through the bundles of wire and fiber in our walls, under the ground and over our heads.
He’s worked in and designed networks for small, medium and large business environments using a variety of vendor devices. He currently works as an engineer designing solutions for a government-owned, state-wide fiber-optic network, and he loves it every day.