For IT professionals, the first step in any Information Technology career path begins with the Cisco CCNA exam. If you are considering a career as an IT professional, passing this exam is an essential first step to achieving your career goals. The CCNA certification exam covers the basics that any IT worker must know, including establishing routers and switches, setting up networks, and most importantly; troubleshooting existing network configurations. Because this exam is so crucial to success in the IT field, many people sign up for a CCNA training course to help them brush up on all the topics covered on the certification exam.
There are literally hundreds of CCNA training courses available to choose from, from internet-based self-study classes to hands-on seminars. It can be overwhelming to decide between the different courses, how can a student choose which one is the most effective? Here are a few areas to consider when choosing a CCNA training course:

Prepare for a job, not a test. The best advice for professionals getting ready to take the certification exam is to prepare with the end in mind. In other words, don’t look for a program that will simply teach you how to pass the test, but look for a preparation course that will teach you the skills you need to be the best IT technician possible. The test is simply a demonstration of the skills you already possess; just cramming to pass an exam may win you the certification, but not necessarily prepare you to work on the job with the complexities that arise in any network system. If your goal is to ultimately be a great employee, you want to get the best possible training in your field.

Hands on learning is the most effective. Teachers know that the best way to teach students a new skill is not simply to tell them the information, but to show them how the information fits together. It is the same with network systems. While some CCNA courses provide a lot of information, the best courses are hands-on practice with real network components. Research shows that actually manipulating objects in a classroom leads to better understanding and greater retention of what was taught. When choosing a preparation course, a hands-on training program will lead to greater understanding of the material, making you not only a better test-taker, but more importantly, a better IT professional.

Look for value over price. It can be tempting to seek out the cheapest CCNA course you can find, but keep in mind the old adage “you get what you pay for.” An inexpensive course may provide a lot of information, but may not give you great teaching. Practicing questions on an internet self-study course can be helpful, but it cannot replace the learning you will gain from a real teacher in a physical classroom. A teacher can evaluate your skills and pinpoint areas you need more or less practice with. A self-paced course will not provide this level of attention. The price of a hands-on course with an experienced instructor can be higher, but when you consider the value of the learning you will gain from a hands-on course, there is no comparison.

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