I very recently completed the requirements to achieve the Juniper Networks Certified Associate (henceforth referred to as JNCIA in this article) certification. Well, it was a singular requirement, and that was passing the JN0-102 exam, which I managed to do on the first attempt. As with every certification exam, I cannot go into detail about specific questions or anything like that, but I did make a few general observations as I proceeded through my studies and my test attempt.
I was fortunate enough to be able to attend a two day Juniper training classes through my work to help me prepare for this exam, so I studied and labbed with official Juniper materials. Having experience with both Cisco and Alcatel-Lucent entry level networking certs I noticed that Juniper`s material for JNCIA focused quite heavily on how to configure and maintain Juniper devices, with surprising little networking theory involved. Now, this did not really bother me as I have my CCNP in Routing and Switching, so I feel confident that I have my basic networking down pat at this point. In that regard the training fulfilled my needs quite well, as I was there solely to learn about how things work in Juniper`s neck of the woods. However, if you are just starting in the networking world (and you went with Juniper over Cisco), I would strongly recommend starting with Network+ as a primer, even just studying the material if not necessarily obtaining the cert. I should note that I also attended a two day course regarding switching that made up one half of their JNCIS-ENT (roughly the equivalent of the CCNA Routing and Switching cert) recommended training, and that did cover a reasonable amount of switching theory, so it is not as though Juniper leaves you to figure out the theory yourself as the material gets deeper.
Onto the exam, Juniper is up front about what to expect. The exam consists solely of multiple choice questions and for those of us who decisively select their exam and move on, makes for a short affair. Juniper, unlike Cisco, will let you return to questions to review them, which is nice for those that fret over possible wrong answers. In my opinion, over-thinking a question is a recipe for disaster, but everyone should stick with the test-taking approach that they feel comfortable with. Speaking very generally, the test leaned heavily on Juniper configuration questions, with some “gotcha” moments about knowing when to be in operational or configuration mode. The only other significant category of question was subnetting, and the difficulty of those questions was right around what you would encounter at the CCNA level.
I now have my JNCIA for the next two years, a shortened period (compared to other vendors) that I am not particularly crazy about, but not really sure if I am going to pursue Juniper certifications any further as this point in time. I already need to keep two different vendors`operating systems (and all their variations) fresh in my mind for my job and I struggled to keep the Juniper method of doing things fresh in my mind as my study time flowed into my work time. As always, I will chronicle my further study with whatever vendor I happen to select next!