When considering a cert to study, you need to make decisions on what you hope to learn and accomplish as a result of your studies. But sometimes I think a little more meta and I wonder, “Why does this certification exist?” Network+ is one of those certs that I have pondered that exact question. Do we NEED Network+? I mean, think about, we have our Cisco certifications, we have our Juniper certifications, and there are plenty of more networking vendors of all shapes and sizes that also offer their own certification program. So if I can just push forward and get my CCNA, not wasting my time with these “lesser” certs, then why wouldn’t I?
Well, if you have got the motivation and means to jump past Network+ and CCENT, then you should do it. In my experience, however, I think that some people underestimate how big an endeavour getting their CCNA cert is, especially if you are completely green in the networking field. It covers a lot of ground, and even though the depth of some of the topics only goes down an inch or two, the combined pool of them is a mile wide. I have worked with people that have failed the test(s) anywhere from once to over a dozen times, those people that have had to reattempt the exams multiple times clearly made errors in their judgment of whether or not they were actually prepared to write the exam. In truth, many of those people would have been better served by focusing on learning networking basics, protocols and standards, before even worrying about the ins and outs of any particular vendor.
So that’s a really long winded way of saying that yes, I think that Network+ has a place in the certification world. CompTIA is a vendor-neutral cert organization, a fact that they quite proudly tout, and if you follow the Network+ curriculum, it will walk you though the basics of things like Spanning Tree Protocol or the seven layers of the OSI model. When you are comfortable with these concepts and can apply them to vendor specific procedures, things will fall into place that much easier for you. Network+ is an achievable exam, I don’t mean to imply that it is easy, but it can be a milestone in your cert study path that you can reach in a reasonable time frame and build off of.
One bit of advice I would like to include in this article is to try and think ahead in your cert study pathway, that is to say, what are the next two certs that you study for going to be after you obtain your currently targeted one? Network+ gets you quite far allow the path to your CCENT, and with the increased difficulty of the ICND1 (the exam to obtain your CCENT) in the 2013 update , if you pass it you will be well on your way to the full CCNA. Network+ is less likely to be a specific requirement for many IT jobs out there than say, CCNA would be, but it is a way to validate networking knowledge to recruiters, and in my case, helped develop the specific knowledge I needed to obtain my current position in my industry.
CompTIA’s landing page for Network+ information
My next series of articles will take a look at Network+ study resources, both paid and free, that are available out there.