I'm pretty sure people think I'm exaggerating when I tell them about the possibilities that open up for you once you get qualified. Well don't take it from me. Here is a post from www.howtonetwork.com from one of my students who just passed his Cisco CCNP, landed his dream IT job and got a 40% pay raise.
Dreams really do come true, if you work for them.
So Paul asked me to write up a study guide of how I got prepared for the CCNP and passed it.
Well for me personally and I think for most people you need to have a reason as to WHY you want to pass your CCNP an aim, a point to it all. Now for me I had several, now i'd be lying if I didn't say that money wasn't part of it. Clearly it was. Another reason for doing my CCNP was after passing my CCNA it was clear that all the juicy projects and configs were for the senior engineers only and that I was 2nd line support, get it up as quick as possible but don't worry about why it melted down in the first place pass it to level 3.
So Money and Career where my aims for the CCNP. (I have now got a new job since, this was between passing route and Tshoot and was under the premise I pass the Tshoot) this was a 40% pay increase and I now get to play with a huge Corporate Network and my wife is a lady of leisure…. If only it was so simple but I hope you get the point. You won't put in the time to pass and understand the CCNP if you don't have an AIM.
So study materials I used.
I used howtonetwork.com videos, howtonetwork.net for the written material and the Cisco Press official cert guides for the reading and viewing materials.
For lab materials I used the howtonetwork.com labs, my own personal lab and GNS3 with virtual box and IOU.
I can fire up some labs if Paul wants but there is lots and lots of Labs on the 101labs on the .net site to practice with.
Hints and tips for Studying.
Ok first of all life happens.
I have a Wife who every so often wants my company and help
a 13 year old boy, twin 4 year olds and an 11 month old.
3 Cats and a Dog just for good measure.
So please anyone who tells me they didn't get time to study just isn't making the time adopt the mantra sleep is for the weak.
I studied 2 hours a day between 10pm and 12am
I allowed myself 1 cheat day a week, some weeks I didn't even bother to take it.
If you have an xbox, playstation, steam account. Do yourself a huge favour pack it way/un-install it. I found this a huge distraction till I done this. I love my games.
Don't drink alcohol when studying, you are wasting your time. (yep I've been tee total for a year now and honestly I no longer miss it so a side effect of getting my CCNP is my liver is now much better)
I found having music on when doing labs helpful but I think this was because there is always music on in the background where I work.
TURN YOUR PHONE OFF and put it on the charger, then when ur done you have a fully charged phone BONUS!
Now this all sounds all a bit doom and gloom and regimental. It is as it's the only way I get anything done. If you can sit on the sofa with a laptop, tv on with a beer and your wife jabbering in your ear with Eastenders on then fair play but I have serious doubts anyone could learn anything in that environment.
As for the studying itself. Forums are great I use them for many reasons. If you help someone who has a question and can show them why it is the way it is then you understand it. True understanding is being able to teach it to someone else. If you can explain to your wife (even if she really doesn't want to hear it, and at this point I would say she is long suffering of my geekdom) and she understands it then you truly understand it.
Labs lab labs, the more something becomes 2nd nature the more you will know at a glance if something doesn't look right.
If you take the train/bus to work watch the videos on your phone/tablet or read a book on it.
I own a car but for the last year have taken the train to work when I can. That it itself is bonus time. Takes me 45 minutes each way on the train. That in itself is almost an extra 1.5 hrs a day of bonus learning.
I would say lunch hours at work, but seriously even I need to switch off sometimes.
Now that my CCNP is done I'm finding it hard to not study so I've started Juniper as we are getting them into work and although I don't need to be an expert in them, knowing my way around the CLI is always a good idea. So Elizabeth sorted me out last night for the course on here and off I go again. (I think I may have an addiction to Certs now)
My final tip is if you struggled to get through the CCNA, think long and hard before tackling the CCNP. It's hard but very rewarding both financially and personally.
Good Luck and I'll be lurking and answering questions as and when I can on the forums!
Now after the JUNOS exam CCIE…….