I cannot tell you how many times I have been asked, ‘How long will it take me to get the CCENT?’ or ‘How long do you think it would take to prepare for the CCNA? Do you think I could get it within two to three months? How about six weeks?’ Then my all-time favorite: ‘Do you think I can get the CCNA in about three days?’
Seriously family? Let me start off by saying I have no crystal ball! To pass the CCENT, CCNA, CCNP and CCIE you will need hard work and dedication. It may also cut months, if not years off of your life expectancy. If you are not looking to learn this information and get applicable knowledge, then I can already tell you how your interviews and job performance will turn out: Not so well!
To answer these questions, though, I will focus on the person that has no IT experience (since that is who usually asks). I will give you my complete breakdown, approach and time estimate, on how long it will take the average person to prepare for the ICND1 CCENT exam.
First off, I recommend you take the two-exam route to achieving the CCNA. This is the ICND1 or CCENT Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician exam plus the ICND2 exam when combined equals the CCNA. You can find more information here!
The CCNA book by Todd Lammle is a great place to start. His book is very easy to read. This book is a complete study guide and is broken down into two parts, ICND1 and ICND2. The ICND1 part has 14 chapters, with about 580 pages. At the end of each chapter, you have a lab, and review questions. Here is the link on how you can purchase it.
When I prepared for my CCENT I took about two days to read each chapter. Sometimes I took longer, depending on if I was able to comprehend the information. After that, I would focus on the labs (LabEveryday) and I would also make note cards of the review questions. Each time I moved on to a new chapter, I would continue to study my note cards and labs from the previous chapters. If you spend four days on each one of the 14 chapters, that’s about 56 days or about two months.
Okay, let’s also add videos into that. I used CBT Nuggets. And the ICND1 part of CBT Nuggets is about six to eight hours (don’t quote me on that). I would NOT spend a whole day watching all six to eight hours of videos in a single day. My suggestion is to divide the video series into about one hour per day. That way, you can ensure that you understand all the information before you move on to the next video. So, that’s about six to eight days. We combine that with the 56 days from the book and now we’re at about 64 days.
You still need about a week of intense preparation for the exam. During that week, what should you be doing?
1. Study your note cards. - Correctly answering every question that you have on your note cards.
2. LabEveryday! - Lab everything out for yourself. If you’ve never seen a broadcast storm, break out your switches, and create a broadcast storm. If you’ve never went pass infinity on RIP, go pass infinity on RIP. In other words, go pass 15 hops on RIP, and see what happens.
3. Review the exam topics to make sure you have a full understanding of each section.
To summarize. If we combine the 64 days of reading, videos, note cards, and labs, plus the cram week before the exam, we have a grand total of 71 days. That is with no days off!
I know for a lot of you the goal is money, so if you desire to be a Network Engineer, a Senior Engineer or a Network Architect you will need to have a strong foundation in networking. Yes, even as a Network Architect, you will still need a strong foundation in networking.
So, to answer the question, ‘How long do I think it will take you to get your CCENT?’ Definitely more than 3 days!