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Where to go next advice?

Discussion in 'Training & Development' started by dmills162, May 6, 2011.

  1. dmills162

    dmills162 New Member

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    Hello all

    Quite a few questions I was wondering I could ask you fine people.

    I have been working tech support for a broadband company for the past 2 and a half years and now I really want to move on.

    I have been debating on starting up CCNA, either via the one core exam or via the two part exam route. I've been looking into Cisco and the progression opportunities and salaries for the jobs look really promising.

    Ideally I want to get into networking so CCNA is looking like the best route. Any study tips? One exam or the two exam route? Also has anyone had any experience of the CCNA crash courses? I feel like I could teach myself but I can see attention span lacking.

    Any help much appreciated

    Danny :)
     
    Certifications: Comptia A+
  2. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

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    Why not do it with the OU ? I'd take the two exam route.
     
    Certifications: CITP, BSc, HND, SCJP, SCJD, SCWCD, SCBCD, SCEA, N+, Sec+, Proj+, Server+, Linux+, MCTS, MCPD, MCSA, MCITP, CCDH
  3. billyr

    billyr Kilobyte Poster

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    It depends on your dedication I suppose.

    My chosen method for any cert is to normally start out with self study then a training course if I'm struggling or lacking motivation and have the funds available.

    With the CCNA i'd definately start out with self study and a small home built lab, breaking your lab and acquiring more kit without the knowledge of your missus is half the fun of the course.

    I actually prefer the one exam route and would steer clear of the Cisco Academy course (OU) unless you were doing it as part of a higher level qualification, unless you'd really like to drag the course out over almost a year.
     
    Certifications: CCNP, CCSI, MCSE W2k/W2k3, MCITP_SA
    WIP: Taking it easy for a while.
  4. JonnyMX

    JonnyMX Petabyte Poster

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    Agreed.
    I think it qualifies as a short course so you should be able to do it in 6 months.
    Just be aware, I don't think it includes the actual Cisco exams which you'll have to arrange yourself.
    I'd also check out the dates and venues of the compulsory residential schools.
    They can be few and far between, so make sure you're available and can get to the venue.
     
    Certifications: MCT, MCTS, i-Net+, CIW CI, Prince2, MSP, MCSD
  5. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

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    I guess it depends on the situation, but a young person with some time may benefit from the extra proof that they took the OU modules and didn't dump. They can then also put that towards a qualification which if they don't have a degree is useful. They can also attend tutor groups and residential schools allowing them to network and get hands on experience and advice.

    There seems to be a lot of CCNA material so it should probably take most people at least 6 months anyway, while slower its maybe not that much slower for most. Its a 9 month double credit (60 points, 16 hours per week) course.
    T216 - Cisco networking (CCNA) - Open University Course

    Can't see many people self studying for more than 16 hours a week for 9 months...
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2011
    Certifications: CITP, BSc, HND, SCJP, SCJD, SCWCD, SCBCD, SCEA, N+, Sec+, Proj+, Server+, Linux+, MCTS, MCPD, MCSA, MCITP, CCDH
  6. billyr

    billyr Kilobyte Poster

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    Why would someone need to self study for more than 16 hourse a week for 9 months? Don't get the padded out academy programme confused with a traditional instructor led CCNA course or indeed self study for the CCNA certification, they are two very different beasts.
     
    Certifications: CCNP, CCSI, MCSE W2k/W2k3, MCITP_SA
    WIP: Taking it easy for a while.
  7. dmills162

    dmills162 New Member

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    Thanks very much for your replies.

    I was looking at the OU course originally. Only thing with that is I can see myself not pushing enough. Where as if I had classroom based training I would be there hands down.

    Has anyone had any experience with the courses that are available throughout the UK? I was thinking of self studying for 4-6 weeks and then attending one so I can get the hands on experience with the equipment and then book my exam.
     
    Certifications: Comptia A+
  8. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

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    Care to outline the differences for those that have not undertaken the CCNA ?

    The OP mentions they work in tech support, I wouldn't think they could skip that much course content.
     
    Certifications: CITP, BSc, HND, SCJP, SCJD, SCWCD, SCBCD, SCEA, N+, Sec+, Proj+, Server+, Linux+, MCTS, MCPD, MCSA, MCITP, CCDH
  9. billyr

    billyr Kilobyte Poster

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    Who mentioned anything about skipping course content ? The CCNA exam is the CCNA exam no matter what method you choose to achieve it and if you want to pass it then I'd advise not skipping any content.

    All I was stating is that the Cisco Academy Programmes are padded out to fit in with the semester systems of most academic institutions. This was done purposefully by Cisco so that there programmes would be accepted as genuine academic programmes and points could then be awarded accordingly to be used towards higher level qualifications such as a degree.
    The Academy programmes are generally split in to 4 seperate semesters and named CCNA 1 - 4. Each semester is roughly 12 weeks in length.

    These courses are not full time, so although a semester may be 12 weeks in length, keep in mind that if attending it at your local college that this is generally for a couple of hours, 1 night a week. The learning system used is on line flash based tutorials with almost all of the practical elements completed using Cisco's Packet Tracer simulation software. If you are lucky your local institution will also have a lab for you to practice on, although you can be guaranteed you'll be sharing it with the other students.
    The OU is a bit better as being web based tutorials you can pretty much get on with things at your own pace, you'll still be using packet tracer though until you attend the mandatory day schools. The dates and locations of these can be a bit dodgy so always check in advance of signing up. You will also be responsible for your own travel and accommodation costs.

    No matter whether local college based or OU, you will be required to take an examination at the end of each module. After passing these examinations you will still not be a CCNA, you will still have to schedule and take the examination at your local test centre. So you can end up doing 5 or 6 exams in total depending on whether you bother to do the CCENT/CCNA route or just CCNA exam.

    The price of the OU course is £915, add in your travel, accommodation and exam costs and this starts to mount up.

    Don't get me wrong, the content may be web based but it is very good quality, it just that it takes an extraordinary amount of time to achieve the end results. Those already in a working environment and not academia could be using that time more wisely elsewhere.
     
    Certifications: CCNP, CCSI, MCSE W2k/W2k3, MCITP_SA
    WIP: Taking it easy for a while.
  10. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

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    Fair point, I've taken two OU courses and yes I'm sure it will add some overhead over pure self study if you are a self starter, I still think it might be of benefit for people without much networking experience.

    Its a level 2 OU course, so yes it does have an end of course exam, however strictly speaking this is just one exam, there are also 5 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) which are also not to be under estimated but these can be done at home in your own time, they are not exams. All this does of course increase the study time, but it also helps to prove you did it the legit way and know your stuff, something which unfortunately certification no longer offers, that might be one reason why the OU will not give credit for the CCNA unless obtained through them.

    Agreed the courses are designed to follow a set format and timeline, just with self study there is nothing to stop you from getting ahead in your coursework etc and reading around the subject, building your own home lab etc. They obviously need to make a general course suitable for lots of different applicants.

    Like I mentioned its a 60 point course, OU study can be pretty intense if you have a fulltime job, its 16-20 hours every week for 9 months. It's definitely not 1-2 hours per week.

    People with a fulltime job are probably looking at 40-50 hours working, add on commute time, sleeping, eating etc, then 20 hours study, doen't leave a lot of slack for other stuff. So I'd be surprised if many people can get through the 9 month OU sylabus in under 6 months if working.

    Agreed certification exam is as per normal and must be undertaken as person vue test centre.

    Local tech colleges or independant training companies might be a better option for some people. However I can't see these being any cheaper and you still have to organise own transport etc.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2011
    Certifications: CITP, BSc, HND, SCJP, SCJD, SCWCD, SCBCD, SCEA, N+, Sec+, Proj+, Server+, Linux+, MCTS, MCPD, MCSA, MCITP, CCDH
  11. billyr

    billyr Kilobyte Poster

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    Each to their own I suppose, like I mentioned at the beginning of the thread it's down really to your own motivation.

    I can't agree though that doing the OU course adds any more credibility to your eventual certification. The OU courses are as open to brain dumping as any other certification, it's just taken me less than a minute to find a site with the answers to all the TMAs for the 2010/2011 assignments as well as the final exam. I won't post the link.
    You'd be surprised as well at the cost of a commercial course - Commsupport do theirs for under £600 including VAT, adding on the cost of the exam and your accommodation costs for 5 nights would probably bring you out around £950. We do ours for £1000 fully inclusive.
    Through self study, which is what you are essentially doing with the OU, you could get a decent lab for £250, £144 for the exam and £25 for a decent study manual. You may not even need the lab equipment if you use a certain emulation software we are not allowed to mention any more on the site.
     
    Certifications: CCNP, CCSI, MCSE W2k/W2k3, MCITP_SA
    WIP: Taking it easy for a while.
  12. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

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    If this is true you should definitely tell the OU about it.

    Are you sure the exam papers are not past papers ?

    Past papers are readilly available as a revision aids as in normal school/university systems, since most questions do not reappear this is not considered cheating.

    The OU create new TMA's and Exams every year, so in theory its harder to cheat than a system where many of the questions could be many years old.

    TMA's are handed out on enrolment and also sometimes halfway through the year, this allows some students to get ahead which I think is generaly a good thing. You only get that years TMA's if you've paid the course fee. Since its distance learning students tend to be a little isolated so cheating by working in groups is probably less common.
    Otherwise there is nothing to stop getting the TMA ahead of time and collaborating, copying etc. Its like any school system, assignments are open to some abuse if the teacher does not closely monitor, since the OU has limited teacher interaction this is a weakness over a traditional university, but it is still more of a check than a single exam certification.

    The final exam paper should be restricted until the exam date, and never used again, like in all school exams, this should limit abuses, I can't see how they would have a 2011 paper yet unless they have an OU insider, it is likely that this years exams have not even gone to the printers yet.

    Yes some colleges run cheap CCNA courses and may be more local than the OU residential schools so that definitely worth thinking about. Like I said costs are comparable. I think the OU courses with DVD's and printed materials tend to be better, not experienced the 'online flash' stuff so have to reserve judgement.

    I'd definitely want to buy some of my own kit too, and I'd want printed materials not just online stuff, the cert exam is also required. So I think most people would have to fork out the extra anyway. You have to look at the £1000 as largely a tuition fee, just like any other course, with 100% self study there is no tuition, so no fee.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2011
    Certifications: CITP, BSc, HND, SCJP, SCJD, SCWCD, SCBCD, SCEA, N+, Sec+, Proj+, Server+, Linux+, MCTS, MCPD, MCSA, MCITP, CCDH
  13. billyr

    billyr Kilobyte Poster

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    It's definately true, have a search yourself. I'm sure the OU are well aware that the answers to their tests are on the Net. You might only get the TMAs when you pay your fees but that doesn't stop pupils posting them online trying to get the answers, I see what are obviously TMA questions posted on forums regularly with people asking for help to complete them.
    The final exam may be conducted at the end of the year by the OU but what you are forgetting is that they are following the Academy curriculum provided by Cisco, this is not an exclusive course to the OU, once the first college, local school etc has finished their course that's it, the exam is out there.

    It's unfortunate but there's not much you can do about it apart from maintaining your own integrity.
     
    Certifications: CCNP, CCSI, MCSE W2k/W2k3, MCITP_SA
    WIP: Taking it easy for a while.
  14. billyr

    billyr Kilobyte Poster

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    Dave, your inbox is full mate couldn't reply to your p.m.
     
    Certifications: CCNP, CCSI, MCSE W2k/W2k3, MCITP_SA
    WIP: Taking it easy for a while.
  15. JonnyMX

    JonnyMX Petabyte Poster

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    The OU change their TMAs for each course presentation - so unless there is somone particularly fast and helpful on your course, no help there.
    Any TMAs you find online are likely to be out of date.
    They also screen answers to detect plagarism against online (and previously submitted) material.

    A lot better than cert vendors who leave the same exam content for years at a time...
     
    Certifications: MCT, MCTS, i-Net+, CIW CI, Prince2, MSP, MCSD
  16. billyr

    billyr Kilobyte Poster

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    The OU offer the Cisco Academy course there is no difference, they deliver Cisco's curriculum, there is no special course for the OU. The only minor difference is the compulsary day schools.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2011
    Certifications: CCNP, CCSI, MCSE W2k/W2k3, MCITP_SA
    WIP: Taking it easy for a while.

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