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Roadmap to Success: F5 BIG-IP LTM

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Roadmap to Success is a series of posts designed to help learners better understand certification pathways, career opportunities associated with those certifications, and next steps beyond certification.

F5 appliances are becoming more common in the workplace, including the F5 BIG-IP Application Delivery Controller (ADC) appliance. As this, and other F5 products, continue to gain popularity, the need for IT professionals who can effectively manage F5 appliances is growing. For those IT professionals adept at managing F5 appliances, roles include network engineer, load balancer/ADC architect, administrator, and engineer, to name a few.

F5 Certified BIG-IP Administrator (F5-CA)
The F5 Certified BIG-IP Administrator (F5-CA) certification is designed to ensure that learners have the skills and knowledge necessary for day-to-day management of Application Delivery Networks (ADNs). The certification verifies that learners can articulate the advantages of a full application proxy, explain the seven layers of the OSI model, describe valid uses and methods of HTTP, and identify and define the components of TMOS. In addition, the certification affirms that learners can enable a virtual server that has already been defined, locate where iRules are facilitated within the GUI, and use GUI troubleshooting tools (e.g. obtain a TCP dump and a Quickview through the GUI, and upload a QKview to iHealth).

The F5-CA certification is made up of two exams (101 – Application Delivery Fundamentals, 201 – TMOS Administration), both of which are covered by CBT Nuggets training:

Though the F5-CA certification is the entry-level certification for F5, it is most appropriate for intermediate learners who have an intermediate level (or higher) understanding of IPv4, experience with VMware virtualization, and 2-3 (or more) years of experience. Learners should consider earning at least one networking certification before attempting the F5-CA.

Exam Registration and Authorization
In an effort to increase exam security and integrity, F5 requires learners to register for their first F5 exams, prior to scheduling through Pearson VUE. The exam registration process is a unique, but fairly simple and quick process. You can learn more by reviewing the F5 Professional Certification Program: Getting Started in the F5 Credential Management System video provided on the F5 website or on YouTube. It’s important to understand that learners cannot take the exam before they are authorized to do by completing this registration step.

Exam Details
The F5-CA is made up of two exams, both of which are detailed below.

101 – Application Delivery Fundamentals
Time allotted for exam: 1.5 hours (90 minutes)
Number of questions: 80
Passing score: 69%
Question types: Multiple choice; some questions contain exhibits
Exam registration: Pearson VUE*
*Please note that learners must first register and be authorized for their F5 certification exam before registering through Pearson VUE.
Exam cost: $135 (USD)
Exam blueprint: 101 – Application Delivery Fundamentals (free resource)

201 – TMOS Administration
Time allotted for exam: 1.5 hours (90 minutes)
Number of questions: 80
Passing score: 69%
Question types: Multiple choice; some questions contain exhibits
Exam registration: Pearson VUE*
*Please note that learners must first register and be authorized for their F5 certification exam before registering through Pearson VUE.
Exam cost: $135 (USD)
Exam blueprint: 201 – TMOS Administration (free resource)

Recertification
F5 certifications are valid for two (2) years. To recertify, learners need only retake the last exam in the track in which they hold certification.

The Next Step
The F5-CA certification opens up the opportunity to continue to develop expertise in the F5 certification universe. Following the F5-CA, learners often choose to pursue other F5 options, including:

  • F5 Certified Technology Specialist Local Traffic Manager (F5-CTS LTM) (made up of two exams: 301a – BIG-IP LTM and 301b – BIG-IP LTM)
  • F5 Certified Technology Specialist Global Traffic Manager (F5-CTS GTM) (made up of one exam: 302 – BIG-IP GTM)
  • F5 Certified Technology Specialist Application Security Manager (F5-CTS ASM) (made up of one exam: 303 – BIG-IP ASM)
  • F5 Certified Technology Specialist Access Policy Manager (F5-CTS APM) (made up of one exam: 304 – BIG-IP APM)

Learners who earn an F5-CTS certification are eligible for the top F5 certification level, the F5 Certified Solution Expert (F5-CSE) (made up of one exam: F5-CSE Security)

Some learners may choose to diversify their certification vitae by adding other related certifications. Those learners typically choose to pursue the Citrix Certified Associate: Networking (CCA-N) (made up of one exam: Exam 1Y0-253).

Career Considerations
Simplyhired.com provides a helpful salary guide to help learners determine appropriate pay scales for job opportunities associated with the F5-CA certification. Depending on professional experience, an employee who holds the F5-CA certification can earn, on average, $74,000. Roles or titles for F5-CA certified employees include network engineer, load balancer/ADC architect, administrator, engineer, and more.

F5 Certifications
The structure of F5 certification paths is progressive, with each level building on the knowledge and skills of the previous level. There are three certification levels:

  • F5 Certified BIG-IP Administrator (F5-CA)
  • F5 Certified Technology Specialist (F5-CTS) (the F5-CA is a prerequisite to the F5-CTS certification path)
  • F5 Certified Solution Expert (F5-CSE) (the F5-CTS is a prerequisite to the F5-CSE certification path)

Concluding Thoughts
The F5-CA certification validates your experience in manipulating the entire application stack and serves to differentiate you from other IT professionals as F5 appliances continue to increase in popularity across the industry. Make the choice to pursue this unique and practical certification, and watch your career opportunities grow!

Watch. Learn. Conquer F5!

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