Why Take the Network+ Exam?
| certifications | comptia - David Brown

Why Take the Network+ Exam?

You may have heard that you need to have IT certifications if you want to move forward in your career. But getting certified is more than just adding credentials to your resume. You should be able to justify all the time and effort in study and preparation. The lessons learned in Network+ exam preparation will make you a better network professional. Here’s a look at why Network+ is a great way to jumpstart your IT career.

Network+ and the IT Professional

Virtualization has been a game-changer in the world of server management, and now it is revolutionizing the network as well. Everything is moving to software, and software-defined networks (SDN) is one of the technologies in the virtualization of what were once physical devices. Cloud administrators can easily “spin up” new routers, switches, and firewalls with just a few clicks of the mouse. Network engineers don’t have to spend hours in the commissioning and configuration of new network equipment anymore. But none of this means that networking is a lost art. On the contrary, we still need IT professionals who are skilled and knowledgeable in the arena of network support — albeit on virtual devices.

Networks still need to be configured, and networks still fail. There may come a time when networks are completely self-generating and self-healing, but we are not there yet. Even the OSI model, a framework of understanding how telecommunications systems and computers work together in data transmission, is still helpful for IT professionals of all stripes. And the internet still runs on TCP/IP, a protocol stack designed in the 1970s by DARPA engineers Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn. New technologies continue to sprout, but the foundations of modern networking remain firmly rooted.

An IT professional who knows how to create and manage cloud services but has no idea of the underlying network technologies is at a loss. Preparing for the Network+ exam is an excellent way to develop that understanding. Training from CBT Nuggets will give you all that you need to pass the Network+ exam and it will make you a better IT professional. Here’s an overview.

1.0 Networking Concepts: 23%

Anyone who thinks they know everything about networks should think again. Even network engineers who have been in the business for 20 years are not experts on everything. One engineer may be a specialist in routing, and another in switching. One person might master local area networking (LAN), while his or her colleague is better at wide area networking (WAN) protocols.The best that anyone can hope for is a strong familiarity with all the technologies in current networks. Keep in mind that new ones are being introduced every year.

Once you have a better grasp of the scope of network implementations, then you can focus on your area of interest. But everyone working on networks should know common ports, such as TELNET(23), FTP (20, 21), SSH (22), HTTP (80), and POP (110). You should know the OSI model, and which protocols work on which layers. You should know something about VLANs, subnet masking, and access control lists. The good news is that this certification covers all those topics.

At one time or another, you may have to deal with all of these and more. And perhaps just as importantly, you will need to know the language of networking. You may not be the one doing a particular configuration task, but your input may be requested during planning meetings or informal discussions in the workplace. A broad knowledge of networking concepts — much more than just an exam certification — is critical to the long-term success of any network professional.

2.0 Infrastructure: 18%

All of the components within a network environment make up its infrastructure. From the cables to the physical equipment to the virtual devices, a network element can be any piece of hardware or software that functions within the network.

There is a lot to learn about network infrastructure: the difference between an RJ-45 and an RJ-11 connector, single-mode and multimode fiber, ATM and Frame Relay, fractionalized T1 or E1, switches, routers, firewalls, modems, and wireless access points. WAN technologies are at the heart of networking, and virtual devices are among the latest innovations.

3.0 Network Operations: 17%

Network documentation portrays infrastructure in different logical models. One diagram might include the Layer 3 and Layer 4 devices. Another might represent only the physical infrastructure. And linking each of these nodes are either physical or virtual connections, each governed by a certain network specification or protocol.

One very important part of network operations is disaster preparedness, which is part of a larger business continuity plan. What will you do when everything goes down? When there is a major weather event affecting your network? Redundancy should be implemented throughout the network, as well as robust load-balancing strategies. And systems should be prepared with power and data backups.

Every network professional should know about problem management. Network operations teams must act quickly, prioritizing issues according to Service Level Agreements (SLAs) established with customers. Failure to restore service quickly can mean lost revenue and lost customers.

4.0 Network Security: 20%

What you will learn from your study of the Network+ objectives only scratches the surface. CompTIA, for example, expands on the topics covered under the Network Security domain with the exam Security+. We don’t have to convince you about the critical importance of network security. Anything that you can learn about security these days will only help.

When you type in a password to log in to a website, you are using a method of the AAA framework (Authorization, Authentication, and Accounting). Multifactor authentication is when you use more than one piece of information to log you in. Network+ gives you a critical understanding of the technologies underlying network access.

Even laymen should learn something about preventing or responding to network attacks. The exam covers a number of common hacks and how to deal with them.

5.0 Network Troubleshooting and Tools: 22%

There’s no better reason for preparing for the Network+ exam than the need to nimbly deal with network problems as they arise. Many people wouldn’t know where to start. But network troubleshooting is similar to dealing with any problem. In fact, it draws from the scientific method that we all learned in school. Gather information, consider possible causes and solutions, take action. Preparing for the exam will give you a grasp of network troubleshooting methodology.

There are so many things that could go wrong with your network. There’s no substitute for getting the training you need to diagnose and correct them.

Final Thoughts

Network+ covers so much material, but it’s still only the basics. It helps to know a little about a lot of things before you specialize in any network technology. While many aspiring IT professionals see certification as a career stepping stone, the truly dedicated ones will recognize the importance of learning so many useful things in exam preparation. Exams are tools to assess your knowledge, but they also offer the motivation to learn.

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