Here’s How Long CCNA-Certified Professionals Said They’d Studied for the CCNA

by Ross Heintzkill | Published on September 12, 2022

The 200-301 CCNA exam is the one and only certification you need to pass in order to earn the CCNA. Network administrators and IT professionals early in their careers tend to earn the CCNA because it covers the skills and knowledge needed to administer a Cisco network. But how long does it take to prepare for the CCNA 200-301? Well, according to our survey of over 1,300 IT professionals, it takes most people about 5 months to pass the Cisco CCNA 200-301 exam.

This survey is one of 15 different surveys we've created for the most popular courses on CBT Nuggets. Between Twitter, LinkedIn and a Google survey, we asked over 1,300 IT professionals who have earned the CCNA how long it took them to earn it. Read on and learn how long it'll take you to pass the CCNA 200-301, and what you can do to speed that process up.

How long did most people need to study for the CCNA?

In our Twitter poll, over 50% of all respondents said that it took them somewhere between 6 weeks and 5 months to prepare for the CCNA 200-301. On our LinkedIn poll, one-third of all IT professionals said the CCNA 200-301 took them more than 5 months. All other respondents, only 15% of CCNA holders, said it took them less than 6 weeks to study for it.

how long to study for cisco ccna survey data

That means there are two large groups: people who could pass the CCNA 200-301 with about 3 months of preparation and people who needed more than 5 months of preparation. We can say that the gap probably comes down to real-world experience. New IT professionals with no work experience will probably take more than 5 months to prepare for the CCNA 200-301, while network administrators with a few years of work experience can probably pass the 200-301 in less than 3 months.

Studying for the 200-301 is even harder if you can't develop a good study habit. If you can only manage five minutes every other day, it'll take far more than 5 months to prepare for the CCNA. Molly Billow, CBT Nuggets senior coach, recommends establishing a study habit by rewarding yourself after every time you study. 

"Make sure you choose a reward you really enjoy," Billow explains, "because our brains are literally wired to repeat actions that lead to rewards."

RELATED: Here’s How to Build Good Habits and Make Them Stick

How should you prepare ahead of taking the CCNA? 

Passing the CCNA takes learning a lot of information and practicing how to configure Cisco equipment. The best way to prepare for the CCNA 200-301 is with a video training course that covers every topic you can expect to find on the exam. Experts also recommend following a comprehensive CCNA 200-301 study plan that will help prepare you for everything on the exam. Between the online course and the study materials, you’ll have hundreds of videos that explain one topic at a time, small quizzes to help you see if you're missing anything important, and virtual labs where you can practice your skills.

According to Blake Pierson, CBT Nuggets coach since 2018, preparing ahead of the CCNA is a lot easier and faster when you use practice tools that are custom built for the exam itself. 

"Don’t forget to use Keith Barker’s Assessment Labs course," Pierson says. "When you’re able to complete all of the included labs, there’s a good chance you’re ready to pass the exam." 

The Assessment Labs course lets users practice the skills on the CCNA in simulated environments that are identical to real-world settings. It’s a great way to get all the practice you need before test day.

Tips to make sure you’re test-ready before CCNA exam day:

The Cisco CCNA (200-301) is a world-renowned certification because employers know that it stands for practical expertise administering and managing Cisco networks. So it's not enough to know facts about Cisco hardware, you also have to have real-world experience, which you can get with the right online training course.

Use virtual labs

Virtual laboratories are very important – no matter what IT certification you're studying for. These simulated environments allow you to practice applying configurations and settings to simulated networks and network hardware to see what happens. Practicing your skills in a virtual lab is one of the best ways to prepare for the CCNA because it's where you can experiment and make mistakes without risk.

Test yourself using practice exams

The CCNA (200-301) is a long and challenging exam that covers essentially every skill a network administrator would need to have before working on a Cisco network. The best way to know you'll pass the CCNA test beforehand is with a practice exam, like the ones that come with each CBT Nuggets subscription.

Learn from the experts

When you’re preparing for the CCNA, great training from great teachers can make all the difference. Every CBT Nuggets instructor holds multiple certifications, and our CCNA trainers are no exception. Watch the first video in the CCNA 200-301 series for free and see for yourself.

The CCNA is many IT professionals' first certification they ever earn. It's designed to cover everything a first-time network admin would need to know, and it’s a great certification that can help you land a number of different jobs in IT — not just network admin roles!

Even though the CCNA is long and comprehensive, good training can help you can confidently prepare for exam day. But you’ll want to get a head start — most people say they needed to study for at least 5 months before test day.

Don’t have 5 months to get a certification? Check out the Network+ certification instead.

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