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  1. Junior Member
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    Default Preparing for A+ after passting Network+ and Security+

    I have to do things out of order for some reason. So I am now preparing for A+. I took the practice tests from CompTia before starting out to see how much I already know. I got a 93 on the hardware portion and a 73 on the software portion. I was surprised. I expected both to be mid 80s. Anyway, I have a lot of knowledge going in because of classes I have taken years ago and my own personal experience and research. I am wondering if anyone has only used Professor Messer's videos?

    I don't plan to only use those videos. I will also use measureup and/or transcender practice tests to drill down anything I have trouble remembering. I will read explanations to correct and incorrect answers to aid my my understanding. Does anyone have experience with those two practice test vendors? I have experience from my other two certs, but not for the A+.

    I don't want to read a book for two reasons - 1. I had trouble paying attention to Professor Messer's videos. I kept getting sidetracked when he talked about something I already knew. There were parts I didn't have enough knowledge about, but I would say there was a large portion of stuff I know. Because of that, I feel that I will have trouble keeping my mind on a book while trying to find the tidbits of stuff I don't know enough about. 2. I am in a hurry. I want to begin studying for two EC-Council exams and be done with those by August 20.

    I keep applying for entry level jobs, but am not getting called for an interview, so I am guessing not having the A+ is hurting me. One of the jobs I wanted expected some expensive security certs that I can't afford. What a pain. They were GIAC. The two I want from EC-Council won't cost as much.
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  3. Registered Member Darril's Avatar
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    #2
    On only using videos... I can't remember a time when I ever used only a single source for an exam.

    On those two practice test vendors.... They are both reputable and typically provide high quality, realistic practice test questions, though they can be expensive and there are other reputable, high quality, realistic practice test questions available at a significantly lower cost.

    On using a book.... A lot of times, people purchase certification books but don't read them cover to cover. Instead, they use them to fill in the gaps in their knowledge. For me, it's a lot easier to drill into a topic from a book than a video because it's easier to search through the content with the index or table of contents.

    Hope this helps.
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  4. Senior Member DoubleNNs's Avatar
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    #3
    I did the same thing you did. Net+ then Sec+ then A+.

    try using VLC player w/ the Professer Messer videos. You could then accelerate the playback speed. I watched them in 1.6 - 2.25x speeds. Easier to pay attention to and won't use as much time going thru them.

    I also used the exam cram as my primary book. As Darril already said, you don't have to go cover to cover in the book. But it would help to have something for the specific sections you might struggle a bit over.

    I passed my A+ but I'm not sure if I would have been able to do it with only the Professer Messer videos. However, your mileage may vary - not everyone has the same previous experience when going into the exam. And I also didn't want to spend money on practice tests. Using MeasureUp and/or Transcender would give you a lot of advantage.

    Edit: I also didn't get any interview calls when I had only Net+ and Sec+. However, I got tons of calls when I finally got my A+.
    I don't think people really value the Net+ and Sec+ by themselves, but rather see them as certs to supplement other knowledge. From those 2 certs, it seems prior professional experience or either an A+ or CCENT would be needed to become marketable.
    Last edited by DoubleNNs; 06-29-2013 at 07:12 PM.
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  5. Junior Member
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    #4
    Thanks for the advice. Unfortunately, I wouldn't know what parts I am having trouble with unless I either take a good practice exam or read the whole book to find what I am missing.

    I can get both the practice tests I mentioned for $75. Into through a site that givesnout good deals on the test itself and if you purchase the practice tests at the same time, younger a good deal non the practice tests.

    I dot think I have time to go through a whole book because I want to get my etc_council certs in the next 6 weeks or so. But I doubt they will get me jobs.
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  6. Alligator wrestler Moderator Plantwiz's Avatar
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    #5
    Why obtain the certification at all?

    You have stated you have no experience with the topic and think the way to 'pass' is by using practice tests to prepare, why bother at all to become a paper cert?

    Not everyone NEEDS the A+ certification and if it is not something you will work with and is not a topic area that interests you, seek out the certifications that will help you by underlining the knowledge you possess already or areas you soon desire to work with.

    The A+ requires two exams to the certification and being that it is a fairly expensive certification for one that is very much my the beginning of the career track, if you are beyond it to start, seek out the networking paths instead.
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  7. Senior Member
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    #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Chantel View Post
    I keep applying for entry level jobs, but am not getting called for an interview, so I am guessing not having the A+ is hurting me. One of the jobs I wanted expected some expensive security certs that I can't afford. What a pain. They were GIAC. The two I want from EC-Council won't cost as much.
    Lack of A+ is not what's hurting you, but rather lack of experience. A+ is not cheap, and will likely not help you much for what it seems that you want to do (security?). Security is typically not a field for the inexperienced, though some entry-level positions do exist. In my opinion, you would be better served by polishing up your resume and working on your soft skills (especially interviewing), assuming they need any work at all. This will <hopefully> allow you to land your first job in IT, which is typically the hardest step. My $.02.
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  8. Senior Member DoubleNNs's Avatar
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    #7
    Lack of experience IS probably his problem. And his resume may or may not need some work. However, getting the A+ does seem to help get your foot in the door, which would give him the ability to start gaining experience.

    There's a difference in not knowing how to interview well and knowing you'd kill an interview, but being unable to obtain on. He's not getting calls and wants to start getting calls in the soonest possible amount of time. I think getting the A+, although expensive (consider it an investment), is a good way to accomplish that goal.
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  9. Senior Member
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    #8
    Quote Originally Posted by DoubleNNs View Post
    Lack of experience IS probably his problem. And his resume may or may not need some work. However, getting the A+ does seem to help get your foot in the door, which would give him the ability to start gaining experience.

    There's a difference in not knowing how to interview well and knowing you'd kill an interview, but being unable to obtain on. He's not getting calls and wants to start getting calls in the soonest possible amount of time. I think getting the A+, although expensive (consider it an investment), is a good way to accomplish that goal.
    Again, YMMV when it comes to A+. Seems that some around here really feel it helped them, and some do not (I would be in the "do not" camp). One could argue that the CCNA would be a less expensive way to "get his foot in the door", with more ROI for roughly the same money (once study materials are considered). My sister's boyfriend is trying to get back in to IT (rode the helpdesk for a few years in college), and is also not getting any callbacks. He has A+ AND experience, so chances are there are more variables in play than just one entry level certification in these situations.
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  10. Senior Member DoubleNNs's Avatar
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    #9
    I actually sort of wish I had gotten my CCNA instead of my A+.
    However, I wasn't too sure what kind of position to look for w/ just Net+, Sec+, CCENT/CCNA and absolutely no professional IT experience.

    All I know is when I just had my Net+ and Sec+ and an almost identical resume, i fired off resume after resume - well over a hundred. Signed up w/ every recruiter around. And I got no calls or response e-mails.
    Then i got my A+ and not even 2 weeks later I had options for my 1st job, let alone responses.

    Now, months later, I'm more confident that I'll actually get responses if I apply for entry-level networking jobs after getting a CCNA, because I have some IT experience.

    On top of that, whereas the CCNA may be a better option in some circumstances, and even cheaper than an A+, it's also harder material and def takes much more studying and a longer time commitment to obtain. And the OP did say he wanted to get responses ASAP, because he wanted to move onto security material within a couple of weeks.
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  11. Junior Member
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    I have gotten resume and cover letter assistance. They are not the problem. Lack of experience is the problem. But how the heck do you get experience if every employer wants you to already have it? It is like an exclusive club that doesn't ever want to admit new members. I found one with the local K-12 schools that doesn't require a degree, certs, or much experience. But there will probably be a ton of applicants so I won't get it. I have noticed one position repeatedly being advertised for a long stretch of time. This company is very picky about what they want so they can't find anyone.

    I would love to get my CCNA. But I live in a tiny apartment with teenagers, so I don't have much room or funds (on top of other study materials and test costs) to set up a lab to assist with studying. There are local community college classes, but I think it is five classes to get the cert at about $450 or so per class. Also, it will be time consuming. I have a goal to have my two Ec-Council certs done by mid-August. If i don't have job by that time, i plan to get a master's degree with hopes that will get me an internship for college students and thus the internship will help with experience.

    Thank you DoubleNNs for helping to clarify my post. But, I am a her not a him . It helps that you posted responses. I think you understood what I was getting at pretty well. Have you taken one of the jobs the A+ helped you get offered?
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  12. Senior Member DoubleNNs's Avatar
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    #11
    Yes, I'm a few months into my first IT position and now working towards my CCENT/CCNA.

    A misconception about the CCENT/CCNA is that it's expensive to get. In actuality, it's cheaper to get a CCNA than it is to get an A+. The only thing is that it'll take longer and the material itself is harder.
    Whereas you DO need to get a lot of hands on practice, it doesn't seem necessary to buy actual physical equipment or take classes. I'm doing just fine w/ Cisco Packet Tracer, GNS3, and self study. So as long as you have a computer you can use to practice the Cisco IOS CLI on, a good book, and dedication you should be fine.
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  13. Senior Member
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    #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Chantel View Post
    I have gotten resume and cover letter assistance. They are not the problem. Lack of experience is the problem. But how the heck do you get experience if every employer wants you to already have it? It is like an exclusive club that doesn't ever want to admit new members. I found one with the local K-12 schools that doesn't require a degree, certs, or much experience. But there will probably be a ton of applicants so I won't get it.I have noticed one position repeatedly being advertised for a long stretch of time. This company is very picky about what they want so they can't find anyone.
    Seems like you need to develop a more positive attitude towards beginning your career. There are far more people on the bottom of the pyramid, which makes it difficult to get noticed. What makes YOU different from every other candidate that applies for a given job? Are these differences reflected in your CV?

    I would love to get my CCNA. But I live in a tiny apartment with teenagers, so I don't have much room or funds (on top of other study materials and test costs) to set up a lab to assist with studying. There are local community college classes, but I think it is five classes to get the cert at about $450 or so per class. Also, it will be time consuming.
    CCNA does not require taking any formal classes to pass. There are many people on this forum who have self-studied for 2-3 months, taken the exams, and passed. Depending on your knowledge of networking fundamentals, the CCENT could be studied for and passed within a month. The main benefits of doing this cert would be that it is just as widely known as the A+ (perhaps even more), costs about the same (assuming you self-study and use Packet Tracer or GNS3), and would actually help your career development AFTER you get the elusive first job. The A+ is more expensive, and would not help your career development once you have a year or so of experience.

    I have a goal to have my two Ec-Council certs done by mid-August. If i don't have job by that time, i plan to get a master's degree with hopes that will get me an internship for college students and thus the internship will help with experience.
    Two EC-Council certs MIGHT help you break in to the field, or they might not. The Master's degree sounds nice in theory, but it may not help you find a job either. Internships are nice, but we have interns come through my job all the time (I'm a security analyst) that don't end up staying in the field for one reason or another.

    Thank you DoubleNNs for helping to clarify my post. But, I am a her not a him . It helps that you posted responses. I think you understood what I was getting at pretty well. Have you taken one of the jobs the A+ helped you get offered?
    I think everyone understood what you're getting at: You're having trouble finding that first job (happens to a lot of people), and you're trying to figure out why you can't get interviews. No clarification was necessary. No one has any horse in this race but you, so in the end you are going to do what you want to do (which appears to be taking the A+). That's not a terrible way to go, but there are (I believe) more optimal ways to get where you appear to be headed.
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  14. Junior Member
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    #13
    Thank you for the detailed response. I do have a good base for networks, I think. Taking the Network+ and Security+ helped with that. So I should be going for the CCNA? I think at least studying for the A+ will help because it can help fill in base blanks in my knowledge. I don't have to take the test though. What study materials are recommended for the CCNA?

    I thought the A+ would help get an entry level job so that I could at least get in the door.

    You are right about my attitude. It is hard to think positive when job hunting and seeing so many jobs that want someone who has already had a job in the field - even entry level jobs. I think my attitude would change if I were called for an interview because that means they are at least somewhat interested in me. And in an interview, there is more of a chance to sell oneself. I found one job that doesn't pay as much as I need, but doesn't require as much as the rest (I think I posted about it in one of my replies). I have put a lot of effort towards trying to get this job. Why I want it so bad isn't just to get my foot in the door. For some reason I just want that job.

    I have registered with several tech temp agencies in hopes that will help get experience.
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    #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Chantel View Post
    Thank you for the detailed response. I do have a good base for networks, I think. Taking the Network+ and Security+ helped with that. So I should be going for the CCNA? I think at least studying for the A+ will help because it can help fill in base blanks in my knowledge. I don't have to take the test though. What study materials are recommended for the CCNA?

    I thought the A+ would help get an entry level job so that I could at least get in the door.

    You are right about my attitude. It is hard to think positive when job hunting and seeing so many jobs that want someone who has already had a job in the field - even entry level jobs. I think my attitude would change if I were called for an interview because that means they are at least somewhat interested in me. And in an interview, there is more of a chance to sell oneself. I found one job that doesn't pay as much as I need, but doesn't require as much as the rest (I think I posted about it in one of my replies). I have put a lot of effort towards trying to get this job. Why I want it so bad isn't just to get my foot in the door. For some reason I just want that job.

    I have registered with several tech temp agencies in hopes that will help get experience.
    Most people recommend getting a book (Odom and Lammle are the authors of the two most common) at least. INE has released their CCNA study materials on YouTube (just search "INE CCNA" on YouTube; I would do it, but I'm at work). I can also recommend CBTNuggets; they have a monthly plan now, so you can pay $99 for a month of access (very good videos). Trainsignal also offers a monthly plan, which I believe is only $49/month (no experience with using them). As far as labbing, obtain a copy of Packet Tracer or GNS3 and go to town (GNS3 will require IOS files). The exams are in the process of changing, so you will probably want to study for the new tests (I believe the test numbers are 100-101 and 200-101). The other nice thing about doing CCNA is that you get a little "mini cert" once you pass the first exam (CCENT).

    The temp agencies can sometimes be good, but entry-level work is also not something that they have a lot of in my experience. I also suggest checking your local Craigslist as well, as in my area there are typically at least a few entry-level jobs posted there every week. Relocation may be something to think about for yourself as well, as your area may not be as ripe with jobs as others (no clue where you live).
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    #15
    Quote Originally Posted by bigmantenor View Post
    Most people recommend getting a book (Odom and Lammle are the authors of the two most common) at least. INE has released their CCNA study materials on YouTube (just search "INE CCNA" on YouTube; I would do it, but I'm at work). I can also recommend CBTNuggets; they have a monthly plan now, so you can pay $99 for a month of access (very good videos). Trainsignal also offers a monthly plan, which I believe is only $49/month (no experience with using them). As far as labbing, obtain a copy of Packet Tracer or GNS3 and go to town (GNS3 will require IOS files). The exams are in the process of changing, so you will probably want to study for the new tests (I believe the test numbers are 100-101 and 200-101). The other nice thing about doing CCNA is that you get a little "mini cert" once you pass the first exam (CCENT).

    The temp agencies can sometimes be good, but entry-level work is also not something that they have a lot of in my experience. I also suggest checking your local Craigslist as well, as in my area there are typically at least a few entry-level jobs posted there every week. Relocation may be something to think about for yourself as well, as your area may not be as ripe with jobs as others (no clue where you live).
    Thank you. I have found the INE CCNA videos. There are 36 of them at about a half hour each give or take. I also found the GNS3, but I am running on Ubuntu right now and didn't see an option for that. Once I get back into Windows I will check it out in more detail. I also found the Lammale book on Amazon. I have used one of his books before for the Network+.
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  17. Senior Member DoubleNNs's Avatar
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    #16
    GNS3 works on Linux, although I think it's technically still "under testing."
    You could also look to use VM of WIN w/ virtual box. That's how I run packet tracer on my Mac.

    Personally, I liked the CCENT for Dummies book and the Wendell Odom CCNA books better than Todd Lammle. However, everyone is different and if you enjoyed Lammle's Net+ book, you'll probably want to get his CCNA book as well. I only mentioned the other 2 books to make sure you knew they were options.

    Are you thinking about skipping the A+ for the CCNA, or are you just exploring your options?
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    #17
    I have what I think is a stupid question. I noticted there are different flavors of CCNA. I am interested in the CCNA Security. Do I have to study for the base CCNA and the security part of the CCNA? Bascially do I need materials for both?
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  19. Senior Member DoubleNNs's Avatar
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    #18
    CCNA Security Certification - IT Certifications and Career Paths - Cisco Systems

    Seems like as long as you take the newer CCENT, you should be able to skip the CCNA and use JUST the CCENT as a prereq.

    So you can go CCENT -> CCNA-Security.

    However, I personally don't know how advisable that option is as opposed to CCENT -> CCNA -> CCNA-Sec. (I'm still working towards my CCENT myself)
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    #19
    You can take 640-822 (CCENT) and then CCNA-Security

    CCNA Security Certification - IT Certifications and Career Paths - Cisco Systems
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  21. Senior Member
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    #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Chantel View Post
    I have what I think is a stupid question. I noticted there are different flavors of CCNA. I am interested in the CCNA Security. Do I have to study for the base CCNA and the security part of the CCNA? Bascially do I need materials for both?
    I would advise getting the CCNA R&S before the CCNA:Security, for multiple reasons. It is useful to be able to troubleshoot basic routing issues, even if you end up working in IT security. Also, the CCNA as a whole lays an excellent foundation for future studies, regardless if you stay with JUST Cisco. I don't know how the new tests are set up, but the old ICND2 had sections on OSPF, EIGRP, VLSM, spanning tree and VLANS, and access lists, all of which are useful things to know. Also, the CCNA R&S is perhaps better known than the CCNA:Security, if only by a small margin. Since you were looking for something to boost your career prospects, this added name recognition is a big plus.
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    #21
    Interesting thread+responses. Particularly around the differing responses concerning the A+.

    I actually was not aware the CCNA was cheaper than the A+, though I am not sure which cert would be better in terms of "getting in the door."
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