'The Time Has Come,' the Walrus Said, 'To talk of many things: ...of Switches and Routers and Token Rings.'

OK, well, actually the Walrus never said that.

However, if you intend to have a career in Information Technology (IT), whether in cybersecurity, programming, or some other area, you had better know a thing or two about networks and networking.

Today's networks are massively complicated things. Long gone are the days when we just strung two PCs together via a dumb hub and some Category 4 Ethernet cables. Heck, I am embarrassed for even mentioning IBM's fabulous invention: token ring. The days of token ring are long gone as well (thank goodness!)

Not only are the networks smarter and faster, they are also more highly distributed. There is Voice over IP (VoIP) telephony, multi-casting (think Netflix), copper cable, fiber optic, wireless, and cellular, and there are dozens of internet service providers (ISPs) who comprise the Internet backbone and backhaul all of your digital freight from one device to another.

Like every other computer technology topic, networking is a vast subject.

If You Want This, You've Got to Study Hard!!

Like its cousins, the CompTIA Network+ exam is jam-packed to the rafters with technical information and detail.

If you talk to CompTIA stakeholders, they will tell you that you should take these exams, in order of importance:

  1. IT Fundamentals
  2. Cloud+
  3. A+
  4. Network+
  5. Security+
  6. Linux+

I happen to question this a little bit because Linux represents the backbone of most cybersecurity work. On top of that, I think that Server+ should come in between A+ and Network+.

You can study for the Network+ exam through TestOut Network Pro, Cybrary.IT and/or PluralSight.

Who should take the Network+ exam? Well, if you are relatively sure you want to become a software developer, Network+ may or may not be for you. However, please recognize that many coders do indeed work with networking protocols day in and day out.

Just Sayin'

Cisco the 8,000 Pound Gorilla

If you do think you will be working extensively with networks and networking, you must consider a Cisco certification as well. Cisco is a very large, multi-national company that is in the business of everything having to do with networks. Ultimately, what you want is the Cisco Certified Network Administrator (CCNA). This cert, alongside the A+, Network+, Security+ trifecta, really rounds out one's resume.

You can study for the CCNA exam using the TestOut Switching Pro and TestOut Routing Pro courses. Else, you can use PluralSight and/or Cybrary.IT for this study work. I think you may likely find that you use a couple of different sources for your study work.

A Note About Practice Exams

One of the side benefits of using TestOut is that you are supplied with practice exams, not just for the actual CCNA exam, but also for the Switching and Routing Pro certifications.

It is absolutely vital that you get into the habit of using practice exams to make sure you are ready for a specific CompTIA, Microsoft, or Cisco exam! None of them are easy! Why waste money going into the exam ill-prepared?

Often, a vendor will provide some practice exams that may prove beneficial to you.