Getting Certified: CompTIA Network+ Certification and the N10-004 Exam
CompTIA – the Computing Technology Industry Association – first launched the Network+ exam in 1999. I gained the certification in August of 1999 taking and passing the N10-001 exam. Eleven years later it has released the fourth iteration of the certification with the N10-004 exam.
This article will introduce you to CompTIA – the Computing Technology Industry Association – as well as the Network+ certification and some of the expected skills and knowledge that a candidate should have prior to sitting the exam.
What is CompTIA and Network+
CompTIA stands for the Computing Technology Industry Association and a portion of its business goes beyond just certification exams. That being said, it is the Information Technology industry’s largest developer of vendor-neutral IT certification exams.
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The original certification program launched in 1993 and since that time more than 1 million people have earned a CompTIA certification. The hardware based A+ certification was first launched in 1993.
With respect to Network+, exam N10-001 launched back in 1999 and is now in its 4th release as N10-004. The CompTIA website lists nearly a quarter of a million holders of the Network+ certification.
The history of the exams are:
- N10-001 CompTIA Network+ Exam (1999 Edition) (Retired March 14, 2002)
- N10-002 CompTIA Network+ Exam (2002 Edition) (Retired June 30, 2005)
- N10-003 CompTIA Network+ Exam (2005 Edition) (Retired July 31, 2009)
- N10-004 CompTIA Network+ Exam (2009 Edition) (Slated for retirement in 2012)
In general the certification is used to measure the skill set of the network technician in an effort to make sure they have a good comprehension of the theory and inner workings of network hardware installation, operation and troubleshooting.
The exam is a stepping stone for network administrators that may wish to continuing to other networking certifications from Microsoft and / or Cisco certifications.
[NOTES FROM THE FIELD] – The Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator (MCSA) certification allows you to substitute some of the elective exams for certain combinations of the A+/Network+ or Security+ certifications.
For example, if you look at the requirements for the MCSA on Windows Server 2003 you see that under the Elective exam: Choose one section at the bottom it indicates that you can substitute the elective exam for the following;
Specific third-party (CompTIA) certifications:
CompTIA A+ and CompTIA Network+ (both) or CompTIA Security+ (by itself).
What are the prerequisites and requirements for Network+
According to the CompTIA website there are no actual prerequisites for candidates that wish to take the exam to get the certification.
It is suggested that Network+ candidates have at least nine months of experience in network support and administration and / or formal academic training with some hands on work (e.g. practice, labs, etc).
Having the CompTIA A+ certification is also outlined as a suggestion as well.
With respect to the exam requirements, the N10-004 exam has 100 questions in total that need to be completed in a 90 minute time period.
A passing score is 720 on a scale of 100 to 900.
Once you become certified on Network+ you remain a holder of the certification for life. So as an example, my Network+ certification is still active despite my having taken the N10-001 exam eleven years ago.
In some employment situations as required it may be necessary for Network+ certified engineers to “re-test” to assess their skills on the technology released since they formally received the certification.
If the network administrator is CompTIA Network+ certified under the 2005 objectives (N10-003) they are eligible to take the Network+ 2009 bridge exam (BR0-002) which is a 60-minute, 50-question test of the updated material between the two exams.
A passing score on BR0-002 is 500 on a scale of 100-900.
If you are certified under N10-002 or N10-001 and need to re-certify for some reason you would need to take the complete N10-004 exam.
Domains covered in this release of Network+
In the complete N10-004 exam there are six domains of knowledge and objectives to be learned completely in order to have the best chance to pass the exam and obtain the certification.
For the most part they vary slightly as to total impact on the exam and have been outlined by CompTIA as follows:
1.0 Network Technologies – 20% weight of the entire exam
2.0 Network Media and Topologies – 20% weight of the entire exam
3.0 Network Devices – 17% weight of the entire exam
4.0 Network Management – 20% weight of the entire exam
5.0 Network Tools – 12% weight of the entire exam
6.0 Network Security – 11% weight of the entire exam
The objectives of the domains are as follows:
1.0 Network Technologies
- 1.1 Explain the function of common networking protocols
- 1.2 Identify commonly used TCP and UDP default ports
- 1.3 Identify address formats
- 1.4 Given a scenario, evaluate the proper use of addressing technologies and addressing schemes
- 1.5 Identify common IPv4 and IPv6 routing protocols
- 1.6 Explain the purpose and properties of routing
- 1.7 Compare the characteristics of wireless communication standards
2.0 Network Media and Topologies
- 2.1 Categorize standard cable types and their properties
- 2.2 Identify common connector types
- 2.3 Identify common physical network topologies
- 2.4 Given a scenario, differentiate and implement appropriate wiring standards
- 2.5 Categorize WAN technology types and properties
- 2.6 Categorize LAN technology types and properties
- 2.7 Explain common logical network topologies and their characteristics
- 2.8 Install components of wiring distribution
3.0 Network Devices
- 3.1 Install, configure and differentiate between common network devices
- 3.2 Identify the functions of specialized network devices
- 3.3 Explain the advanced features of a switch
- 3.4 Implement a basic wireless network
4.0 Network Management
- 4.1 Explain the function of each layer of the OSI model
- 4.2 Identify types of configuration management documentation
- 4.3 Given a scenario, evaluate the network based on configuration management documentation
- 4.4 Conduct network monitoring to identify performance and connectivity issues
- 4.5 Explain different methods and rationales for network performance optimization
- 4.6 Given a scenario, implement network troubleshooting methodology
- 4.7 Given a scenario, troubleshoot common connectivity issues and select an appropriate solution
5.0 Network Tools
- 5.1 Given a scenario, select the appropriate command line interface tool and interpret the output to verify functionality
- 5.2 Explain the purpose of network scanners
- 5.3 Given a scenario, utilize the appropriate hardware tools
6.0 Network Security
- 6.1 Explain the function of hardware and software security devices
- 6.2 Explain common features of a firewall
- 6.3 Explain the methods of network access security
- 6.4 Explain methods of user authentication
- 6.5 Explain issues that affect device security
- 6.6 Identify common security threats and mitigation techniques
[NOTES FROM THE FIELD] – There is some overlap in the base level / common body of knowledge expected from a Network+ candidate that matches up with some of the knowledge expected of Cisco Certified Network Associate Routing & Switching (CCNA) candidates.
What this means is that if someone wanted to gauge their general networking skills only or from a totally neutral perspective, Network+ would be the best fit.
At the same time, if someone was trying to figure out what their baseline networking knowledge was in preparation for the CCNA exam they might still endeavor to go the Network+ route and then continue to CCNA Training and certification.
It’s not a requirement but a good litmus test.
In this article we reviewed the CompTIA organization and the Network+ certification as well as the prerequisites for the N10-004 exam.
We wrapped up with the Domains covered in the N10-004 release of the Network+ exam.
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