CWNA – Achievement unlocked

Just over a week ago I completed my journey towards becoming a Certified Wireless Network Administrator… well, as much as anyone completes any journey in IT, there’s always more to learn.

When I started working in my current job and it became clear nobody understood WiFi, or knew how to solve the problems we were having, I quickly found the CWNP website and the numerous references to CWNA. A year later I was on a CWNA course with Peter Mackenzie. Probably the best aspect of the course was not how much I learned but how much it cemented what I’d already picked up through reading and lab work.

Like most certifications getting a good score in the CWNA exam requires you to learn and remember stuff that in reality you’d look up. In the end I found the exam straight forward. I felt I knew pretty much all the answers (actually it turns out I didn’t know at least three of them), but this is not because it’s an easy exam. I’ve spent a lot of time reading the study guides, making sure I knew what was expected… and then, because I dithered so much between taking the course and sitting the exam CWNA-106 was retired…. so I started again with a new study guide. I was pleased with the end result, a score of 95%. Worth all that work.

I’d like to pursue more certifications, otherwise I’ll need to find something else to do with my evenings. Because I work almost exclusively with Aruba equipment at the moment, it makes sense to look at the ACMA and ACMP certs. I’m also going to go further with the CWNP certs, probably looking at the Analysis Professional next.

The fact CWNP is vendor neutral is particularly appealing. Whilst it’s great to have a certification in Cisco or Aruba wlan equipment (the only two I’d consider worthwhile), these can focus on platform specific commands, licensing requirements and model lineup. Whilst this is useful information it doesn’t teach you about WiFi. I much prefer the approach of understanding how a technology works, something I can apply to any platform, rather than being restricted to knowing how to do things with a particular vendor’s equipment.

Fundamentally, whilst all WiFi network vendors have their pros and cons, their specific technology solutions to problems, RF is RF and if you understand how 802.11 it helps enormously to make sense of why a vendor does something a certain way.

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