Of the many Microsoft certifications offered to technology experts, the Microsoft Certified Network Administrator certification is perhaps the most common and the most useful at a basic level. The MCNA program was actually one of Microsoft’s first professional certifications, designed to teach qualified candidates about the Windows operating system and how to design a large network that would work well in a Windows environment. Today, the MCNA certification is paired with more than a dozen advanced Microsoft certifications that cover virtually every networking-related topic in the company’s purview. This “gateway” certification is an essential part of the job for many aspiring network administrators, and it covers the following key concepts:
Organizational Network Design
As with virtually any design process, network administrators are guided by “best practices” as they buy hardware, run cabling, and establish an in-house network for their employer. Microsoft’s computers are designed to handle virtually any network configuration, but they can run more efficiently when administrators create a network that uses Microsoft-approved hardware, switches, cables, and conventions. The MCNA program discusses network design extensively, giving administrators the information they need to make sure there are no lost packets, no extended incidents of downtime, and no lag in daily operations online.
Troubleshooting a Microsoft Network Environment
Certified Network Administrators are responsible for troubleshooting common network problems in most organizations. The MCNA certification was designed to make sure that administrators understood the cause of the most common problems as well as how to solve them quickly and efficiently. In fact, the test itself presents several scenarios where something has gone wrong. The candidate is required to pick the most likely cause of the network problem and then identify the best method to repair the issue. Thanks to a series of helpful classes in advance of the examination, however, these troubleshooting scenarios should be rather easy for the qualified, attentive network administrator.
Windows Server Administration and Expertise
The MCNA exam covers the Windows Server environment, which has long been Microsoft’s way of handling enterprise data and private storage facilities. Windows Server uses the same, familiar Windows interface, but offers advanced tools that can affect QoS, network congestion, network service availability, and overall performance. An extensive portion of the exam will cover server environments, and candidates will be expected to show proficiency in all versions of Windows Server since the 2008 release.
An Expert Position that Designs, Develops, and Maintains Large Networks
Network administrators are in high demand at major corporations today, with skills that allow them to design and deploy efficient networks for customer outreach, relationship management, and internal communication. The MCNA program takes network administration a step further, requiring candidates to be specifically proficient in Microsoft’s network conventions, its design best practices, and its server software that manages all traffic. The test is challenging, but candidates who are already skilled in network management will find that they can probably take three additional courses and pass the test within six months.
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As the network administration industry continues to grow, and as the demand for highly educated, certified and experienced administrators continues to increase, this certification will become more important. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in order to remain competitive in this industry, all network administrators with long-term career goals should make sure they can take and pass the Microsoft Certified Network Administrator exam.