My First Juniper Certification

By stretch | Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 4:39 a.m. UTC

Earlier this month, I blogged about my experience with Juniper's online JNCIA training. Having received a free voucher for the exam at the end of the online class, I decided to test for my first Juniper certification and see how it compares to the Cisco world.

For starters, Juniper's certification exams are proctored through Prometric, whereas Cisco exams are through Pearson VUE (although as recently as 2007 Cisco used to make its exams available through both companies). Many testing locations offer exams from both Prometric and Pearson VUE, but be aware that your favorite testing site might not. The sign-in procedure upon arriving at the site was certainly more relaxed than with Cisco exams: no photo or digital signature, just sign your name and put the time. Two forms of identification are required.

Onto the test itself. The exam I took is designated JN0-101 and corresponds to Juniper's entry-level JNCIA certification for the security and enterprise routing and switching tracks. A few stats on the exam:

  • 65 multiple-choice questions (no simulations)
  • 105 minutes allowed for completion
  • Minimum passing score is 66%

The content on the exam is comparable to Cisco's ICND1 exam (with Junos in place of Cisco IOS, obviously) It sports a good mix of general knowledge (subnetting, protocols, etc.) and vendor-specific questions (command syntax and platform attributes).

One aspect of the exam I immediately liked is its intuitive percentage-based scoring; none of the arbitrary 300 to 1000 nonsense from the Cisco side. Also appealing is the exam's relatively affordable price tag: $100 USD flat. For comparison, that is one third the cost of the CCNA (either the two ICND exams taken individually or the composite). Another nice draw of this exam compared to Cisco's is that it allows the candidate to move backward through questions, revisiting those skipped or already answered. You can also mark questions to revisit toward the end of the exam, perhaps when you have a better feel for your pace.

Unfortunately, the exam is not without drawbacks. First, the nature of the exam, which consists entirely of multiple-choice questions, leaves it vulnerable to braindumpers (crooked individuals who copy and sell exam questions). This tends to lower the overall value of the certification. I also was disappointed with some of the questions. I won't repeat the questions here, however I'll make the following statements to lend a feel for the degree of ambiguity I encountered in some of the exam's wording:

  • There is no checksum in the header of an Ethernet frame.
  • IP addresses and virtual circuit identifiers are not physical interface properties (though they may be properties of a physical interface).
  • The lower a protocol preference value ("administrative distance" in the Cisco world) is, the more favorable that source is (i.e. the more preferable it is).

Overall, I'd say the JNCIA is more of a lure to the Juniper side of things than it is a certification in its own right. Of course, the same can easily be said of exams from other vendors (the CCENT immediately springs to mind). Like Cisco, Juniper has upper tiers of certification as well, including practical (hands-on lab) exams at the professional and expert tiers. Unfortunately, with a $1400 price tag, don't expect a review of those any time soon.

About the Author

Jeremy Stretch is a network engineer living in the Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina area. He is known for his blog and cheat sheets here at Packet Life. You can reach him by email or follow him on Twitter.

Posted in Reviews

Comments


dotwaffle (guest)
December 30, 2010 at 5:15 a.m. UTC

Congratulations on the JNCIA! I took the JNCIS-M a while ago (back when it could be done direct-access) and remember the examination style well - the ability to revisit questions was very nice, but I get what you mean about some of the questions being a little unfairly worded. Cisco's one for this too, though, but Cisco don't normally ask things in an obtuse a way as possible (knowing which IS-IS TLV is wide metrics, 2 or 22 or 111 or 222 for example)

If you get a chance, I'd look into some of the stuff on Cluepon for Juniper based network research, there's some excellent documentation on there.


Me (guest)
December 30, 2010 at 8:21 p.m. UTC

Well, Congratulations!

I think juniper makes huge efforts to attract IT guys and make them prefer the juniper way instead of the "high way" heh...

As you might know, if much more people will understand junos as a second or first language, the more chances they can persuade their bosses to buy cheaper equipment of juniper.


Replicator
December 30, 2010 at 11:12 p.m. UTC

I want to ask if the online class is free? I´m very interested on taking a Juniper certification soon. I have a user in the learning portal already.


imMute
December 31, 2010 at 2:33 a.m. UTC

Wait, so the CCNA tests (the multiple choice part) is one-way only? IE, you can't skip questions and come back to them later? If so, total fail :(


Adie
December 31, 2010 at 3:34 a.m. UTC

Jeremy, apart from the J2300, what other equipment did you use to study for the exam? (or was it purely online training?)


goodone (guest)
January 1, 2011 at 11:59 p.m. UTC

@Replicator: here we go: https://learningportal.juniper.net/juniper/user_fasttrack_home.aspx Take the Networking Fundamentals eLearning course Also the Free Study Guides are easy to read and understand! (You have to signup)

@Adie, every Juniper Device (with JunOs on it) should work quite well for the JNCIA. If you have knowledge from Cisco or Other Networking Vendor you should pass the exam after reading the Free Study Guides, without any problems :)

regards


Ameer (guest)
January 3, 2011 at 5:53 a.m. UTC

@imMute Yes, you cant go back. CCNA is one-way question. So, if you dont know whats the answer, dont waste your time thinking, just answer anything which is more likely is the answer and move on.


Yiannis (guest)
January 3, 2011 at 9:48 a.m. UTC

Hi Jeremy,

The "fastrack" link you provided when trying to register you need to be customer, partner or employee .... :-(

Tried to register as customer or partner but you MUST provide a CertManagerID !

How to overcome this problem ?

Thanks.

Yiannis


Replicator
January 4, 2011 at 1:48 a.m. UTC

@goodone

I already sign up for the networking fundamental course already but only with this course and free material can I pass the JN0-101 exam???

Jeremy can you help us a please??? One of my 2011 goals is to get a Juniper certification under my belt.


dfw_packet
January 4, 2011 at 7:45 p.m. UTC

You can launch the course from here (no sign-up required):

https://learningportal.juniper.net/juniper/user_fasttrack_course.aspx


John (guest)
March 18, 2011 at 10:50 a.m. UTC

Hi,

I used to be a Cisco guy for 15 years, but after learning JUNOS, I am a huge Juniper Fan. Their stuff works, and they have a single code base.

Juniper rocks!!

John


Robert (guest)
September 28, 2012 at 6:32 a.m. UTC

Thanks for this Jeremy.

I've been doing the Cisco track and want to go further than just Cisco. This will be my first Other than Cisco or Microsoft exam I'll be taking. I'm quite excited about it. I'm using the CBT nuggets course with Michael Shannon. I find some of the stuff really easy and therefore boring. :p

Thanx for the review of the exam.

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