When deciding to embark on a career in data networking most people will require some form of basic professional training in order to grasp the fundamentals. If this training is not part of a University degree course or equivalent, then you will need to find the resources you need in order to give you the foundations. Most technical training companies specialising in IT training will have some for of Networking for Beginners training course to offer.
Firstly, the question whether to enrol or embark upon an online training course or instructor-led training course needs to be answered. Some individuals find online training easy to follow and find the online method of training suits their learning style. Others like to be able to listen to an instructor and be able to ask first-hand questions. Of course, if you want to obtain the necessary data networking skills then online or classroom-based theory classes are never sufficient. There has to be a practical element to the course and in my opinion this is best served by a good quality instructor-led course with real world equipment in the classroom. Some training companies compromise by having equipment in a central location which is accessible via a terminal server and students just have to login and are able to configure remote networking equipment. This works well, particularly for those students who have worked with the equipment before or have at least seen the equipment. Unfortunately data networking not only involves configuring networking equipment such as routers, switches and servers, there are physical connection usually comprising copper wires or fibre optic cable. In order to get exposure to a network ‘warts and all’, a good quality instructor led training course with hands-on experience with network equipment and cables is the answer. I always used to consider Cisco CCNA courses to be an excellent foundation and still do, but some people do not necessarily want a vendor specific course with the option of a certification at the end of it, subject to the passing of the appropriate exams of course.
What about the content? Well any beginners introduction to networking training course should give the student a good grounding in the core TCP/IP protocols, with theoretical explanations backed up by hands-on demonstrations that should include the use of some form of network analyzer. The TCP/IP and OSI networking models should be explained in order to understand the concept of layered networking. The common LAN (Local Area Network) and WAN (Wide Area Network) protocols, connections and typical media should be covered and used in classroom practical exercises.
The beginners introduction to networking training course should allow the students to slowly build a classroom network, adding physical devices and connections as the course progresses in order to allow the students to understand the building blocks of networks. Routers, Ethernet Switches, Hubs and Servers should be used in the classroom in order that students get a real feel for networking.
All modern networks still have Routers, Layer 2 Switches and Layer 3 switches as the basic building blocks of the network with a variety of peripherals such as Workstations, Servers and Firewalls. Additional network peripherals such as VoIP phones, IP PBXs and Wireless Access Points would be the subject of more advanced training.
A good 50% of any basic data networking course should be reserved for practical hands-on exercises designed to cement the knowledge learned through the theory lectures. The duration of the course would depend on just how much knowledge and skill you want to gain on this first exposure to data networking. Most courses offered in the UK by the popular training vendors usually vary in duration between 2-5 days, and I would probably recommend 4-5 days as a shorter course probably couldn’t offer sufficient hands-on time to make it worthwhile. I personally would also look for a training course where the vendor offers sufficient post course support either by email or telephone, with email often being the preferred method.
There are many training vendors offering a range of data networking courses for beginners in the UK at locations across the country, so you shouldn’t have to travel far to find one. Just make sure your Beginners Introduction to Networking course has all the elements that you require.