After one month of wait, finally I got my CWNE result today & become CWNE#153.
In this post I would like to summarize my CWNE journey as it may give some inspirations for future CWNEs. Even though I have completed my CCIE Wireless lab on Aug 2013, I felt some skills gap in my wireless knowledge. I knew how to configure Cisco products in-depth, but did not have sound knowledge about how WiFi works. Without doubt anyone will agree with me, the CWNP program is the best option to learn WiFi. So in December 2013 I decided CWNE is my study goal for 2014.
As of 2014, here are the requirements to become a CWNE.
Here are the 4 exams you have to complete which is one of the requirement for the CWNE. There are official study guides available for all of these exams & you can find some instructor-led classes as well. This post gives some other useful reference for CWNP studies outside above formal materials.
1. CWNA – Certified Wireless Network Administrator
2. CWSP – Certified Wireless Security Professional
3. CWAP – Certified Wireless Analysis Professional
4. CWDP – Certified Wireless Design Professional
Keeping the momentum is one challenge with these exams. In CCIE, you have to do lots of hands on tasks where it helps to keep it going. For CWNA & CWNP exams, mostly you have to read the study guides & try to understand the concepts. I managed to do my CWNA exam by end of February.
For the professional level exams ( CWSP, CWAP, CWDP) first challenge is to decide, in which order you have to approach it. (in fact you can do it whatever order you like). What is the logical order of doing it ? Many agree CWAP -> CWSP -> CWDP makes sense. This gives you opportunity to learn by analyzing packets what’s going on WiFi to get a sound understanding of WiFi operations before moving onto WiFi Security & WiFi Design. (Since I have done all these 3 exams, I can tell you CWAP is the most difficult one, so be prepared 😯 ).
In my journey, I have selected CWSP first, thinking that would be the most difficult one (based on my own judgement & own skill in that area), then CWAP & finally CWDP. If you know WiFi operation & WiFi security well, then it should help you in WiFi Design. I was fortunate to find a good study partner to help each other in this Journey. (Tuhin : You are an admirable friend 🙂 )
Even though everything inline, we could not get the concentration required easily, so 5-6 months passed without any CWNP studies. So in August, I decided to schedule these 3 exams in 3 months (16 Sep – CWSP, 21 Oct – CWAP & 25 Nov – CWDP) & stick to a schedule for studies. We used a simple strategy, I have to select half of the chapters (i choose odd numbers & my friend took even number chapters 🙂 , for fairness) in CWSP study guide & study those first. Then you have to teach those to your study partner. My partner did the same (teaching is powerful way of learning, so try to use that method whenever possible). At least 2 times during weekdays (1-2hr) & 2 times during weekends (2-4 hrs) discussions were held (my friend from US & I used to start my day 4.30 AM to study 2 hrs in everyday). These discussions gave each other required motivation & momentum to keep going.
In CWSP, if you could configure & test it yourself, that would give lots of benefit to remember those tiny details. So I have done few blog posts on what I have done with CWSP topics.
I went for the exam on 16th September. Based on our study plan we covered all the topics & practice questions came with study guide & available on CWNP website as well. I was very confident & happy with the result (passed with 85%). By the way my friend also passed the exam in couple of weeks time (as he was so busy with his work, had to reschedule)
Then we moved on to CWAP & continued the same strategy. If you followed my blog during this time (October 2014), you would realize how intense it was. I did almost 1 blog per day for a topic related to this exam. This is all about analyzing wireless frames & visualize detail WiFi operation. Apart from the CWAP study guide, IEEE 802.11-2007 standard would become a handy reference for you. By end of the 1 month study, it becomes too many details to remember & I found blogging about it helped me to remember certain things.
I went for CWAP exam on 21st Oct. I realized in certain questions, I have to make some guesses, so end up with 68% & failed (70% was the pass mark). If you study properly, failing this sort exam won’t let you down, as it always give you another learning opportunity (same for CCIE & failing it make you stronger by giving you opportunity to learn it in detail). So I scheduled it again 5th Nov & read more on the area I was not that confident. So this time, I managed to pass it with 78%. Here are my study notes on CWAP. (Unfortunately my friend could not do the exam due to his workload)
Finally start moved to CWDP studies. In CWDP, there is nothing much you can do with hands on while you are studying. If you have wireless deployment experience, you will understand most of the topics without much trouble. I found RF concepts /hardware chapters (CH6 & 7) are little hard while all others are easy read. After reading all those chapters & did chapter review questions & other question banks comes with book CD, available in CWNP site, went to the exam on 25th Nov. I managed to pass this with 76%. Due to the nature of topics & limited time I had during studies did not get any time to do blogging like CWAP & CWSP for CWDP.
Once you complete these exam requirements, it is just matter of completing your CWNE applications while fulfilling other given requirements. You have to write about 3 WiFi projects you involved highlighting how you utilized your skills in that project to address some of the challenges in those projects. Regarding publications requirement, I have done enough WiFi related posts & I simply used them. I had CCIE R&S , CISSP certification to fulfill other certification requirement. Also you have to get endorsement from 3 individual who know about your wireless experience. I got one from my manager (always helped me on my studies & lucky to have someone like him as my manager ) & others form two of my colleagues (Thanks a lot @wirelessguru and @scottpstapleton )
Here is the current CWNE distribution around the Globe. I know I am the 4th CWNE here in Australia 🙂
End of the day, most important thing is the journey you go to achieve these. To get the respect comes with these certs, you have to deliver what is expect from a true expert. So don’t try to find shortcuts or keep a goal of getting these numbers in quickest possible time (no value in my perspective).
Go your journey at your own phase (depend on experience you have you can determine how much time you have to spend on these). Try to find an admirable friend/friends to help each others. Always share your knowledge (via blog, forums, community events) & that will give you a satisfaction you cannot buy it from any other means. Also try to inspire someone else to make this journey .(be someone who makes others to follow)
I have two wishes at this point of time
1. This post will inspire future CWNEs & CWNP program become more popular.
2. My friend Tuhin, will get his CWNE status in 2015 🙂