CCNA Wireless Certification

CCNA Wireless Logo

CCNA Wireless Logo

[Note: Since this was written, the updated CCNA Wireless 200-355 Official Cert Guide Premium Edition and Practice Test (ebook) and CCNA Wireless 200-355 Official Cert Guide (paper) books have been released.]

I’ve been working with Cisco lightweight wireless for about 10 years, but last year it really started to become a bigger focus in my job. After completing my CCNP, I decided that I should be able to complete the CCNA Wireless pretty quickly given how much experience I had. Well, I did earn the CCNA Wireless certification, but it was a little harder than I expected and took two attempts.

Why did it take two tries? I didn’t know my EAP methods well enough and I didn’t know the WLC GUI well enough. There were a few other weak spots, but those were the two that I really noticed during the first attempt. Studying the WLC GUI hadn’t even occurred to me as needing study, but since I spend all my time in NCS, I had forgotten many specifics of working with a WLC directly. I spent an extra month studying and passed quite well on the second try. It’s funny, because the different EAP methods and the 4-way handshake seemed hard the first time, but by the time I hit the second attempt it seemed so obvious. Sometimes that happens when studying technology. You aren’t quite grokking something, then all of a sudden it makes sense and you’re left wondering why you thought it was hard.

I will say the biggest mistake I made when studying for the 640-722 exam was not reading the CCNA Wireless Official Exam Certification Guide (CCNA IUWNE 640-721) [this book is outdated, use the book from the top of this article], just because it was for an earlier version of the exam. Do pay attention to how the blueprint has changed between the 721 and 722 version of the test. The new test primarily updates the hardware referenced and moves to CAPWAP instead of LWAPP. The majority of the book is still applicable and I would highly recommend reading it until an updated guide is released. I’m fairly certain that had I actually read this book before my first attempt, I would have passed.

One thing that will help update you between the certification guide for 640-721 and the 640-722 exam is the CCNA Wireless (640-722 IUWNE) Quick Reference. This is an excellent supplement to the certification guide, but don’t rely on it by itself! I also attended (and later watched the recording, some parts several times) the CCNA Wireless Bootcamp provided by INE. It’s taught by Mark Snow and he does a pretty good job with the course. I found it a valuable addition to my studies. [11/4/2015: If you like video training, I would now recommend Wi-Fi Fundamentals LiveLessons: A CCNA Wireless and CWNA Primer instead of the INE course. It is a better course and more up to date.]


CWNP is the industry standard for vendor-neutral wireless certifications

You might also want to take a look at some of the resources available from CWNP. They are the most respected 802.11 wireless certification body and their certifications focus on the RF, not the vendor specific configurations. Many people have said that if you are serious about wireless, you should do the CWNA certification before you do the CCNA Wireless. Having a solid understanding of RF and the 802.11 standard is key to being a good wireless engineer, and would make a good foundation to build on for your CCNA Wireless studies. While I have not gone for the CWNA, myself, I have used the CWNA study guide to gain a better understanding of some wireless topics. They also have a number of free white papers available, including the well-known “chicken and egg” white paper. If you need a better understanding of 802.11i and the four-way handshake, you should definitely read it.

One more note on the CCNA Wireless 640-722 exam. At the time of this writing, I am not aware of any practice exams. A Boson practice exam is usually one of the resources I use to gauge my readiness for an exam and find weak areas. Hopefully one will be available before long. An up to date certification guide and a lack of practice exams don’t help make this exam any easier.

Now that I’ve added CCNA Wireless to my cert collection, I’ve decided to try to recover my momentum from my CCNP studies and continue on to the CCIE R&S. I plan to take the written in June at Cisco Live 2013, so I’ve got a decent amount of time to study. I’ll probably need it, as the CCIE R&S written exam has been called “Trivial Pursuit: Cisco Edition.”


4 thoughts on “CCNA Wireless Certification

  1. do you know of any labs that I can use to get better understanding of configuration of the wlc and aps

    • There’s not much out there. You just have to get equipment, set it up and try different things. The only lab manuals I’ve seen are for the IUWNE course and CCIE training materials from IPexpert and Fast Lane.

  2. I just took my second attempt and only improved my score by 40 points (still haven’t broken 700), I’m a jr. network engineer. This test seriously isn’t a joke. I flew through my CCNA R/S with no problem, and I’ve dabbled into CCNA Security a bit, and they both seem like nothing compared to this wireless test. I just talked with a co-worker and he said he had to use multiple resources to get through this test. Thanks for the blog, I don’t think I can go anywhere but up from here.

    I hold my MCSA 2012r2 as well, and Microsoft tests are a pain in the rear for me, the CCNA Wireless is definitely approaching that level for me at this time.

    It’s nice to see that someone that had 10 years of experience in the environment took more than 1 attempt as well. My boss is having me go fairly dry into this. I have maybe a few hours of time in a live WLC, and about 10 in a lab environment at this point. I’ve been doing plenty of Meraki wireless integrations, but they are nothing compared to a Cisco environment, thanks again!

Leave a Reply