Cisco Certification - Best method besides attending a $3,000 class

I'm looking to get Cisco certified.  And I don't want to just memorize theory.
Are there simulation programs out there that act like actual routers/switches?
I'm starting at the bottom so I need to brush up on my TCP/IP, DNS, and other networking skills too.
I really enjoyed taking live "lab" classes but I can't afford them any more. The past few years have been a nightmare for me financially.
I hate certification "boot camps" because you only get a shallow understanding based on memorization.
Advice please!
brothertruffle880Asked:
Who is Participating?
I wear a lot of hats...

"The solutions and answers provided on Experts Exchange have been extremely helpful to me over the last few years. I wear a lot of hats - Developer, Database Administrator, Help Desk, etc., so I know a lot of things but not a lot about one thing. Experts Exchange gives me answers from people who do know a lot about one thing, in a easy to use platform." -Todd S.

Mitchell MilliganInformation Technology Network AdministratorCommented:
The best way, check with your local tech school. I found that to be much cheaper than I ever anticipated.  For me it was a series of 3 classes, which were about $300 each.  The best part, is with Tech Schools, you can apply for financial aid through the federal government.  But those classes typically meet 1 time a week and give great hands on with actual equipment, simulation programs such as Cisco Packet Tracer, as well as access to the cisco netacad.com site for elearning.  No book cost involved as the netacad.com has all the curriculum on it.  It may be more affordable than you think for high quality training.
0
Michael OrtegaSales & Systems EngineerCommented:
Try udemy.com. You can get an entire CCNA course for less than $100. An entire video series from people like Chris Bryant. For lab stuff go to https://learningnetworkstore.cisco.com/cisco-learning-labs. You can basically rent labs for about $80.

MO
0

Experts Exchange Solution brought to you by

Your issues matter to us.

Facing a tech roadblock? Get the help and guidance you need from experienced professionals who care. Ask your question anytime, anywhere, with no hassle.

Start your 7-day free trial
AkinsdNetwork AdministratorCommented:
www.youtube.com

You'll be surprised at how much of good quality stuff you'll find there. I did an entire course on youtube and wrote an exam to  waive a class in my graduate degree. Just get the curriculum from Cisco, and look for the topic on youtube.
0
brothertruffle880Author Commented:
mgortega:
I can definitely afford to rent labs for $80!

GREAT suggestion.  Thanks.
0
Mitchell MilliganInformation Technology Network AdministratorCommented:
Good luck with your learning!  Cisco is challenging, but rewarding when you succeed at it!
0
It's more than this solution.Get answers and train to solve all your tech problems - anytime, anywhere.Try it for free Edge Out The Competitionfor your dream job with proven skills and certifications.Get started today Stand Outas the employee with proven skills.Start learning today for free Move Your Career Forwardwith certification training in the latest technologies.Start your trial today
Routers

From novice to tech pro — start learning today.

Question has a verified solution.

Are you are experiencing a similar issue? Get a personalized answer when you ask a related question.

Have a better answer? Share it in a comment.