4 resources to find free Cisco skills and certification labs

Options include virtual courses, live teachers and instructional software

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For network professionals looking to get the latest in training for new skills and certifications, there is no shortage of resources on the web, but how do you know which online offers are legitimate?

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One way is to go straight to Cisco. The company has a broad array of training tools available for a variety of different topics and price points, ranging from free to thousands of dollars.

Here are four resources Cisco offers.

Cisco Learning Network

Cisco Learning Network is the company’s central hub for training and certifications. Users who join are able to explore certification paths, view exam topics, take training seminars, join discussion and study groups, and get information on pricing and booking of exams. Much of this information is free, although some training seminars cost money.

More information: Cisco Learning Network

Cisco Networking Academy

Cisco Networking Academy, or NetAcad, is a central repository for Cisco’s official virtual training seminars. Some of the seminars, such as introductory courses are free, others, such as exam-specific training seminars, cost anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

More information: Cisco Network Academy

Cisco Learning Network Store

This subset of the Cisco Learning Network offers structured curriculum for certain goals, such as training for entry, associate, professional, expert, architect and specialist-level exams. Other structured multi-session courses include topic areas such as data center, IoT, IP routing, network programmability, security/VPNs, security and CCNA cloud. Self-paced training, virtual labs, practice exams and community discussion and study groups are also available through the store at various costs, ranging from free to thousands of dollars.

More information: Learning Network Store

Packet Tracer

Packet Tracer is a network simulation and visualization training software developed by Cisco. It’s used to prepare for certification exams or just general practice of network configuration skills. It’s used in many online Cisco courses and comes in Windows, Linux or mobile versions for Apple and Android. Many Packet Tracer courses are free through the Cisco Networking Academy. Other training tools through the Cisco Networking Academy are not free, such as certain Cisco Learning Labs and the expert-level CCIE Lab training courses.

More information: Packet Tracer

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