certifications

CTS 053: 3 Simple Tips for Passing the CWAP Exam

These 3 simple tips for passing the CWAP exam may seem easier said than done. Listen to the podcast to hear more details about each tip and how I used them to pass the CWAP exam.

Certified Wireless Analysis Professional In September 2016 I sat and passed CWNP’s CWAP-402 exam. The exam costs about $225 as of this episode. It’s a multiple choice exam consisting of 60 questions which you need to complete in 120 minutes. The CWAP is the analysis portion of CWNP’s set of certifications.

So let’s go into my 3 tips for passing the CWAP exam:

1. Read The Book Twice

I’ve opted to read the Kindle version of this book. For over a year now I’ve gone completely digital with my books. It works well with my workflow and I hate carrying around heavy books.

The content is very technical so it helps to read through it multiple times in order for the topic to sink in.

My schedule consisted of reading one chapter a week. That was my goal. Some chapters can get very long so it helped to break them out over a couple of days. Pace yourself with each chapter and don’t rush it.

Take advantage of the chapter quizzes. If you score 80% or better, move on to the next chapter. Scored less? Then you need to review. Don’t read the answers for the quizzes. Doing so will make you memorize the answer for the chapter quiz.

2. Take Good Notes

I use Evernote to capture all my notes. You can use other similar apps such as OneNote, Google Keep, or even paper and pencil.

Review each of your notes every day. This will keep the content fresh in your mind. Key things you’ll want to note down are various frame exchanges such as associations and security. Knowing what’s inside of these frames is crucial too, such as what’s inside a beacon frame.

Note down the differences between each PHY and you’ll start to see why that is important.

Another topic I highly recommend knowing is QoS parameters and their priorities.

These little details are good to note down and will be beneficial in your passing.

3. Lab Up Scenarios

A big part of my success if being able to see a lot of Wi-Fi in action. Protocol and Spectrum analysis is a big part of the exam.

I started off by installing Wireshark and using Airtool (Mac app) to capture frames. I got familiar with frame exchanges and what was contained in those frames. I looked at various beacons, associations, and security frame exchanges.

For spectrum analysis I used Metageek’s Chanalyzer. The CWAP book uses Air Magnet. The interfaces differ between Chanalyzer and Air Magnet.

It will be important to spot the different characteristics of interference such as microwave, video transmitters, Bluetooth, and other 802.11 traffic.

Aside from those three tips, experience is a big plus. Having come across many of these topics will help you pass the exam. One such example is troubleshooting wired side issues.

The CWAP exam actually puts some emphasis on the wired side of things because they often mask themselves as Wi-Fi issues. So you have to know how to troubleshoot an issue using the CWAP methodology.

Things I did not take in preparation for this exam:

  • Practice exam
  • Bootcamp

I felt I prepared enough that I didn’t have to take either the practice exam or bootcamp. I’m not even a fan of doing either. For my CWNA I did take a bootcamp and found it beneficial. I guess at the point I was studying (for both old and new exam) I just got tired of studying and decided to jump into the exam.

CTS 025: Wireless Certifications

Image of wireless certifications
What certifications are available out there for wireless network engineering? When I did some research, I found that there is really one authority on wireless certifications.

This episode is about identifying vendor-neutral certifications and vendor-specific certifications.

I talk about some of the reasons why one may want to be certified in wireless. Not everyone gets certified and its definitely not an absolute requirement to hold a certification.

Additionally, many will fail certification exams. I have failed a couple in my career. Just don’t let that get you down. Keep studying and stay determined.

Why get certified?

  • Get your foot in the door
  • Explore a career roadmap
  • Learn / grow expertise
  • Show value
  • Promotion / salary increase
  • Stay current
  • You have to (VAR or MSP)

Certifications

  • CWNP – 6 certifications
    • CWTS (Certified Wireless Technology Specialist)
      • Entry level for sales, project managers, and those new to WiFi.
      • Good for a lifetime
    • CWNA (Certified Wireless Network Administrator)
      • Understanding RF, site surveys, etc.
      • RF fundamentals
      • Antenna concepts
      • Standards
      • Protocols
      • MAC and PHY layers
      • Architecture
      • Security
      • Valid for 3 years.
    • CWAP (Certified Wireless Analysis Professional)
      • Must have CWNA
      • For those who want to know how to analyze, troubleshoot and optimize WiFi.
      • Getting down to the nitty gritty.
      • PHY layer frame formats
      • MAC layer frame formats
      • Frame exchanges
      • Spectrum analysis
      • Protocol analysis
      • Troubleshooting
      • Valid for 3 years.
    • CWDP (Certified Wireless Design Professional)
      • Those who want to properly design WiFi.
      • Requirements analysis
      • Site surveys
      • Design
      • Deployment
      • Validation
      • Need CWNA.
      • Valid for 3 years.
    • CWSP (Certified Wireless Security Professional)
      • Prove your knowledge in WiFi security.
      • Intrusion and attacks
      • WIPS
      • VPNs
      • Security design models
      • Encryption
      • Need a CWNA.
      • Valid for 3 years.
    • CWNE (Certified Wireless Expert)
      • Not an exam.
      • Go through an application process.
      • Written paper.
      • Need all certifications.
    • Average Salary
      • CWNA – $71,250 – $105,750
      • CWNE – $157k – $262,500
  • Comptia
    • Mobility+ (MB0-001)
    • Vendor neutral
    • Focuses on mobile device management, troubleshooting, and security.
    • Includes not just wifi but CDMA, TDMA, GSM, WiMAX, LTE, and others.
    • Covers 802.11
    • RF characterstics
    • Antennas
    • Site surveys
    • Network infrastructure
    • And OSI model

Vendor Certifications

You can go for vendor specific certifications from vendors such as Cisco, Aruba, and Ruckus. While these certification tracks will teach you some WiFi specific technology, they are aimed more towards configuring a specific vendors equipment.

The key takeaway here is that you still need a solid foundation in wired networking and wireless networking. Because of this I recommend going for the CWNP certifications first. They are vendor neutral.

  • Cisco
    • CCNA Wireless
      • Entry level for the Cisco Wireless track
      • Configuring, implementing and support Cisco wireless
      • Start diving into Cisco wireless architecture
      • Such as Cloud, autonomous, and controller based models
      • Introduction into CAPWAP
      • Need a CCENT
    • CCNP Wireless
      • Four exams
      • CUWSS (Cisco Unified Wireless Site Survey)
        • What you need to know leading up to a site survey
        • What to plan for
        • How to conduct a site survey – and you’ll probably dive into Cisco specific products
        • Perform an assessment
      • IUWVN (Implementing Cisco Unified Wireless Voice Networks)
        • Getting into designing and implementing wireless networks for VoIP.
      • IUWMS (Implementing Cisco Unified Wireless Mobility Services)
        • Location based services such as DAS and RFID.
        • AP groups
        • High availability
        • Cisco specific technologies such as Flexconnect
        • Using logs and debugs
        • RF tuning
        • MSE architecture
        • Mesh
        • Cisco WCS
      • IAUWS (Implementing Advanced Cisco Unified Wireless Security)
        • Client device security
        • NAC – Network Access Control
        • Securing connectivity services
        • Guest access
        • Policies
        • IPS/IDS
        • Advanced Security Platforms
    • CCIE Wireless
      • Written and a lab
      • List of objectives for the written portion
      • Configuring and troubleshooting
      • Then fly out to Cisco to do the lab portion.
      • Rigorous
  • Aruba
    • ACMA (Aruba Certified Mobility Associate)
      • Controller model familiarity
      • AP models
      • Provisioning of APs and configuration
      • Management
      • RF Management
      • Single controller environment
    • ACMP (Aruba Certified Mobility Professional)
      • Those working in complex environments
      • Multiple controllers
      • Same topics but deeper understanding
    • ACMX (Aruba Certified Mobility Expert)
      • Validate knowledge in implementing and troubleshooting large WiFi networks.
      • ACMP is required
      • Just some of the topics – Arubas mobility OS
      • Redundancy
      • Spectrum monitoring
      • VoIP
      • Captive portals
      • Troubleshooting
    • ACDX (Aruba Certified Design Expert)
      • For the architect of large environments and remote offices.
      • ACMP required.
      • Designing redundancy, RF, QoS, security, authentication
  • Ubiquiti – Thanks Spencer!
    – UBWS (Ubiquiti Broadband Wireless Specialist)
    – UBWA (Ubiquiti Broadband Wireless Admin)
    – UEWA (Ubiquiti Enterprise Wireless Admin)
  • Other Certifications related to wireless
    • Wireshark
    • Ekahau
      • ECSE – Ekahau Certified Survey Engineer
        • Go through a class which is taught by Keith Parsons or Devin Akin.
        • RF fundamentals
        • Predictive designs
        • Pre- and post-deployment site surveys
        • Troubleshooting
        • Spectrum analysis
        • Reporting
    • Security Centric
      • OSWP (Offensive Security Wireless Professional)
        • OSWP focuses on conducting reconnaissance on wifi networks, avoiding detection, cracking security, implementing attacks, and all that good hacker stuff.
      • GAWN (GIAC Assessing and Auditing Wireless Networks)
        • Targeted towards auditors, network admins and pen testers responsible for security wireless networks.
        • Focused on security mechanisms, tools used to exploit weaknesses, analyze wireless networks
        • Fuzzing, DoS attacks, attacks of authentication and encryption methods, rogue networks, auditing. Good stuff.

Links and Resources Mentioned

Thanks For Listening

Thanks for listening to this episode on Wireless Certifications. I want to know what you think about certifications. Does certifications help you in your career? Leave a comment in the show notes http://www.cleartosend.net/25

Lastly, I want to thank some new reviewers:

  • SweetTeaJunkie says

Great Podcast! Rowell knows wi-fi. I’ve been listening as I work my way through the CWNA and his knowledge has been very helpful. Thanks!

  • Rybo1199 says

Great Podcast! Keep up the good work!

  • therealswy says

Your podcast app should RTS CTS! Packed with real world product info, interviews with important players in the WiFi world and practical knowledge, CTS has earned a top seat in my podcast queue. With a consistent release schedule, solid production quality and a focus on providing knowledge over chit-chat with others, I consistently learn something from Rowell’s podcast. Anyone the admin who has “WiFi” among the long list of tech responsibilities up through those who focus solely on large deployments can learn from CTS”.

  • JasNH1846 says

Excellent resource for WiFi info! This is the podcast I have been looking for on the wireless topic. The format is great its not too long its not too short, the expertise level of the guests and the host is excellent.

Thank you guys for the 5 star reviews! I greatly appreciate it! If you would like to leave a review please head over to http://cleartosend.net/review. Your feedback is most appreciated.

Once again, thank you for joining me on this episode on wireless certifications. Go out there, build great wifi networks, and keep being awesome. I will see you on the next episode. Over and out.