cwne

CTS 143: Tips On Becoming A CWNE

Coming off the end of the CWNP WiFi Trek conference, we go over our tips for becoming a CWNE.

Tips on Becoming A CWNE

Sometimes, we get sone questions from you guys about what it takes to become CWNE and if we have any tips. After seeing how many people at the CWNP WiFi Trek conference wanted this kind of advice, we decided to combine our tips together and provide our insight. These tips are based on our own experiences and we hope you find it helpful.

Take it one step at a time

Learning the 802.11 protocol takes time. Don’t rush the learning process. Understand what you’re trying to learn and explain it to others as a way to reinforce the learning.

Start taking frame captures

Get started early when it comes to doing frame captures. As you begin getting into the nitty gritty details the more you’ll understand as you get into the professional level certifications. Learn how to capture frames during your CWNA certification study. Do it alongside the theory and it will be engrained in your mind.

Get ahold of the standard

Reading about wireless from the 802.11-2016 standard is getting it from the source. Although it is dry material, it is the actual standard in which all training material is based out of.

Structure studying

Book the exam before you start studying for the certification. This changes your mindset and gives you and end date to complete your studies. If you don’t do this you’ll make more excuses as to why you don’t have it done. Set it in the calendar and create a schedule. Let everyone, including your family, know ahead of time. There will be some time commitments to obtain your CWNE.

Take notes

Write your notes down in the form of blog posts. This is a great way to get your published content out there. Utilize the Notes app on iOS and macOS. Evernote is another useful note taking app to keep all your content together. It will make it easy to go over while in line at a store or during a break from work.

Get ahold of equipment

It’s much easier to get ahold of wireless equipment nowadays. Join a Meraki or Mist webinar and you can get an enterprise grade access point for free. Or check out the WLAN Pros Lending Library (United States only) to borrow some equipment to further your learning. If you have to, use your consumer grade home wireless for learning too. They all speak 802.11.

Get endorsers that know your work

Endorsers know about your work. This could be your colleague or manager. An endorser does not need to be a CWNE. Do not broadcast an email asking CWNE’s to endorse you, especially if they don’t know you or your work. But you can ask a CWNE or anyone else to review your essays.

Focus essays on the Pro level certs

We’re often asked what your essays should be written about. Focus a paper on each of the professional level CWNP certifications, Analysis, Design and Security. That makes it easy. If you can’t write something on each then pick one that best speaks to your experience. Each essay should demonstrate your technical knowledge as a CWNE. You’ll need great grammar as well. It doesn’t have to be a novel. Keep it to about 2 pages and don’t be afraid to add images and tables to your essay.

Publish articles

Write a blog about what you’ve learned from your CWNP studies. Or blog about your experiences out in the field in regards to wireless. You can also start a podcast about wireless or even create your own YouTube videos. You don’t have to write any whitepapers but you do want something published in your name. A blog is the easiest way to get started.

Links and Resources

CTS 060: Road to CWNE

The journey to CWNE is not a straight path. It takes preparation, determination, and patience with a lot of studying. This is my summary to CWNE #210.

CWNE LogoDeciding to tackle the CWNP certifications towards CWNE is a task you do not take on lightly. In 2015, I had decided to create a personal goal of fulfilling my Wi-Fi dreams of becoming CWNE. While the certifications were not required for my job at my employer I was wanting to complete them for myself and to have the credibility of a CWNE.

In December 2016, I received the confirmation email of becoming CWNE #210 and was filled with a lot of joy from the sweat from the hard work.

CWNA

The CWNA cemented a foundation in Wi-Fi and proved there was much to learn in this space.

I used the CWNA study guide from Sybex which helped me pass the exam the first time. The book covered all the topics and provided more information beyond the scope of the exam.

During this time, I had also begun doing a Wi-Fi podcast to help me stay on track by constantly talking about the topic. The Clear To Send podcast has definitely helped me stay focused on Wi-Fi topics. I believe that teaching others is a way to also help yourself really understand the technology.

My CWNE Timeline

 

My timeline for CWNP to CWNE

CWNE Requirements

The requirements for becoming CWNE are straightforward and outlined on the application PDF.

CWNE requirements as of January 2017:

  • You must pass CWNA, CWAP, CWDP, and CWSP and they must be current.
  • Have three years of experience (verifiable) Wi-Fi administration, Security, Protocol Analysis, and Quality of Service
  • Have three endorsers
  • Meet listed achievements such as a published book, white paper, recorded instructional presentation, updated blog, etc
  • Write three essays (each over 500 words but not longer than 1000 words) which speak to your knowledge in Wi-Fi

  • Hold two valid non-CWNP certifications

CWAP

After completing CWNA, the next task is figuring out which professional level certification to go with next. My recommendation is to knock on CWAP. The analysis portion will arm you with the knowledge to pass the other exams with a little more ease. Analysis requires you to know more about design and security which is why I recommend this path. Within the CWAP you will dive into the frames and know more about frames than you ever wanted to.

When I first started tackling CWAP, I had tried to rush myself into passing before CWNP made the exam changes. Rushing is definitely a recipe for failure as I didn’t pass on my first attempt. What made things worse is that I couldn’t review fast enough for a second attempt before the exam changes.

Without giving up, I ended up purchasing the CWAP Study Guide by CWNP. While the book was much thinner, it did contain enough information to pass the exam.

I highly recommend capturing many wireless frames to help solidify the topics for CWAP. I lived and breathed in Wireshark during my CWAP. Anytime I needed to troubleshoot a Wi-Fi issue I always opened Wireshark just to see what was going on.

Something I always remember was when I solved a slow Wi-Fi issue due to a client constantly sending out CTS-to-Self frames with large duration values. I wouldn’t have seen this if I hadn’t gone through CWAP and applied what I learned.

CWDP

My decision to go with CWDP next had to do with the work I was doing with my employer. At the time I was doing quite a bit of design work so it was only natural that I took this path.

When I looked into book resources for learning CWDP I learned the book for the previous exam version was much bigger than the new version by CWNP. I decided to pick up both for the purposes of learning more.

The CWNP book is what I used to study for the CWDP and the previous version, by Sybex, I use as reference.

CWSP

I left the CWSP as the final professional level certification to tackle. This was in part of security being one of my weaker areas.

After reviewing the objectives I knew there would be quite a lot of terms to be familiar with. One of those being 802.1X and the security methods.

When you study for the CWSP be sure you know each of the authentication and encryption methods. Know what the difference is between them and which ones should and should not be used. What helped me learn the topics really quickly was building a Wi-Fi lab and experimenting with each method.

At home I have an Intel NUC which has VMware ESXi installed. I deployed a FreeRADIUS server and learned how to setup 802.1X with different access points and with a Cisco WLAN controller. Then during the authentication process of a device I would capture the wireless frames and analyze them.

If you take this route you will remember the topics much easier.

CWNE Application

In parallel to my CWSP studies I began working on my CWNE application. Why do it in parallel? It made it faster to apply after passing the last required exam.

The easiest task to do here is find three endorsers who can attest to your knowledge in Wi-Fi.

My three endorsers were:

  • Colleague
  • Manager
  • A CWNE

I recommend you at least find one CWNE to endorse you. You should really find a CWNE to guide you through this process when you are early on into your CWNP studies. I’ll talk more about this later.

Experience

A requirement of the CWNE is having the experience. Get exposed to working on Wi-Fi networks in areas of administration, design, analysis, and security. You may even be able to volunteer your expertise to non-profits who do not have the funds or capacity to do Wi-Fi networks properly. Look out for Episode 61 on this topic.

If you haven’t already, start a blog talking about your Wi-Fi experience. Talk about the subject as if you were teaching someone. You can see some examples on my own blog.

Other ways to get experience is to have published Wi-Fi articles. I have a few on Network Computing.

If you have questions about whether something is eligible you can contact CWNP and get verification.

Essays

You’re required to write three essays that show your knowledge in Wi-Fi. A simple way to approach this is to look at the three professional level certifications. You can write three topics on Design, Analysis, and Security.

I don’t recommend writing three essays on the same topic. For example,  you write three essays all on Design. That only speaks to your design knowledge.

You will want to show that you’ve been able to learn from the CWNP certifications and have applied that on a project or in the workplace.

Reach out to a CWNE and ask for guidance. You may even want them to review your essays to provide any input and recommendations for improvement.

Mentors

Early on in my Wi-Fi career I had indirect mentors. What I mean is I followed some of industry experts by reading their blogs, listening to their podcasts, and engaging with them on social media.

What I wish I had done when I first started was actually reach out to specific individuals and ask them to become mentors. These are CWNE’s who have the time to provide guidance to someone starting out in the CWNP path.

First you must be a good mentee. I always always always emphasis on doing the research first. Try to find the answers to your questions. And then when you have hit that wall you can approach your mentor with the results you found and ask for the push towards the right direction. A mentor will never give you a straight up answer. They are there to guide you.

A good mentor will be someone who is approachable and has the time (many CWNE’s are very busy with work travel and family). They provide guidance, input, recommendations, and experience. A mentor does not give you all the answers. They will encourage you along the path and push you to do better.

I want to thank one person specifically who has guided me throughout my CWNE journey and that is Francois Verges. He was patient with me, reviewed my essays and provided valuable input. Thanks Francois!

Resources Used During CWNE Journey

CWNA

CWAP

CWDP

CWSP

Applications

Hardware

Blogs

CTS 058: 2016 Year In Review

This is a pre-recorded episode. I’m off for Christmas 🙂 I hope you enjoy the rest of your year. I will see you in 2017!

After this episode was recorded I found out I had become CWNE #210. It was a great gift to receive right before Christmas. I’ll discuss my journey to CWNE in an upcoming episode in 2017.

2016 started off on the wrong foot for me. Personally, I went to the hospital on Jan 1st, 2016 because of my gallbladder. Then continued to have issues with it until March – when I had it finally resolved.

But when it came to Podcasting and Wi-Fi I saw great growth.

Podcast stats:

If you enjoy the podcast, help me out by filling out a one question survey on what topics you want to hear in 2017. Just takes a minute or two – www.cleartosend.net/survey

Not just with me but in the community as well.

Marketing has never been short of exciting. We started seeing Wi-Fi being described as switch-like. Come on guys. But the community banded together to shame the group of people spreading misinformation.

Unfortunately, we still continue to see poor installations as noted in popular Wi-Fi forums – I shall not name them here for your own sake. You don’t want to rage quit at the end of the year. If you want to check out the photos just head over to Bad-Fi – https://badfi.com/bad-fi/. At my own workplace I’ve had to facepalm a few times coming across Bad-Fi but those were quickly resolved.

This year was the first time I attended Cisco Live and it was fitting to be in-person in Las Vegas of all places. Being able to put names to Twitter handles was fantastic. Meeting with industry peers is the best part of these conferences and I hope to attend more in the future.

I’ve been fortunate to be part of Mobility Field Day – not just one but two events. Mobility Field Day  was fantastic and it’s mindblowing to be around so many smart people.

2016 was the year of exams for me. At the beginning of the year I had decided to get off my butt and put my head in the books. It began with tackling CWAP as I was knee deep in frame captures and analysis. Easily the hardest one for me of all the exams. In October I set my sights on CWDP and was successful. Came natural for me as I am designing often. CWSP was fresh and with the right amount of reading, studying, and labbing – I overcame that as well. Then before December I submitted my CWNE application and as of this recording I am waiting for the results – crossing fingers.

Speaking of CWNE, CWNP reached 200 CWNE’s worldwide before December 2016. Big achievement! This shows how much Wi-Fi is beginning to be taken seriously. It’s not just putting up more access points! With Wi-Fi being a primary point of access to the network, we should be planning and optimizing regularly.

2016 came with many frustrations but with many achievements as well. I hope you had a successful 2016 – both for your career and personally.

This is the final episode of 2016 so I will see you guys in the new year. Be safe, have fun, and take care.

CTS 037: CWNE Journey With Francois Verges

Portrait of Francois VergesI have the pleasure of having Francois Verges co-hosting with me as he discusses his journey to CWNE. It was recently announced on Twitter, Francois became CWNE #180.

Francois first started his journey to becoming CWNE about 3 years ago. He talks about this experience and how he got introduced into the CWNP program.

In this episode, Francois provides his tips and insights into starting out with CWNA and what steps to take in becoming a CWNE.

Links and Resources

CTS 022: Jason Hintersteiner Part I – Small & Medium Business WiFi

SMB WiFi text over a desk

Jason Hintersteiner joins the Clear To Send podcast to talk about how he got started in WiFi after the thought of having to move to Europe for his employer. From there Jason brings up his experiences working with small & medium business WiFi. This is Part I of a two part podcast interview.

The SMB space requires a different approach to WiFi compared to a large enterprise or large educational institution. While the process might be different, one thing is certain – Jason and I agree that a wireless professional must know the basics or foundations of wireless before designing, installing and troubleshooting a wireless network.

I ask about the tools Jason uses on his Windows laptop and what his design methodology is, such as 80, 40, and 20 MHz channel widths.

Links and Resources Mentioned

@emperorwifi – Follow Jason on Twitter
www.emperorwifi.com – Jason’s blog
www.imperialnetworksolutions.com – Jason’s consulting firm
Tamograph – Wireless Site Survey software
CommView – Network Analyzer, same makers of Tamograph
Wireshark – Free network protocol analyzer
CWNE – Certified Wireless Network Expert certification from CWNP

Thanks For Listening

Thanks for listening to this episode. This is Part I of the interview with Jason Hintersteiner. Stay tuned for Part II as we wrap up with Jason.

If you enjoyed this episode, please share it on social media using the share buttons below.