Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) is a certification offered by Cisco for the beginners in the networking field. This test had many variants in the past but now Cisco has combined all the tests into one and the variant is called 200-301. You have to score 825 marks out of 1000, in a two-hour test having 102 questions, to get the certification. The certification is valid for three years. It is an expensive test and has a high pass percentage requirement, so you must train well and try to clear it in the first attempt. It is not difficult to pass it, it just requires dedication and hard work.
There are many online courses available to help you prepare for the test, and you can also take on-premise classroom training for the preparation. The only difference is that in online training, you can study at your own pace, whereas in a classroom program you have to go with the pace of the class, which usually lasts a week. Either way, you have to study well and do a lot of practice to get hold of the subject. For the course material, again, either you can get it online, or get your hands on one of the Cisco Press published full certification guide books. The best tool to help you practise the exercises in my opinion is Packet Tracer. It helps you get real-world experience in a lab environment, and lets you use the network devices without any constraint. It will help you if you read about the basic networking terminologies before taking a class.
Networking jobs are bound to grow in the next five years. Almost every industry today relies on computer networks for smooth operations. And to enter the industry you must be able to demonstrate the required skills. Getting the CCNA certification helps that purpose. It is a very good qualification for entry-level jobs. On average, an entry-level level networking job can pay you $60,000 per year, which is a decent salary for a beginner. Even if you are already working in the industry but do not have the certification, then the certification can help you secure your position in your organisation along with a better salary package. As per a survey, a certified professional earns 16% more than its non-certified counterpart. Most important, it is not just the certification that will help you get a job, you must learn the skill-set to get the job.
Hence, it will be appropriate to conclude that you learn the skill and then get the certification, in this order, to kick-start your networking career.