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CIW Associate: A Fresh Start on the Internet

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Have you ever created a Web page? Have you ever installed a network operating system? Are you looking for an Internet-related certification that deals with real Internet technologies? If you answered yes, you should look into the CIW certification. This article tells you how.
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Contrary to the pundits on CNN, the Internet is not dead. Proof? You're here, aren't you? Internet technologies are still growing despite the dot.com crash on Wall Street. Intranets, new technologies, and more affordable bandwidth are helping the Internet improve, reinvent, and restructure. Are you keeping up or giving up?

The Certified Internet Webmaster is a program from Prosoft that is geared for Internet professionals looking to prove their expertise in four areas of master certification: Administrator, Enterprise Developer, Designer, and Web Site Manager. Each of the Master CIW titles begins with the CIW Associate exam. Let's take a look at this initial exam and what you'll need to pass it.

For starters, the CIW exam is an entry-level exam that will test your knowledge of e-commerce, security, HTML, and basic networking. According to Prosoft, as of this writing, there are 25,000 CIW certifications earned so far. An exam candidate should have three to six months of experience of Internet technology experience prior to taking the exam. The exam costs $125 per attempt—but brags an 80% passing rate. Of course, Prosoft recommends that candidates take a five-day foundations class to adequately prep.

So, what is on this exam? You can expect questions stemming from three primary categories: Internet Fundamentals, Web Page Authoring Fundamentals, and Networking Fundamentals. Let's break these down a bit more.

Internet Fundamentals

You'll need a bird's-eye view of the Internet and how it works, for starters. This includes the evolution of the Internet. You'll need to know how the Internet works for both clients and servers. The exam will challenge your understanding of DNS resolution, registering domain names, and the difference between intranets and extranets.

On the client side, you will need to know how browsers request and send information to Web servers. This means you'll need to know details of both Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Netscape's Navigator. A CIW will be able to customize either browser, deal with fonts, set home pages, add favorites, and purge the history of Web sites visited (not that there's anything naughty in the history). On a more technical note, you'll also need to know about the Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) and its influence on today's portable devices (think phones and PDAs).

You'll also need to able to configure and connect to FTP servers through traditional command-line applications and fancier GUI interfaces. This exam will require you to configure a newsreader for newsgroups and multiple servers. Of course, you'll still need experience with Telnet and need to know why it's hanging around.

What would the Internet be like without email? Pretty boring. This exam will attack many issues on email configuration, usage, and applications. You'll need to know how to configure email messages, how to send and receive email, and how to configure mail applications such as Netscape Messenger and Microsoft Outlook Express. I'm personally glad to see that this exam will cover netiquette (etiquette for email and more). Candidates will need to be able to configure email signatures, attachments, and mailing lists.

This exam will test your knowledge and understanding of objects, plug-ins, and viewers for a multimedia-enhanced Web site. You will need to know what objects and active content are and how they can impact Web traffic, server load, and a user's experience. This exam will expect you to have a cursory knowledge of C, C++, Java, JavaScript, ActiveX, and VBScript. You don't have to dream in code, just know what each is capable of.

How the heck do we ever find anything on the Web? Search engines! This exam will test your knowledge of how to use a search engine, how to add a Web site to search engine directory, and how to use search indexes. You'll need to be able to use some tricks and Boolean operators to filter the search results of any search engine to pass this exam. The objective on search engines also includes the ability to search for people, mailing lists, and newsgroups.

Did you lock the back door? Yeah, I'm talking about security. We've all heard about all the trashing and thrashing Web sites have gone through, so you can expect this exam to test your ability to secure Internet usage for clients, servers, and networks. That means you'll need to be able to work with cookies, send secure date, configure user authentication, and enable digital certificates. You can also count on questions dealing with viruses, proxy servers, and firewalls.

This third of the exam wraps up with a section on e-commerce. You need to know what it is, how it works, and why it's so great for business and users. Expect questions on Secure Electronic Transactions (SET) and Electronic Data Interchange (EDI).

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