I apologize if this question is an old one. I at least searched this forum section and couldn't find one exactly like it.

I would love to get some advice and input on the Cisco CCNA certification, in particular how, exactly, I would go about crafting my simulation environment.

I have an MSc in Electrical Engineering, and I even have a computer communications course in my pocket, but employers want something harder than kryptonite to prove that you can deliver from second 1 on the job, and Cisco certificates seem to have that hardness and acceptance.

It seems that Todd Lammle and Wendell Odom are the household names as far as the literature. I have Lammle's CCNA book, but I will listen to advice from the more experienced.

I would love not to have to tinker with actual hardware until I am on my first paid CCNA-demanding job so simulation software seems like the answer. Can I buy software that simulates all CCNA-related labs off the shelf without having to (semi-illegally) download Cisco IOS or similar? Where from? Is www.routersim.com recommendable, and are their products complete in this sense?

Would be great to hear from any of this forum's experts. Thank you!