How time flies – it is now over 10 years ago that I earned my Cisco CCIE R&S number of 22061.  It was the culmination of failing the lab quite a few times, trying to study as hard as I could, and had the pressure that my CCIE written prequalification was going to expire soon.  I want to do a quick post with my reflection of the CCIE, what it means to me, what it has done for me,  and what I see with it now.

When I first earned my CCIE, like many people out there I suspect, my head was bigger than my shoulders could carry and I would let everyone know that I am a CCIE.   Looking back on that I realize how much of an arse I probably sounded (and may have acted) like.  Lesson learned – just because you have a cert does not mean you need to tell everyone. My advice to you – be proud of what you have accomplished, but don’t let it get to you.  

Looking back I now realize that the CCIE was the starting point for me in my career journey.  Many of us believe that when we achieve a CCIE we will be at the top of our game.  I  hate to break it to you but it is actually the starting of the big, never ending climb.  This climb does seem to get a little easier and that is because your base knowledge is ever growing.  Lesson here – the CCIE is not the end of your journey, but the start of the climb.  Once you accomplish one goal you need to be looking towards the next one.

As I stated, the CCIE actually felt like the start for me.  Once I had that large base of knowledge, building upon it became easier and more natural.  Instead of sitting around learning about things like Layer 2 STP, the story of Ted and Ting, route redistribution – I was able build upon it with other vendors, technologies, and apply it to what I did day to day.   I give alot of credit to the belive that the CCIE helped me achieve the JNCIE just a little bit easier. Lesson here – it is easier to learn new technologies once you have a great base and you will learn them quickly and deeper.

Maintaining the CCIE has always been an interesting challenge after you pass.  Over the past 10 years, I have taken quite a few CCIE written exams (Service Provider, Route and Switch, and Voice) as well as the CCDE written to recertify my CCIE.  Last year I was able to take advantage of the Continuing Education approach to renew my CCIE and much preferred that approach.  Lesson here – always look for new ways to learn and branch out.  Don’t be afraid to use another track to recertify your CCIE – it will help you grow.  Oh and the CEC is an excellent way to make you a better CCIE.

I feel that the CCIE and what it means today has changed since I earned mine over 10 years ago.  The most recent number I have seen is 60500 (tweet below) – that is almost 40,000 additional CCIEs since I passed 10 years ago. Compare that to when the program started back in 1993 until I passed in 2008, we only had 19,000 people pass – the program has gained in popularity.  

I am not saying the CCIE does not have value, it surely does (and that Wireless one is an impressive feat- congrats!).  What I am saying that at one time the CCIE was seen as the pinnacle of network certifications – like the CNE was to Novell and MCSE was to MS.  Like those certifications, the CCIE has become somewhat common-place in todays talent pool. 

What I have done in my career to try and stand out is not just show that I am a CCIE, but actually demonstrate my real-world knowledge.  When I interview candidates for positions at work who have their CCIE, I want to hear about their battle scars, what they have done to improve themselves, how do they challenge and push themselves.  If they can repeat facts, great – that is wonderful but does not help us when we are working at a customer against something “odd and unique.”  

Today, more than ever, the CCIE is just the beginning – it is what you do with the knowledge that counts. Go forth and learn!

Required legal speak:
This material is not sponsored or endorsed by Cisco Systems, Inc. Cisco, Cisco Systems, CCIE and the CCIE Logo are trademarks of Cisco Systems, Inc. and its affiliates.

www.pdf24.org    Send article as PDF