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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!

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