For those who are seeking employment in the information technology field, or are looking to gain additional training for their current positions, Cisco Systems, Inc. offers a wide range of certifications in its products. The Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert, or CCIE, program is a highly advanced certification track available to IT professionals with at least 3 to 5 years of experience in the field. Those hoping to gain the certification are required to configure networks and troubleshoot scenarios.
Unlike some other Cisco certifications, attaining the CCIE certificate does not require passing through any lower levels of Cisco certification. However, the skills tested for the certification process are at a very advanced level.
Cisco offers CCIE certification in the following areas: Routing & Switching, Security, Wireless, Voice, Data Center, Storage Networking, Service Provider, and Service Provider Operations.
Specializing in networking equipment, Cisco Systems is headquartered in San Jose, Calif. Its products have a heavy workplace focus, and span a wide variety of networking, security, and data management services and business solutions.
Cisco offers five levels of IT certification on nine different product tracks. Training and exams related to each of these certifications are administered by the Cisco Learning Network, at learningnetwork.cisco.com. The online portal provides resources for learning options, business community networking, and careers, including a jobs listing portal for those who have completed their Cisco certifications.
The Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert certificate program is one of several levels of design certification offered by the company.
- At the Associate level, it is possible to choose between the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) and Cisco Certified Design Associate (CCDA) certification tracks. Cisco refers to this as the “apprentice or foundation” level for networking professionals.
- Cisco offers Professional certifications in two main areas, network operations and network design. The Cisco Certified Design Professional (CCDP) track requires three exams, and establishes expert proficiency in advanced design concepts. The Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) track is similarly challenging, and offers focus areas including data center, security, voice and wireless.
- Making up less than 3% of all Cisco certified workers, those with Expert certifications are considered at the top of their field. There are eight network operations tracks available, all of them requiring significant work experience and knowledge coming into the program.
- The highest level of design-side certification, the Cisco Certified Architect must have achieved the Cisco Certified Design Expert (CCDE) status, and must pass a review in front of a board of experts.
While there is no prerequisite certification to begin the CCIE program, it is highly recommended that all applicants have at least 3 to 5 years networking work experience. The CCIE testing process is the same for each certification area. Candidates take two tests one two-hour written exam, and one eight-hour lab exam. Candidates must pass the written exam before they are allowed to schedule the lab exam. The lab exams in each area require the following tasks:
Career options vary widely depending upon the chosen track of CCIE certification. While someone pursuing the CCIE in Security might look for high-level network security positions, someone with the CCIE certification in Routing and Switching might look for systems administration or other high-level network operations positions. The following job descriptions offer a sampling of the types of employment someone with a CCIE certification could seek:
- Network security engineer: Responsibilities of a network security engineer can include implementing security measures such as firewalls and network intrusion detection, as well as debugging and supporting existing security products. According the Payscale.com, a network security engineer living in the United States earns an annual salary of $50,000 to $109,000, with a median of about $81,000.
- Systems engineer: A systems engineer handles all aspects of the networked environment, including the routers, switches and components, managed by a network engineer, with additional responsibilities including project planning and environment support. According to Payscale.com, a systems engineer living in the United States earns an annual salary of $44,000 to $112,000, with a median of $74,400.
- Network engineer: In this overseeing position, an employee would be responsible for the overall planning, design and functionality of a company’s network infrastructure, with elements including LAN, WAN, and WLAN. According to Payscale.com, a network engineer living in the United States earns an annual salary of $32,000 to $95,000, with a median of $65,000.