10 Years is a long time in this industry.

When I think back to when I passed my 1st CCIE in 2002 I was very proud, and I still am. The fact that I had managed to pass the most respected IT certification in the industry was to me, a big achievement.

There are two sides to the CCIE certification; firstly there is the commitment and the effort in attaining the accreditation. Secondly there is the recertification and also the burden that the badge brings with it. Burden I hear you ask, Yes a burden.

The reason I say this is because whenever people see my business card with the 10 year CCIE logo on it, or one of our account managers tells a client not to worry as he will “put one of our CCIE’s” on the project. The weight of expectation that a CCIE should know every product and every command (including the correct syntax) off by heart is a heavy one.

As I tell everyone who works with me, I don’t know everything and I never will. Einstein said this, “never remember anything you can look up.” So in my book that includes www.cisco.com

Despite working with Cisco hardware since 1997 and passing the 1st incarnation of CCNA and CCNP and then CCIE, the face of our industry continues to change on an almost monthly basis. New tools arrive to help us do our job better; new protocols emerge to streamline communications; hardware becomes quicker and more efficient. It’s called progress.

To me being a CCIE is not about the badge, it’s more about the attitude. I have guys in my team who have no certifications, I have CCIE’s and I have CCNA and NP’s. Every single one of loves the challenge of the puzzles our customer presents us, and every one of them brings something unique to the team that others (including myself) lack. It’s not always about having the qualification.

With that said, I do believe there is a place for certifications, and certainly ones that are lab based. Attaining these will open doors and present opportunities to an individual that they may not been have able to reach, had the certification not been gained.

So my message to anyone wanting to gain CCIE is to go for it, commit to some hard work. Start at CCNA and learn the fundamentals, get some experience or some lab time on rented racks and learn the craft. If you have an understanding employer talk to them and share your goals to see if you can work together on time and costs, after all everyone benefits in this scenario.

As I write this I am trying to make time to study both for CCIE Voice and the new CCIE Datacentre. At 44 years old I thought I would be finished with certifications, but as i said earlier it’s about solving the puzzle, and also about seeing things through to completion.

Hopefully in the next 12 months if you are reading this I will have my 3rd certification and still following Einstein’s advice of “Never remember anything you can look up.”

You can find more information about CCIE at:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cisco_Career_Certifications
http://www.cisco.com/web/learning/le3/ccie/index.html