How to Become a CCIE - Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert

by Contributor

CCIE is one of the highest levels of certification offered by Cisco Systems. IT professionals who manage large networks, and who are experts in using Cisco products, can attain this prestigious credential by passing a lengthy exam.

To date, there are 6 distinct tracks within CCIE. These are: Routing & Switching, Security, Service Provider, Storage Networking, Voice, and Wireless. If you want to earn expert-level Cisco certification, here are the steps to become a CCIE.

First, visit the website of Cisco's training and events department. There you will see the complete list of certification tracks and a description of each credential. Decide which CCIE track is right for you based on your work experience and job duties.

Next, understand that the requirements to earn a CCIE are passing a written exam, and passing a lab practicum. Unlike with other Cisco certifications, such as CCNA, CCDA, CCNP, ect., there are no required or recommended classes, nor are any previous certification required. What Cisco does recommend is that candidates have at least 3-5 years of experience before they attempt the exams.

To prepare for the exams, first create an account on the Cisco Systems website so that you can access CCIE exam blueprints and other study aides.

Review the book list for the written exam, sample questions, topics, and forums to learn what will be tested on the two-hour written exam. Decide if you should take a CCIE prep course (or boot camp) to help you pass the exam. If you choose to take a course (not required), the website has a list of suggested training courses for specific topics. Outside of Cisco, there are comprehensice CCIE training programs and bootcamps that can help you prepare for the written and lab exam.

When you are ready to take the written exam, register for it on the Cisco website and pay the $350 fee. Written exams are held in thousands of locations, so choose the CCIE testing center nearest to your home. Depending on where you live, you may neet to make travel arragnements.

When you pass the CCIE written exam, the next step is to pass the eight-hour lab exam at a Cisco lab. You have 3 years to pass the lab exam after the written exam, but you must make your first attempt at the lab within 18 months of passing the written CCIE test. Keep in mind, CCIE lab tests are only offered at a handful of locations worldwide, and the fee is $1400 per attempt.

Most test takers do not earn CCIE certification on the first attempt, but there is a high passing rate among people who take the exams for the second time. The more you study exam-specific topics, the higher your chances of passing.

Ask your employer about reimbursement for CCIE training costs, travel and lodging, and exam fees before you register for Cisco training courses, or exams.

Keep in mind that CCIEs must recertify every two years to maintain their Cisco certification. Recertification can be done by taking either a written or lab exam.