IT companies in India and the world over value employees with technical certifications. It gives them confidence that they are hiring employees who can do the job. In fact, in a recent survey by Pearson VUE, 70 percent of employers said that “specialist certification and advanced certifications are noticeably lacking.” A certification in any technical domain can be compared to graduation in the domain and certifies the credibility of an individual in that subject.
One of the most popular and prestigious networking certifications in India is the CCIE (Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert) This is by far one of the most sought after networking certifications in the Industry. Authenticating a CCIE individual is easy — every credentialed professional is assigned a unique CCIE licensing number registered with Cisco.
There are six different technologies, in which one can attain this their CCIE:
CCIE Collaboration — Covers IP telephony (Voice and Video)
CCIE Data Center — Covers Server management
CCIE Routing & Switching — Covers core IP network
CCIE Security — Covers network prevention e.g. Firewall, Intrusion prevention etc.
CCIE Service Provider — Convers Service provider infrastructure
CCIE Wireless — Covers wireless protocols and devices
A CCIE-certified professional can easily earn double the salary of their past work experience owing to the market needs and requirement for a certified expert employee. This is a privilege that non CCIE’s do not get even though they may be knowledgeable enough as there are strong business aspects to this.
Why Hire a CCIE?
What makes a CCIE-certified individual so much in demand? There are two aspects of the answer to this question. The first is better business prospects. Cisco, the networking giant and vendor of CCIE certifications, gives certain discounts and leverage to their partners and customers on networking products and services, if they have a certain percentage of CCIE-certified workers in their firm. This can be a huge cost saving factor for IT companies and consulting firms using Cisco services and networking devices. Additionally, of all the IT companies bidding on various networking projects, the ones with CCIE employees on the payroll generally have an edge in these types of negotiations.
The second benefit to having CCIE-certified employees is the increased technical strength and ability of the organization. CCIEs are deployed in the toughest technical roles, and this adds a lot of value to the company and showcases its ability to deliver on the most challenging projects. This also adds to the reputation of a firm and helps get more business.
As an added benefit, CCIE certified employees are expected to mentor their work teams and build their skill sets. This helps create a skilled work force within the organization. This again can be a significant cost saving factor as hiring outside technology experts often comes at a significantly higher pay rate and takes time to get enabled in the organization.
Earning your CCIE
A CCIE is one of the toughest certifications in the networking industry. According to Cisco fewer than three percent of Cisco certified engineers obtain CCIE certification — and fewer than one percent of all networking professionals worldwide — and the average candidate will spend thousands of their own dollars and should plan to take up at least 18 months studying while pursuing it.
Fortunately, there are no prerequisites to a CCIE. Candidates are required to pass two sections: an online written test covering almost all the sections of the Cisco IP telephony network, and a performance-based, eight-hours-long hands-on lab.
Candidates are not required to complete the lab immediately after the written exam. They have up to 18 months after clearing the written exam to sit for the lab portion. Aspirants can take the written exam at any Cisco recognized exam center. Unfortunately, to clear the lab exam, one has to travel all the way to a Cisco location (Bangalore, North Carolina, Sydney, Hong Kong, Brussels, and Dubai, etc.). Hence there is an added cost to getting this certification.
To clear the CCIE, candidates are advised to do a lot of hands-on practice and, if possible, attend boot camps at a certified Cisco learning center. Including all of associated expenses — written and lab exam fees, learning materials, lab practices and travel cost, the cost of earning a CCIE certification easily exceeds 192,000 ₹ ($3,000 U.S.D). Although extremely expensive, the CCIE is so valued and in- demand in India that candidates are often willing to give multiple attempts to clear it.
Contribution of IT Companies
Almost all good IT companies in India and around the world have a CCIE program to assist their employees. They often either finance the whole CCIE program (written and lab) or reimburse the amount up to a certain number of attempts. In return, employees are usually required to sign a service bond or register there CCIE license number with the company. This gives the respective firm the benefits of having a certified employee.
Besides financing CCIE attempts, some companies go so far as to provide employees with a practice lab and time off from work to study. Sometimes it takes a number of attempts to clear the exams. The margin for error is minimal but almost all the companies support their employees in this task owing to the cost and benefits associated with the CCIE certification.
Another reason companies are willing to support their employees in these attempts is that many clients require a certain amount of CCIE’s before outsourcing a network project to an IT company. Hence, it’s a common practice among many IT companies in India to hire few CCIE’s in their organization, if just to help with their bidding and to sustain their projects.
Options for CCIEs
CCIE certification not only pretty much guaranties a job, but also generates a number of career opportunities. These opportunities may range from Tier 3 network support, network design, architecture and implementation. CCIE also opens the platform for IT professionals who wish to explore different career options such as technical writing, instructor jobs in learning institutes, and so forth.
With a deep knowledge of networking and the required skill set, you can still progress in your career without a CCIE, but having one will get you more professional attention and increase the likelihood of your resume making it onto the short-list of applicants. In the long run, isn’t that what we’re all looking for?
Do you have a tale to tell about pursuing your CCIE? If so let us know.