The CCIE (which stands for Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert) is one of the most coveted and respected networking exams in the world, but also one with a comparatively low number of passes. At the 2012 CiscoLive conference it was reported that at that time the number of CCIEs was just 17,320 for Routing and Switching, and when you include all the other CCIE certifications, that number jumps to a hardly whopping 26,634.
That’s not many really. For a great list of the historical trend of the CCIE count go here.
But then the exam is hard and the pass rate of the lab exam is reported to be about 20%.
Unlike the CCNP, which requires a valid CCNA as a prerequisite, the CCIE does not have any prerequisites. You don’t have to have any qualifications, or prove any networking skills at all before you take the written exam. In order to take the lab exam, you must have passed the written exam, and it must still be valid.
The certification is in two parts, a written exam (exam id 350-001) that can be taken at any PearsonVue exam center, and the 8 hour lab exam. The lab exam was originally only offered in a handful of locations which for us Brits would have meant Belgium was the closest, but now mobile labs are offered in a variety of locations, thankfully including London.
The 2 hour written exam costs $350 and the lab exam costs a creditcard-flexing $1500. Once you add on the 20 or so books (£200-400), and practice lab costs (around £800 if you buy the hardware yourself) then this is a very expensive way to further your career.
The payoff though is (apart from the CCIE logo, plaque and certificate) that salary scales for CCIEs are upwards of £57,000 (or according to a US site $70,000-150,000).
And finally one last link to read – the story of how the CCIE came about. Admit it, a little part of you wants that jacket!