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Roadmap to Success: CCIE Routing & Switching

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Roadmap to Success is a series of posts designed to help learners better understand certification pathways, career opportunities associated with those certifications, and next steps beyond certification.

UPDATED: We recently updated this article on February 14, 2017 to reflect relevant changes to the Cisco CCIE Routing and Switching certification curriculum.

The Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert Routing and Switching (CCIE R&S) certification is an expert-level certification that demonstrates the skills required of expert-level network engineers to plan, operate, and troubleshoot complex, converged network infrastructure. As an expert-level certification, the CCIE R&S is rare but highly sought after by the IT industry. This certification provides a lasting foundation for both physical and virtual networks in enterprise environments.

CCIE Routing and Switching
The CCIE Routing and Switching is one of the most prestigious networking certifications in the industry. Interestingly, it is an expert-level certification that has no formal prerequisites. However, it is strongly recommended that learners have 3-5 years of experience, and have earned the CCNA and CCNP Routing and Switching certifications, in order to be well prepared for the exams associated with the CCIE.

The CCIE Routing and Switching certification is made up of two exams, which are covered by CBT Nuggets training:

Because the CCIE is an expert-level certification, thorough preparation is required. Therefore, CBT Nuggets has developed six courses to cover all the content addressed by the identified exam topics:

*Please note that v5.0 of the CCIE certification, for which CBT Nuggets provides training and preparation, was retired July 25, 2016.

The CCIE has a complex certification process, around which there are many myths and points of confusion. CCIE-certified trainer Anthony Sequeira recently facilitated a webinar addressing the myths surrounding the CCIE.

Exam Details
Because the CCIE is made up of two exams, please review each exam detail section carefully to fully understand the requirements of each exam experience.

WRITTEN
Time allotted for exam: 2 hours (120 minutes)
Number of questions: 90-110
Passing score: Cisco does not publish the passing score for its exams
Question types: Multiple choice; Drag and drop; Simulation
Exam registration: Pearson VUE
Exam cost: $400 (USD)*
*Learn more about exam fees from Pearson VUE
Exam topics: 400-101 v5* (free resource)
*Please note that v5.0 of the CCIE certification, for which CBT Nuggets provides training and preparation, was retired July 25, 2016.

LAB
Exam prerequisite: Learners must first pass the Written exam before becoming eligible for the Lab exam
Time allotted for exam: 8 hours (480 minutes)
Passing score: Cisco does not publish the passing score for its exams – it is important to note that proctors will be grading learners using automatic tools to gather data from routers
Question types: Configure and troubleshooting a series of complex networks to given specifications
Exam registration: Cisco (learners must have a valid Cisco user account to register)
Exam cost: $1,600 (USD), per attempt, not including travel and lodging
Exam topics: CCIE Routing and Switching Lab Exam Topics v5.0* (free resource)
*Please note that v5.0 of the CCIE certification, for which CBT Nuggets provides training and preparation, was retired on July 25, 2016.

Recertification
The CCIE Routing and Switching certification is valid for two years from the date the certification is earned. Learners recertify by passing the recertification exam. If the recertification exam is not completed in a timely manner, learners risk losing their CCIE certification and benefits associated with the status. Plus, if a learner does not reinstate his/her CCIE status within one year of becoming inactive, he/she will be required to complete the full certification process again from the beginning (written and lab exams).

The Next Step
The CCIE Routing and Switching certification is the pinnacle of the Cisco universe of routing and switching certifications. Therefore, many learners looking toward next steps after they earn their CCIE will often seek opportunities in other Cisco specializations. Most typically, learners will consider the following Cisco certifications following the CCIE:

Some learners will look to diversify their experience by pursuing related networking technologies that exist outside the Cisco universe. Options include:

Career Considerations
Payscale.com provides a helpful salary guide to help learners determine appropriate pay scales for job opportunities associated with the CCIE. Depending on professional experience, an employee who holds a CCIE can earn between $60,833 and $168,860. Roles that are common for those holding a CCIE include senior network engineer, network engineer, network architect, solutions architect, senior systems engineer, and IT manager.

Cisco Certifications

Cisco certifications are layered, with each layer building upon the knowledge and skills developed at previous layers — structurally designed as a pyramid. The layers are Entry, Associate, Professional, Expert, and Architect. Associate-level certifications include CloudCollaborationData CenterIndustrialRouting and SwitchingSecurityService Provider, and Wireless.

Once a learner has earned an Associate-level certification, they are eligible to pursue Cisco Certified Network Professional-level certifications. Cisco offers a variety of Professional-level certifications, including Design Professional (CCDP)CloudCollaborationData CenterRouting and SwitchingSecurityService Provider, and Wireless.

Finally, learners can choose to pursue Expert-level certifications, which include Design Expert (CCDE)CollaborationData CenterRouting and SwitchingSecurityService Provider, and Wireless.

Cisco provides an excellent certification overview that succinctly outlines each certification, its prerequisites, and related careers.

Begin exploring other Cisco certification options for which CBT Nuggets provides training to open up even more professional development opportunities.

Concluding Thoughts
The CCIE Routing and Switching is a prestigious certification for which most learners spend about a year preparing. It is a way to truly distinguish yourself from the IT pack in the networking world. It requires significant effort, but it is certainly worth it!

Watch. Learn. Conquer the CCIE!

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