Do They Give Out Numbers For The CCIE Written?

I’ve seen a bit of lively discussion recently about a topic that has vexed many an engineer for years.  It revolves around a select few that put “CCIE Written” as their title on their resume or their LinkedIn account.  While they have gone to great lengths to study and take the 100-question multiple choice written qualification exam for the CCIE lab, there is some notion that this test in and of itself grants a title of some sort.  While I have yet to interview someone that has this title, others that I talk to said they have.  I have been in a situation where some of my co-workers wanted to use that particular designation for me during the period of time when I passed the written but hadn’t yet made it through the lab.  I flat out told them “no.”

I understand the the CCIE is a huge undertaking.  Even the written qualification exam is a huge commitment of time and energy.  The test exists because the CCIE has no formal prerequisite.  Back before the CCNA or the CCNP, anyone could go out and attempt the CCIE.  However, since lab spots are a finite resource, some method of pre qualification had to be in place to ensure that people wouldn’t just book spot after spot in the hope of passing the lab.  The written serves as a barrier to entry that prevents just anyone from grabbing the nearest credit card and booking a lab slot they may have no hope of passing.  The written exam is just that, though – a qualification exam.  It doesn’t confer a number or a title of any kind.  It’s not the end of the journey.  It’s the beginning.  I think the rise of the number of people trying to use the CCIE written as a certification level comes from the fact that the exam can now be used to recertify any of a number of lower level certifications, including CCxA, CCxP, and almost all the Cisco Qualified Specialist designations.  That’s the reason I passed my first CCIE written.  At first, I had no real desire to try and get my brains hammered in by the infamous lab.  I merely wanted to keep my professional level certifications and my specialist tags without needing to go out and take all those exams over again.  However, once I passed the written and saw that I indeed knew more about routing and switching than I anticipated, I started analyzing the possibility of passing the lab.  I passed the written twice more before I got my number, both to keep my eligibility for the lab and to keep my other certifications from expiring.  Yet, every time someone asked me what my new title was after passing that test I reminded them that it meant nothing more beyond giving me the chance at a lab date.

I’m not mad at people that put “CCIE Written” as their title on a resume.  It’s not anger that makes me question their decision.  It’s disappointment.  I almost feel sorry that people see this as just another milestone that should provide some reward.  The reward of the CCIE Written is proving you know enough to go to San Jose or Brussels and not get your teeth kicked in.  It doesn’t confer a number or a title or anything other than a date taken and a score that you’ll need to log into the CCIE site every time you want to access your data (yes, even after you pass you still need it).  Rather than resting your laurels after you get through it, look at it as a license to accelerate your studies.  When someone asks you what your new title is, tell them your lab date.  It shows commitment and foresight.  Simply telling someone that you’re a CCIE written is most likely going to draw a stare of disdain followed by a very pointed discussion about the difference between a multiple choice exam and a practical lab.  Worst case scenario?  The person interviewing you has a CCIE and just dismisses you on the spot.  Don’t take that chance.  The only time the letters “CCIE” should be on your resume is if they are followed by a number.

18 thoughts on “Do They Give Out Numbers For The CCIE Written?

  1. I agree, I wouldn’t put it on my title but I would put it under my certifications section just to show progress, just like I listed out each test passed towards my CCxP. Usually I also list out an anticipated completion test for the overall cert under the same section.

  2. Would I claim passing the written as a certification on a resume? Hell no.

    Would I put it on my resume too show what certification I am persuing and where I am in my studies? Sure. I think it is still relevant information and is no different then telling a prospective employer you are persuing an MBA or some other Post-Graduate study.


    • I agree. It shouldn’t really appear on a CV but does show progress. If we want to get really specific, these people ‘have’ passed a CCIE written test, but ‘do not’ have the CCIE qualification.

      I’ve interviewed a lot of ‘CCIE written’ candidates; some have the chops, most don’t. More often than not stating ‘CCIE written’ backfires on the candidate because I’ll set my initial questions to a higher level.

      Are these candidates really being sneaky here, or just a little foolish? In the end it shouldn’t matter. Your interviews should be able to independently verify the candidates’ skill-level.

  3. Yes, I agree with your point that the CCIE lab should always be the ultimate goal .However, I would still have CCIE-written listed along with a small note saying i have my lab scheduled, in my CV. I feel this would show my potential employer that i’m committed to my goal(CCIE Lab) and I feel this would help shortlist my CV among other CVs atleast in the earlier rounds of screening.

    Just my 2 INRs(0.0362 US dollars)

  4. Pingback: My Favorite Resume Puffs | Lame Journal

  5. I feel the same way as everyone else that has posted a reply. I would never put it on my business card or title, however I would put it on my resume where I list my current and expired certifications. Why do I list my expired ones? I work mostly in wireless now, but from 1995-2004 I worked on a lot of r/s. So I list that I had a CCNP r/s and CCDP on my resume from 2002-2005 and 2005-2011.

    I’m a CCNP-Wireless and CWNE now, and I list them on my resume. When I pass the CCIE written, I will list it on there, but that is all. Probably something like “CCIE Written exam, date, awaiting lab date and study time”

    I did, however, have a job where my boss had passed the CCIE r/s written, and his title on his email signature was:

    “XYZ PDQ, CCIE Written”
    “IT Director”

  6. As a CCIE for over 14 years now, I would dismiss anyone who listed the CCIE Written as a certification. In my mind it would demonstrate that either the candidate thought it was a certification or was trying to pass oneself off as a CCIE to the less knowledgeable. If you would list it as an accomplishment and not under the certifications I would be more inclined to interview. As part of my current job I am the lead of a team which conducts a board review of anyone within our company that wants to sit for the lab. Passing the written is a perquisite along with a minimum of six months of demonstrable evidence of studying for the lab to appear before the board which typically consists of a senior level manager and a minimum of three CCIE’s. The questions are not easy but generally not much more difficult than those found on the written but the emphasis are on understanding the underlying technology. A question could be something like explain why it may be beneficial to use multiple areas with OSPF. Our expectation is that the prospect can give a number of reasons why it could be beneficial, when it may not be beneficial and the impact on CPU, memory, LSA’s, route propagation, etc. In other words an in depth understanding of the impact. The failure rate is 85% for the first interview. These are folks who think they are prepared for the lab within the next 90 days. Generally we give them some mentoring and tell them to come back in six months or so. If you have a CCIE written and cannot answer those types of questions across a very broad range of subject matter you would not get through an interview.

  7. I read the post and replies with real interest as I’m preparing for the CCIE Written exam. Indeed is not a good approach to consider passing only the CCIE Written as a title. In my case I have a wide experience in networking and working quite a lot with Cisco products but never went for certification. Now to start with CCNA level and move through all the steps is a bit laborious. It does not make sense to pass the CCIE Written exam and add this to my resume as it will prove my networking knowledge at least to CCNP level? Even the final goal is not to get the CCIE title.
    Appreciating your comments related!

  8. You should list it as a certification, because having passed the written is an accomplishment, The difference between completing your CCNP and passing the CCIE Written is leaps and bounds and proves that you have a theoretical understanding of advanced networking concepts like MPLS, advanced BGP, Mulitcast, IPv6, ZBF, Pfr, etc.. If you do not list this as an accomplishment, then there is nothing to distinguish you from an average CCNP that does not know these advanced topics.

    To say that you are disappointed or have disdain for someone that does list this as an achievement is embarrassing and frankly points to highly narcissistic personality. I would wager that most of those current CCIE Written holders are currently sharper than most of you longtime CCIE numbers as they are on top of technology and are one step away from completing their task. You are never sharper, than you are the day that you passed the Lab.

  9. Hmm… I prefer to list myself as a CCNA/CCDA or a CCNP/CCDP who just happens to pass a lot of CCIE Written Exams just because I can and it helps me justify why I maintain a home lab that costs several hundred thousands of dollars by now.

    Hell I just spent over $10,000.00 on monitors, servers, and a room to look at it all with…

    Of course… my home network surpasses mostly any network a mere humble CCNA or CCNP like myself has worked on yet… but then this is the first year I’ve watched my income level surpass the $300k mark and waiting with fingers crossed on the $400k mark… and time now…

    Now mind you none of the networks I’ve worked on yet has more than a few hundred thousand employees, nor have any of them been over the 1 trillion dollar mark yet, but some have been up to the $100 Billion or better mark… and many exceed the $1-5 Billion range annually – used to be my own personal stomping ground as a matter of fact… but I got wise….

    The mere fact that even Cisco actively recruits for those having passed the CCIE Written is something that in itself does denote the value of mentioning having passed the CCIE Written Exam.

    Me… I list them all – each one of the CCIE Written Exams I passed. Just like all my CCNP/CCDP certifications and of course my CCNA/CCDP certifications, I don’t leave out the CCT’s or even the CCENT.

    Sorry I paid my dues and my exam fees, and I know what some of you may not – it’s all about the marketing factor – the perception is the value of these exams, each and every one.

    The CCIE Written has a certain value in the market place – not as much as the CCIE or at least I’d wager not…

    I have had people ask me my desired rate – based on my experience – and ask why I charge what I do if I’m not a CCIE….

    I tell them this: I’m a Sniffer Certified Master – 1 of 66 in the world aka the planet Earth, I’m certified in each and every CCNP track and hold x number of CCNA’s too… not to mention the fact, I have passed x number of CCIE Written Exams (y number of times each – as appropriate), and have been to 7 CCIE/CCDE Lab/Practicals over about an 8 year period of time…. and if it matters I hold a plethora of other Cisco certifications/qualifications and many many other vendor certifications. I could list them, but I don’t want to bore them for the next 4-6 weeks of their life just listing out acronyms…

    Then I manage to get paid 3x to 4x what a CCIE does…

    it works for me – what works for you?

    Darby Weaver

    • If thats true well done to you, I don’t know how you can earn $300- 400k in the networking industry. I also have the CCIE and experience of DC technical architect role for some very large companies, and I earn well, but I don’t notice that much difference between roles requiring ccie and others that don’t honestly.

      • Everyone has to do what works for themselves. I manage to work from home, build up quite a decent “home operations center” and “personal data center” to entertain my aspirations with and to further my own skills as required.

        They don’t teach everything while studying for a CCIE certification. I can’t help it, they just don’t.

        I’ve helped CCNA folks earn more than I “KNOW” some CCIE’s have earned in the past (even multi-CCIE holders to be the most truthful about it). It sounds odd but without giving away the particulars so as not to embarrass anyone – just take my work it is quite true…

        The highest earning CCIE I have ever heard of has sinced passed away but $10k a day was the rate and by at least 3 sources known to me, it was confirmed that’s what he was taking more regularly and annually for at least 4-5 year period at least before his demise. Sweet. Yep. Don’t know all his business but I do know he got paid well for his most humble work.

        I work on his premise or what I think it was and I do well directly as a result.

        I no longer let digits bother me too much, I know how that game is played by now, so it just doesn’t both me by now. I work alongside CCIE’s and I’m asked for my own expereinced and ideas by them from time to time and I ask things of them as well. The feeling of respect is mutual. I’m “field-certified” and I’m ok with that.

        I take the Written exams and hold the CCNP for each available track and more specialties than anyone else I know of. I just do. It’s nothing for me to sign up for $10-12k of exams and take them all, pass or fail. I can afford it and afford to do it again and again, should it be necessary.

        I can afford to outfit me labs with whatever equipment I see fit. I can go and do mostly anything I want. I work remote and do work remote whenever I please.

        I really don’t bother anyone, I don’t play hero, and I don’t feel like I have to play “catch up” these days… I just don’t.

        I do what I do cause I love doing it. I avail myself to help others when I choose to and otherwise I’m just taking it all in, learning new things and doing more things than most people I know of do even after they get their own CCIE. Can’t help it, I know so many folks by now even up into the CCAr ranks. They contact me for advice at all levels. If you can believe it, quite a few people who study for the CCIE seem to know of me by now and I’ve been told by CCIE instructors that rarely if ever does a class run that someone does not ask an instructor whether or not they know if me. Strange statement but I’ve been told just that by more than one instructor.

        Summary: I’m doing what I do, with a CCNP/CCDP level knowledge (tried and true) and I’m doing just fine with it and I’m getting by. I can’t tell other people what do or what to charge, much less how to negotiate or even tell people how to realize my own terms of employment. I just can’t – it’s luck of the draw. I have two more offers to work remote as of this past week so whatever I’m doing attracts this kind of work eventually and often and is compensated for quite well.

        So… what can I tell you…

        It works for me…. Simple as that.

        Umm… If you are studying for the CCIE, don’t forget what the root cause for your studying is and why you are “investing” in your own future, in the first place. It pays to prioritize your objectives.

        Darby Weaver

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