Get a CCIE, Don’t Be A CCIE


Getting a CCIE is considered to be the pinnacle of a person’s networking career.  It is the culmination of hundreds (if not thousands) of hours of study.  People pass the lab and celebrate with the relief that can only come from completing a milestone in life.  But it’s important for newly-minted CCIEs to realize that getting your number doesn’t mean you obtained hubris with it.

A great article that talks about something similar comes from Hunter Walk.  It’s Fine To Get an MBA, But Don’t Be An MBA shows many of the things I’m talking about.  With the MBA, it’s a bit different.  The MBA is a pure book learning environment with very little practical experience.  The CCIE is a totally practical exam that requires demonstration of knowledge.  However, both of these things share something in common.  People get very hung up on the knowledge from the certification and forget to keep an open mind about other ideas.  In essence, someone that is “Being a CCIE” is using their certification incorrectly.

Here are some points:

Get A CCIE to further your knowledge about networking and learn how system work. Don’t Be A CCIE and think that you’ve learned everything there is to know about networking.

Get A CCIE and work with your coworkers and peers to solve problems.  Don’t Be A CCIE and ignore everyone because you think you’re smarter than they are.

Get A CCIE and contribute to the community with knowledge and experience.  Don’t Be A CCIE and refuse to share because you can’t be bothered.

Get A CCIE and help your company to take on bigger and better networking projects.  Don’t Be A CCIE and assume you are indispensable.

Get A CCIE because you want to.  Don’t Be A CCIE and assume you’ve always been one.

A CCIE doesn’t change who you are.  It just serves to show people how dedicated you can be.  Don’t let five little numbers turn you into a bully or a know-it-all.  Realize you still have much to learn.  Understand that your position is now at the forefront of where networking is going, not where it has been.  When you know that being a CCIE is more than just a piece of paper, then you will have truly gotten your CCIE.

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6 thoughts on “Get a CCIE, Don’t Be A CCIE

  1. Good post. The CCIE certainly isn’t the end all be all. It basically tells people how much you like learning the stuff. You must keep growing and sharing! In my experience, once you get the CCIE, some people think you automatically know everything that ever was or will be Cisco. My lab had Token Ring and IGRP. 🙂

  2. Whoever thinks that getting an MBA is a pure “book learning experience” with “very little practical experience” either doesn’t have an MBA themselves or has very little exposure to MBA programs. That is a better description of a bachelors degree. I’d argue the MBA has more practical experience than most any degree given it’s emphasis on team work, projects and real world case studies.

    But “MBA hating” is all the rage, so have at it.

  3. Kind of a non sequitur, a jerk is a jerk,. Passing an exam does not turn a non jerk into a jerk, it may help the inner jerk find expression. Not sure how anyone thinks they are gods gift to networking unless they cake walked through passing the lab on the first try.

    Fred P. Baker CCIE#3555, MBA DePaul ’80 (first pass on the lab but both humbling experiences)

  4. This is exactly why I downplay the CCIE. Not only do people “be” CCIEs, but other people put them on that kind of pedestal also. I often hear “but you’re a CCIE!” when asked about whether I know how to do something specific that lies outside of the CCIE R&S blueprint.

    No, the CCIE doesn’t mean I know everything. In fact it proves I know only a small subsection of the industry, and even then it says nothing about my ability to design, administer or (in my case, as a v3 CCIE) to troubleshoot a network.

    The CCIE tests the ability to configure a network of old IOS devices (again, that’s all it was in v3) given a very specific set of constraints. Nothing more.

    It’s a huge accomplishment, but still only a small stepping stone for the career of an engineer. People need to stop putting it on a pedestal as the pinnacle of our careers.

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