CCIE Pursuit Blog

March 13, 2008

CCIE Salaries Falling?

Filed under: Cisco,Cisco Certification — cciepursuit @ 7:46 am
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Networkworld has an article that states that the CCIE (Routing and Switching is the only track mentioned in the article) is no longer the certification with the highest paid salary associated with it.  [This article only addresses US salaries, not worldwide.]

In a provocatively headlined blog, TechRepublic Executive Editor Jason Hiner writes that “Cisco’s CCIE is no longer the biggest cash cow of IT certification.” According to the Web site’s 2008 IT Skills and Salary Report conducted in association with training firm Global Knowledge, Cisco’s highest accolade for network engineers is the fifth highest-earning certification for IT professionals, following PMI Project Management Professional (PMP), PMI Certified Associate in Project Management, ITIL v. 2 – Foundation, and (ISC)2’s Certified Information Systems Security Professional.

It’s difficult to say how much of a slip this is for the Cisco Certified Internet Expert certification as the survey, which you can download here (registration required), doesn’t provide comparisons to previous years.But the results appear to gel with what we’ve been reporting in recent pasts – that employers are seeking IT pros with business-oriented certifications in such areas as project management and Six Sigma. According to the survey, PMPs command an average salary of $101,695, compared to $93,500 for a CCIE Routing & Switching expert.The Cisco Certified Voice Professional followed in sixth place, with an average salary of $88,600, while the highest paying Microsoft certification is the Microsoft Certified Solution Developer ($84,522), according to the survey.

I am not surprised at the emergence of the Project Management certifications.  The Project Managers (certified or not) at my current and previous job are well compensated (overpaid in a lot of cases, but that’s a rant for another day).  If you read the article carefully you will note that there is no mention of whether the $93,500 is a decrease over previous years.  It could even be an increase.

The NetworkWorld article references this article on TechRepublic.  This article does not mention an increase/decrease in CCIE salary, nor does it show CCIE salaries for past years. 

This might be the reason for the perception of lower value for the CCIE:

The word on the streets at the time was that as soon as you passed your exams you would be bombarded with phone calls from recruiters and Fortune 500 companies tripping over themselves to offer a job with a six-figure salary. That was the perception. The reality was a little more sober, but still very attractive. Many CCIEs were hired directly by Cisco, and others got lucrative gigs as high value consultants.

From what I’ve read, those days are gone – if they ever existed.  BUT the perception that once you get your digits your phone rings off the hook with six-figure job offers still persists in the IT world (at least in my little corner of it).  This has a slightly negative effect as many co-workers and managers assume that anyone actively pursuing the CCIE is only looking to cash in on a position somewhere else.  This means that managers are a little reluctant to fund CCIE training as they might be training an employee for a position in another company or (maybe worse) that this employee will demand a much higher salary immediately after passing.

My quest for the CCIE has never been about money.  I am well paid and I highly doubt that getting my CCIE will amount to much or a pay increase (or any for that matter).  That’s not to say that I wouldn’t leave if I was offered obnoxious money, but I really don’t see that happening.  If I was doing this just for the pay increase, then I would be better served getting into management than trying to get my CCIE.

Anyhoo…the sky is most likely not falling on CCIE salaries.  $93,500 is not a bad average salary and I’m sure that the current Project Manager fad will fade long before the demand for CCIEs does.  🙂


  1. A Cisco recruiter called me from RTP a few months ago. They were offering around $80K to $95K for a senior, experienced person to join a new customer-facing team that was being developed. Using that a benchmark for likely CCIE salary amounts, I figure that the money just isn’t out there like it used to be. So CCIE has really got to be about personal satisfaction…

    Comment by Ethan Banks — March 13, 2008 @ 10:15 am | Reply

  2. I left a comment on that site as well, the PM jobs are always going to be dependent on the health of the company and economy. When a local company here started having trouble the first people to go were all the project managers. If the company is struggling a bit and needs to right the ship they usually cancel the current projects :D. There will always be network infrastructure to repair and maintain. Projects on the other hand…

    Also those salary surveys never take into account COL or anything. a 93k salary here in Buffalo would be well over the higher end average. By the time my wife is close to retirement with two Master Degrees in Education her salary might be a tad under 80k. So do the math with CCIE’s making 93k on average compared to teachers with two master degrees. We will be well off as far as salary goes either way. Most of us are not in it for the $ anyhow…

    Comment by cyost — March 13, 2008 @ 3:40 pm | Reply

  3. What I have seen in the past few years is that companies are interested in a person with a technical background but also someone that has a keen business sense. That is why project managers unfortunately make a little more money versus someone who has just a technical background. Most employers would like someone who has a keen business sense that will be beneficial towards the customer and the overall bottom line.

    Comment by Erica — March 14, 2008 @ 11:01 am | Reply

  4. […] CCIE, CCIE Lab, Certification, Cisco, Cisco Certification, Salaries I recently blogged about a NetworkWorld article about declining CCIE pay.  To be fair, the NetworkWorld article did not actually say that CCIE salaries were declining.  […]

    Pingback by CCIE Salaries Redux « CCIE Pursuit — March 17, 2008 @ 7:12 am | Reply

  5. Well said about the project mgmt trend being a fad. I read somewhere that employers prefer the PMP over the MBA. Once enough people have this PMP cert, it won’t be that big of a deal since they’d have had a large cross-section of people holding it and inevitably seen some bad experiences. For instance, many of these PMP’s are faking their 2000 hours’ worth of required experience (or at least exaggerating their role as ‘manager’). Believe me, once an employer gets burned, that will be all it takes for the perception to start getting burned down.

    Comment by Marko — March 18, 2008 @ 8:49 pm | Reply

  6. Gee, I was hoping the cost of getting a CCIE would pay for itself once I got the cert… 🙂

    Comment by Rod — October 6, 2008 @ 7:45 pm | Reply

  7. Damn!

    I hope I don’t have to take a pay cut after I start getting my CCIE’s…

    My current offers are in the $95k-135k range as a humble CCNP with some more skills and Data Center experiences. Note most of this work is as an employee. There are contract rates in the $65-80.00 per hour range that are pretty routine.

    And what is worse is that I get fairly bombarded with offers.

    I know I didn’t fill out that survey.

    BTW – Something to consider:

    About 3/4 of the CCIE’s in World are “NOT” in the USA. So if they only make $20k-40k in other parts of the world due to the local economy, then we need to consider the source of the basis for the “$93.5k”.

    Another thing – There’s an employer on Groupstudy who posted a perpetual offer to any CCIE making under $100k – says he wants to talk to you.

    Use google, I like to do other things that look up common google searches for people who claim to be CCIE’s.

    Comment by Darby Weaver — December 22, 2008 @ 1:34 am | Reply

  8. I Have done BA and now i am doing CCIE. my query is after doing CCIE(written) i want to take up a job in UAE, i would like to know the salary structure for CCIE(written), please guide me….

    Comment by FAROOQ — October 7, 2009 @ 8:19 am | Reply

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