CCIE Pursuit Blog

March 17, 2008

CCIE Salaries Redux

Filed under: Cisco,Cisco Certification,Work — cciepursuit @ 7:12 am
Tags: , , , , ,

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.  It said that in a salary survey, Routing and Switching CCIEs had average salaries that were less than the average salary for some other certifications (“Is CCIE pay slipping compared to other certifications?”).  The “slipping” refereed to the average salary of CCIEs compared to some other certifications.  Confused?  So was I.  🙂

The NW article showed that the average (US) CCIE earns $93,500.  I think that’s a livable wage.  🙂  It does, however, seem to be lower than numbers I have seen quoted before as well as the “as soon as you get your digits the money fairy descends from the heavens and hits you with her $100K wand” myth.

I looked for some other CCIE salary resources on the mighty, might Interwebs.

Certification Magazine echoes the NW articles findings in that the CCIE is not the #1 salaried certification, but their numbers show a higher average salary along with a nice increase over the last 3 years:

CertMag’s 2007 Salary Survey
Cisco CCIE, which dominated the Salary Survey in ’03 and ’04 but slipped out of the top five thereafter, came in third this year with $111,090.

CertMag’s 2006 Salary Survey
The top five certification programs saw a bit of a shake-up this year with the Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) falling out of the top five to sixth place with an average salary of $105,560.

CertMag’s 2005 Salary Survey: Monitoring Your Net Worth
… the Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE), with $104,020.

Sounds good.  Well here’s a survey that shows that the median income for a US CCIE with 1 – 4 years experience is a little less than $69,000 (there were 72 respondents).

Median Salary by Years Experience – Certification: Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) (United States)

Brad Reese (via has a salary survey that shows US CCIEs averaging six-figures:

2008 Cisco Salary Rates

Why the wide discrepency in average CCIE salaries?  Is this a case of “lies, damn lies, and statistics”?  Maybe.  I don’t have the time nor the desire to look into the methodologies behind these surveys.  I can tell you that there are a number of variables that affect ANY salary.  If you’re a recently minted CCIE in Duluth, Minnesota then you’re very likely to be making less than a CCNP (or CCNA for that matter) in Silicon Valley or Manhattan.  Secondly, “salary” can mean different things to different people.  I think of my salary as my base salary.  I don’t include bonuses, training budget, vacation, benefits, etc. in my salary.  I remember seeing the dollar value for an FTE (Full Time Equivalent/Employee) for my current position and thinking that my employer was WAY underpaying me.  The FTE value was twice my base salary.  Of course, the FTE included ALL of my employer’s costs for that position.

Anyhoo….I still think that getting your CCIE will allow you to put clothes on your back and food on the table.  Your salary may double or it may stay the same.  If you’re doing this for money, then you have much better ROI options than the CCIE.



  1. The trend is engineers getting their CCIE’s early in their careers as a stepping stone to get senior level jobs, versus the situation in the past where you got your CCIE as a result of having your senior level job. This does not mean they are not “real” CCIE’s or are talented engineers. It just means that they are likely not to have as wide of a range of skills, or experience behind them that translates into high paying jobs.

    One thing to keep in mind, is these surveys are all about the averages. I think it is likely that this changing demographic of the survey base is influencing the numbers presented in these surveys. It would be more accurate, though much less sensational to cross reference years of experience in a field with the survey.

    Just my 2 Cents

    Comment by colinmcnamara — March 17, 2008 @ 2:08 pm | Reply

  2. I have been recruiting in the networking field virtually since its inception, and have quite a bit of experience recruiting CCIE’s. My experience is that with the reduction in the lab from 2 days to 1 day, the bar has been lowered, and the supply has grown significantly. It is still a very difficult cert to attain, it just doesn’t have the cachet that it had in the 90’s. The exceptions, of course are in the more specialized areas such as voice, security, service provider and storage.

    However, I would like to take issue with the Network world data. I haven’t run across a CCIE making under 6 figures this decade, and I CERTAINLY haven’t seen one with 1-4 years experience. Obviously this is a non-scientific poll and the results should be viewed as such.


    Jed Davs

    Comment by Jed Davis — July 22, 2008 @ 8:15 am | Reply

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