Newly minted CCIEs are getting numbers in the 21,000 range. So the number of CCIEs in the world should be around the same amount right? Well, no. The first CCIE number was 1024 and that went to the classroom where the original lab was hosted. And even though we like to think that CCIEs are immortal, a few have shuffled off this mortal coil since getting their digits. Cisco’s last count in March of this year showed around 16,000 active CCIEs worldwide. At that same point in time the CCIE numbers were being issued in the 20,000 range. That means that there were around 3,000 CCIEs who were no longer active. I know that geeks aren’t the healthiest people on the planet, but 15% is a pretty high mortality rate. This means that there are a number of former CCIEs out there who simply did not renew their certification.
In order to recertify your CCIE, you need to pass a CCIE written exam (any track) – or pass the lab – once every two years. Obviously most people choose the written test option. If you don’t do this, your status will change to ‘suspended’. If you do not pass the written exam within a year of being suspended, then you lose your CCIE certification (‘inactive’). At that point you will need to pass the written and the lab to recertify.
After all of the blood, sweat, and tears that it takes to achieve one of the prestigious IT certifications – why would anyone let their certification lapse?
Ivan Pepelnjak who authors the excellent Cisco IOS Hints and Tricks site (yes I’m a fanboy) writes today about his decision to let his CCIE certification slide. Ivan is one of the first 150 CCIEs (CCIE #1354).
July 1st, 2008 marks another milestone in my professional career: I became an inactive CCIE.
However, the real reason I decided not to extend my active status lies in the process. Years ago, Cisco organized update trainings for CCIEs. Attending one of these trainings (which really added value to your knowledge) extended your status. In my opinion, an update training combined with a post-training exam would make sense. Like many other features of the program, these trainings are long gone.
Passing a written exam every two years with more-or-less the same questions is (in my personal opinion) bogus.
When I was developing (the then only) EIGRP training for internal Cisco audiences, I lost most points on EIGRP questions simply because I knew too much about the protocol. A few years ago I was faced with purely marketing questions about a newly-promoted technology that were obviously hastily added to the pool of questions.
Ivan has some good points. He’s also in a situation where he most likely derives little benefit from an active CCIE number. He’s obviously been a CCIE for over 10 years and is a known authority on Cisco technologies. I don’t think letting his certification go ‘inactive’ will hurt his career. He echos the position of many “old numbers” in that Cisco has steadily diminished the amount of support and resources for the CCIE program over the years.
I think that most CCIE candidates will not be able to relate to Ivan’s position though. The sacrifice and hard work required to achieve those digits is still too fresh. If Cisco told me that I would need to dress up in drag and jump through fiery hoops to recertify I would to it with a big smile on my face. Of course, that is just another Friday night for me. 🙂