CCIE Pursuit Blog

July 8, 2009

Cisco Certified Architect Certification

Filed under: Cisco,Cisco Certification — cciepursuit @ 9:20 am
Tags: , ,

One of the new certifications announced at Networkers this month is the Cisco Certified Architect.  With the requirement to be a CCIE* as well as a CCDE(of which there are only a handful) and a FIFTEEN THOUSAND DOLLAR price tag, this certification is so far above my means that I can’t see myself going that route anytime in the near future.  The impact that adding another high level certification has on the CCIE is something that does concern me.

Until last year, the CCIE was the pinnacle of the Cisco certification mountain.  Then came the CCDE.  Although it is supposed to be a peer of the CCIE (basically the Design track of the CCIE program) the difference in naming, testing, and – more importantly – the unique(and still rare) numbering convention gives the impression – whether true or not – that this certification is positioned a step above the CCIE.  Now Cisco has added yet another certification above the CCIE and the CCDE, so in the span of a little more than a year, the CCIE has now become Cisco’s THIRD highest certification.

I don’t have a lot to say about the new program, but I strongly suggest that you read Jememy Filliben’s take on the Cisco Certified Architect.  Jeremy is one of the rare currently qualified candidates for that certification. His post is very well written and thorough.  He even discusses the affect of the new program on the CCIE.

*The Cisco Certified Architect page only specifies that a CCDE is required, but I’ve heard from multiple sources that both a CCIE and a CCDE are required.

UPDATE: I need to learn to read better.  The initial reports from Networkers indicated that you needed BOTH a CCIE and a CCDE to become a CCA candidate.  Cisco’s site as well as Jeremy’s article state that you need an active CCDE, and 10 years of experience.  My bad.  😦


  1. I dont think this will take away from the CCIE certification at all. Its just another level….Microsoft has the MCA (kinda the same as the CCA) but it hasn’t taken away from the MSCE or MCITP at all. Granted the CCIE is on a different level than those test but just some food for thought.

    Comment by littlegreymen12 — July 8, 2009 @ 10:30 pm | Reply

  2. Personally, I’d rather use 15k towards a Masters Degree (something data networking related), than on a certification. Have the recertification requirements, if any, been listed?

    Comment by I AM NOT DARBY WEAVER — July 9, 2009 @ 2:37 am | Reply

  3. Recert requirements? They have to find someone crazy enough to take this silly thing first before they can make that person endure it again.

    In all seriousness, though, this thing has been on the drawing board for a couple of years now, around the same time as the CCDE. From some of the conversations I had back then, one of the ‘recert’ ideas being kicked around was having the CCA serve on the board that is certifying the candidate. Serve on a certain number of boards in a specific time frame (like 4 in two years) and Bingo! You re-certify.

    I see this as something that big partners are going to love to parade out in front of customers when the time comes to convince customers that they need to pick Globocorp over Fly-by-night Networks. “We’ve got a CCA on staff! He’ll fix all your problems and cure cancer!” While I’m all for having newer certifications that take into account changing market conditions, it seems like everyone is starting to just duplicate each other. In fact, when talking to one of the program managers about this very cert, the words, “You mean like the MS Architect program?” came up from everyone standing there. The question to ask yourself before you commit the time and money to this is: What am I going to get out of this? The answer is probably…not much. You’re going to have to be working for a pretty big company to get the payback you deserve for having gone through this wringer. I mean, how many CCDEs are there right now? Less than 50? And, even with the rumor that some of the high level partner designations are going to require a CCDE, who’s running out to get them? I mean, other than the training vendors who want a CCDE on staff to teach CCDE course material to the 5 people trying to get the certification.

    Give me a good reason as to why I should have a CCA (other than the prestige of having it), and I might consider it. Until then, I’ve got a lab to study for…

    Comment by Tom — July 9, 2009 @ 9:38 am | Reply

  4. Where can you get a masters for 15k it cost me double that for a a ba LOL]
    Not Darby BEaver


    Comment by tony — July 10, 2009 @ 12:12 pm | Reply

  5. 15k USD (just under 20k AUD) would cover most Master degrees here 😛

    Anyway, I think Tom hit the nail on the head, this certification status is for the Gold Partner to fork out the $$$ for.

    Comment by I AM NOT DARBY WEAVER — July 11, 2009 @ 2:01 am | Reply

  6. Let’s look at this honestly. Everyone knows that an engineer does the grunt work, even when they are the highest level engineer, a CCIE. But a Designer? They are considered above a mere engineer. I have done the same job under the title Network Designer and Network Engineer and I will tell you I get way more respect for the Network Designer title than I ever get for the title of Network Engineer. Yet the job was identical.

    I’m not trying to a be a jerk here. I am just stating my own personal experience.

    Comment by Atomm — July 11, 2009 @ 1:42 pm | Reply

  7. HAhahahaha.
    You can tell he’s not Darby Weaver – he managed to say all that he wanted to say in just a couple of lines….

    Comment by Gunga_Jim — July 12, 2009 @ 12:51 am | Reply

  8. Thanks for the kind words on my blog post. I’m still mulling over whether to pursue the Architect certification. The certification process sounds like fun to me, but the payoff is hard to quantify.

    There was talk at Cisco Live about an announcement meeting for the Architect level (similar to the one in 2007 for the CCDE program), but it didn’t happen. The current rumor is that there will be a Webex at a later date to provide additional details on the Architect certification, and (hopefully!) the test format.


    Comment by Jeremy Filliben — July 20, 2009 @ 11:30 am | Reply

  9. So I am already making ~150k with just my CCIE. How much more is any company realistically going to pay someone in IT? There could be a big payoff for this though when its relatively new … if Cisco says that a partner needs to have a CCA to sell x or get x level of discount, and if there werent a lot of CCA’s around then it could be lucrative. But if more people get certified the value will be marginal. Resellers may need to dish out some $$ for someone with this cert, but End customers are only going to pay what they already pay … why should people kill themselves when salaries are already capped.

    Comment by Art — August 10, 2009 @ 3:46 pm | Reply

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