Cisco Certified Internetwork Professional (CCIP)

What is the Cisco Certified Internetwork Professional (CCIP) Exam?

Candidates for Cisco certification who wish to have official validation of their ability to handle service provider infrastructures would do well to obtain the Cisco Certified Internetwork Professional (CCIP) certification. This validates advanced skills and knowledge associated with Internet Protocol information infrastructure solutions. Network professionals with a CCIP certification under their belts have an advantage over their competitors. The curriculum for the CCIP includes Internet Protocol quality of service, Internet Protocol routing, Multiprotocol Label Switching and Border Gateway Protocol.

Job Growth Outlook for CCIP-Certified Professionals

Network professionals such as network administrators would also do well to achieve the CCIP. They may reasonably expect a growing job market for the foreseeable future. This expectation can be verified by turning to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, published biannually by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The Handbook organizes all jobs in the United States into categories. The category that network administrators and other network professionals fall into is projected to grow by 20 percent over the 2008-2018 decade. This works out to over 280,000 jobs created for that period of time. With such plentiful job growth, demand for network professionals will be strong, creating excellent prospects for them.

The compensation data market research firm PayScale compiles and makes public the salary data for a wide variety of jobs and certifications. An individual with the CCIP certification can earn anywhere from $62,000 to $82,000 per year on average. The job titles themselves vary, from Telecommunications Network Engineer to Senior Network Engineer.

What’s on the Test — CCIP Exam Details

This is a professional level certification that specializes in the infrastructure of Internet Protocol network solutions. Cisco mandates that a candidate for the CCIP must have one of two prerequisite certifications. Candidates must have either a valid Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) or a valid Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) certification in any track to obtain the CCIP.

To re-certify, the candidate must fulfill one of several options before the CCIP expires. All professional certifications offered by Cisco are valid for three years. To re-certify, candidates must either pass any professional level exam, the most recent CCIE written exam, the Cisco Certified Design Expert (CCDE) practical or written exam or complete the Cisco Certified Architect (CCAr) board review and interview. Completing the board review and interview for the CCAr certification automatically extends all lower certifications up to the limit of the CCAr’s expiration date.

The examination and training requirements for the CCIP are complicated. Cisco offers a four-exam path or a three-exam path. Both paths lead to obtaining the CCIP certification, but they have different routes for getting there.

The four-exam path focuses on four key subjects: IP routing, quality of service, Border Gateway Protocol and Multiprotocol Label Switching. These subjects are dealt with in four exams: 642-902 Route, 642-661 BGP, 642-611 MPLS and 642-642 QOS. The difference between the four-exam path and the three exam path is that in the three-exam path, the BGP and MPLS exams are combined into a single test, 642-691 BGP+MPLS. The recommended training courses for both exam paths are

  • Implementing Cisco Quality of Service
  • Implementing Cisco MPLS
  • Implementing Cisco IP Routing
  • Configuring BGP on Cisco Routers

Cisco Training – Why Should Anyone Gain Cisco Certification?

Why should anyone gain Cisco certification?
  •  Skills Shortage – To date there is a global skills shortage in the area of internetworking.
  • Qualified experts are awarded the highest starting salaries and receive the highest career earnings.
  • Cisco certification offers a defined career path with significant personal growth.
  • The Cisco career certification path is the most successful in the entire IT industry.
  • Cisco forecast a significant shortage for qualified experts at CCNA, CCDA, CCNP, CCDP, CCIP, CCSP, CCVP and CCIE levels worldwide as web enabled commerce and supply chain management accelerates.

Cisco Jobs & Cisco Careers

The job market is directly linked to the status of the economy and consequently is in a constant state of flux and change. Cisco certification (or any certification or recognised benchmark of knowledge) will always increase your chance of finding employment, but even CCIEs have had to accept less than they had hoped for in a depressed economy.

Employers are not just looking for knowledge either. Make sure your communication skills and other ‘soft skills’ are plentiful. As an engineer you will probably be part of a team. You will probably be in direct contact with customers eiher face to face or via phone and email. In either case potential employers need to be sure that you can fit in with that team and communicate with customers at all levels.

Consider your language skills. How good is your English, both verbal and written? It’s the international language of business and when it comes to configuring networks you have to been able to communicate precisely and effectively without an ambiguity. A big advantage to finding a position is a second language particularly if you’re looking for work in EMEA or the USA.

If your long term goals include people or project management, you will need to start developing those skills too both by ensuring that you push yourself forward into team leadership situations, and by learning how to use project management tools.

The certification overview section of this website includes information about job prospects and expected salaries for Cisco professionals working in the United States.

Cisco Study Guides & Cisco Books

To pass Cisco certification exams without access to the latest study guides and course material would be difficult to say the least. Why put yourself through the pain of trying to read all the material online? Despite the many new advantages of electronic age and the ways in which information is presented, nothing compares to a book. The printed page is one of the human race’s best inventions.

You owe it to yourself to invest in the latest editions and to build up an engineering and design library that will act as an invaluable reference resource for years to come. Browse through the links above and pick out the books you need to help you succeed in your goals.

The links below will open a new page listing books about each respective Cisco certification.

Businesses requiring professional Cisco assistance may instead consider contacting a Cisco consultancy such as Proxar.

CCNP and CCIP Study Resources


One of the commonest paths for Cisco engineers is to follow the route CCNA >> CCNP >> CCIE (R&S), but with the certifications changing year by year along with the the technologies that drive them, is this still the best path to follow? Many of the CCNPs I have met have considered adding at least one other Professional level certification to their collection and for those working for ISPs the obvious choice is the CCIP. Here’s a brief outline of the differences between the two.

The requirements for CCNP certification are:

* Current CCNA certification plus passes in the following exams:
* Building Cisco Scalable Internetworks
* Building Cisco Multilayer Switched Networks
* Building Cisco Remote Access Networks
* Cisco Internetwork Troubleshooting

The CCNP is possibly the most popular and well known of the Cisco certifications at the Professional level. The understanding, skills, and knowledge obtained during the study for these exams will prepare the candidate for most roles within companies who manage their own Cisco based networks, or ISPs who offer implementation, or support services.

Passing the CCNP exams requires both theoretical knowledge and practical experience; book work alone is not enough.

The requirements for CCIP certification are:

  • Current CCNA certification plus passes in the following exams:
  • Building Cisco Scalable Internetworks
  • Implementing Cisco Quality of Service
  • Implementing Cisco MPLS
  • Configuring BGP on Cisco Routers

The understanding, skills, and knowledge obtained during the study for the CCIP exams will prepare the candidate for positions within larger organisations and ISPs who offer MPLS VPNs, IP QoS, BGP, and other advanced networking and internetworking services. The CCIP is ideal for Senior Network Engineers whose tasks include the configuration and support of complex MPLS VPNs over the ISPs core network. Most of those who are CCIP certified will already hold CCNP certification or will at least be at a similar technical level. As the demand for MPLS VPNs continues to rise so will the value of this relatively new certification.

Again, passing the CCIP exams requires both theoretical knowledge and practical experience but many of those who have taken this track have commented on the difficulty in passing the MPLS exam. Speaking from practical experience I have to agree that it is probably the most difficult exam I have taken, and I found it more difficult than the CCIE written exam. However, it is achievable and there are more resources appearing now to help the candidates with their studies e.g. the new book MPLS Configuration on Cisco IOS Software appears to be the kind of study guide that this exam has lacked so far.

The other choices at the professional level are CCSP (Security), CCDP (Design), and CCVP (Voice). Each have their merits but in the current climate arguably the most desirable of these is the CCSP as skills in network security are always in demand.


CCNP 642-801 BSCI Exam
Learn: CCNP Self-Study: Building Scalable Cisco Internetworks (BSCI), Second Edition
Experience: CCNP Practical Studies: Routing
Prepare: CCNP BSCI Exam Certification Guide, Third Edition
Practice: CCNP Flash Cards and Exam Practice Pack

CCNP 642-811 BCMSN Exam
Learn: CCNP Self-Study: Building Cisco Multilayer Switched Networks (BCMSN), Third Edition
Experience: CCNP Practical Studies: Switching
Prepare: CCNP BCMSN Exam Certification Guide , Third Edition
Practice: CCNP Flash Cards and Exam Practice Pack

CCNP 642-821 BCRAN Exam
Learn: CCNP Self-Study: Building Cisco Remote Access Networks (BCRAN)
Experience: CCNP Practical Studies: Remote Access
Prepare: CCNP BCRAN Exam Certification Guide, Second Edition
Practice: CCNP Flash Cards and Exam Practice Pack

CCNP 642-831 CIT Exam
Experience: CCNP Practical Studies: Troubleshooting
Prepare: CCNP CIT Exam Certification Guide, Second Edition
Practice: CCNP Flash Cards and Exam Practice Pack

CCNP 642 Comprehensive Learning
Exam Prep Best Value: CCNP Certification Library, Third Edition


642-801 BSCI Exam
Learn: CCNP Self-Study: Building Scalable Cisco Internetworks (BSCI), Second Edition
Experience: CCNP Practical Studies: Routing
Prepare: CCNP BSCI Exam Certification Guide, Third Edition
Practice: CCNP Flash Cards and Exam Practice Pack

Learn: MPLS Configuration on Cisco IOS Software
Learn: MPLS and VPN Architectures
Learn: MPLS and VPN Architectures, Vol. II

Quality of Service
Prepare: Cisco QOS Exam Certification Guide, Second Edition
Practice: Cisco IP Telephony Flash Cards and Exam Practice Pack

Learn: Cisco BGP-4 Command and Configuration Handbook
Supplemental Study: Internet Routing Architectures, Second Edition

Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Overview

The Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification is designed to validate the holder’s ability to install, configure, operate and troubleshoot medium-sized router and switched networks. The certification also includes validation for implementation and connection to remote sites within a Wide Area Network (WAN). The curriculum includes basic countering of security threats, introducing concepts underlaying wireless networking, terminology and skills geared towards performance. CCNA also includes the protocols

  • Ethernet
  • Routing Information Protocol Version 2
  • Access control lists
  • Enhanced Interior Gateway Routing Protocol
  • Virtual Local Area Networka
  • IP
  • Serial Line Interface Protocol Frame Relay

Network administrators can take advantage of a CCNA certification to advance their careers and technical expertise. CCNA holders earn an expanded salary range with this certification. Network Administrators and Systems Engineers can earn between $30,000 and $90,000. Managerial positions like a Senior Network Engineer or an IT Manager can earn over $100,000. The U.S. Department of Labor forecasts strong growth in this job market for network administrators. Job growth of 20 percent is forecast between 2008 and 2018, with prospects likely to be plentiful.

The CCNA is an associate level certification. It is a more specialized certification in relation to its sibling, the Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT) certification. CCNA is a prerequisite for many other certifications in a variety of different fields. CCNA provides a greater level of technical detail than CCENT, and it gives the holder the ability to seek certifications in multiple fields. CCENT, on the other hand, is accepted as a prerequisite for CCNA, although it is not officially required as such.

Cisco offered the CCNA certification for the first time in 1998. CCNA has remained one of the most popular Cisco certifications since it was introduced. CCNA has been revised four times since 1998, in 2000, 2002, 2003 and 2007.

There are no prerequisites required for CCNA. Re-certification options are widespread, but all of them fall under a three-year time limit. The CCNA certification expires after three years, and one of the re-certification examinations must be taken before the three-year limit is up.

CCNA applicants have the option of taking a one-exam or two-exam path to obtain it. The one-exam path has the applicant take the 640-802 CCNA composite exam. Two courses, Interconnecting Cisco Networking Devices Part 1 (ICND1) and Interconnecting Cisco Networking Devices Part 2 (ICND2), provide all the training that the composite exam requires.

ICND1 provides the student with the ability to install, configure and troubleshoot a small network, whether router-based or switched. For the purposes of the course, the definition of a small network is one to 20 hosts connected to a single VLAN switch. The switch is connected to a router using Router Information Protocol. The router, in turn, links to a simulated Internet and corporate office. ICND1 works by layering foundational knowledge from simple to advanced concepts. Students are expected to have basic literacy in using a computer, the Internet, email and programs like Microsoft Word.

ICND2 follows on from ICND1 and takes the student to the next level. Lasting five days, ICND2 trains end-users in using Cisco Catalyst switches and routers. By the end of the course, a CCNA technician will be competent in the configuration, verification and and troubleshooting of a range of Cisco networking devices in a small network environment.

The two-exam path offers the applicant the opportunity to take the 640-822 ICND1 exam, followed by the 640-816 ICND2 test. The courses offered for these exams are the same as those required by the 640-802 CCNA composite.


Thoughts on obtaining CCIE certification

CCIE – Why bother? There are plenty of individuals around the world, working in the same environments as CCIEs, who make a comfortable living as holders of other certifications that are were less difficult to obtain. CCNP, CCDP, CCIP, and other Cisco certifications provide career advancement and the respect of peers, so why embark on a study routine that will probably take months to complete, that place extra demands on you (and your family) and does not end until you have passed what is arguably the toughest practical exam in the IT industry?

The reasons are many and varied, but one of the commonest is the fact that CCIE certification is recognised worlwide by people, organisations, companies, and vendors throughout the communications field. It carries a great deal of kudos and is the closest a networking engineer can get to a guarantee of employment. Sadly, even CCIEs have to lower their sights when the market is depressed but at least they are at the front of the queue when jobs are few. As economies change the salaries for CCIEs vary but they remain consistantly higher than any other similar certification.

Some people now argue that the CCIE certification program is past its peak and that there are simply too many CCIEs now, but the program is evolving and changing year by year, and some CCIEs fail to recertify, retire, or move on to other things. Cisco Systems Inc. have ensured that the syllabus for both written and practical CCIE exams is updated to reflect the changes in technology. There will always be a demand for skilled and experienced internetworking engineers. Check the Cisco web site for details of the number and type of CCIEs in each country. There are still very few Security, Voice, and ISP CCIEs.

So how does one go about obtaining CCIE status? Amounts will vary according to your experience and ability, but generally speaking preparing for the CCIE lab exam involves months of daily study and practice, so be sure you can commit yourself to the task. Talk it over with your partner and family and be sure you have their support.

Due to the time an commitment involved you may also wish to consider taking several months study leave. However, few of us can afford to give up our jobs to study full time, but we may be able to persuade our employers to allow us a few weeks study leave immediately prior to the lab date. In any event your are going to be doing a lot of reading and practical work. Your first task is to pass the written exam. There are plenty of other resources online which cover this exam (just put “350-001” in the search bar below and you’ll see what I mean), but at the very least your study library will need to consist of these titles.

When it comes to equipment to practice on, there are several choices.

  • Buy your own personal CCIE practice lab
  • Convince your employer to buy a practice lab
  • Rent time on someone else’s lab
  • Practice on router and switch simulators

Of course, buying your own lab can be expensive so most people buy a mixture of second hand an new equipment over a period of time to spread the cost. For some people the advantages of owning their own lab far outweigh the costs involved.

Buy your own personal CCIE practice lab

  • It’s available for you to use at any time
  • It’s reserved for your exclusive use
  • It’s yours no matter what happens to your job
  • It’s an investment in your career
  • It can be sold on should you need to
  • It can be physically examined, unlike an online lab or a simulator

Once qualified, you’ll recoup the cost of the lab within a few months as a CCIE. Alternatively you could sell it and get most of your money back.

Convince your employer to buy a practice lab

It may seem doubtful, but it can be done if the company wants to increase their profile and revenue by expanding their skill range while at the same time becoming some form of Cisco partner. A lab within the company can be used not only to train employees at many levels but also to test scenarios before implementing them on a customer network. Besides, they may have equipment to hand that is surplus to requirements.

Rent time on someone else’s lab

There are several sites online now that offer this facility. They can be booked up for weeks in advance so be sure to plan accordingly. Plan your session in advance so that you do not waste your time slot preparing.