Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert – Routing & Switching (CCIE Routing & Switching)

The Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert Routing and Switching (CCIE Routing and Switching) certification is a sub-track of the most widely recognized certification in the industry, the Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) certification. CCIE is the highest level of certification offered for technical professionals by Cisco. Accepted worldwide, CCIE is the most prestigious industry-wide certification available. Professionals who achieve this certification have demonstrated a solid mastery of network engineering and various Cisco products or services. CCIE holders are routinely deployed to the most challenging and difficult technical problems.

CCIE Routing and Switching is the most popular track within the CCIE framework. Routing and Switching focuses on achieving expert knowledge of networking. Further, this knowledge will be valid across multiple networking platforms including both Local Area Network (LAN) and Wide Area Network (WAN) settings. A wide variety of routers and switches will also be added to the CCIE Routing and Switching holder’s repertoire. The primary goal of the Routing and Switching track is to equip the certification holder with the skills necessary to solve complex connectivity problems. Increasing bandwidth, response time improvement, performance maximization and supporting global operations are all goals of this track.

Who should seek CCIE certification?

CCIE Routing and Switching is most appropriately designed for network professionals who are experts in handling routers, switches and extensive network issues. Cisco considers the CCIE certification along with all of its tracks to be “master level”, the best the company has to offer information technology professionals.

Since the CCIE Routing and Switching process involves a wide range of topics, applicants are encouraged to have at least three to five years of job experience before attempting this certification.

What is the salary range and job outlook for CCIE certified professionals?

According to PayScale, a well-known market research firm specializing in compensation data, CCIE holders can earn quite a bit of money in the U.S. Specifically, five job titles taken by CCIE certification holders are compensated as follows:

  • Senior Network Engineer: $75,000 to $133,000
  • Network Engineer: $50,000 to $120,000
  • Senior Systems Engineer: $61,000 to $144,000
  • Systems Engineer: $47,000 to $132,000
  • Network Engineer: $37,000 to $135,000

Job growth in this category is expected to increase in the United States by over 20 percent between 2008 and 2018. This translates to over 280,000 jobs added in that time frame. Opportunities are expected to be plentiful.

What are the prerequisites and recertification requirements for CCIE?

The CCIE Routing and Switching is an expert-level, highly specialized certification. This certification is recognized globally as the elite networking community that leads the industry. It has become a standard unto itself based upon its extensive written and laboratory examinations. No prerequisites are necessary to obtain the CCIE Routing and Switching certification. Unlike other Cisco certifications, which expire every three years, the CCIE certification and all tracks expire after two years. CCIE holders are expected and encouraged to expand their technical knowledge and familiarize themselves with the latest industry updates. If a CCIE expires, the former holder has one year to re-certify before he must start the certification process all over again.

What should I expect on CCIE exams?

An in-depth understanding and comprehension is expected. Each exam is of high quality and sets high standards.

CCIE Routing and Switching has both a written and laboratory exam, both of which are extensive. The written exam is two hours long and consists of 90 to 110 questions. Multiple choice and complex, interactive questions are used in the exam. No reference materials are allowed; the exam is completely closed-book.

The laboratory exam is eight hours long and consists of multiple, interactive exercises. Examinees are required to troubleshoot and configure a series of complicated networks. Importantly, each network must be configured to a precise set of specifications. Cisco prides detailed troubleshooting knowledge and it is an integral part of the laboratory exam. The examinees do not work on end-user systems. Instead, they are responsible for making sure every device in the network is working properly and meets the pre-specified goals. If the laboratory exam is not passed within three years of having passed the written exam, the applicant must take the written exam over again.