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CCIE: what is it and how to become it?

Friday, April 29th, 2016

CCIE, in full: Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert, is one of the showpieces of Cisco’s Career Certification Program. From time to time I am asked how the CCIE certification exactly works. In spite of the large quantity of information that can be found on the Cisco website a lot still seems unclear. Ample reason to write a blog post about it.

When you understand how the CCIE certification program works and know where you can find more information you are already halfway there.

CCIE: what is it?

CCIEThe certification CCIE is meant for senior engineers and belongs to the top of the certification program by Cisco. The image shows the structure of the certification program in the form of a pyramid. This is a well-known image.

There are CCIE certifications for several domains:

  • Routing & Switching
  • Data Center
  • Security
  • Collaboration
  • Service Provider
  • Wireless

Besides the CCIE certifications there are the CCDE and the CCAr Architect certifications. The CCDE certification is comparable to the CCIE certifications, but mainly in the design area. The CCAr Architect certification is one level up from the CCIE and CCDE certifications and is meant for architects who need to translate business strategies to solutions that support those strategies. I will not elaborate on the certification last mentioned in this blog post. You will find more information here.

But here comes the key question: how do you become a CCIE?

CCIE: 2 exams

To become a CCIE you need to pass 2 exams. Every CCIE certification has a so-called ‘written exam’ and a ‘lab exam’.

CCIE written exam

Like many other Cisco exams the written exam is an exam that will mainly asses the theoretical knowledge and that can be taken on a Pearson VUE exam location. The written exam is comparable to the CCNP level, but contains a broader domain. You can find the subjects that will be treated in an CCIE written exam on the Cisco Learning Network. The subjects in the CCIE Routing & Switching written exam, for instance.

CCIE lab exam

The lab exam is completely focused on the degree to which you are able to put the theory into practice. This is by far the most difficult exam and a stumbling block for many candidates. You are not able to pass the lab exam without years of practical experience. You can compare it to getting your driver’s license: you can pass the theoretical exam by studying hard, but for the practical exam you need to spend hours on the road during your driving lessons.

Dutch and Belgium CCIE candidates can take the lab exam on the Cisco location in Brussels. Entrance to the lab exam is only possible after approximately two weeks after you have passed the written exam. Keep a considerable waiting time in mind when you make the reservation. You can register for a CCIE lab exam at the Cisco Learning Network.

CCIE: how do you prepare optimally for the exams?

I can only answer this question by presenting the challenge again. To obtain the CCIE certification:

  • you need to possess profound knowledge of a broad technology segment.
  • you need to be able to practice this knowledge in a lab environment, where there will be no room for mistakes, long deliberation or consulting books due to the time constraints.

In preparation for the exams Cisco has developed an extensive self study package with courses, lab practices and the so-called graded labs that closely resemble the lab exam. The package offers all additional subjects for the CCNP exams in several study modules and can therefore also be used in preparation of the written exam.

CCIE: when are you ready to start with the preparation?

To obtain a CCIE certification you need a lot of practice experience. Only then you will be able to complete the lab exam in the available time. You can only obtain that experience by years of working with Cisco in various environments.

Are there specific advantages to having a CCIE certificate?

There are several advantages:

  • The CCIE certificate extends the validity of all underlying certificates, like CCNA, CCNP and CCDP.
  • In case of service calls CCIE holders will receive a preferential treatment in the TAC.
  • During Cisco Live CCIE holders will get a private lounge/working space with all facilities available. They will furthermore be invited for a CCIE lunch by the CEO of Cisco.
  • CCIE holders with a 10 year possession of their certificate can apply for the CCIE Emeritus status. This ‘sleeping’ status will exempt you from having to re-certificate every two years. Your CCIE status will no longer be active, but can be reactivated immediately by taking a written exam.
  • CCIE holders are important for the Gold partnership of a Cisco channel partner.

In conclusion: the most important recommendation and relevant links

Don’t take it lightly. A CCIE lab exam is a difficult exam that is frequently and repeatedly failed by candidates, even though they have prepared themselves thoroughly. Without approximately five years of practical experience in the center of your work area and the iron discipline to study after working hours and during the weekends you probably won’t make it.

Finally a number of relevant links:

Do you have any questions about the obtaining of a CCIE certification? Let me know. I will be glad to help you with them.

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How to book your Cisco exam in 6 steps

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

“Where can I book my Cisco exam?”, “At what location will the exam be held?” and: “What is an exam voucher actually?” These are but a few of the questions we frequently receive.

In this blog post I will deal with the 6 steps that are necessary to book a Cisco exam online. Because booking a Cisco exam may appear difficult, but if you follow all steps it really is a piece of cake.

Where and how do you book a Cisco exam?

Pearson VUE is the exam institution for all Cisco exams. This means that Cisco exams need to be booked at Pearson VUE.

You can book your Cisco exam in 2 separate ways:
1. By telephone, using one of the free telephone numbers of Pearson VUE.
Belgium: 0800 74 174 | The Netherlands: 0800 023 53 23

When you choose this option you will be helped personally. Keep your CSCO number close. Don’t have one yet? Don’t worry. The CSCO number will be created when you submit your name and address. Keep in mind that the telephone operator is English speaking and that you will need to spell your name and address clearly.

2. Online www.pearsonvue.com. Below you will find the steps that need to be taken on the website.

Step 1: select Cisco as exam program

Click, in the horizontal menu at the upper side of the page, on ‘For test takers’. (image 1.1) A new page will open. Type ‘Cisco’ in the field left. You select ‘Cisco Systems’ from the list that appears. (image 1.2) A new page will open.

Cisco exam - step 1.1

Image 1.1

Cisco exam - step 1.2

Image 1.2

Step 2: log in with your Pearson VUE account

Click, at the right side of the page, on the blue button ‘Sign in’ and log in with your Pearson VUE account. Don’t have an account yet? In that case click on the blue button ‘Create account’ and create an account. (image 2.1)

Cisco exam, step 2.1

Image 2.1

Step 3: search for your Cisco exam

Click on the blue button ‘View exams’. (image 3.1) A new page will open.

Find the right Cisco exam by searching on the code or on the name of the exam. (image 3.2) Select the exam and click on ‘Go’. A new page will open.

Select the desired language (image 3.3) and click on the blue button ‘Next’. A new page will open.

You will now see an overview of the Cisco exam you want to take, including information on the price and language. (image 3.4)

Cisco exam - step 3.1

Image 3.1

Cisco exam - step 3.2

Image 3.2

Cisco exam - step 3.3

Image 3.3

Cisco exam - step 3.4

Image 3.4

Step 4: choose a date and a time

Click on the blue button ‘Schedule this exam’. A new page will open.

To be able to take your Cisco exam you will need to agree with the conditions that are mentioned. Select ‘Yes, I accept’ (image 4.1) and click on the blue button ‘Next’.

You can take your Cisco exam at a Pearson VUE exam center of your choice. You can find an exam center in your neighborhood by searching on street name, postal code or city, or on a combination of these. (image 4.2) Select the preferred exam center and click on the blue button ‘Next’. A new page will open.

Select a date and time. (image 4.3) A new page will open.

You will now see an overview of the Cisco exam you want to take, including information on the chosen location, the date and the time. (image 4.4)

Cisco exam - step 4.1

Image 4.1

Cisco exam - step 4.2

Image 4.2

Cisco exam - step 4.3

Image 4.3

Cisco exam - step 4.4

Image 4.4

Step 5: pay for the Cisco exam with a credit card or an exam voucher

Click on the blue button ‘Proceed to Checkout’. Confirm your personal data. (image 5.1) Make sure that the name on the screen corresponds exactly with the name on your identity papers. Click on the blue button ‘Next’.

Agree with the mentioned terms (image 5.2) and click on the blue button ‘Next’.
You can pay for your Cisco exam by means of an exam voucher or by credit card. (image 5.3) An exam voucher is a code of numbers and letters.

• Do you want to pay for your Cisco exam by means of an exam voucher? In that case click on ‘Add Voucher or Promo Code’, fill in the number of the exam voucher and click on the blue button ‘Apply’. The payable amount will be set on € 0,00.

• Do you want to pay for your Cisco exam by credit card? In that case fill in the credit card information and the billing address.

Click on the blue button ‘Next’. A new page will open.

Cisco exam - step 5.1

Image 5.1

Cisco exam - step 5.2

Image 5.2

Cisco exam - step 5.3

Image 5.3

Step 6: confirm your booking

You will see an overview of the Cisco exam you want to take, including information on the price. Click on the blue button ‘Submit Order’.

Your exam is booked. You will receive a confirmation at the e-mail address that is known in your Pearson VUE account.

Reschedule your Cisco exam to another date or location

Do you want to reschedule your exam? In that case log in again with your Pearson VUE account and use the option ‘Reschedule’.

Attention: you can reschedule without cost until 24 hours before the start of the exam. If you reschedule within those 24 hours ór if you forget the appointment you will be required to pay the complete fee for the rebooking of the exam.

Questions on the booking of your Cisco exam

Do you have any questions on the booking of your Cisco exam? Or do you want to reschedule your Cisco exam, but you aren’t exactly sure on how to do that? Contact Pearson VUE on one of the free telephone numbers.

Belgium: 0800 74 174 | The Netherlands: 0800 023 53 23

I wish you good luck with your Cisco exam. And if you need any help in the preparation for the exam, Fast Lane will of course be happy to help! ;-)

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