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Cisco's CCIE is no longer the biggest cash cow of IT certification

Cisco's legendary CCIE is no longer the most valuable certification for IT professionals, according to TechRepublic's 2008 IT Skills and Salary Report. See what certification has replaced it and where the CCIE now stands.

When I was working in IT in the late 1990s, I remember the reverence with which everyone in the industry talked about the Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) certification. At the time, it was the only prominent IT certification that tested practical skills, in addition to the book knowledge that all of the other certs tested.

Wild stories circulated about the CCIE lab exam. I remember hearing about how you had to set up a network for a complex scenario that took you all day, then Cisco experts came in overnight and trashed the network. Then you came in the next day and had to fix everything.

Whether those stories were hyperbole or not, it was well-known that almost no one passed the CCIE lab exam on the first try. And it was expensive -- $1,400 to take the lab exam, plus travel costs to get to a CCIE lab location, prep materials, and written exam pre-tests.

However, there was a big payoff at the end if you joined that elite fraternity of about 12,000 worldwide.

The word on the streets at the time was that as soon as you passed your exams you would be bombarded with phone calls from recruiters and Fortune 500 companies tripping over themselves to offer a job with a six-figure salary. That was the perception. The reality was a little more sober, but still very attractive. Many CCIEs were hired directly by Cisco, and others got lucrative gigs as high value consultants.

However, the CCIE is no longer the highest valued certification in IT. In fact, according to our extensive 2008 IT Skills and Salary Report -- which TechRepublic produced in partnership with Global Knowledge -- the CCIE has actually slipped to fifth.

Three certifications that involve business management in addition to technology have grabbed the top three spots: Project Management Professional (PMP), Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM), and ITIL v2 Foundations. That shouldn't come as much of surprise to anyone who has been in IT over the past decade, as we have seen IT professionals with strong business skills become hot commodities.

The CCIE isn't even the most valuable technical certification any more. That distinction belongs to the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) cert, which was fourth in our survey. Nevertheless, CCIEs are still pulling down good money, with an average salary of $93,500.

How about the world's most popular (and sometimes most infamous) certification -- the Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE)? It came in 19th on the list, with an average salary of $71,980. That's not too far off the average of $67,000 for MCSEs when I got an MCSE back in 1999.

Here's a look at the top certs on the list:

What do you think about PMP being the most valuable certification for IT professionals? Join the discussion.

Also, don't forget to download the entire 2008 IT Skills and Salary report:

About

Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the book, Follow the Geeks.

45 comments
calvinbrock7351
calvinbrock7351

IT certification that tested practical skills, in addition to the book knowledge that all of the other certs tested.

girlsdoporn

koovery
koovery

cciestore.net is providing full lab solutions including video solutions, by using their solutions it is very easy to pass this exam and get CCIE #

koovery
koovery

cciestore.net is providing full solutions including video solutions

c1sc0
c1sc0

Here there are a lot of routing and switching, and voice materials. Everything is quite comprehensive and there are some practice exams too: http://www.learncisco.net/

io_zen
io_zen

ITIL v2 Foundations holders get more than ITIL v3 Master holders? Two top spots are occupied by project management certification and assocciate of project management? This study cannot be right

Casey645
Casey645

I think these statistics and the conclusions derived are bit skewed. When someone tries to correlate one certification to a specific salary, it is almost impossible. I think the high salaries of the admittedly less technical (Cisco certs. for ex. are much tougher than the CISSP) and more managerial certifications (i.e. PMP, CISSP) can better be attributed to another commonality of people with the CISSP and/or the PMP. The people (like myself) who have these certifications are general IT managers, and have myriad other skills, education (Bachelor's in EE, IT or CS, Master's, MBA's) and experience in addition to the certifications. For most (I can't say all) of the people I speak with with these certs, they have other professional and technical certs., and the CISSP and/or PMP are icing on the cake (both the CISSP and PMP require more experience without bachelor's degree). Conversely, I have met CCIE's who have many cisco cets, and not much else. They do very well for themselves too.

sa1111
sa1111

Considering PMI is Project Management Professional, I would hope my boss makes more than me

darbyweaver
darbyweaver

Hah! Are you telling my that I get paid more with my puny CCNP than I might for my CCIE? Let's see... over $93k consistently for the past three jobs in the lowly paid deep south of Florida. With a mere CCNP. I guess you could argue I have the ITIL v2, but no one seems to notice it. You might argue I'm a MCSE+Everything but no one seems to ask about it much these days... They do care about my CCNP and they seem to love the idea that I'm a practicing CCIE Lab Candidate who has been to the lab. I earn more than your other certs as a failed CCIE Lab Candidate. So I fully expect that my CCIE will earn a little more luster upon completion of one or more labs. Paper hold anything is a fond saying of my wife. Bank accounts hold cash. I invest my green cash in gree Cisco Gear, Training, and other materials. It's a wide investment. Hard times are hear and ITIL and PMP don't hold the sand a CCIE does. I could have passed my ITIL without even studying it was that common sense and in a word "dull". I mean a lot of the questions had the correct answer embedded in them... I guess you can argue the CCIE Lab does have the CCO close by... good luck trying to use it to solve a lot of problems in the Lab. People making a nice living with certs like the PMP probably are doing based on a decent living they earned before achieving the cert. I doubt many 22-25 year olds can get a PMP or a ITIL and walk into a Fortune 500 and earn $100k. A CCIE can get paid that with a mom and pop Cisco Partner at 18-22 years old just cause he's a certified newbie and the certification alone is worth the cash to a partner. A CCIE can rent the cert for over $20,000.00 a year and never do more than sign the contract. Can a PMP or ITIL or other certification do that? Hmmm...

Neil
Neil

Now I don't know a lot about these certificates - but surely a V3 Master is more difficult and up-to date than a V2 Foundation ? Is this due to insufficient data (on my part - or the surveys) ?

BALTHOR
BALTHOR

The best ones look like girls in bikinis.

CG IT
CG IT

as the complexity grows so does specialization. Also the what's hot now often makes salaries very high for what's hot. When it cools, then they drop. CCIEs was all the rage as the internet developed. Then MCSE to make company networks. Then DB guys. Now, it's project management... Next is Web 2 video guys.

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