Are CCIEs and other Cisco certifications as valuable as they used to be?

CCIE recruiter Eman Conde considers a recent Linkedin discussion that explored the concerns of job seekers who have earned their Cisco certifications. Here are some of the issues being raised and Eman's advice.

"Are CCIE Certifications and Cisco certs, in general, losing their value?" Recently this question was asked by one of my LinkedIn and professional contacts in the CCIE Jobs group I created. This question came from a network engineer with CCNP and CCVP certifications, who is pursuing his CCIE. He is Nigerian and his professional outlook is of concern. He went on to ask the forum, "Why does there seem to be so many CCIEs and mid-level techs looking for jobs and so few jobs available?"

Nedu is asking a question here that is valid. It appears that often times the CCIE or network engineer is being short-changed in some countries. That the supply of network engineers outpaces the need -- sort of like a buyers' market for talent in some areas -- is the exception, not the rule. Demand from a perspective of a recruiter who is sought out for this talent, is quite different than the view the talent sees. Below is an excerpt from the most recent discussion:

Michael Atkinson - I work in the US, and there is no shortage of jobs available for CCIEs right now. It's hard to find good people.

Brandon Carroll - Yeah I agree, there is no shortage of jobs for good CCIE's. Problem is that so many people are not willing to relocate so they settle.

Shailesh Patel - I agree with Brandon, Michael & Eman, CCIE is the world leading certification provided by CISCO. All you need is a good experience in the field of Networking. So you will get better Opportunities.

Sachin Sharma - Hello Gentlemen. There should be some easy way to shift the CCIE expertise from here (where there is plenty) to there (where there is requirement). Hey Eman, why do not you start a immigration firm also :) -- just my 2 cents. Cheers.

This topic began to build but the basic point of view seemed to shift from region to region. The fact is that CCIEs are in bigger demand where we have fewer of them or where there are more Channel Partners. Yet where many new CCIEs have earned their wings, the demand is lower and the pay is lower as well. CCIEs from several countries would relocate to the USA or Europe for the pay and the chance to ride the leading edge, but the work visa requirements prevent them from doing so.

This is quite a dilemma. Politics in the countries that need the skilled talent are also blocking this talent from coming in for the sake of trying to force employers to hire from the natives. If the natives could somehow be rebooted and earn certifications swiftly, we would have a recipe for success. Instead we find that the skills required to be a CCIE are not institutionally transferable to just anyone. We have a stalemate.

The first successful engineers who invented/developed the software, firmware, and hardware came from a technical background which included learning at the wheel. Keyboard hackers who figured the new technologies out while immersed in it, then taking certification exams as they developed and became a part of our enterprises. Today, however, we are seeing the result of a technological society that has developed geeks in utero. No LOL-ing please; I believe it is true.

The discussion continued...

Darby Weaver - Umm... Go to and search for CCIE - There is absolutely no shortage of jobs. Take a look around on LinkedIn...again no shortage of jobs....That's just for CCIE's. Now if you follow ccnpjobs on twitter you will be amazed at how many ccnp and ccxp level jobs are on the market.

Muhammad Rameez Khan -There are lot of jobs available for CCIE particularly in the USA as observed from linked in Group Posts, but the problem is in Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia where very few of the CCIE jobs get posted on Linkedin or any other website and most of the time those are settled by referenced CCIEs.  These days in Saudi Arabia, there are lot of CCIEs but less jobs for them and lower pay scale. Also, it takes a lot of time to get a stable CCIE job as most of companies cannot afford that salary budget.

Arvind Kumar Yadav - Certification is to just to prove that person has required knowledge about the subject but experience really allowsto make use of the knowledge. I see the certification trend is changing now. Earlier people used to gain knowledge/experience first and, to prove that they have gained enough knowledge and experience, were going for certification. But now I see people go for certification first thinking that they will get better job/work experience after they are certified. That's why you feel the difference in quality.

I feel people who are CCIE's in early days are real experienced people and now some of them have certification but no experience. That's the reason CCIE value is also coming down because when you interview a CCIE the expectation is that you are the master in that technology but you will be disappointed when you came to know that he was not able to answer a simple question.

I met one college-fresh graduate who passed the CCIE lab exam after 6-7 months of hard work but he hasn't deployed a single router in real production environment yet. So the people with good experience and certifications are always in demand but there will be less demand for people who have certification without any relevant experience.

Eman's advice

After 52 posts on this topic, it was knocked about thoroughly. Remember the original questions? "Are CCIE Certifications and Cisco Certs in general losing their value?"

There is a certain amount of expectation when a person works so hard for a certification that has reached legendary status. Today I was listening to the news in my car and heard that Cisco stock was leading the technology sector. So many young people pin their hopes on a CCIE or other Cisco certification as a differentiator from the rest of the thundering herds looking for jobs. In answer to this question, I would offer my humble opinion that they are not losing their worth.  In fact many areas are returning to the pre-economic downturn days, and hiring for Cisco solutions geeks is strong.

The demand is there; finding the right person in the right place at the right time is the challenge, but that's what networking is for. Getting the CCIE certification and maintaining a technical edge is a full time job. Marketing yourself as a Cisco Certified resource is key. Turn to your mentor, reach out to a professional that knows the market. Look closer to home. Many newly minted CCIEs I have spoken with seem to think the certification trumps a working visa. No certification I know of will compel an immigration official to treat you any differently.

In India and China where there seems to be a glut of CCIEs, there are jobs, and in the Middle East and Africa as well, but the salary differences are often huge. I think (and this is my opinion) that too many people are in need of better paying jobs. The glimmer of hope, even if slight, makes many geeks look towards the west to improve their lot. I have been to many countries spreading the word for CCIEs and we are all aware that cost of living should be a barometer for salaries. Don't let salaries be your sole motivation and if you are looking to relocate, do the research and legwork. Treat all your goals like a job and you will get results.

I am working with a CCIE in the USA that is from Iran. He is on H-1, legally eligible to work here. His certification is new and he has no experience to speak of. He treats his job search as a full-time job and rolls up his sleeves everyday tackling the obstructions he is faced with. If he could get a certification that is not open to his country and succeed in making it through the myriad of challenges to become a US resident, anyone can!

Stay passionate and determined!