CCIE: One Year On

Today marks one year since I passed CCIE Routing and Switching, and was branded number 36708. This is supposed to be a huge achievement, bringing fame and fortune, right? You’re supposed to immediately change jobs, with an accompanying large pay rise, right? No more drudgery for me, I’m a rock star now! Isn’t that how it’s supposed to work? Let’s look at what’s changed in the last 12 months for me:

  • I’m still working for the same company.
  • I’m still earning exactly the same salary.
  • The work I do has changed a little, although the bulk of it is the same.
  • I’m still married to the same beautiful woman.
  • I’m still living in the same crappy house.
  • I’ve got a lot more time for other interests, such as blogging, and non-CCIE study and reading.

Looking at that list, you might ask:

Was it really worth it? You invested an enormous amount of time and money in it, with no support from your employer. Shouldn’t you be seeing some more payback?

First, a few data points:

  • I wasn’t exactly on junior rates beforehand. Sure, I’d like more money, but I’m not starving. If I had done this in 2005, when I really should have done it, I would have expected a large pay rise.
  • I don’t do full-time networking - I primarily work in network and infrastructure management.
  • One of the main goals for me for CCIE was in proving to myself that I could do it. Not to make more money or change jobs.

The work I do has changed a little - I am doing some network-related work that I could not have been selected for without having a CCIE behind me. Perception matters. It helps establish credibility when I’m working with new clients, and hey - all that stuff I learnt actually comes in handy quite often. Even Frame Relay. It’s still out there.

It’s also made me read and learn so much more about networking. That hasn’t stopped once I passed. I’ve also developed a new group of people who I interact with online, through Twitter, IEOC, the Cisco Learning Network, etc. This has opened new opportunities, and I find I’m now speaking to people who I never would have spoken to in the past. This in turn opens up opportunities like attending conferences, and I expect in future it will help with new jobs. I put a lot into my online activities, and it seems that after a while you start seeing returns on that.

Probably the best thing I’ve taken away from it all is new approaches to learning and assimilating material. My approach has changed, and this helped me earlier this year when passing some non-Cisco certifications. More than that, I believe it will help for learning new technologies. If I can keep up half that rate of effort I had, I think it will put me well ahead of most other engineers in our field.

It was a struggle at the time to pass the CCIE lab. But I’m glad I did it, and I think it has set me up well for the future. I would strongly advise any junior engineer with a passion for networking to go for it. Now I’m just trying to figure out my next challenge - the field is wide open. Dive into Open Daylight, become a Python expert, or take on CCDE? There’s an exciting world out there…