Lindsay Hill automation, networking, product management

CCIE - Should I Renew?

It is 6 years since I passed the CCIE Lab Exam. The dreaded email has arrived:

CCIE: Your CCIE status is ‘suspended’ and you need to recertify in twelve months.

Time to re-evaluate what the CCIE means to me. Should renew it? Should people start out on the CCIE track now? My opinions have shifted over the years.

Should I Renew?

I’ve been through this cycle a few times now. I’m getting closer to Emeritus, but it’s still a few years away.

My career has shifted over the last few years. I work for a Network Vendor, but networking is only part of what I do. I am a Product Manager, focused on automation. I spend very little time looking at network devices, or CLI. I spend my time talking to customers, updating roadmaps, writing Python, reviewing Pull Requests.

My future will be working with technologies like Serverless Computing, IoT, and Edge.

CCIE R&S doesn’t cover any of that.

It is unlikely that I will ever work as a traditional hands-on network engineer again. Not impossible, but unlikely. I doubt that any future employer will care about whether I have a current CCIE certification. At this point my experience is more relevant.

So…why bother renewing?

Well…there’s still that tiny matter of personal pride, combined with a bit of sunk cost fallacy. It’s hard to give up something that took a lot of personal time, money and effort. I did it to prove to myself I could do it, not for promotion or salary. It was a point of pride that I could do it.

So I’ll probably renew. It will take me around a month of study, and about $500.

I still have 12 months to decide. After that, it will expire, and I would need to sit the whole lab again. There is no way I would ever sit the lab again. Better to invest my time and energy elsewhere.

What if You’re Starting Out?

So that’s me. But what about you? What about young engineers starting out, trying to decide what education path to take? Should you pursue the CCIE?

I’ve gone back & forth about this for a while, but now I’m sure: Don’t do it.

It’s not worth the time and the distraction from learning broader skills. You are better off learning something else. The market is changing. You will be better served by having a mix of skills in things like Cloud, SD-WAN, basic coding, Linux.

Learn the basics of networking. By all means pursue CCNP certification, to give yourself a solid networking base. But then broaden your skills, learn adjacent fields.

The market for hyper-specialized network engineers is shrinking. If you’re already there, and have a profitable niche, then stick with it if you’re happy. But don’t start down that path, not in 2018. The world has moved on.

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