After the CCNP - Input anyone?

nickpatazinickpatazi Registered Users Posts: 1 ■□□□□□□□□□
Hello everyone! I am looking for some advice/opinions/constructive criticism.

I am currently enlisted in the Marine Corps. I really enjoy my job, but I do not intend on staying in. Over the past 2.5 years I've worked in both network admin and network engineer 1 positions. I've gained a valuable amount of experience/OJT, much that encompasses CCNA/NP topics. I recently passed my CCNP in December, which took me a little over a year. Shortly after passing my CCNP and the holidays that followed, I decided to start towards the CCIE. I figure that by studying CCIE topics, I will be constantly reviewing what I have learned in CCNA/CCNP, building on the foundation topics, and learning more advanced topics/protocols. However, I am not aiming for the lab exam just yet. I figure having a CCIE # with only 4 years experience (when my active duty contract is up) to back it up isn't necessarily attractive to employers. I also do not have the time needed to start on such an endeavor. There are plenty of 50 - 60 hour weeks throughout the year where I will leave work and immediately go to the gym, possibly study for an hour, and hit the rack. I'm not able to rack up the lab hours needed. I see that many that the CCIE topics are predominant in production networks, but I am told that the CCIE lab is not a best practices/practical exam.

Just to gauge what I have done this far in CCIE- Read Routing TCP/IP Vol. 1 two times over, read most of Routing TCP/IP Vol. 2, read CCIE Routing and Switching V5.0 (Narbik Kocharians and Terry Vinson) Vol 1. and most of Vol 2, watched INE's ATC videos (core protocols mostly: all of switching, OSPF, EIGRP, RIP, BGP, redistribution, security), labbed all of Narbik's Foundations workbook 1+2 twice, labbed some of Narbik's advanced training. As you can see, right now I am focusing on really understanding the core protocols. After May, I plan focusing a lot more on "advanced topics" such as BGP, MPLS, Multicast, and QoS. Thus far I have about 100 lab hours under my belt. You may be thinking "how were you able to get so much done in about three months?" These three months were very quiet and consisted of many 4 day weekends. Not to mention, I am a single man with nothing better to do. :) This is the time of year where the pace starts picking up and we are all strapped for time.

All this CCIE talk.... so my goal is to understand the topics of the CCIE and slowly prepare for the lab over this next year. When I leave the military next year (and finally have time), I will be able to pull the 2-3 hours of studying/labbing every night and better be able to balance all the topics and prepare for the actual lab. Aside from that, what can I do over this next year to make myself more competitive as a network engineer? I have thought about studying other tracks/vendor certs, but I am very picky as to what I will attempt for certifications. I do not want to have a resume that is a mile long cert list. I'd rather have two or three knockouts with the proper experience to back them up. I'd also like to make my skillset as dynamic as possible and gear it somewhat to the type of environment I'd like to work in.

My goal is to work in a service provider network... something like ATT, L3, Verizon, ect. A datacenter would be awesome too. However, beggars cant be choosers. I would really like to know the pros/cons of working in both.

Over this next year, what other professional track should I attempt? What yields the most job offers? I have heard of crazy offers coming out of the blue for the less common tracks. My #1 pick is Security, both Cisco and Junipers. (On that note, I've been playing with some Juniper routing/switching.) My #2 pick is datacenter, as it seems that the emerging DC technology is in need. I have been told that Design is a great track for those looking to be a better engineer overall... opinions? I know someone will cry "what about experience?!" I may be able to beg/bribe myself into a position using said technology.icon_wink.gif

Also... python? Unix? Thoughts?

Thank you for the responses! Constructive criticism is very welcome. I did not mean to make a somewhat off topic post in the CCIE forum, however I seen more "journey" threads here than CCNP and I could not find a Cisco general forum. I apologize for any mistakes, as I am 4 beers deep by the end of this post. icon_lol.gif


  • networker050184networker050184 Mod Posts: 11,962 Mod
    Sounds a lot like where I was coming out of the military. As far as the CCIE with only 4 years of experience, it doesn't really matter as long as you know your stuff. More experience always helps obviously, but all experience is not equal. I say keep learning, keep studying and labbing. If you get to the point you feel you can take the lab before you get out of the military more power to you. I've been out for almost 10 years now and still haven't found the time/energy to devote to the CCIE unfortunately. Don't count on civilian life leaving you with much more free time.

    As far as other certs/paths, depends on what you are doing. When I first got out I did voice work for a few years as I had worked with Callmanagers and it was a hot skill at the time. Never certified in that area though because I was like you very interested in the ISP routing/MPLS side of things. Didn't take long to make the transition into that once I got a voice engineering job on the resume.

    Service provider and data center work is the best! I've been working in those areas for a while now and I absolutely love it. Love the scale and complexity. Not many cons unless you go to the really big providers and have to deal with a lot of red tape. Just the nature of any large business though. I've found I get much more freedom and enjoyment working in a mid sized company rather than a Verizon sized monster with 50 levels of management. The main difference between ISP and DC is usually where you'll be concentrating. ISP mostly L3, MPLS etc. In the DC world you get much deeper into the L2 side of things.

    Python is definitely a good thing to go for. I really wish I would have started scripting much earlier in my career. Would have made my life a lot easier. A lot of devops doors open when you get proficient there as well.

    Good luck!
    An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made.
  • silver145silver145 Member Posts: 265 ■■□□□□□□□□
    i have two years experience and a CCIE, f*ck the system :D - do what's best for you, best candidate gets the job! Dont expect the usual CCIE salary due to not having the experience to demand it, but its definitely increased the replies/interviews and offers i have had with a considerable pay rise also :)

    Also mod mans advice above is spot on ^^
  • gorebrushgorebrush Member Posts: 2,743 ■■■■■■■□□□
    I agree with what has been said above. If you've got the time to dedicate to the CCIE then absolutely go for it.
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