What direction to take - CCIE or other?

kryptos80kryptos80 Member Posts: 16 ■□□□□□□□□□
Hello everyone,

I know there are tons of threads on the "Should I go for CCIE or not" topic but I couldn't find any that related more to my situation. So I apologize for asking the same question as many others but I would love any advice from people in the field. I am at a crossroads.

I am a CCNP engineer with nearly 6 years experience. I have a good engineer job, just not very challenging. I was very close to getting a great gov't job, but it fell thru at the last minute. So now I am trying to decide where to focus my efforts. I am really bummed about this possible position falling through, and I need an outlet to keep my mind off it:

I'm thinking about going for a new certification. Should I go for:

1.) CCIE R&S - most of my experience is in WAN/LAN. I realize this would be the hardest and most time consuming, so I am wondering if it will be worth it. I believe demand is ok for this but I am unsure if its really worth THAT much more than my current CCNP?

2.) CCNA Voice/CCVP - I have very little experience in voice/VoIP. however I enjoy it very much and I'm really interested in learning more. But i don't think my current job would provide me with any experience in it. Would having a CCVP cert with little experience help? Is there any demand for it?

3.) Security - I have been interested in security/firewalls/pen-testing for sometime, but then again, would not having much experience in it help? I was looking at CCSP, Network+, OSCP, CISSP (but need way more experience)

4.) MCSA/MCSE/Linux - should I balance my Cisco knowledge with some server knowledge. Being a jack of all trades type engineer? I have beginner to immediate knowledge in this field.


I want to do whats best for my fam/future, but I am unsure of the demand in these areas. Any advice from you guys would be great.

Thanks for any and all help.

Comments

  • mikej412mikej412 Member Posts: 10,086 ■■■■■■■■■■
    Usually you should go for the certifications that help you get your first job, do your current job better, or keep your current job.

    Then you work on the certifications that help you get your next job.
    kryptos80 wrote: »
    I am at a crossroads.
    Is it just work? Or life? Is a new sports car an option? icon_lol.gif
    kryptos80 wrote: »
    I am a CCNP engineer with nearly 6 years experience.
    You meet the suggested experience recommendation for the CCIE.
    kryptos80 wrote: »
    I have a good engineer job, just not very challenging.
    Do you want challenging? Or just different? Not everyone has what it takes to work in a Business Partner Environment -- or even a Consulting Company. Some people like the security of working on the same network day in and day out -- whether it's well designed or not.
    kryptos80 wrote: »
    I am really bummed about this possible position falling through
    So you were looking for a job change.

    Are you actively looking for another new job? Or was that government job your dream job and the one you were planning to retire from?

    Can you see yourself staying in your current job for another 2 years? 4 years? Or does the thought of showing up to work there tomorrow make you want to slash your wrist with a spork?
    kryptos80 wrote: »
    I need an outlet to keep my mind off it
    Um, a shiny red sports car?
    kryptos80 wrote: »
    I'm thinking about going for a new certification. Should I go for:
    Your focus on certifications is probably going to be go for the one(s) that help you get your next job.

    What's you're current environment? Enterprise campus? Data Center? Or are you supporting an "office environment" -- Large or Small?

    What would you like to do?
    kryptos80 wrote: »
    1.) CCIE R&S - most of my experience is in WAN/LAN. I realize this would be the hardest and most time consuming, so I am wondering if it will be worth it. I believe demand is ok for this but I am unsure if its really worth THAT much more than my current CCNP?
    If you're already at a 6 figure salary, and you don't want a high speed career working for a Cisco Business Partner or as a Consultant, then the gain may not be worth time and effort to achieve.

    Do you have any CCIEs in your current work environment -- either as employees or working for vendors? Would you want to do their job(s)?
    kryptos80 wrote: »
    2.) CCNA Voice/CCVP - I have very little experience in voice/VoIP. however I enjoy it very much and I'm really interested in learning more. But i don't think my current job would provide me with any experience in it. Would having a CCVP cert with little experience help? Is there any demand for it?
    Who's hiring CCVPs (or CCNP Voice certification holders) in your area? Voice is probably still a "hot" area, but without experience you may not be that tempting to a Cisco Unified Communications Business Partner. But your CCNP and work experience could get you in -- so it's still an option. Do you think you'll really like voice that much?

    A large enterprise is also another option. Your CCNP gets you in, and a CCNP Voice gets you in the Voice group.
    kryptos80 wrote: »
    3.) Security - I have been interested in security/firewalls/pen-testing for sometime, but then again, would not having much experience in it help? I was looking at CCSP, Network+, OSCP, CISSP (but need way more experience)
    Ditto -- leverage your current experience to get a job in an environment that would give you an opportunity to move into Security in the future.
    kryptos80 wrote: »
    4.) MCSA/MCSE/Linux - should I balance my Cisco knowledge with some server knowledge. Being a jack of all trades type engineer? I have beginner to immediate knowledge in this field.
    Adding an MCSA to a CCNA was a good option for someone trying to break into the IT field, but you're already in. It maximizes options at the entry level, but unless you want to move to a data center or hosting environment, it probably won't do all that much for your career.

    A lot of System Admins move over to networking.... I don't see as many networking people move over/back to sys admin work. But with Cisco's Unified Computing Platform push, server and virtualization knowledge could be a tempting combination for a larger Cisco Business Partner.
    kryptos80 wrote: »
    I want to do whats best for my fam/future, but I am unsure of the demand in these areas.
    It's probably time to do some searches on the job aggregation web sites like indeed.com. Setup some email updates and see what's getting the hits and who's hiring.

    The Cisco Business Partner Locator is a good place to check to help find opportunities -- but if you've never worked in a Business Partner/VAR type environment, it could be quite a shock.
    :mike: Cisco Certifications -- Collect the Entire Set!
  • reaper81reaper81 Member Posts: 631
    I'm studying for the CCIE right now and it demands a lot of time and dedication. If you're thinking of doing it you really really need to go in with the right reasons for doing it.

    I wouldn't go for the sysadmin side, I don't think its a very good career move since as you say you will be jack of all trades and those generally make less money than a specialist.

    Security and R&S is a good combo and something I will probably go for when the IE is done.

    With your expierience and a CCNP you will soon find another job I'm sure. Good luck.
    Daniel Dib
    CCIE #37149
  • kryptos80kryptos80 Member Posts: 16 ■□□□□□□□□□
    First off, mike, thank you for taking the time to reply with such a detailed and informative response. Its all good icon_cheers.gif

    Now to try and answer your more important questions:


    Usually you should go for the certifications that help you get your first job, do your current job better, or keep your current job.

    Then you work on the certifications that help you get your next job.

    I would be working on a cert for a new job. Right now I am a contractor, and I work on a very large and complex Enterprise Campus job. Problem I don't have much work to do and not totally enjoying the working environment here. I do have an opportunity to work fulltime here, but i would rather go somewhere else.


    Do you want challenging? Or just different? Not everyone has what it takes to work in a Business Partner Environment -- or even a Consulting Company. Some people like the security of working on the same network day in and day out -- whether it's well designed or not.

    I don't know on this one. I love fixing things and making things more efficient, so I think I'm prime for a consulting gig. But I have never done it before so I don't know the realities of it.

    Are you actively looking for another new job? Or was that government job your dream job and the one you were planning to retire from?

    Can you see yourself staying in your current job for another 2 years? 4 years? Or does the thought of showing up to work there tomorrow make you want to slash your wrist with a spork?

    My contract is up this summer. That gov't job was a really cool opportunity but a big step back in pay. Looking to start a family here soon so not an option. I could see myself taking the fulltime position here for a couple of years, but not happy about it.

    What's you're current environment? Enterprise campus? Data Center? Or are you supporting an "office environment" -- Large or Small?

    What would you like to do?

    Current environment is large Enterprise campus. I am not allowed to do much here since I am just a contractor but the other people here are mostly just doing the small, beginner things (plugging in cables, diagrams, circuit maintenance, documentation) while a small select few actually do the big EIGRP/BGP configuration and design. They have been here forever. Don't see myself doing anything really interesting for quite some time.

    If you're already at a 6 figure salary, and you don't want a high speed career working for a Cisco Business Partner or as a Consultant, then the gain may not be worth time and effort to achieve.

    Not at 6 figure yet, a little ways to go.


    Who's hiring CCVPs (or CCNP Voice certification holders) in your area? Voice is probably still a "hot" area, but without experience you may not be that tempting to a Cisco Unified Communications Business Partner. But your CCNP and work experience could get you in -- so it's still an option. Do you think you'll really like voice that much?

    Looks like a handful of companies are hiring Senior VoIP guys in my area (DC/baltimore/MD) , half you need clearance but many you do not. But I don't have the experience.


    Adding an MCSA to a CCNA was a good option for someone trying to break into the IT field, but you're already in. It maximizes options at the entry level, but unless you want to move to a data center or hosting environment, it probably won't do all that much for your career.

    Agree with this. i did a search on Indeed, and there were a handful of jobs that were looking for MCSE and CCNP. Seems like a possibility.


    It's probably time to do some searches on the job aggregation web sites like indeed.com. Setup some email updates and see what's getting the hits and who's hiring.

    This is a good idea. I did a quick search and there is some demand for just CCIE certficiations. But there were more that said CCNP desired, CCIE preferred. So its tough to decide if its worth it.

    I'm just trying to see what you , or other posters, would do in my situation. Experienced CCNP, bored at job, looking for new direction with decent opportunities. I have a huge thirst for knowledge so any path I would enjoy, I just don't want to waste my time.

    Thanks again for your help. You rock!
  • kryptos80kryptos80 Member Posts: 16 ■□□□□□□□□□
    reaper81 wrote: »
    I'm studying for the CCIE right now and it demands a lot of time and dedication. If you're thinking of doing it you really really need to go in with the right reasons for doing it.

    I wouldn't go for the sysadmin side, I don't think its a very good career move since as you say you will be jack of all trades and those generally make less money than a specialist.

    Security and R&S is a good combo and something I will probably go for when the IE is done.

    With your expierience and a CCNP you will soon find another job I'm sure. Good luck.

    Thank you reaper. I am very impressed with your 200 hours of study already for the CCIE written.

    My old boss was a CCIE and he talked about the experience alot. I am aware that it will take a huge amount of my time.... luckily, i'm at a job that i have nothing but time and every cisco press book available.

    I think knowing security is almost a necessity these days. good call on coupling that with an R&S. Something I might try too.
  • mikej412mikej412 Member Posts: 10,086 ■■■■■■■■■■
    kryptos80 wrote: »
    My contract is up this summer.
    Long term the CCIE probably would maximize your opportunities -- but the odds of adding a CCIE to your resume in time to impact your next job search are slim to none if your contract does end this summer. But starting your CCIE studies should get you "interview ready" if/when your contract ends this summer -- so it wouldn't be time wasted.

    You could take the permanent job offer, and use the next year or two to work on your CCIE. But this assumes the burning passion of your desire for a CCIE (and work down time to prepare) compensates for the dreary day to day existence of this job. If you don't have a burning passion to earn a CCIE, then forget this option.

    You could work on QoS/MPLS/BGP exams for the CCIP during your work down time -- if you can finish them before the 3 year anniversary of your BSCI/ROUTE exam. You could consider that as a warm up for CCIE study and preparation for job interviews this summer. Also useful if you do decide to target a Cisco Business Partner or two for your next job (and the CCIE).

    Adding a CCNP Security Certification to your resume is a solid career move and something you probably can achieve by the time your contract may end -- it's just not the game changer that a CCIE can be.

    A lot of people start on the CCIE path, but never make it. Is the CCIE something you really would WANT to do? That's probably the biggest question -- and one that only you can answer.
    :mike: Cisco Certifications -- Collect the Entire Set!
  • TurgonTurgon Banned Posts: 6,308 ■■■■■■■■■□
    kryptos80 wrote: »
    First off, mike, thank you for taking the time to reply with such a detailed and informative response. Its all good icon_cheers.gif

    Now to try and answer your more important questions:


    Usually you should go for the certifications that help you get your first job, do your current job better, or keep your current job.

    Then you work on the certifications that help you get your next job.

    I would be working on a cert for a new job. Right now I am a contractor, and I work on a very large and complex Enterprise Campus job. Problem I don't have much work to do and not totally enjoying the working environment here. I do have an opportunity to work fulltime here, but i would rather go somewhere else.


    Do you want challenging? Or just different? Not everyone has what it takes to work in a Business Partner Environment -- or even a Consulting Company. Some people like the security of working on the same network day in and day out -- whether it's well designed or not.

    I don't know on this one. I love fixing things and making things more efficient, so I think I'm prime for a consulting gig. But I have never done it before so I don't know the realities of it.

    Are you actively looking for another new job? Or was that government job your dream job and the one you were planning to retire from?

    Can you see yourself staying in your current job for another 2 years? 4 years? Or does the thought of showing up to work there tomorrow make you want to slash your wrist with a spork?

    My contract is up this summer. That gov't job was a really cool opportunity but a big step back in pay. Looking to start a family here soon so not an option. I could see myself taking the fulltime position here for a couple of years, but not happy about it.

    What's you're current environment? Enterprise campus? Data Center? Or are you supporting an "office environment" -- Large or Small?

    What would you like to do?

    Current environment is large Enterprise campus. I am not allowed to do much here since I am just a contractor but the other people here are mostly just doing the small, beginner things (plugging in cables, diagrams, circuit maintenance, documentation) while a small select few actually do the big EIGRP/BGP configuration and design. They have been here forever. Don't see myself doing anything really interesting for quite some time.

    If you're already at a 6 figure salary, and you don't want a high speed career working for a Cisco Business Partner or as a Consultant, then the gain may not be worth time and effort to achieve.

    Not at 6 figure yet, a little ways to go.


    Who's hiring CCVPs (or CCNP Voice certification holders) in your area? Voice is probably still a "hot" area, but without experience you may not be that tempting to a Cisco Unified Communications Business Partner. But your CCNP and work experience could get you in -- so it's still an option. Do you think you'll really like voice that much?

    Looks like a handful of companies are hiring Senior VoIP guys in my area (DC/baltimore/MD) , half you need clearance but many you do not. But I don't have the experience.


    Adding an MCSA to a CCNA was a good option for someone trying to break into the IT field, but you're already in. It maximizes options at the entry level, but unless you want to move to a data center or hosting environment, it probably won't do all that much for your career.

    Agree with this. i did a search on Indeed, and there were a handful of jobs that were looking for MCSE and CCNP. Seems like a possibility.


    It's probably time to do some searches on the job aggregation web sites like indeed.com. Setup some email updates and see what's getting the hits and who's hiring.

    This is a good idea. I did a quick search and there is some demand for just CCIE certficiations. But there were more that said CCNP desired, CCIE preferred. So its tough to decide if its worth it.

    I'm just trying to see what you , or other posters, would do in my situation. Experienced CCNP, bored at job, looking for new direction with decent opportunities. I have a huge thirst for knowledge so any path I would enjoy, I just don't want to waste my time.

    Thanks again for your help. You rock!

    Congratulations on considering the CCIE. My advice to anyone serious about doing CCIE preparation is to do as much study as you are allowed on works time 9 - 5 when your body and mind are refreshed. The issue you have here is you are contracting and while you say things are slow at work, spending lots of time on a daily basis preparing for something that will benefit you personally could cause you problems at work. This can also be a problem for permanent members of staff who approach the boss for support to undertake studies only to find that you have underestimated the manhours required and so has your boss. This can lead to lots of tension at work. The track is difficult to complete without daily horsepower on the study front and you need lots of time on the 24 hr clock to do that.

    But I still think you should do some study at work if it flies with your boss so talk it over.

    Even then, most of your study will encompass evenings and weekends so expect to be writing those off for a while. Some people tramp it inside 1 year but you need a lot going for you to do that. Or you could go for a slow burn like myself. Im rightfully kept busy all day at work and some evenings with no window for practice labs or anything like that on workstime. Throw in the evening downtime needed to refuel so I dont get cranky, the time I spend on the homefront, and sometime spent generating ideas for work or researching work related things and Im 3.5 years going on with all this. But Im comfortable with that and it works well for me given my 1-2-3 priorities of family, work, CCIE.
  • chrisonechrisone Senior Member Member Posts: 2,229 ■■■■■■■■■□
    Looks as though you already made your decision on CCIE, however i would have felt more value on the CCNP Security or a Security path in general. I think any Govt job would rather benefit from you, if you had security along with routing and switching.

    It seems like you are already very knowledgeable in routing and switching, you probably wont gain much additional knowledge from the CCIE RS. After the CCIE RS your security skills will still be very limited as you have mentioned on this post, and in the end you still have that void of needing a professional high level security cert (CISSP, CCNP Security, etc.) I could safely assume most govt jobs will require some sort of security experience/education.
    Certs: CISSP, OSCP, CRTP, eCTHPv2, eCPPT, eCIR, LFCS, CEH, SPLK-1002, SC-200, AZ-900, VHL:Advanced+, Retired Cisco CCNP/SP/DP
    2021 Goals
    Courses: eLearnSecurity - PTXv2 (complete), SANS 699: Purple Team Tactics (completed), PentesterLabs Pro (ongoing)
    EnCase Courses: DF120 (complete), DF210 (in progress), DF310
    Certs: AZ-500, SC-200 (passed), SC-300 (next), EnCE, Splunk Core Power User (passed), Splunk Enterprise Sys Admin
  • kryptos80kryptos80 Member Posts: 16 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Turgon wrote: »
    Congratulations on considering the CCIE. My advice to anyone serious about doing CCIE preparation is to do as much study as you are allowed on works time 9 - 5 when your body and mind are refreshed. The issue you have here is you are contracting and while you say things are slow at work, spending lots of time on a daily basis preparing for something that will benefit you personally could cause you problems at work. This can also be a problem for permanent members of staff who approach the boss for support to undertake studies only to find that you have underestimated the manhours required and so has your boss. This can lead to lots of tension at work. The track is difficult to complete without daily horsepower on the study front and you need lots of time on the 24 hr clock to do that.

    But I still think you should do some study at work if it flies with your boss so talk it over.

    Even then, most of your study will encompass evenings and weekends so expect to be writing those off for a while. Some people tramp it inside 1 year but you need a lot going for you to do that. Or you could go for a slow burn like myself. Im rightfully kept busy all day at work and some evenings with no window for practice labs or anything like that on workstime. Throw in the evening downtime needed to refuel so I dont get cranky, the time I spend on the homefront, and sometime spent generating ideas for work or researching work related things and Im 3.5 years going on with all this. But Im comfortable with that and it works well for me given my 1-2-3 priorities of family, work, CCIE.

    Thanks for the input (great pic btw). I would probably do a more aggressive push towards it, but it wouldn't consume my life. I would study every detail over and over for a couple hours a night.
  • kryptos80kryptos80 Member Posts: 16 ■□□□□□□□□□
    mikej412 wrote: »
    Long term the CCIE probably would maximize your opportunities -- but the odds of adding a CCIE to your resume in time to impact your next job search are slim to none if your contract does end this summer. But starting your CCIE studies should get you "interview ready" if/when your contract ends this summer -- so it wouldn't be time wasted.

    You could take the permanent job offer, and use the next year or two to work on your CCIE. But this assumes the burning passion of your desire for a CCIE (and work down time to prepare) compensates for the dreary day to day existence of this job. If you don't have a burning passion to earn a CCIE, then forget this option.

    You could work on QoS/MPLS/BGP exams for the CCIP during your work down time -- if you can finish them before the 3 year anniversary of your BSCI/ROUTE exam. You could consider that as a warm up for CCIE study and preparation for job interviews this summer. Also useful if you do decide to target a Cisco Business Partner or two for your next job (and the CCIE).

    Adding a CCNP Security Certification to your resume is a solid career move and something you probably can achieve by the time your contract may end -- it's just not the game changer that a CCIE can be.

    A lot of people start on the CCIE path, but never make it. Is the CCIE something you really would WANT to do? That's probably the biggest question -- and one that only you can answer.

    My old boss also recommended the CCIE as the best career move but also echoed that I would have to want it. And I do. Its one of those achievements I have wanting to get real bad since i got my ccna. Plus being an expert in this is in my blood. I just wasn't sure it was worth the time and sacrifice put into it, but most have said it it.

    CCNP Security is a really good idea. I like the new syllabus for it. Maybe i'll try the CCNA security first and see if i want to continue.

    I want a basic grasp on VOIP and also winServ03/08/Linux so i might study that as well.

    Looks like i have a lot of studying to do!

    Thanks again for your help mike!
  • TurgonTurgon Banned Posts: 6,308 ■■■■■■■■■□
    kryptos80 wrote: »
    Thanks for the input (great pic btw). I would probably do a more aggressive push towards it, but it wouldn't consume my life. I would study every detail over and over for a couple hours a night.

    That's pretty much what I do on my good days. Getting the lab hours in are the killer as you really need 3 hours spells at that for them to be truly worthwhile. If you want to do it start now as you really need to be ramping up on theory for the written test, and getting enough studyhours in so you have put together for yourself a base of material you can then revise later in your programme each evening. Assuming you dont clear the whole thing inside 12 months, I still count that first year as the most important. What I did through 2007 - 2008 is still helping me today.

    Good Luck!
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