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Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) Recertification

By Ryan DeBerry, Cloud Solutions Architect, SMS

To keep my Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) in an active state, I must recertify every 3 years. I haven’t touched anything related to helping me recertify the CCIE in a year and half…or so I thought.

In September of 2020, after 15+ years as a Network Engineer, I transitioned to a Cloud Engineer (see the following blogpost where I briefly detailed my journey: Network to Cloud). I heard about the new Continuing Education (CE) credits for Cisco, but had not done any research on it until this year. I just assumed, as usual, I needed to check the CCIE written syllabus, look at the new topics, and start labbing away. So, like anything I dread doing, I Googled it first to see how other people have blogged about it; my actual search was “How do I recert CCIE without taking exam.” Not surprising, I found many links that I won’t bother listing here.

All paths lead to Cisco Continuing Education Program, which is a way for an individual to recertify and learn new technologies in the process. The breakdown of number of CEs to certification level are listed in the table below.

Certification Level & Duration CE Credits
Associate – 3 years 30
Specialist – 3 years 40
Professional – 3 years 80
CCIE – 3 years 120
CCDE – 3 years 120

As you can see above, I needed 120 credits to accomplish my task. The process was actually very easy to follow. Head over to Cisco Digital Learning and login with your CSCO ID or email address. Here you will find many courses that can be used for your CE credit; search for “CE Credits.” All courses in this search that are not greyed out are free to take. If a course is greyed-out, it requires a subscription – more on this later.

Each course (free or paid) contains various chapters of content(videos/pdf) with a quiz at the end of each chapter. The passing score for each quiz is 70%; in addition to each chapter, you must pass the final exam to receive the CE credits. Basically, you can claim 61 credits without a subscription, leaving just 59 credits left to obtain. Those 61 credits are all courses that are SDWAN related, so if you don’t have that skill in your bag then you are in luck. I personally did a lot of SDWAN labs/practice with EVE-NG a couple of years ago, so I was pretty familiar with most of the topics. I was able to breeze through most of the material as it was just a refresher. If that is not the case for you, please take the time to learn by doing the labs embedded in the course. For a free course, the material is pretty good.

My suggestion would be to give yourself 2-3 months ahead of your expiration date to get started because you might not know anything about these topics. Below is a list of the courses and how many credits each one will give you.

Course Name Credits
The SD-WAN Mastery Collection – Getting Started – For Customers 6
Planning and Deploying SD-Access Fundamentals (for Customers) 12
The SD-WAN Mastery Collection – Deploying the Data Plane – For Customers 6
The SD-WAN Mastery Collection – Managing the Application Experience – For Customers 6
CUST-SDA-ISE – Preparing the ISE for SD-Access (for Customers) 4
Cisco DNA Center Fast Start Use Cases 5
Securing Branch Internet and Cloud Access with Cisco SD-WAN 11
The SD-WAN Mastery Collection – Bringing Up the Control Plane Devices – For Customers 2
Getting Started with DNA Center Assurance (A-DNAC-ASSUR) v1.0 4
The SD-WAN Mastery Collection – Deploying the Overlay Topology – For Customers 5
 Total 61

These 10 courses took me a little over a week to complete. I then needed to figure out what other courses I needed to purchase. My co-worker Chris Brooks, told me about this course Cisco Certified DevNet Associate, offered in 1, 3, 6 and 12 month plans; it is worth 48 CE credits, which would bring me to 109. I opted for the 1-month plan for $99, since I didn’t know if I would need this material after I obtained the CE credits required for the recertification. This is a really good course to learn about Software Development and Design, Application Development, Automation and more.

Here is where my experience with my recent role transition to the cloud paid off. I was already doing most of what the topics covered in my daily job or previous experience, so it was very easy to follow and complete. Once completed, I only needed 11 additional credits to reach the required 120…but there isn’t a 11-credit offering. So, my next thought was picking a topic that I know pretty well and just go to the final exam and be done with it. At this point of this journey, it has been almost 2 months of videos, pdfs, and labs for each course, and I was burnt out. I found Introduction to 802.1X Operations for Cisco Security Professionals (802.1X) 2.0. I have done quite a bit of work with 802.1x in my career, so I figured this would be a slam dunk and it was. This course normally costs $200 but there was a discount because Cisco Live was going on, so the course ended up being $160.

Looking at this only from a cost perspective, to take the CCIE written would have been $400. To recertify using CE credits, I spent $360, and picked up useful skills in the process; a win in my book. I recommend picking a few courses that you are unfamiliar with so you can learn the foundation of a new technology. While I ended up with more than 120 credits, I accomplished my goal, and gained new skills along the way.

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