20 years CCIE certified

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I just hit another milestone: 20 years a CCIE

CCIE 20 UseLogo.jpg

On Mar 30, 2004, I did my first CCIE Lab exam (then Routing & Switching now Enterprise Infrastructure) in Brussels. I received my CCIE number 13084 one day later.

Last week I received an email from Cisco with a message that Cisco is congratulating me on my 20th anniversary.

I write this article to reflect on the time that has passed.

My CCIE Lab exam passing dates

If you have followed me for the past years you also might have noticed that I have passed multiple CCIE Lab exams. This is the summary over time:

Lab exam Passing date
Enterprise Infrastructure Mar 30, 2004 in Brussels
Security Sep 26, 2006 in Brussels
Service Provider Jul 30, 2007 in Brussels
Voice Sep 28, 2010 in Brussels
Data Center Apr 23, 2013 in Brussels
Enterprise Wireless Dec 12, 2014 in Brussels

You can see that it took me 10 years to pass 6 CCIE lab exams.

Questions that I get a lot

20 years ago (and even before that when it was released in 1993) CCIE was the holy grail of networking certification.

During the past 20 years, I have received a lot of questions related to CCIE, and I want to cover some of these questions here.

Why do you have 6 CCIE's why not stop at 1 or 2?

The only reason why I did my first CCIE is because I was young (22 years old) and the industry questioned my networking knowledge. I needed to prove myself. Unfortunately (or luckily depending on how you look at it) I grew up hearing from multiple people in life (school teachers, family, "friends") that I was never good enough and that I did not have what it takes... This is something you take with you in life and because I feel it is NEVER ENOUGH no matter what I do, I do feel the urge to prove myself all the time with whatever I do ... and this results in 6 x CCIE, my bachelor degree and Master degree in Computer Science and loads of other certifications and knowledge.

How many hours did you study per CCIE cert?

This is a difficult question but if you look at the years between the exams it gives you an indication.

My goal was to study at least 2 hours a day. Sometimes I did 4, 8, and sometimes 10, but there were also days that I did nothing because of the well-known curveballs life is throwing you sometimes.

Did you ever fail an exam?

Yes, failing is part of life, and also a good thing because you learn from your failures and mistakes. I failed a CCIE written exam multiple times and the only CCIE lab exam I did multiple times (like 6 times) was the CCIE Voice exam. The other 5 CCIE exams I passed in 1 attempt.

Was passing the CCIE cert beneficial for your career?

This is a definite YES! Not only passing the exams but also the journey towards the exams. In a way you do not only learn the technology, but you also learn, how to learn, you learn how to be structured, you learn how to think in a certain way to be as effective and logical with given time and scenarios. These are soft skills that can be used forever with so many different things also not technical related.

Do you still think CCIE will be beneficial in 2024?

I would say yes! but it depends.

If you are a network engineer/architect who already has 10 years of experience and you know your stuff then you probably have nothing to prove then CCIE will not bring you further, and this will be a personal achievement.

If you are a network engineer/architect that is still learning I would say go for it... And I am not saying do CCIE, but at least look at a track that has the same incentives as JNCIE (Juniper), HCIE (Huawei), or any other "expert level" certification.

Are you using the knowledge that you gained with CCIE in your current role?

I am not using the exact knowledge that was or is on the blueprints of the exams. But the underlying technology and network protocols are the same and the implementation and GUI's are different when looking at VMware's and Oracle's product offerings.

Are you planning to recert your CCIE in the next couple of years?

Last year was the last time that I recertified my CCIE, I wanted to hit that 20-year mark and now I am done. As my career path was Cisco -> VMware -> Oracle there are so many new things to learn and spend time on these days. I mean Cloud Networking is a thing now, and so is Cloud Native networking and there are so many other technologies where networking plays a role, and everything originates from the traditional networking back in the day. I am trying to focus on these new network-related developments and it does not make sense to spend this time on recertifying my CCIE. And besides that when you hit the 20-year CCIE mark Cisco awards you with a lifetime emeritus title.

Do you have pictures of your CCIE lab equipment labs?

CCIE Routing and Switching

Here are some pictures of my first CCIE lab ever!



CCIE Security

I used Lab (Rack) Rentals so I never possessed equipment for this track.

CCIE Service Provider

I used Lab (Rack) Rentals so I never possessed equipment for this track.

CCIE Voice

This is one picture of my CCIE Voice Phones.


CCIE Data Center

This lab was not owned by me, but I managed to build the full CCIE DC lab with spare equipment for the Cisco Data Centers.


CCIE Wireless

Here you see some pictures of my Cisco Access Points and Cisco Wireless Controllers.



How much money did you spend on the CCIE exams over the past 20 years?

So for this one, I needed to gather some old information... Here we go:

Date Type of Exam Subject Cost
May 28, 2003 CCIE Written Routing and Switching $250.00
Mar 30, 2004 CCIE Lab Routing and Switching $1,512.50
May 9, 2005 CCIE Written Security Certification $250.00
Sep 26, 2006 CCIE Lab Security $1,512.50
Oct 27, 2006 CCIE Written CCIE Voice Certification $250.00
Nov 13, 2006 CCIE Written SP Metro Ethernet Exam $250.00
Jul 30, 2007 CCIE Lab Service Provider $1,512.50
Jan 24, 2008 CCIE Written CCIE Voice Certification $250.00
Sep 25, 2009 CCIE Written CCIE Voice Certification $250.00
Mar 29, 2010 CCIE Lab Voice $1,694.00
May 11, 2010 CCIE Lab Voice $1,694.00
Jun 17, 2010 CCIE Lab Voice $1,694.00
Jul 19, 2010 CCIE Lab Voice $1,694.00
Aug 26, 2010 CCIE Lab Voice $1,694.00
Sep 28, 2010 CCIE Lab Voice $1,694.00
Oct 22, 2010 CCIE Written Wireless Written $300.00
May 29, 2012 CCIE Written Data Center (Beta) $60.00
Apr 23, 2013 CCIE Lab Data Center $1,815.00
Jul 25, 2014 CCIE Written Wireless Written $350.00
Dec 12, 2014 CCIE Lab Enterprise Wireless $1,936.00
Feb 12, 2018 Digital Learning Designing and Implementing Cisco Network Programmability (NPDESI) 1.0 $487.00
Feb 20, 2018 Digital Learning Developing with Cisco Network Programmability (NPDEV) 4.0 $487.00
Feb 6, 2020 CCIE Written Security Certification $350.00
Apr 21, 2023 CCIE Written Cisco Certified Design Expert Qualification Exam $450.00
Jun 3, 2023 Digital Learning Developing Applications Using Cisco Core Platforms and APIs (DEVCOR) v1.0 $800.00
Jun 9, 2023 Digital Learning Implementing and Operating Cisco Enterprise Network Core Technologies (ENCOR) 1.2 $1,000.00

TOTAL = $24,236.50

Keep in mind that this amount does NOT include the following:

  • Time spend studying
  • Travel + Hotel
  • Lab equipment (bought and rented)

The above is ONLY the cost for the exams (Written and Lab) and the Digital Learning classes that were required for recertification.