Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert is Cisco’s most prestigious and most difficult certification to achieve, typically requiring years of industry experience and a deep understanding of networking technologies. The lab portion of the exam alone is eight hours long and costs $1,600, and candidates typically spend much more than that on preparatory courses. But professionals with the expert-level CCIE networking certification are in demand, and the value is reflected in significantly higher salaries.
“It is a preeminent certification in the industry,” says Nick Marentic, senior manager for IT infrastructure and security at cybersecurity training firm Cybrary. “It requires years in the industry to understand the concepts contained.”
Getting the CCIE isn’t something to do on a whim. “It relies heavily on hands-on experiences,” Marentic says. He recommends seven to 10 years of industry experience before taking the exam.
The CCIE is one of the top 10 technology certifications that employers seek, according to staffing specialist Robert Half Technology, which surveyed more than 3,000 senior managers for its annual salary guide.
According to PayScale, the average base salary for a CCIE-certified professional is $128,000 per year. It’s the highest-paying certification on PayScale’s list (a designation it shares with ISACA’s Certified Information Security Manager certification).