Cisco issues certifications for IT professionals working with their products. There are three levels of Cisco career certifications: the associate, the professional and the expert levels. The expert level Cisco certification is known as the Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert certification. This is quite a valuable certification in the IT profession. Those working with the Cisco products that have this certification generally get higher pay than those who do not have the certification and those with the level of associate and professional certification.

It s not easy to get this certification however. In order to complete the CCIE test one has to pass the written exam and a practical hands-on exam. Passing the written exam is required before one would be allowed to take the hands-on exam. After passing the written exam, the examinee only has to 18 months to take his first attempt of the hands on exam. If he does pass it the first time, he can take as many retakes for 3 years. If he still does not get a passing mark, he must retake the written exam again and pass it. Then he can take the hands- on exam again.

The CCIE certification has 5 different tracks; routing and switching, security, service provider, voice and storage networking. Each, of course, focuses on the different topics and specialties. Although there are no formal prerequisites, Cisco suggests that an IT professional would gain a three to five year networking experience first before taking the CCIE test. One does not have to pass through the associate and professional level to get to the expert level. The CCIE certification was first given out before the two. The associate and the professional levels were only given out later on for those who needed a lower level certification only.

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