Understanding the CCIE Certification Process

If you’ve already obtained other Cisco career certifications like the CCNA, CCNP, or CCSP, then you probably already have an idea of how the CCIE certification process works. The Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert or CCIE exam is the most difficult and most advanced certification exam Cisco has to offer. It is quite prestigious and people who have been certified in one of the CCIE’s 8 tracks can be considered experts in their chosen fields. People take this certification exam for various reasons. Some get certified for career advancement, while others want to improve their skills and challenge themselves further. Whatever the reason, the benefits of getting certified outweigh the sacrifice one has to make in order to pass the test and be a CCIE.

Who Can Take the CCIE Certification Exam?


People who are interested in taking any one of Cisco’s certification exams need to be at least 18 years old. Minors aged 13-17 can be tested and certified provided they have obtained parental consent. Cisco’s certification exams are available in most countries except in embargoed territories in compliance with U.S. Export Administration regulations. There are no necessary prerequisites in order to take the CCIE exam, but Cisco does recommend that candidates have hands-on experience with Cisco’s products and protocols. Lower level certifications are not required, but they can be an advantage as you will already be familiar with the testing methods and environment as you move up from the entry level certifications up to the CCIE or expert level.

What Does the Certification Process Involve?


A candidate needs to schedule an exam with an accredited testing center, provide them with the test number and personal details, and pay all the necessary fees. People who have had previous certifications should also provide the testing center with their certification number to avoid record duplication. Registration for tests can be done in person, by phone, or online depending on the testing center you wish to use. Accredited testing centers vary per country. In the US, Cisco’s testing center partner is Pearson Vue. Candidates may study on their own or get the services of a training center to help them master everything they need to know before taking the exams. There are 8 tracks that a candidate can specialize in. Due to the difficulty level of these exams, those who want to specialize in more than one track are advised to schedule tests one at a time to ensure that one has enough time to study and practice for each test.


The CCIE certification exam is divided into two parts, the written exam and the hands-on lab exam. Both of these tests are of the highest level of difficulty and it’s important to be prepared before taking these tests.

  • Written Exam. Candidates are given two hours to answer 90-110 multiple choice questions. This test can be done onsite at the testing center or online. Results given out are marked either Pass or Fail and can be viewed immediately.


  • Lab Exam. The lab exam is done at any of Cisco’s lab locations worldwide. One may have to go out of state or out of the country in order to take the lab exam. Candidates will need to shoulder their own travel and living expenses. The day-long test lasts for approximately 8 hours and involves performing certain tasks related to the track the candidate is specializing in. Points are awarded by proctors who hold the candidates up to the highest standards. Candidates can view the results within 48 hours of taking the test and need to obtain at least 80% of the total points that could possibly be awarded for each lab exam to pass.

There are a lot of benefits to becoming a Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert. At the end of the day, obtaining a CCIE certification is both time and money well spent.


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