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CCIE recertification alternative: CCIE Emeritus program for veterans

CCIE recertification can be onerous for high-level engineers who no longer have hands-on technology roles. Cisco's CCIE Emeritus program offers these veterans the opportunity to stay connected to the program without having to obtain CCIE recertification -- but will it tell the world they don't know the technology?

Many engineers do whatever it takes to earn Cisco's distinguished CCIE certification, but the biennial CCIE recertification...

process can be a challenge for executives who have advanced to the level where they no longer work directly with technology.

Cisco has responded to their need this week by launching a CCIE Emeritus program that allows high-level networking professionals with at least 10 years of current and active status to maintain their connection to the program without having to go through a CCIE recertification every two years.

Yet veterans should beware that signing onto CCIE Emeritus certification could send out the unwanted signal that they no longer work with technology every day and don't understand it anymore.

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To get into the Emeritus program, CCIEs must submit an application annually that details how they are still contributing to the industry from a thought-leadership perspective, even if their days of living in command line interface are mostly behind them. These contributions would come in the form of lecturing, writing books, blogging and mentoring other engineers through their networking careers and CCIE certification, said Angela Mendoza, marketing manager at Cisco.

Terry Slattery, who is widely acknowledged as the world's first CCIE, said the CCIE Emeritus indicates a candidate who has done the hard tech work but has changed career status. "Their technical skills in terms of running command line have gotten dull, [but] they've transferred their skills upscale, from hands-on people to big-picture people," Slattery said. "This program says, 'I was smart enough. I worked hard and passed this test. This doesn't mean my brain has gotten dull. I've just changed my career focus.'"

Yet Slattery, who founded network change and configuration management vendor Netcordia where he served as an executive, said he would not opt for the Emeritus status now that he has joined the consultancy Chesapeake Netcraftsmen. Instead, he will need to maintain his active status.

CCIE Emeritus program: Good for your reputation?

Engineers who are still determined to keep their hands in may be concerned that CCIE Emeritus status is a telltale sign that they don't have the hands-on skills.

Patrick Aland, a unified communications technology manager for Presidio Technologies who has had his CCIE for six years, has had experience with CCIE industry veterans who have fallen out of touch. "There was a period of time two or three years ago where there were a string of old-time CCIEs who left their positions where they were CIOs," Aland said. "They wanted to get back into the field, and they got the interview to some extent because they had the numbers on their resumes. A lot of times they had gotten to the point where they just were not relevant anymore. It's not their fault. They've spent four or five years in the managerial world."

Jeffrey Fry, a manager of network engineering for an international information services company, has had his CCIE certification for only two years, but he's been a network engineer for more than 10 years. If he were eligible for a CCIE Emeritus today, he probably wouldn't do it, but he may down the road. "I'm an engineer at heart, and I'd have a hard time giving up the console. I have good guys working for me, but none of them are at the CCIE level so I still do a lot of complex stuff," Fry said. The CCIE Emeritus would be an excellent addition to his resume if he were ever to try and advance to a director or CIO position, he added.

The CCIE Emeritus program requires an annual $85 application fee, and participants have the option to re-enter active status for up to 10 years by taking any written CCIE exam. The Emeritus program does not count towards any channel or partner requirements.

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Shamus McGillicuddy, News Editor

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