Should I Go for CCIE or Some Other Certification?

One of my readers sent me this question:

I am already CCIE and work as a network engineer with pretty good salary. But I think that I am losing some passion for Cisco networking and have interests in many other technologies. Currently I am very interested in Linux and Python development. Is it worth to add some Red Hat certification along CCIE or should I pursue another CCIE?

I think “should I go for CCIE or RHCE” is the wrong question.

Before jumping into another certification process, you should ask yourself a few questions:

  • Why would you go for another certification?
  • What do you expect to gain by doing that?
  • Which area are you interested in?

Personally, I don’t think it makes much sense to go for another certification after CCIE just to become certified in something else. Pursuing a certification to progress along a training plan (or set of topics) is a different story, but even then, it doesn’t make much sense to walk down a path that you have no need for at the moment.

It’s way better to find a problem that you’re interested in, work on the problem, identify your shortcoming while doing that, study hard to master the tools or technologies you’ve identified as crucial (Googling for recipes doesn’t count), solve the problem, and move on. You might not get another certification to add to your CV when following this path, but you will get a fundamental understanding of the technologies and tools you’re using.

We discussed similar topics in one of the recent Software Gone Wild episodes. Can’t remember which one it was – you’ll have to listen to all of them ;)


  1. I guess going for a cert identifies a concrete objective, and it's easy to focus on it. Getting a fundamental understanding of anything is not, because usually it becomes a moving target. From a long time ago, "I only know that I know nothing...", is so true when you go along that line...
  2. How do you prevent yourself from ending up in an infinite loop of tangential curiosity. "Interesting problems" are sometimes so complex and involve so many different technologies that acquiring the fundamental knowledge of all the moving pieces could take a lifetime - that's not to say it would be a wasted life, but unfortunately, some employers don't like to pay you to know everything about everything ;)
    1. By focusing on problems with deadline? ;)
  3. Depends where your career is / is going. Or where you want it to go. If you work for channel partners, or if you're an independent contractor / consultant then another certification be it CCIE Data Center, VCDX, RHCE etc. may give a good return on investment. If you're working primarily in large organizations for a long period of time there may be little marginal gain for the time and expense.
  4. Linux and Python are just tools. Find an a problem domain where you can apply them. Seems everyone is buying into learning Python (its a great all purpose language). But I never hear network engineers say they want to learn Java.
    1. Likely related to bad experiences when dealing with Java-based applications while it's a 'network problem' :-)
  5. "The difference between theory and practice is even larger in practice than it is in theory."

    - Steve Crocker
  6. Ivan,

    What is your opinion of the JNCIE vs CCIE?
    1. I never looked into JNCIE, so I have no opinion.
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