32 comments on “CCIE study system: What I used to pass and a discussion of the dedication required.

  1. That’s certainly a large amount of studying. How do you balance your personal life with the studying, especially when you have a day of 8-10 hours study time? I have the assumption that your wife is 100% behind you on spending a whole day hitting the books and labs.

    • Very good question, it can be a challenge. Since we don’t have kids that gives us some flexibility and generally I am only sticking to that schedule 100% for 60 days or so leading up to the lab. It is a commitment on both parties though and yes my wife was excellent in working with me on this.

      I would often take study breaks just to spend a couple of hours with her over dinner and possibly a movie here or there. Outside of that I cut out any other entertainment. It’s amazing how much time you really do have when you just buckle down but it is a very difficult thing to do.

      I am working on coming up with a better study routine that doesn’t require such a large sacrifice on my personal life but with something like the CCIE, you really just have to buckle down and study in the months leading up to an attempt.

      • I see what you mean. It’s much better to just knock out the studying. I find that the scheduling is the absolute hardest especially with a newborn. I’ve gotten creative and hopefully got my schedule down. How do you document the amount of hours you spend studying? I’m thinking about keeping a written time card as a bookmark.

      • I took samples and calculated the time based on the material. For example, I figured out that I could read and digest between 10-15 pages of printed material an hour which actually equates to about 20 pages an hour in most Cisco press books because of the blank pages or large diagrams, introductions and so forth.

        When studying INE lab book 1 I noticed that I was able to get through 15-20 pages an hour on average there as well. Similarly I was able to identify that it takes roughly 8 hours to get through an INE lab book 2 and to review and digest the material. Similarly it takes 10-12 hours to get through Cisco 360 labs because they include a troubleshooting section. Video study was pretty straightforward, other than pausing to take notes or rewinding to hear something again. I just took the time the videos showed.

  2. hi, this is prashant, presently i am working in telecom sector as transmission engineer, i want to start my career in networking field. my age 26 year old. i have to start from basic but after read your experience i have confusion, can i able to do it with job….if i leave job for CCIE, i don not know, how long time it will take for me.
    i need your suggestion. what should i do….???

    • Prashant, I would suggest that you simply start with your CCENT and CCNA. Having a telecom background it should only take you a few months to complete these certifications. You could then merge your background in telecom and work on some Voice certifications from Cisco or even Avaya or some other large voice player. If you want to go into networking I would look into doing BOTH the Cisco and Juniper professional level certifications (CCNP and JNCIP). At some point I plan to get my JNCIE to complement my CCIE. Juniper will probably be a major player in networking over the next 10 years so diversifying a little and knowing both Cisco and Juniper is probably a smart move at this point.

      In any case, I would not jump straight into CCIE. If you want a CCIE, treat your CCNA and CCNP like the CCIE. Make sure you understand well the actual configuration of the devices and how to apply the theory on real gear. Having this mentality will help you as you get closer to being CCIE lab ready.

  3. Hi, this is Prakash. I have done CCNA & CCNP in RNS, now i am planning to give CCIE in RNS. but the probelm is that i am a fresher i dont have experience ,i did my graduation in 2010. if i do the job after completing the CCIE how much salary company will offer me . should i do the job first before doing the CCIE or should i continue with the CCIE. please suggest.

    • I would definitely suggest getting a job and some real world experience before trying to get your CCIE for two reasons. 1) Always remember, just because you ‘technically’ can do something doesn’t mean you should. Real world experience will help teach you the difference and 2) There is a pretty significant gap between CCNP study and CCIE lab preparedness. CCNP is not ‘2/3 of the way’ to CCIE like many people think.

      • Thanks for your comment. But many people says that after joining the company you will not get the time for your CCIE , it will be very hard to manage . I know There is a pretty significant gap between CCNP study and CCIE lab preparedness. I have 1 year of exp in networking due to some genuine reason i left that job , from the last 4 months i am not doing any job but in the mean time i did CCNP certification. Will this gap effect my performance at the time of interview thats why i wanted to do CCIE before applying to any company.

  4. Wow mate… Thx for sharing your experience and cogratulations for your CCIE achivement. At the moment i am doing 2 hours a day and 3 hours each day on weekends. It was a great improvement when i started to time my study hours, at this rate i hope to get my two remaining CCNP exams in three moths.

    Great post…
    CCNA / CCNA Voice / CCNA Wireless / ITIL

  5. Congrats first of all.. you got your CCIE .. i just started learning CCNA and my goal is to become a CCIE.
    i have collected almost all the files from torents .. can you just tell me the best way to become CCIE in short & what are the tutorials i should use


    • Good for you. You should first be aware that the gap between learning CCNA and obtaining a CCIE is a massive chasm. That leap has been made before and CCIE is a worthwhile goal but you are going to need to create shorter term stepping stones otherwise you will just get overwhelmed.

      I would high encourage you to keep the CCIE as a goal down the road but in the mean time set realistic deadlines for yourself to achieve CCNA, CCNP & CCDP as well before beginning the leap to CCIE. The gap between CCNA is CCNP is conservatively one tenth that of CCNP to CCIE. It may be hard to appreciate now, I once didn’t understand how that could be.

      CCNA should take you no more than 3 months with a solid study schedule if you have a job where you are gaining experience. Possibly 6 months if you are a student and have other areas of study to contend with. CCNP is 3 tests, I would allocate 3 months per test for that as well. CCDP is probably another 2-4 months after CCNP completion depending on your level of experience.

      Once you finish CCNA, CCNP and CCDP, prepare yourself to ramp up your study schedule. CCIE written is only another 3 months away. After that, your first CCIE attempt should be no less than 9 months, assuming 20 hours a month of CCIE study (70% lab practice, 30% reading and increasing your protocol comprehension).

      Focus on your first step for the time being, go get that CCNA.

  6. Hey Brandon,

    I really appreciate you taking your time to start this blog and write about your experience. Your timeline and hours put in gives me a guideline that I can go off of. I am currently studying for my Comptia A+ exam because I am new to IT. I have CBT nuggets and train signal videos for my CCNA study along with cisco press icnd 1 and 2. I am a bit intimidated by all of the information for the CCNA.

    I have CIsco packet tracer but I would like to buy some hardware. What would you suggest ?
    I plan on pursing my CCNP immediately after CCNA, So I would like to have the correct hardware for that.

    Thanks again !


    • I would suggest against buying hardware just yet and I would also counsel to focus on one goal at a time. It is great to have near term and long term goals but keep focused on the near term goals.

      As far as Cisco lab gear check out GNS3. That will get you a lot of what you need. Other than that buy a used Cisco 3560 or two for cheap on ebay for any of the switching practice you need.

  7. So… I like what you had to say… I have been in the industry for quite some time now (17 years) and I took a Cisco self assessment test yesterday (March 21, 2013) and I didn’t do well at all (40% – granted people were coming in and bugging me and I did the test in less than 20 min when I was given 45) and now I decided.. fine… let’s get a certification then…. so I was doing some research and I found your blog… I totally find it interesting the way you dedicated yourself and the fact that you had to buckle down.. work hard, and be disciplined to finish your goal… I was the exact same way when I started to workout to improve my health… so now I am thinking.. if I can do that to improve my health, and you followed a similar path to complete all your certifications, I am quite sure I can do this as well. I know I have the time, I for sure feel the inclination, I do however know that I won’t blog about it because I have never been a “blogger”, but I do like that there are those of you, like you, out there that do. I have no real idea why I am typing this… maybe I find it cathartic, I really need to focus on getting a certification though… and I do want a CCIE….. aaaand now I am rambling…. anyways… good on you for what you did… I don’t know if I can succeed as fast as you did and saying that.. I have a question, from start to finish.. from CCNA to CCIE #31104, how long did your journey take you? Are you working in the field now? For a company (no need to name) or freelance? I do apologize if there is an answer to these queries elsewhere on your blog but I have only been to this page so far and I was wanted to get my comment in while it was still fresh on my mind.

    • Hey Ron, first I’d say good for you for deciding to work towards your certifications. They are not the end-all be-all for a certainty but the way I look at certs is a structured way to learn new technology.

      To answer your questions, I pass my CCNA a month after I graduated high school but didn’t really use it. I had A+, N+, CCNA out of high school and just did PC repair. Had I known what I know now I would have gone straight to working for a bigger company in a major city doing whatever scrub networking job they wanted me to do.

      I graduated in 2002 and passed my CCIE in 2011 but I didn’t start back into data networking until 2007 when I re-certified my CCNA and went to work for a service provider. So in reality it took me a little over four years to go from CCNA to CCIE.

      I work for an enterprise, United Airlines, as the chief network architect for Data Center, Network Security and LAN/WAN/MAN.

  8. Great read. I am wondering how you split your time up between the various learning methods. For example, how much time did you spend in the lab compared to reading and watching videos? Did you read up on a topic then go straight into your lab to practice it? I am interesting in figuring out the best way to spend my study time. Thanks!

    • I read when I couldn’t lab (on the bus, on a flight, etc.). I watched videos at first and followed along in my pod, pausing the videos or rewinding as necessary to review or fix. Once I had a good baseline understanding of the protocols and fundamentals I went into lab practice. When I felt weak on a subject after labbing it I went back to books or videos to augment and gain a solid understanding.

  9. Thank you for posting this!

    I have been training with on-demand video classes taught by a CCIE, and I have a package that includes everything from CCENT to CCNP / CCNP-Sec, etc. I originally had a lot of drive to get into networking but it tailored off for a few months and then I finally decided to dive back in and I’m loving it. Luckily, I have the passion aspect going for me.

    I have set my goal to be dual CCIE R&S and Security by 2017, and I was looking for a timeframe and resource base that I could use to achieve these goals and it looks like 2017 may not be impossible after all if I really buckle down and do it… As of now I am trying to keep that as my top goal but I’m subnetting my goals into smaller more achievable ones. So I’m going to sit for my CCENT in May, then its straight onto ICND2 for my CCNA. After my CCNA I’m going to get my CCNA Security and then dive right into CCNP R&S.

    Unfortunately I do not have a job in networking so I may have to take a short break on Cisco equipment to earn a Juniper Associate cert to land a networking job here in my hometown. I know that Experience is key in this process and I want to get in that door as soon as possible. So once I get my CCNA and CCNA-Sec I plan on getting my Juniper cert and getting a Network Engineer 1 job to work through the in’s and out’s.

    I don’t ever really intend on stopping training at any point. In fact, I’ve suspended my college education because I cannot stand the training of death by powerpoint and uninterested instructors – thus I will self study in something I am passionate about and get my certs. I will return to college once I have my CCIE and credits can be given to me for my certifications.

    Kinda got off topic, but I will be pushing harder for my CCNA and CCNP now that I know a reasonable timeframe of how long it takes to get these certs and get this knowledge. I appreciate your posting this and I am very eager to read of what you used to get you to your CCIE.

    Thank you for your post, I will be following your blog very earnestly and looking for the keys of success that worked for you so I can try them on and see how they fit me.

  10. Hi, Brandon, thank you very much for sharing this very “practical” data for us. I’m a programmer and database admin for more than 20 years and recently want to dive into networking field, in Sep 2013 I passed my CCNA(RS) and CCDA, last month passed CCNP(RS) also passed Citrix Xenapp CCA. From your CCIE experience, which books and videos are most useful to you? imagine if you did that again, what material you woul probably not to use to save some hours? thanks!

  11. Brandon,

    Just a question, I am currently a CCNP, if I was looking to do further professional certification, would I not be better doing the CCNP Service Provider route, than CCDP …. would be information contained in SP not have more relevance than CCDP for the CCIE route?

    • For CCIE R&S the CCNP SP is probably slightly more relevant, yes. More relevant is a relative term because preparing for the lab is a completely different game than professional level certifications.

  12. Thanks for your valuable info. Now, I’m a CCIE candidate and I’m going to take first attempt in the next 2 years. I’ll follow your blog and hope you still share your experience about networking as much as possible.

    • Thanks. I haven’t been posting anything for a while, I have pretty much gone stealth mode because I have been working on a lot of NDA stuff that I can’t really write about. Hopefully I can find some time to blog some impressions of the things we have been working on.

  13. Hello Brandon,
    I have a background in telecommunications in the research domain (radio frequency communications). I have been doing research in the RF sector but its really hard to find a job in telecom in this field. There are not many jobs avertised. So I am planning to shift to networking side but the problem is I am 34 now. What do you suggest on this idea ? How long it takes to complete CCNA and CCNP routing certifications ? I would like your comments please.

    • Depending on your background you can get your CCNA fairly quickly, a matter of a few months, if you are focused. I would make sure that you do some real lab practice however, in the real world what matters is how proficient you are with real equipment not how much theory you know. I would also take some time to develop your understand of common scripting and programming languages. Python is a great start.

      • it is very Hard ccie even Nowadays we are May 2017 but is it like PhD in it maybe is it less worth now noondays knows I am It field since 2009 not my job only as I hoppy because I am in Airlines job but like IT too much .

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