Certification – Major News for Expert Level Recertification

Everyone holding an expert level Cisco certification knows the pain of recertifying. Recertification today is achieved by taking any expert level written exam which means you can take the written in the track you are already certified in (the “safe bet”) or in another track if you want to learn something new. The quality of these written exams have varied over the years. Some revisions have been very difficult to pass even for people that are masters of their trade due to the pool of questions not being as high quality as can be expected from an expert level exam. This has been debated for years.

Every two years the pain of recertifying kicks in. Taking the written exam costs around 400$ per attempt depending on local rates, VAT etc. Many people have had to go through multiple attempts to recertify and some have chosen other written exams than their own track because the written of that track was not up to par quality-wise.

Over the years we have been many that have suggested that there must be a better path to getting recertified. Many of us go to Cisco Live, write blogs, author training material, teach courses etc. which has not given us any credit towards recertification. Some other certifications have given credit to people for attending conferences, authoring material etc. but this has not been an option with Cisco certifications so far. This is all about to change though…

Starting today, on Sweden’s national day (I’m Swedish), there is another path to recertify expert level certifications, meaning all of the CCIE tracks and the CCDE. Cisco has started the Cisco Continuing Education Program available from this CLN link. This program is based on three founding principles: Flexibility, Diversity and Integrity. Flexibility is achieved by offering alternative paths to recertify, beyond the already existing written exams. Diversity is achieved by offering a wide range of items, including online courses, instructor-led training, authoring of content and Cisco Live training offerings. Integrity is achieved by having only Cisco authorized content providers deliver the training and validating the credits submitted by the individual.

This program is only for people holding expert level certifications and not currently for professional or associate level certifications. The certification must be in Active or Suspend status to be eligible to recertify. Emeritus is also eligible except for the following:

  • Candidates in Emeritus status who are required to pass both a written exam and a lab to become active again
  • Candidates who achieved Emeritus status by earning Business Transformation certifications as described on the CCIE website

To recertify, three steps must be achieved before the certification expires:

  • Agree to the Terms and Conditions associated with the Continuing Education Program as part of the enrollment process
  • Earn 100 credits required by completing any of the preapproved Continuing Education offerings
  • Pay the Continuing Education administrative fee

It’s possible to enroll in the program at any time and earn credits before the certification becomes inactive. For Cisco Digital Learning self-paced trainings, a “certificate of completion” needs to be attained to have the credits registered for that training.

As documented above, 100 credits is needed to recertify your expert level certification. Once recertifying, normal rules apply, all expert level certications and lower level certifications will be recertified once attaining the credits necessary.

To enroll and get more information on the program, visit this link and login with your standard CCO account.

Once logged in there will be a dashboard showing your certification status and how many days remaining until you need to recertify.

CCIE/CCDE Recertification Dashboard
CCIE/CCDE Recertification Dashboard

One of the great things with this update is the ability to earn credits by taking training at Cisco Live. This should give employers some extra motivation to send their employees to Cisco Live. A maximum of 70 credits of the 100 may be earned by attending training at Cisco Live for a recertification cycle. The following table explains the number of credits for different kind of sessions.

Session Type Level Credits per Session
Technical Breakout 1000 Level 1
Technical Breakout 2000 Level 2
Technical Breakout 3000 Level 3
4-Hour Technical Seminar 1000 Level 3
4-Hour Technical Seminar 2000 Level 4
4-Hour Technical Seminar 3000 Level 5
8-Hour Technical Seminar 1000 Level 6
8-Hour Technical Seminar 2000 Level 8
8-Hour Technical Seminar 3000 Level 10
4-Hour Instructor-Led Lab 1000 Level 3
4-Hour Instructor-Led Lab 2000 Level 4
4-Hour Instructor-Led Lab 3000 Level 5
8-Hour Instructor-Led Lab 1000 Level 6
8-Hour Instructor-Led Lab 2000 Level 8
8-Hour Instructor-Led Lab 3000 Level 10

As always, there’s a fee associated, currently 300$ to recertify through the Continuing Education program.

There are some rules you should be aware of for this program:

  • Credits are valid for three years from the date they were earned unless:
  • Credits expire if a new recertification cycle starts, either by passing an exam or recertifying some other credential
  • Credits expire if your certification becomes inactive
  • Credits earned for a given course can only be counted once and retaking the same course does not earn any new points
  • Credits once used can’t be reused for another certification track or level
  • Credits must be used before they expire, or during the certification cycle they were earned, whichever occurs earlier

Here is a list with training, delivery format and how many credits can be earned for attending them.

There is also a FAQ listing more information about the program.

It’s likely that this recertification path will cost more than simply taking a written exam. However keep in mind that many of us already go to Cisco Live and this makes it even more motivating to do so. Some organizations also use Cisco Learning Credits to attend Cisco Live and get training so even if there is a cost associated with this path, it may not matter on the bottom line.

My personal opinion is that this is great work by Cisco. Instead of taking written exams I can now focus on learning new technologies like automation, get credit and recertify. I can also author content if I want to and earn credits that way. Going to Cisco Live which I try to do will also help me build credit. I hope the available trainings eligible for credits expand so that there are a lot of options for people looking to recertify. Happy studing!

Certification – Major News for Expert Level Recertification
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18 thoughts on “Certification – Major News for Expert Level Recertification

  • June 6, 2017 at 9:55 am

    I’m signed up, what a great idea and thanks for sharing Daniel.

  • June 6, 2017 at 1:42 pm

    Looks interesting, but the costs just don’t seem justified. It ends up being more than double the price to re-certify?

    • June 7, 2017 at 9:06 am

      It depends on how you view the costs. If you are already doing continous training on new products, technologies, then those costs are already there so they are not new costs.

      If you never go to any paid training and just resit the written every two years then it will be more expensive for sure.

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  • June 6, 2017 at 4:25 pm


    The cost just went from $450.00 USA to $300.00 plus the cost of Cisco Live etc and now can cost in the thousands.

    Be careful what you sign and agree to.

    In my opinion the CCNP/CCDP are quite sufficient to demonstrate skill levels that earn easily in excess of the CCIE Salary Survey (any of them and all of them) and does not require such a committed expense.

    The word was the CCIE Written (any) was only theory until Cisco made the dump sites disappear.

    Then CCIE’s had no means to pass the exams easily and complained heavily.

    The issue is that Cisco does not have its own internally supported training at the Expert Level to properly prepare candidates for the level of rigor demanded by the Written and Practical Exams.

    Now Cisco has made another change due to the number of CCIE’s who have abandoned the CCIE or else have otherwise become disenfranchised due to the inability to pass the “simple theory exam” as it was termed when brain dumps were readily available.

    The CCDE was recently cancelled and severa CCIE/CCDE’s were apparently decertified and Cisco Employee(s) at risk of job status with Cisco.

    Others who partner with Cisco and may have apparent conflicts with the certification program were untouched and unbothered.

    The sense of integrity and the stability has not been communicated nor properly interpreted to the community and pool of candidates.

    Now Cisco has caved on an expensive form of continuing education credits.

    What is the future of the program at this point?

    Candidates are both the consumer and product and that’s a rather odd role to be in any food chain.

    • June 7, 2017 at 9:08 am

      Darby, there’s too much for me to comment on here, I would rather do it in another form of communication.

      However, If you sign up for this it doesn’t change the fact that you can still take the written. So I see nothing wrong in having more options.

      More expensive yes but many of us already attend Cisco Live and purchase different kinds of training. My hope is that the number of authorized courses will increase over time. In the light of that it’s not really that much more expensive if you are a person that is continously learning.

      Thanks for reading!

  • June 6, 2017 at 9:42 pm

    I’m with you Daniel in that I believe it’s a positive step. There’s more to be done; but the current program is long overdue at addressing the current state of affairs. I have heard many senior and respected engineers say they regard the current CCIE written exams as more of a “trivia test” rather than a test of necessary and expected knowledge at the expert level.

    Disclaimer: I’m currently studying for my CCIE Security and have yet to pass the written after several attempts. So I am invested in the process.

    • June 7, 2017 at 9:04 am

      Exactly, Marvin. Rome wasn’t built in a day and hopefully the program evolves into giving us even more options. We shouldn’t judged it solely on what is being communicated now.

      The written exams have had some quality issues and been to trivia focused although I’ve heard they have improved lately.

      In the end I think it’s good that we now have multiple options of recertifying.

  • June 6, 2017 at 10:08 pm

    Great news!

    A question, for the CCSI trainers, the courses that we dictad, will take in consideration for this credits?

    • June 7, 2017 at 9:03 am

      CCIE instructors was something I was thinking about. My personal opinion is that you should be able to get credits for it but I haven’t seen it mentioned in the policy.

      If I find out I’ll try to write an update.

  • June 7, 2017 at 12:10 am

    Very good change. The approach can be expensive but has more value than rehashing the written exams every two years. The cost might be handled by the employers in some cases. In other situations, Emeritus status may simply be a cost based decision. The written approach to recertification was creating a ton of frustration for those who saw it as esoteric trivia.

    • June 7, 2017 at 9:02 am

      Thanks for commenting, Paul. It’s another option and not something that will suite everyone.

      The nice thing though is that if you are already learning new things you can get credit for it. For some orgs the cost is negligible or handled by CLCs etc.

      The written has been plagued by quality issues although it seems to be a lot better lately.

      Anyway. Nothing wrong in having options.

      Hope to see you at Live if you are going.

  • June 7, 2017 at 3:48 pm

    I have to say I am not convinced yet.

    Constant readying and self development is something I invest time and efforts in, all year long. It is needed in our line of work, else we are left behind. However, this usually does not cost me that much. Typically few Ciscopress books, Cisco live on demand videos, and even Cisco live…still doe snot justify $300 every now and then.

    Although the process makes practical sense, the numbers are not adding up.

  • June 7, 2017 at 8:18 pm

    We are offering a $500.00 discount for a CIERS I 5-day boot camp to candidates in need of recertification. If you are interested, please contact [email protected]

    We also take CLCs.

    • June 9, 2017 at 2:37 am

      Hi Narbik,

      Where does your bootcamp fit into this? Is there any plan to award credits for attending your classes?

      Seems like it would be a no brainer to award some points for spending 5 days with the author of the certification guide. They are giving 50 points for a 5 day CCNP TSHOOT class, in that case attending your bootcamp should nearly give enough points re-certify you. The 10 day class should easily be worth 100 points.

  • June 10, 2017 at 2:48 am

    Firstly great blog Daniel!

    This does come down to a cost issue. Reading through the options i can see how to get to 100 points with some courses I would be interested in completing, but it will cost >$2000 US to do at best including the Cisco fee (whats that all about ?). No problem if you have the funds or it is paid for via work – great option to re-certify !

    But if paying personally – 3 attempts of the written still costs you 1/2 the price. And if you actually are CCIE level with the knowledge you should be able to get a pass from that many attempts and current study at worst.

    Also some of us also are not in a position to do classrooms courses or Cisco Live so its a case of adding up lots of smaller options, which does tick over the $.

    Very good to see this option is now on the table (which suggests Cisco is thinking about future directions and options and not just sitting on the ‘always done it that way’ concept), but hopefully Cisco will review what’s in place after a period and perhaps make the financials balance a bit more with the points.

    • June 11, 2017 at 7:47 am

      For now it mostly seems like an option for people that are already investing into training courses etc. or that have CLCs to spend.

      I don’t think this is the end state of the program though. Hopefully more ways of earning credits get added, less expensive options.

      I’ll see what I can find out about the program during Cisco Live.

      Thanks for reading!

  • June 14, 2017 at 1:32 pm

    Well, it’s great to see them moving into a different direction.
    Now people can finally focus on learning new and relevant things to their field of work instead of having to simply memorize trivia for an ill-conceived exam.
    However, I honestly have mixed feelings about that. The money-grab attitude here from Cisco is disgustingly blatant.
    What to do, go for an expensive Cisco Live trip plus spend some more money on credits to reach the magical 100 number or take a broken written exam (or simply get a dump and go for it, as many CCIEs do)?
    Yes, “many of us already attend Cisco Live and purchase different kinds of training”. The key here is “a lot”. The vast majority don’t.
    People always tend to take the path of least resistance. Guess what will continue to happen?


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