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Wayne Lawson speaks out


2014 Q1 CCIE Job Statistics / Average CCIE Starting Salaries by Track

The average CCIE earns $110,000 to $175,000 a year, with some earning more than that based on the CCIE they have, additional qualifications, and the location.

China, MI:   Tue, 2/18/14 - 11:59pm    View comments

Wayne Lawson

CCIEIPexpertAs the CEO of one of the world's most successful CCIE training companies, I'm constantly asked by past and present students about starting CCIE salaries.

Students often ask what they can expect to earn once passing their CCIE Lab.

They ask about salaries based on track and location, and ask what the CCIE job market is like. In the past I would refer them to the Global Knowledge annual salary report. Every year, they release an annual salary estimation for various Cisco certifications. Last year (2013) - their report did not include the CCIE certification. They have also listed their "15 Top-Paying Certifications for 2014" report - which also did not include the CCIE certification. They've included the CCDA, but there's no mention of any of the CCNP or CCIE certifications - which doesn't make sense - especially if you're listing the top-paying IT certifications. Also, I believe their report doesn't accurately represent "starting salaries".

There's a bit of a difference (sometimes upwards of 20%), between a "starting" CCIE salary (which would be more relevant for job seekers) and an "average" CCIE salary of someone who has been with a company for a while, and has earned annual cost of living increases over time (if that even exists anymore). The GK survey appears to represent more of an "average" salary - and not a true "starting" salary for a new job-seeker. Another issue I've had with previous GK salary surveys (that have had the CCIE listed, in past reports) is that they lump every CCIE track into a single generic CCIE category. This isn't helpful for students or engineers who may be interested in the broad salary spectrum that the various CCIE tracks offer in certain area of the country.

I've always been a fan of the television show, Undercover Boss. For the past 3½ months I have been conducting an informal undercover analysis of the CCIE job market and the average salary for a CCIE position in the United States. I have taken an approach, similar to Undercover Boss. But it's more like "Undercover Employee".

I have, over the past 14 weeks, communicated with almost 70 recruiters or hiring managers. I have either "applied" for their CCIE job postings with my personal resume, or responded to recruiters who have contacted me (or iPexpert, the company I own and manage) looking for potential CCIE referrals. Using this method I was able to collect a great deal of CCIE-focused job statistics data.

During the process I made a very large number of professional contacts, and was actually able to help a few of my students as well as understand this job market and the job seeking process much better. Through this experience, and discussions with the hiring managers and recruiters, I have been able to learn a great deal of useful information:


Eman CondeOne of the things that I have not collected any information on is the opportunity for international CCIEs here in the US. The positions I researched were all based on applicants being US citizens. If you're a CCIE located in another country but looking for employment in the United States, I would recommend contacting Eman Conde, aka the "CCIE Agent". He is an industry expert in the CCIE-focused recruiting market who represents both US and domestic CCIEs much the same way a Sports Agent would.

He remains the only recruiter with the distinction of being promoted by the Worldwide Channels of Cisco Systems as the only Cisco Authorized CCIE recruiter in the world. Since his main clients are the Cisco Channel Partners he deals with the companies paying CCIEs the highest salaries and in the most need of the certification. We are making him available exclusively to our students for support in their careers and to answer questions about their resumes and the job market. He will find you the career you're seeking, assist with locating companies providing Visa, and negotiate the best compensation package for you. Eman can be contacted at:

Before I begin explaining my findings, I'd like to state that the information I'm presenting is based on the data I've personally received from various sources over the past 14 weeks.

CCIE Job Opportunities / Demand by Track

CCIE Job Opportunities / Demand by Track
Source: Wayne Lawson

The CCIE R&S job market still continues to be the commanding leader in regards to opportunity, with CCIE Voice coming in second. Between the 2, they accounted for 94% of the posted job openings. Security was the only other contender, with most CCIE Security openings available in either NY/NJ or the Washington DC/Northern Virginia area.

As popular as the CCIE Data Center track is, the certification is still very new. I did note that almost 25% of the CCIE R&S jobs available also required Nexus experience. Although Nexus is only a portion of the CCIE Data Center blueprint, it's something we may want to watch over the next few years.

I believe the CCIE R&S job openings will be segmented into CCIE R&S and CCIE Data Center once the latter certification has been around for a little longer. CCIE Wireless had the fewest domestic jobs, which makes sense. CCIE Wireless engineers are very rare, and the certification seems to be sought primarily by Europeans or Cisco employees (per iPexpert's internal statistics).

CCIE Job Opportunities / Demand by State / City (Region)

CCIE Job Opportunities / Demand by State / City (Region)
Source: Wayne Lawson

As most could expect, NY / NJ had the most CCIE job openings during my investigation. Texas was a very close runner-up, with openings in almost every major city. Northern Virginia / DC Metro area came in 3rd (with most of these jobs requiring a security clearance for government contracts). California had multiple cities that had CCIE openings, and Atlanta topped off our top 5.

Average CCIE Starting Salaries by Track

Average CCIE Starting Salaries by Track
Source: Wayne Lawson

Here's what everyone is going to focus on. Please note that these numbers are based on salaries that were initially disclosed to me. Quite often, companies will pay a bit more for the "right" employee. Also, it's a bit difficult to present this report in a fair manner. Stated salaries ranged quite a bit, based on additional skills required, the amount of travel, and responsibilities.

Top 5 CCIE Paying States / Metro Cities

  1. New York / New Jersey
  2. Washington, D.C. / Northern Virginia
  3. California
  4. Atlanta
  5. North Carolina (RTP/Charlotte)
Top 5 CCIE Paying States / Metro Cities
Source: Wayne Lawson

These statistics aren't too surprising, and the overall statistics explain a lot. I had assumed that California and New York would come up #1 and #2, respectively, due to the cost of living, however NY / NJ came in #1. Most of the high-paying jobs in NY / NJ, and Washington DC / Northern Virginia are due to the need for a security clearance.

The highest paying CCIE jobs are currently Security and Data Center, and the Greater DC Metro area had multiple job openings for these tracks. The state of California came in 3rd, and Atlanta came in 4th due to quite a few CCIE Voice job openings. North Carolina came in 5th, with a majority of the positions being R&S, with a few Security and Voice jobs also available.

CCIE Technical vs. CCIE Management

One of the interesting things that became apparent very quickly (as I applied for these jobs, as if I were seeking a management position), was that the title "CCIE NOC Manager" paid the lowest of all of the job titles. Not only did it pay the less - but it paid MUCH less than an "average" CCIE (technical) salary paid.

The average, regardless of location, was $110,000.

Quite frankly, I was absolutely shocked. These positions require less hands on ability but require a greater depth of understanding and skills that come only with time and experience.

All of these available jobs required or preferred the following:

  • 5 to 10 years of management experience (required).
  • On-call availability (required).
  • 4-year degree (preferred, but not required by all).
  • CCIE-level experience w/ most of the common technologies seen in large-scale networks such as routing protocols, VPN / firewalls, IP telephony, wireless and network management applications (required).

CCIE Resume Tips

I had a lot of fun with this section of my analysis.

On the 3 primary job sites that I used, I created an account. I then uploaded my "resume", which was a scaled down version of my LinkedIn profile. I stated that I would relocate anywhere in the US, to cast a wide net. During this process, I would "tweak" my resume and test different resume styles. As I learned more about what recruiters and hiring managers are looking for, I was able to fine-tune my resume for nearly every job posting that I found.

Initially, I was flooded with recruiters seeking out a CCIE. I collected information on the job openings, and then asked them what they found interesting in my resume. At least half of the recruiters who contacted me were, in all honesty, generic IT recruiters. They didn't appear to know too much about the Cisco industry. These recruiters couldn't even say the acronyms correctly - in fact, one kept saying "CIIE" instead of "CCIE". In several of the cases, these recruiters were seeking a CCIE Voice, or Security, when in fact - I'm an old, outdated CCIE R&S (#5244). However, during these discussions, I was given some valuable information.

Note: When I mention, "recruiter", I'm referring to outside headhunters. People who are paid to find you, for their client (the hiring organization). When I mention, "hiring manager", I'm referring to the actual manager you'd report to within the company that's hiring.

So here are my 7 CCIE resume tips:

  1. Address:

    • If you're seeking a position outside of the area you currently reside in, do not put a residential address on your resume. Keep it simple - your name, CCIE #, email address, and cell phone number.
  2. Objective:

    • I've read several resume writing sites that state that an "objective" is old school. I found that it is still important for this industry. A majority of hiring managers read the Objective first to see if what you're looking for matches their available position.
    • If you include an Objective, be sure to adjust it for every position for which you apply. Customize it to match what the company is seeking, if it's a position you're serious about.
  3. CCIE:

    • Be sure to list your CCIE type (track) on your resume.
  4. Skills / Proficiencies:

    • This was a very interesting topic. Over 90% of the recruiters and hiring managers I spoke with have programs that parse your resume for keywords. If they're seeking someone with BGP experience, they will search for that term in your resume. It's not a good practice to list everything you've done at previous employers, however, a "Skills / Proficiencies" section will allow you to list out all of your main strengths, tailored to fit the posted requirements. You'll also have a higher chance at getting "found" by a recruiter or hiring manager.
  5. History:

    • The #3 thing that hiring managers look at is how long you've stayed at each employer. Nearly everyone commented on the time and cost it takes to find and train a new hire. If you've jumped from job to job, chances are you won't be one of their top candidates - even if you have every qualification they're seeking.
  6. Social Networking:

    • I asked every Hiring Manager if they had looked up my LinkedIn profile. Almost all of them admitted that they had. Some had also tried to find me on Facebook and Twitter. Most of you are intelligent enough to know what follows: Be careful with what you make available online.
    • Most of the Recruiters did not look up any of my social profiles. They were strictly calling or emailing each potential candidate and then moving on to the next.
  7. Cover Letter:

    • A cover letter is still a very valuable inclusion when submitting a resume. Almost half of the Hiring Managers will read your cover letter and see if you've applied to their opening, or if you're canvassing the job market. As with the Objective section of your resume, customize the Cover Letter to fit each position for which you're applying.

Websites to Use When Seeking a CCIE Job

While working on this analysis, I used the following websites / communities:
  1. CareerBuilder

    • CareerBuilder has a great iPhone app and the ability to upload multiple profiles / resumes. Excellent ability to search on a city or location (x miles from y). One thing I found annoying is that Cisco has partnered with CareerBuilder, and will use the job search site to solicit certification candidates for training.
  2. Monster

  3. Dice

    • I didn't use a Dice mobile app. I strictly used my PC to access their website. They have a large number of CCIE job listings, and give you the ability to filter based on specific search criteria.
  4. LinkedIn

    • LinkedIn has a job search capability, which I used a few times - however, you can't customize a resume or upload a cover letter. It's completely based on your LinkedIn profile. I didn't receive a single contact from any of the LinkedIn interest I had shown. I'm not too sure that this is the best avenue to seek a CCIE job.

CCIEs Beware of Cybercoders (

I noticed something strange during this fact-finding mission. A company called CyberCoders appeared to have a CCIE job in almost every single major city. I attempted to apply and connect with their recruiters, but didn't receive a single response. As I looked into the validity of these guys, I found this:

Ripoff Report: CyberCoders Cyber Coders Inc. CC jobs Resume farming, Fraudulant personal information collection, False job postings Internet, Nationwide


The CCIE certification is still the best-paying IT certification on the market, by far. It takes the average candidate anywhere from 9 to 24 months to pass their CCIE, 3 attempts, and approximately $3,000 to $10,000 in costs. Once you achieve your CCIE, there are countless opportunities in most of the major cities in the US.

The average CCIE earns $110,000 to $175,000 a year, with some earning more than that based on the CCIE they have, additional qualifications, and the location.

Although the CCIE is extremely difficult to achieve, it's one of the very few IT certifications you can earn which will nearly guarantee financial, and job security.

View more CCIE Water Cooler Gossip.

Additionally, view the updated worldwide CCIE count.

Related blog:

IPexpert CCIE Blog

Related stories:

Cloud architect top technology occupation with $151,500 salary

How Cisco CCIEs can achieve higher pay

Eman Conde: Cisco CCIE salaries in India have plunged -50%

IPexpert founder Wayne Lawson looking for job

Cisco CCIE Salaries

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