Cisco launches first-ever authorized CCIE training program

* Routing and Switching test training unveiled this week

Cisco is unveiling a new learning program for the CCIE Routing and Switching exam, saying that third-party boot camps designed to prepare candidates for the exam are not always up to par.

“There was a very diverse level of quality” in the third-party exam preparation programs, said Cisco marketing director Fred Weiller.

CCIE had strictly been an assessment program to test people’s pre-existing knowledge. Now Cisco has decided to create its first-ever authorized CCIE training curriculum to help Cisco pros acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to become an expert. The third-party courses often trained Cisco pros well enough to pass the exam, but not well enough to become true experts, Weiller said.

Cisco’s official Routing and Switching curriculum was announced Tuesday, but Cisco hinted that it will develop curriculum for other CCIE tests in the future. Other CCIE certifications include security, service provider, storage networking, and voice.

The “Cisco 360 Learning Program for CCIE Routing and Switching” is composed of more than 400 hours of instruction over six months, and is available beginning Nov. 1 from Cisco partners throughout the country. The course starts at $5,000, but can reach double-digits for those who want extra mentorship features.

Podcast: Ken Presti talks to Cisco Director of Marketing Fred Weiller about the CCIE training program, why it was launched, how it works and who it's aimed at. (4:46).

“It’s not to train to the test. It’s training to become an expert,” Weiller said.

In addition to instructor-led sessions and workshops, there will be practice labs, mentoring and six online classes. Topics include IPv6 QoS, Frame Rely, Border Gateway Protocol and switching, Session Initiation Protocol, multicast technology, and various Cisco products.

Cisco is gathering input on potentially expanding training for CCIE exams beyond routing and switching, but hasn’t started developing any other training programs yet. “We don’t want to rush too early,” Weiller said. “We want to see for a few months how this new learning program does in the marketplace.”

The Routing and Switching program was tested in a pilot, which attracted engineers from companies such as Verizon and KeyBank.Cisco’s learning program made several other announcements Tuesday. Here’s an overview:

* New mobile testing facilities will let more foreign candidates take the CCIE Routing and Switching exam in their own countries.

* The Cisco Learning Network Web site is being integrated with CareerBuilder’s job database to make searching for Cisco-related jobs easier. Without leaving the Cisco site candidates can, for example, type in a certification they have obtained and see all jobs requiring that credential.

* The CCDE (Cisco Certified Design Expert) practical exam is now available at authorized Pearson VUE testing centers. The computer-based test lasts eight hours and was developed to test the practical aspects of network design, using hypothetical business scenarios and requiring candidates to build a network that meets business requirements. “Those who took the beta [version of the test] were impressed with how well it reproduces a real-life scenario,” Weiller said.

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