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CCIE: The ultimate stress test

Feb 21, 20062 mins

If at first you don’t succeed, blah, blah, blah.  Nice concept, but personally I’d have waived the white flag after flunking the Cisco Certified Interworking Expert lab exam, oh, let’s say a half-dozen times, tops. Gone to chef’s school or something.

Not so one intrepid CCIE wannabee: According to Cisco, a CCIE candidate has failed the lab exam 19 times … and still hasn’t landed the most prized professional certification in the network industry.

Headlined “CCIE: Talk about a stress test,” a package of stories in this week’s Network World by my colleague Carolyn Marsan tells a fascinating tale of perseverance.

From the story: “For most, passing the CCIE lab exam requires studying as many as 1,000 hours and maintaining a laser-like focus that leaves spouses, children and hobbies by the wayside. The lab exam also costs big bucks, with the purchase of workbooks, preparatory courses, racks of Cisco equipment, exam fees and travel reaching as high as $20,000. The lab exam is so difficult that it has taken on mythic proportions in the network industry. CCIEs talk about how physically taxing the process is and list it among their greatest accomplishments. “

What makes this story particularly compelling is that it doesn’t really matter that we’re talking about routers and switches, or even Cisco and technology. It’s a story about people digging deep to find what’s necessary to get ahead in their chosen field. And there’s nothing blah, blah, blah about it.

Have a CCIE-related story of your own to tell? You can share it in this Network World forum.

News Editor

In addition to my editing duties, I have written Buzzblog since January, 2006 and wrote the 'Net Buzz column in Network World's dearly departed print edition for 13 years. Feel free to e-mail me at