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The Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert, or CCIE, is a technical certification offered by Cisco Systems. The CCIE certifies the skills required of network engineers to plan, operate and troubleshoot complex, converged network infrastructures on a wide variety of Cisco equipment.
The program is currently divided into six different areas of expertise or "tracks". The CCIE track in which one becomes certified determines the different aspects of networking technology. One may also choose to pursue multiple CCIE tracks in several different categories of Cisco technology: Routing & Switching, Service Provider, Security, Collaboration, Data Center, and Wireless.
According to Cisco, less than 3% of Cisco Certified engineers obtain CCIE certification and less than 1% of the networking professionals worldwide, and the average candidate will spend thousands of their own dollars and spend at least 18 months studying while pursuing it. Passing all the requirements of the program earns the individual a unique CCIE number assigned by Cisco.
There are no formal prerequisites for CCIE certification. Other professional certifications or training courses are not required. Instead, candidates must first pass a written qualification exam and then the corresponding hands-on lab exam. An in-depth understanding of the topics on the exams and three to five years of job experience are expected before attempting certification.