Wednesday, February 22, 2017

How Much Certification is Enough?

How Much Certification is Enough?


Darby Weaver
How much certification is enough? 
That's the million dollar question.  Isn't it?  Well, I'm fairly well certified these days and I can now say that we don't need a CCIE to break the $100,000.00 per year threshold any longer.  Nope. 
In fact, it's not unusual to see CCNA level skill sets outside of Cisco with vendors like HP, Aruba, Checkpoint, F5, Brocade, etc. earning in excess of $100,000.00 with what amount to equal or less than a Cisco CCNA Certification.  Yep...  It's a big secret so don't tell anyone I told you so.
Myself, I sit at the CCNP and/or CCDP level of the food chain which is the middle level of the spectrum and my average number of offers per day or week are in the $65-70.00 per hour range which works out to $138k - $150k per opportunity.   There are some that come in low at maybe $100 or even $110 but the majority are at the $135-150k range. 
The primary emphasis is design and cutting edge technologies.  I work in the Data Center or Multi-Tenant Co-Located facility model more often than not which calculates to the new buzzword which is the Cloud. 
All of this means I work remotely and scarcely ever see an office, I mean I've heard they still exist somewhere and there are people still being hired to work there.  So I'm sure they are still out there... somewhere... 
Meanwhile, I work in this place called the cloud.  It's an interesting concept.  I have 24/7/365 access to all resources that the mythical employees I just spoke of have except I supply my own Internet service and my own printers.  In my case I have a well stocked network of what things used to be line back in the "Classical Networking Days of Old"... otherwise, I'm just working as usual.
How did I get to this point?   Well I did everything most people did in the old days... I planned and purchased gear, designed it, loaded and deployed it, and then I supported it during ongoing mission critical operations around the clock - 24/7/365 baby sitting the network. 
I'm a planner... I plan, design, test, automate, deploy, verify, and then operate... manage and monitor, followed by troubleshooting when the chips are down... 
Virtually anywhere, anytime, and every time...  Easy as that.
How do I keep myself up to date?
Well, these past 5-6 years its been challenging to say the least...  It's hard to do all the things I've done and still stay on top of my game too...
So I'm due for a refresh...  an overhaul.
How am I going to do it?
Well...  I can't really go to classes any more... 
I don't see many that teach what I do - not entirely... 
It's hard... 
I mean... I could study the CCIE or CCDE but I've found these certifications less and less necessary to the point I now know I really don't need them.  That's it. 
Oh I still need to study and reinvent myself.  However, the skill set I require stops short at the CCNA level or maybe the CCNP level and the design skills top out at the CCDP level or equivalent materials which are all mostly available on the Internet to anyone who can use Google successfully. 
So there is less and less of any chance I'll be in any classes any time soon.  It seems like at age 48 my days of being student are numbered and I'm more inclined to educate myself on technologies and skills I truly need versus perpetually going to classes endlessly and paying the annual taxes I've paid so far in my career.  I can't complain those taxes got me this far and opened many doors for me in the past and probably in the future too.
I'll recertify my core skills and learn the technologies I've found to be in demand which I love doing and simply put do more of them. 
A simple recipe for success. 
I'm not starting companies or anything... really just making a living and paying for whatever I want and need and that's about it. 
If you love what you do then you'll never work a day in your life...
It works just like that for me...
That's it.
So what am I going to do? 
I am going to renew my qualifications this year focus on my core skill sets since it seems I don't quite need everything I'm educated and certified on to provide the salary I require to keep my lights turned on. 
How much certification is enough?
Well... the CCNA or CCNP are all I've really required for any job I've had yet.  So I think it was nice to have the rest but being knowledgeable was the key on the rest of the certifications.  That is a rock solid CCNA skill set is the deal and if not then earn the CCNP...  and by doing so your CCNA will be rock solid as a result... learn whatever other skills round this out.  Don't forget design... we design a lot or at least I have so the CCDA and/or CCDP will round things out perfectly... 
That's it. 
Darby Weaver 


Unknown said...

Really nice and explanatory!
Thanks for sharing Darby.

Jose Lopez IT Specialist & Consultant said...

Really nice and explanatory!
Thanks Darby

Anonymous said...

You say you don't need CCIE any more and I think I'd agree. However having failed my lab last year I want to go again, not just to gain CCIE but more to test myself. I enjoy the testing experience. Last year I joined Mensa and became a PRINCE 2 Practitioner, not be I wanted to be a PM but gain more insight into the PM world and test myself out of my normal comfort techie zone. Your blog started with the question of How much is enough, how about I end my thoughts with a similar question, can you have too much?

P.S. Have you still got all those racks or have you virtualised things yet?


Cisco Architect said...

Yes I still have my racks.

I use virtualization with them to a large degree and I have virtualized a lot of major world class networks by now.

Seems strange though to think how the next generation is going to be adequately experienced without learning the basic interconnections which are now being deemed non-essential.

Darby Weaver

abdo rekfy said...

Hello Mr Darby,

from my point of view i can see that the source of the problem is the remote point.

being on office with other people and imagine every one of them once a week or once a month talks and explain about the new thing that he just learned, or the new features that has been introduced on the IOS ...etc

the environment itself works as a passive learning class.

if you can put your self around fresh engineers you will be up to date from their discussion and they will learn from you experience.

Best regards,