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CCIE Certification Cost and Financing Options

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Those advancing in a career in network engineering may want to consider pursuing a Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) certification. These technical certifications indicate skills and knowledge that can be applied to the design, construction, implementation and maintenance of complex enterprise networking infrastructure.

Fewer than 3% of network engineers are able to obtain certification. But certified engineers can advance their careers; the average annual salary of engineers with CCIE certification was $107,000 in 2018.

Keep reading to learn about the costs for CCIE certification, as well as ways you may finance the exam and related expenses.

What does the certification process look like?

CCIE certification exams consist of a two-hour written portion concerning data center infrastructure and an eight-hour lab portion that assesses skill in working with complex data center topologies. The latter must be completed within 18 months of passing the former.

As of Feb. 24, 2020, CCIE exams will come in six varieties:

  • CCIE Enterprise Infrastructure
  • CCIE Enterprise Wireless
  • CCIE Collaboration
  • CCIE Data Center
  • CCIE Security
  • CCIE Service Provider

While there are no official prerequisites to take a CCIE certification exam, much preparation is required. Candidates might study for more than a year and spend substantial money on preparatory courses and resources.

CCIE certification cost

  • Written test: $450
  • Lab exam: $1,600

The lab exam cost does not include travel and lodging to the exam sites, which can be found around the world. You must pay the amount due in full 90 days before the scheduled exam date to hold your spot.

Exam preparation costs

Preparing for the CCIE certification exam can also be costly. There are many CCIE boot camps out there, which vary in duration, intensity and cost. Some are in-person courses while others are online-only, but most cost between $2,000 and $5,000. A much cheaper option is to study independently using a book or study guide.

What about recertification?

As part of the February 2020 restructuring of Cisco certifications, the recertification policy is changing. Recertification — achieved by retaking the exam, earning points, or a combination — is now required every three years. There will no longer be the option to suspend a certification. Various other restrictions on credits and continuing education points will also come into play.

However, costs for recertification are not readily available.

Should you finance the cost of a CCIE certification?

The cost of CCIE certification is more than $2,000 before accounting for travel and lodging at the exam site.

If you don’t have that money available, you could consider a number of financing options. Before doing so, however, think about whether CCIE certification is best for you:

  • How much of a salary increase will the certification assure you?
  • Are you able to advance in your current career without this certification?
  • What is your current level of debt? Can you take on additional debt at this time?
  • Will your credit score get you favorable rates for borrowing?

These questions will help you decide whether financing this certification may be worthwhile for you. You need to have confidence that it’s your best option professionally and that you’ll be able to pay the money back if you finance the cost.

4 CCIE certification financing options

  1. Personal loan
  2. Credit card
  3. Payday alternative loans
  4. G.I. Bill

1. Personal loan

A personal loan may be a great option for borrowers with strong credit who need to borrow $1,000 or more for 24 months or longer. That’s because personal loans can be used to cover a variety of purchases, such as exam, flight and hotel costs. These loans are offered by banks, credit unions and online lenders, and are unsecured, meaning you don’t need collateral to qualify.

The lower end of personal loan rates can be better than those found on credit cards. But even borrowers with OK credit may see high interest rates that make this expensive for CCIE financing. Consider these average APRs by credit score:

How to get a personal loan: When applying for a personal loan, you’ll need to provide basic personal and financial data, such as your Social Security number and income information. You may also be asked for supporting documentation.

Credit requirements vary by lender, but many lenders allow you to check rates and eligibility with a soft credit check, which won’t hurt your credit score. This is helpful when you want to shop lenders and compare terms. Once you formally apply, however, your lender of choice will run a hard credit check. Many lenders disburse funds within a few business days of application approval.

2. Credit card

Credit cards are a form of revolving credit. Your card will come with a credit limit. You can charge purchases to your card on a rolling basis, up to your limit. Credit cards are useful when you don’t know how much you may need to borrow to cover CCIE certification-related costs. However, rates can be high, and you’ll need to pay off your balance before the end of the month to avoid interest charges.

APRs for credit cards generally range between 13% and 23%. With good credit, you are likely to find cards that offer you deferred interest for 12 to 18 months. This allows you to get an interest-free short-term loan in exchange for signing up for a specific card. While this is a good way to minimize your costs of borrowing, keep the following in mind:

  • You may be hit with deferred interest: If you fail to repay your balance before the promotional period ends, you’ll be charged interest on your original balance.
  • Closing cards often can hurt your credit: Getting into the habit of frequently opening and closing card accounts can hurt your credit.
  • Beware the temptation to spend more: Paying off your debt with 0% APR is great until you start justifying additional spending because of it.

How to get a credit card: Qualifying for a credit card is based on several factors, including age, income, debt level and credit score. As with a personal loan, you’ll need to provide basic personal and financial info, and undergo a credit check in order to get a card. You may also check your eligibility with a soft credit check before applying. The credit limit of your card will be determined by the credit card issuer based on factors like your credit score, the length of your credit history, and your credit utilization and history of payment.

3. Payday alternative loans

Federal credit unions provide small loans called payday alternative loans (PALs) to borrowers who have been members of the credit union for at least a month. These loans are a great alternative for bad credit borrowers who want to avoid pricey payday loans or high personal loan interest rates.

  • Loan amount: $200 to $1,000
  • Repayment term: 1 to 6 months
  • APR: 28% maximum
  • Application fee: Up to $20

How to get a payday alternative loan: Qualifying for a payday alternative loan requires you to be a member of a federal credit union for at least one month. So it takes a bit more advanced planning than typical payday loans. You’ll also need to provide basic personal and credit information and submit to a credit check.

4. G.I. Bill benefit

Veterans may qualify to have test costs up to $2,000 reimbursed under the G.I. Bill. With this benefit, you can take as many tests — or the same test as many times — as you would like. (You’ll be reimbursed even if you fail.) The costs you incur will reduce your remaining months of entitlement.

While this is a great option for veterans, keep in mind that you’ll have to cover costs until your reimbursement goes through. Travel expenses also aren’t covered. If you can’t afford to cover costs with cash and wait for reimbursement, you may want to couple this option with a personal loan or other financing option.

How to get reimbursement: You’ll need to complete VA Form 22-0803 (Application for Reimbursement of Licensing or Certification Test). For help with your application, call 1-888-GI-BILL-1.


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