642-832 Passed…Now on to ARCH/CCDP

With today’s passing of the TSHOOT exam, I am now a CCNP. The TSHOOT exam was actually kind of fun, and not nearly as difficult as I was expecting. The funny thing is, just like when I turned 30 a few years ago, I don’t “feel” any different now. I think I remember feeling different when I turned 20, and I remember feeling different when I obtained my CCNA early last year. Although, I will certainly admit that with the experience I’ve gained with my current employment coupled with my new credentials, it feels good to have a little bit of job security within my chosen profession.

When you’re paying for the cost of training and certifications on your own, they are definitely an investment (unless it is just a hobby). Not counting the training materials and lab equipment I’ve purchased, the CCNP was a $600 investment in my future (3 exams @ $200 each). I imagine most people in my situation also do what I am going to do: invest $200 more to take the ARCH exam and acquire the CCDP network design certification as well. It only makes sense. If you’re someone who obtained the CCNP because your employer requires it and paid for it, you might be less likely to achieve the CCDP in addition to the CCNP. But that is not the boat I am in currently. However, I am not trying to discount my current employer in any way: even though they are not directly paying for my certifications, they are allowing me lots of on-the-job study time. I guess you could say that a lot of the time, I am being paid to study. Not too bad at all. 🙂

After the CCDP, I currently plan to study for the Juniper JNCIA (essentially the CCNA of Juniper) and then I’ll begin studying for the CCIE. I am fully aware of the fact that acquiring the CCIE is not as simple as reading the certification guide and taking the test. I have a full laundry list of books that I am looking forward to finally reading, and I have an AAP subscription to INE.com for their excellent series of videos. By far, I anticipate one of the most difficult portions of the journey to be saving up $1500 for the lab exam, plus probably another $400 or so for travel/lodging. Luckily, I am currently only a nine hour drive from the RTP testing center in North Carolina. But with my luck, Cisco will probably up the price to $2000 by the time I’m ready to sit for the lab exam!

I may have written about this previously, but as I write this now, my career goal is to be a senior network engineer for a major ISP. It’s one thing to manage your own small, outdated networking equipment. It’s entirely another to manage large, multi-hundred-thousand dollar core systems, and I am very excited about the journey to get there. The CCIE R&S will definitely be a milestone when I reach it, but it is still just a milestone in the total path of the career I envision for myself.