Update (Sept 4, 2019): Thanks to input from astute reader Brandon Applegate, I’m updating the list of available free courses to include an additional 5-credit course from the SD-WAN Mastery Collection. Note that this course may not appear in response to the search process outlined in this post (it did not for the author); however, searching by the course number directly from within the Cisco Learning Library (https://digital-learning.cisco.com) should reveal this hidden gem. Thank you, Brandon!
Cisco now offers a couple of viable options to avoid the much-maligned CCIE trivia fest Written Exam for re-certification.
These include the introduction of the Emeritus program for 10-year or better CCIEs, as well as the roll-out of the Continuing Education (CE) program. (This program will soon be expanded to the Associate- and Professional-level certs in early 2020).
However, CE credits can be cost-prohibitive (particularly for those of us who are self-employed!). And while I can’t here report any known reduction in the cost of the more popular CE courses (e.g. the 50-credit Network Programmability-related variety), I can offer a few pointers that may help reduce the financial burden of your next re-certification.
Check out so-called “Black Friday” (Friday after US Thanksgiving holiday in late November) discounts of training bundles. This past year I was able to pick up a package titled “Network Programmability E-Learning Bundle” (PART#: ELT-NPDEVDESI-V1.0-021549) for $1199.40, which included:
- Programming for Network Engineers (PRNE) v1.0: 24 CE credits
- Developing with Cisco Network Programmability (NPDEV) v4.0: 50 CE credits
- Designing and Implementing Cisco Network Programmability (NPDESI) v.1.0: 50 CE credits
I completed NPDEV prior to deciding that I would finally attend my first-ever Cisco Live in San Diego this year, where I was able to pick up 24 additional credits by attending 2K- and 3K-level breakout sessions.
So, what to do? Completing PRNE would’ve left me a tad shy of the 100-credit requirement for re-certification (50 + 24 + 24 == :-/), but somehow given the hefty investment already made it just seemed morally wrong to blow it out of the water with 50-credit NPDESI (redeemed credits above 100 do not carry forward from one re-cert cycle to the next – more on this shortly).
This set me to seek out low-credit options I could couple with PRNE completion/redemption that might be on offer at a relatively more pocketbook-friendly price range vs. my previous large purchase. Lo and behold…
Free Courses From Cisco
I stumbled across a handful of self-paced digital course offerings in the Cisco Network Learning Store worth 2 to 12 credits – available merely for the asking! They are as follows:
- The SD-WAN Mastery Collection – Bringing Up the Control Plane Devices (For Customers) v1.0 (A-SDW-CTRPLN): 2 CE credits
- Getting Started with Cisco DNA Center Assurance (A-DNAC-ASSUR) v1.0: 4 CE credits
- Preparing the Identity Services Engine (ISE) for SD-Access (For Customers) (CUST-SDA-ISE) v1.0: 4 CE credits
- Cisco DNA Center Fast Start Use Cases (A-SDA-FASTSTART): 5 CE credits
- The SD-WAN Mastery Collection – Developing the Overlay Topology (For Customers) v1.0 (A-SDW-OVRLAY): 5 CE credits
- The SD-WAN Mastery Collection – Getting Started (For Customers) v1.0 (A-SDW-START): 6 CE credits
- The SD-WAN Mastery Collection – Deploying the Data Plane (For Customers) v1.0 (A-SDW-DATPLN): 6 CE credits
- The SD-WAN Mastery Collection – Managing the Application Experience (For Customers) v1.0 (A-SDW-APPEXP): 6 CE credits
- Planning and Deploying SD-Access Fundamentals (For Customers) (CUST-SDA-FUND) v1.0: 12 CE credits
Could it possibly be that nearly half – 45 50 in total– of the currently required 100 credits (soon to increase to 120 due to the lengthened 3-year CCIE re-certification cycle as of Feb 24, 2020) are sitting right there in plain sight? In exchange for nothing more than a little investment of one’s time? Or is this some kind of transient fluke?
I asked a CE rep about this at the Live Certification Lounge a few weeks ago, and she was just as surprised to learn of it as I had been. So perhaps a fluke, indeed.
Then again, the observant reader will have noted that little “For Customers” tag appended to most of the above course titles. And on further consideration, most of these offerings are related to products and technologies in which Cisco probably is keen to see their certified flock familiarize themselves with, no?
In any event, I completed enough of these courses to breach the threshold and successfully apply them to re-certification (hold the applause, please). So as of this writing, at least, this is apparently legit.
And the beauty of it all is in that I was able to retain PRNE and NPDESI for the next upcoming re-cert cycle; so long as courses have not been completed and submitted for CE credit, as I understand the matter, they remain viable until their purchase expiration date – which in the case of my 2018 Black Friday purchase is Nov 25, 2020 (I’m told by someone in the know such a long shelf life is atypical – could be a function of the holiday promotion or simply of the bundle vs. individual course purchase).
Furthermore, once a course has been completed and submitted, a new three-year counter begins ticking down on the credits earned – not too shabby!
Finally, it was confirmed by the CE folk at Live that courses previously taken can be repeated in a new re-cert cycle. So as long as the above list persists (or perhaps even grows?) at zero cost, this is a perfectly renewable energy source.
How To Get These Credits
So how to go about this all for yourself? Head on over to the Cisco Continuing Education Portal at ce.cisco.com and get yourself logged in. Now:
- Near the top of the page, select “Item Catalog”
- Now under “Search for items,” go with “Cisco Learning Services (Direct Delivery)” from the “Select Category” drop-down menu to the right
- Now click “Search”
- Click “Credits” to order results from lowest to highest
You’ll find the aforementioned course offerings spread over the first three pages of search results. Now:
- “View Details”
- “View Details” again on the course summary page
- And finally, “Launch Course.”
Voilà! You’re on your way to nailing down a screaming-hot deal (as in the free kind!), the likes of which to my knowledge have been previously unknown within the nascent Cisco CE ecosystem.
As the CE program broadens to encompass all levels of Cisco certification, interest will naturally grow beyond the CCIE community. Hopefully Cisco will retain and perhaps even expand these no-cost options, bringing CE into reach of those who may otherwise have been priced out of the market.
In doing so, they’ll not only be giving a hand up to their dedicated community of cert-holders in retaining what often represents significant investment, but also at the same time be creating for themselves a ready-made audience of those they wish to reach most.
- Known courses are listed above in ascending order of credit granted (and therefore approximately in ascending order of difficulty/time commitment). The SD-WAN Mastery Collection curriculum is outlined below: