This topic will probably produce a lot of debate. Personally, I think that it is hard to compare the two. Academic studies are much broader. CCIE studies are focused and vendor specific. I've heard arguments trying to equate CCIE to doctorate level academics. I've heard people counter that with the fact that doctorate students are producers of content where CCIE students are consumers of document. I've also heard some people equate the CCIE to Bachelors degree as opposed to CCA to a Doctorate degree.
In the end, any program is only as good as the institutes that back it. I think the CCIE is 'currently' the best certification in the industry. With that said, I'd certainly encourage anyone to start out broad. Then I'd recommend focusing in on area(s) of interest. So I think a CCIE is a great complement to a good college foundation. However, not everyone follows the same path.
Academia is great but and its a very very big but, it does not demonstrate any real world capability.
I have a BEng in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, I used it and earned my degree part time over 9 years which gave me great real world experience, however I worke with graduates who scared the **** out of me. There you are spinning up a new 30 ton motor/engine set and they ask "Are you not going to test this?" What did they think I just spent the last month doing during the install, balance and wiring stages.
The degree demonstrates amition, an ability and desire to learn and a fundamental knowledge of the concepts
The CCIE is to demonstrate a capability built over several years, generally in quite a narrow field and more often than not with practical experience. Yes some are getting through withoout the experience.
The CCIE for me is far far in advance of a degree or academic study.
I dont have a CCIE I do have a degree.
Will I get a CCIE, well yes if I am good enough, compared to a degree or academic study. The CCIE is hard and demands respect.
The CCIE is a straight shot, its one path among many. It assists you in a quest to gain or validate your expertise in a field, but I don't think its fair to compare it to a 4-year program.
I don't really see CCIEs designing algorithms and writing pages of HDL in order to implement various switching components on an FPGA, but maybe I'm wrong.
Thats something that Cisco would hire people with those Academic degrees to do.
Anyhow, take a look at the PE and its requirements (they vary by state), its a bear.
Some universities won't even let you graduate without passing the FE Exam, and thats in addition to your Senior Project, and all the other senior level design projects for other classes, and thats just for the BS.
My point, don't compare the two, because they are not comparable. Do what you love doing, I don't think you'll regret either path if its something you enjoy.
A very simple and interesting difference I have seen between these two..
Being a CCIE you are not eligible as Highly Skilled professional for some countries visa norms. You need to have some masters degree for it, and being a CCIE you are not counted as Highly Skilled professional according to visa norms.
You may find a far more better job being a CCIE than a masters sometimes....:-)
The nice thing about an academic degree is it is permanent. It is a statement about your ability when you were 18-21. Most of what your learnt is now of little use unless you entered a related profession and I suspect the degree would have only touched the surface of that profession. A CCIE shows a modern skill set which has to be formally renewed. A degree is about talking the talk but a CCIE is about walking the walk.
Conwyn and Peter, I couldn't agree more with your perspectives'. The CCIE is academically a very strong determination of one's aptitude and perseverance. While it's not possible to directly compare a degree program with the CCIE; if the metric were degree of difficulty, I'd rate the CCIE alongside a 4-yr applied science/math degree and nearing the masters level for sure. Not to insult MBAs, but let's be real, there are many degrees which most, can and do "sleep" through, yet they earn the diploma. P.S. CCIE's pedigree, IMHO, is comparable to an Ivy League degree, from a market and return on investment perspective.
Just my thoughts on this.
I do not think that there is any equivalent in terms of a academic study. To comapre the CCIE to a PHD (which i have heard in the past) is not true.
I admire anyone who enbarks on a univeristy degree or PHD etc, certainlty now in the UK. You are going to be faced with a lifetime of debt once you have completed your course, and most of the time there is no job at the end. I know many a degree student who is working the checkout at a supermarket until the chance to start their career and put to use the years of study comes.
The big percentage of CCIE students are already working in the Cisco field and have cut their teeth like so many have before them woring support roles, networking roles etc. With under thrity thousand CCIE's out and the level of knowledge and skill required to pass the exam, plus the study required to get to the test centre to even take the exam.
Both those who seek to better their life with academic study or by doing the CCIE track or by furthering their knowlegde to a higher degree for pleasure all in my mind are aiming the right way in life. Those who sit back and watch the train go by and do not seek to better themselves in any shape or form are the only ones who will lose out.
The idea of Cisco certification is to allow somebody with no academic qualification to rise to CCIE by natural ability.
If you look at the costs of hardware, training, exam and accommodation you could be looking at 50K USD if you take Global Knowledge training for example.
So you need to perform a return on investment but a well paid CCIE would quickly achieve a return. The problem is whether the CCIE hits a HR restriction of not having a degree and can not progress into management. This maybe illogical but we are talking HR here and they have to take a overview of all business functions rather than just IT.
Now if you go to University you will acquire a general knowledge of a subject and hopefully develop your critical thinking and that critical thinking can be applied throughout your career. This does not guarantee you a job because only a few company are looking for people who know nothing useful but can think. These companies normally recruit from the top Universities. If we assume a normal distribution of intelligence in the UK and the Government policy of 50% University graduates then the University graduate will have an IQ of 100 to 140+ or average to high. Given the majority will be average (because of the distribution) they can only earn an average+ salary so the return on investment becomes difficult to justify.
The question of visa and economic migration is interesting because it deprives the originating country of skill and denies the destination country of a employment position for a local worker. Now the argument goes that the local worker may not have sufficient skill but that can be remedied with training and the economic cost of that training can be offset against the costs of unemployment and it is likely that the visa worker will send money out of the local economy. There is merit that selective training of visa worker if they return to their originating country can create sales opportunities within that country or introduce politically friendly values.
I do not see any real correlation with a Degree, PHD etc and CCIE and agree that acadenmic students are more likely going into management than a CCIE would without the academic side.
University education is going to be very expensive in the UK and I saw some figures for the US which will be very expensive, certainly in the top tier Universities. However the CCIE is a huge committment financially and intellectually as well. I hope it is not $50000 as I have my lab now which probably cost me $10000 and I am planning on my CCIE in 2012, had to push it back a year as I need additional skills, budget $10000 in 2012 with a bootcamp and exam. However I can see how you could splash a lot more on it.
That said I also see alot of graduates in the industry who are competent and developing skills in the real world andunderstand the different needs between academia and real world skills.
Like anything we all read the stories here of people wanting to be CCIE in 6-12 months with no core knowledge to start and advise them its not going to be easy, I think the same is true if a CCIE went to do a degree, the learning is different.
I also think that a degree should be relevent to your field rather than some that are available now.
I mean would you employ someone who had a degree in the Simpsons, David Beckham or Underwater Trouser Pressing.
I have to agree with you...he definitely had me wanting more...
Conwyn maybe gearing up for the paperback or eBook. I can see the logo now. It will be an average employee twisting the arm of some higher up behind their back and the title of the book will be....
SAYING UNCLE IS NOT SO BAD...when motivated
by the critically acclaimed Conwyn
I can get a bit silly sometimes...
I cannot disagree that Conwyn as am just the person you describe in the first paragraph. No academic qualifactions, on my way to the CCIE through hard work and a wing and a prayer.
At this point on my way to the CCIE i have put in about £10,000 (home lab, courses, books and exams). I am guessing that will put in another £5k. But by the time i get the CCIE, i hope to be making the money back almost.
I never look at the side you mention HR restriction and not having a degree therefore cannot progress into management. In the company i am in now the only step up is management, it is not a path i wish for. I like being a techie.
Sorry i have taken the view of my own life as an example in a reply, i think your post has great merit.