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Interview: Certified Professional Chris Bryant, Four Years Later

Don't listen to people who tell you that certifications aren't worth the work, or that demean your current certifications. There will always be people who are threatened by certified professionals. Ignore them. Keep your head down, and keep working.

In 2000, GoCertify published an interview with Chris Bryant, a network engineer who earned his first certification, Novell's CNA, in 1997. At the time, his goal was to earn the coveted CCIE certification. Four years later, at a time when some IT professionals are saying that certification is not as valuable as it used to be, we decided to check back in with Chris and see how he's doing and how certification has worked out for him. As it turns out, not only has he met his goal of earning Cisco's CCIE title, he's also launched a new training firm, The Bryant Advantage. Here's what Chris has to say about his experiences with IT certification:

GoCertify: What certifications do you currently hold?

Chris Bryant: This past February 26, I earned the highly respected Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert certification in Routing and Switching. I also hold the CCNP and CCNA certifications, and I'm currently working on my CCIE in Security, having passed the written exam in August.

GoCertify: What do you enjoy most about having these certifications?

Chris Bryant: I enjoy the prestige of the CCIE certification. It's the most demanding technical certification in the world, bar none. The laboratory examination for this certification is beyond hard, and I'm very proud to have passed this exam. When you tell people you have a CCIE certification, it gets their attention.

GoCertify: What do you enjoy least about having these certifications?

Chris Bryant: (laughing) The one thing I've noticed about the CCIE is that some people like to come up with ridiculous networking scenarios for you to test your knowledge. I always tell them that being a CCIE does not mean you know everything, it means you can find out anything.

GoCertify: Which do you feel has most benefited you?

Chris Bryant: The CCIE benefits me most at present, but the CCNP and CCNA helped me get here. When I teach my Introduction To Networking or ICND courses, I tell my students that these are the most important certifications they will ever earn, because they're learning the fundamentals. It's like football. You can have all the fancy plays you want, but it always comes back to the fundamentals. The knowledge I accumulated for the IE exams was built on what I learned while achieving my CCNA and CCNP.

GoCertify: Are there any you wish you hadn't spent the time to earn?

Chris Bryant: No. Every Cisco certification has been helpful to me. I've always been pleased at the way Cisco protects their certifications as well. Earning a Cisco certification is always time well spent.

GoCertify: How many tries did it take you to pass the CCIE lab exam?

Chris Bryant: (laughing) I always say "one-and-a-half". I first took the exam last September, and three weeks out I felt quite prepared and confident. Then Hurricane Isabel paid a little visit to Virginia, where I live. I'm lucky to be here today, but I didn't feel too lucky at the time.

We lost our electricity and I got no practice in for the last three weeks going in. I really didn't sleep well, there was no hot water for showers, and worst of all, no hot coffee. :: laughing ::

So when I arrived in Raleigh, I really hadn't slept for three weeks, hadn't studied, and hadn't practiced. The hot water in the hotel was great, but I'm pretty sure I'm the only candidate in the history of the CCIE lab that almost fell asleep in the testing room.

Needless to say, that attempt didn't go very well. When I got back home, the lights were still out, so I didn't find out my score for another week. When the lights came back on, I then found out I did not pass. It took me a week or so to get over that, I admit, but I got back on the horse and passed the exam five months later.