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2004 Cisco Salary Survey’s 2004 Cisco Professional Salary Survey

by Dian Schaffhauser’s 2004 Cisco Professional Salary Survey If you’re a Cisco technical professional and you’ve held onto your job through the waves of company closures, downsizing, outsourcing and consolidation, you’re actually doing pretty well, compared to many others in the IT profession. According to results of the latest compensation survey, wages are actually up for a small band of the most qualified individuals, salary increases are more common than not across the board, and you’re fairly optimistic about the outlook for your job security over the next year.

In this report, which evaluates data from 689 U.S.-based Cisco professionals, we provide information about salaries and bonuses by certification, how earnings have changed in the last 12 months, the most common job benefits, expectations for hiring, and other information of use to those who possess Cisco technical certifications and to those who employ technical people.

An additional report to be published shortly on will provide limited compensation information about Cisco professionals in several other countries:Australia, Canada, England, India and Singapore.
Regarding Salaries

This year’s outlook for Cisco technical professionals is truly a mixed bag. Those who possess the CCNA but no other Cisco certification earn an average of $60,000, which is down 10 percent from the average salary of $67,000 we reported in 2002.

Those who possess a CCNP, a mid-tier Cisco credential, stayed fairly steady at an average of $72,000. This is down six percent from 2002’s survey.

On the other end of the spectrum, those who have the CCIE, Cisco’s premier credential, earn an average of $102,000. That’s an increase of three percent over 2002’s reported average.

CCDPs, design professionals, saw their salaries rise nearly four percent from two years ago, up to $88,000 from $85,000 in 2002.

Chart 1 below summarizes the results. Note that the CCDA doesn’t appear in the list. That’s because although 19 percent of respondents report possessing the CCDA, almost all of them also have higher-level credentials. We chose to calculate their salaries as part of those more premium titles, presuming that the latter would have a greater impact on salary than the CCDA itself.

Chart 1a. Average Base Income by Certification


Chart 1b, below, shows compensation by years of experience across all certifications. For information by Cisco credential, refer to the data at the end of this report.

Chart 1b. Compensation by Years of Experience


As shown in Chart 2, 65 percent of respondents report that they’ve experienced a change in salary over the last year. Most (57 percent) enjoyed an increase. A small number (seven percent) saw their salaries drop. But those who saw their salaries increase experienced a much more modest change than those who saw it drop. The increase averaged $3,976 across all certifications; the decrease averaged $15,025.

Chart 2. How Has Your Salary Changed in the Last 12 Months?


Sixteen percent of those who experienced a change in salaries also point to a change in employers to explain the difference.

A third of respondents believe that they could improve their salaries if they changed employers. The next big boost would be certification, according to nearly a fifth of respondents. Chart 3 summarizes the results. Few believe that getting a different job in the same company would have much of an impact on their fortunes. Nor do they consider non-Cisco certifications important to the equation.

Chart 3. What would have the biggest impact on improving your current salary?
Working for a different company 37%
Obtaining a new Cisco certification 19%
Obtaining more technical training 9%
Obtaining more training on the business needs of the company I work for 7%
Doing a different job in the same company 5%
Obtaining a new non-Cisco certification 4%
Moving to a different country 1%
Other 9%
None of the above 8%

Dian Schaffhauser is Editorial Director of and Microsoft Certified Professional Magazine. You can contact Dian about “’s 2004 Cisco Professional Salary Survey” at