as i know there may some changes of lab exam in 2006 Jan of ccie. it states that it will use the new cisco 3825 for the lab exam. and no isdn and token ring, isn't it? so, any idea of building the home lab? any device compatiable to 3825 since the price is too high.
I would suggest you get a job working for a Cisco partner with CCIE as a goal / condition of the employment (tied to a raise) A Cisco partner will have a lab in house, as Cisco required that VAR's maintain an up to date lab environment for the specialties that they sell. In addition, the Cisco VAR stands to gain the most by having CCIE's on staff, as this is also a requirement to maintain partner status. They will probably train you too. For this reason, a Cisco partner is likely going to pay you more once you achieve CCIE status. Most IT departments are probably not going to pay you the big bucks just cause you have a CCIE. They can get an admin type person much cheaper and farm out the high level stuff to a Cisco VAR or an independent CCIE / Guru type and pay them on a project basis.
I'm a CCNP / CCVP working towards voice CCIE. I quit my job as a senior engineer and moved into the Reseller space. It was a good move. I don't like the job as much, but it's getting me into the equipment I need to meet my goals.
I'm in the reseller space and I love my Job. I spend a couple of days a week on training - either self guided or classroom - and spend the rest architecting solutions and visiting customers. I get paid the same I did as a support engineer without having to be on call or do all the overtime and spend more time with my family.
I'm CCNP/CCDA preparing for the Wireless specs, with CCIE R&S around the corner, then hopefull CCIE (SAN).